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Paid To Shop



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                     Legal Notice:
While all attempts have been made to verify information
provided in this publication, neither the Author nor the
Publisher assumes any responsibility for errors, omissions, or
contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.

This publication is not intended for use as a source of legal or
accounting advice. The Publisher wants to stress that the
information contained herein may be subject to varying state
and/or local laws or regulations. All users are advised to retain
competent counsel to determine what state and/or local laws
or regulations may apply to the user's particular business.

The Purchaser or Reader of this publication assumes
responsibility for the use of these materials and information.
Adherence to all applicable laws and regulations, federal,
state, and local, governing professional licensing, business
practices, advertising, and all other aspects of doing business
in the United States or any other jurisdiction is the sole
responsibility of the Purchaser or Reader.

The Author and Publisher assume no responsibility or liability
whatsoever on the behalf of any Purchaser or Reader of these
materials.

Any perceived slights of specific people or organizations are
unintentional.




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                       Table Of Contents

Table Of Contents .............................................................. 3


1. Introduction: What is Mystery Shopping? ................................ 6


2. What Mystery Shoppers Really Do! ..................................... 10


3. Qualification of Successful Mystery Shoppers - You Can Do It!..... 14


4. What is The Best Way to Get Started? ................................. 19


5. How to Apply to a Mystery Shopping Company & Get Your First
Assignment in Just One Week .............................................. 23


6. Mystery Shopping Opportunities: Places Where You Can Shop ..... 31


7. Insider Tips for New Mystery Shoppers ................................ 36


8. Making the Most Amount of Work in Least Amount of Time- How
Can You Maximize Your Mystery Shopping Income ...................... 39


9. How to Do a Shopping Job ............................................... 46


10. Caution: Things You Might Be Doing Wrong In Your Mystery
Shopping Work! ............................................................... 51


11. Expert Advice from Successful Mystery Shoppers and Mystery
Shopping Companies ......................................................... 54




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12. What to Do When You Are Not Getting Paid ......................... 56


13. Mystery Shoppers Income Drainers- And How to Avoid Them ..... 59


14. Low Paying Mystery Shopping Jobs- Should I Be Accepting These
Assignments? .................................................................. 65


15. Current Mystery Shopping Trends ..................................... 66


16. Tips & Tricks- How Professional Mystery Shoppers Do Their Best
Mystery Shop Evaluations ................................................... 67


17. How to Work With Multiple Mystery Shopping Companies ......... 73


18. The Business of Mystery Shopping- How to Keep Those Higher
Paying Assignments Coming In ............................................. 76


19. Opportunities for Teen Mystery Shoppers............................ 78


20. Starting Your Own Mystery Shopping Business ...................... 86


21. Certification - Do I Need to Become a Certified Mystery Shopper
To Excel in My Career? ...................................................... 91


22. The Best Mystery Shopping Companies to Work For ................ 93


23. Secret Mystery Shopping Websites .................................... 95


24. Money Making Opportunities and Resources for Mystery Shoppers 97


25. Free Mystery Shopping Newsletters & Sources for Weekly Job
Leads ........................................................................... 99




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26. Mystery Shopping Assignment Logs For Weekly Scheduling ...... 101


27. Sample Assignment Reports with Typical Questions and Answers
................................................................................. 103


28. Direct Links to Over 100 Reputable Mystery Shopping Companies
................................................................................. 105


29. Educational Programs for Mystery Shoppers ........................ 116


30. Mystery Shopping FAQ ................................................. 118




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        1. Introduction: What is Mystery
                   Shopping?


Do   you enjoy eating out? Are you a shopping freak? Are you
passionate about seeing movies? What if you could do these activities
for free? Or better yet, what if you could actually GET PAID to do
them? Well, you can…

No, we are not suggesting any shoddy business opportunity or talking
of a magical wand or of someone being too generous. We are talking
about a fast growing career option called mystery shopping. Mystery
shopping is a process in which the trained customers or shoppers visit
the stores or business establishments where they pose and interact
with the staff like normal customers. They also shop for products and
services. At the end of process, the mystery shoppers make a detailed
and in-depth report about their experiences during the shopping.

Mystery shoppers get a list of parameters on which the detailed
feedback is required. They follow the guidelines and instructions
during the shopping activity referred to as “shop”. Thereafter they
file the detailed reports on the pre-designed questionnaires.

Generally, the business establishments with direct retail customer
interaction employ the mystery shoppers. Some examples of
businesses/establishments that employ their services are department
stores, retail chains, restaurants, banks, movie theaters, hotels and
resorts, gaming and recreational centers, health clubs and many




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more. It is an attractive career option whereby people enjoy shopping
their favorite items free of cost.

The remuneration for mystery shoppers depends on types of
assignments. It may vary from business to business. However, the
mystery shoppers can expect to get anything in the range of US$10 to
US$40 per hour. Apart from it, they also get reimbursement of the bill
if their assignment requires a purchase at the store or establishment.
Many times, mystery shoppers also receive remuneration in kind in
addition to the fee in the form of gifts, gift vouchers, and free passes.
In certain types of assignments, the mystery shoppers get the
traveling cost reimbursed.

Mystery Shopping is a flexible career option in which the person has
the freedom to decide the schedule according to his/her convenience.
It is suitable for students, retirees, homemakers, freelancers and part
timers. It is an ideal career opportunity for the people who would like
to make some extra money while having fun in their leisure time. The
terms synonymous with mystery shoppers are secret shoppers,
anonymous shoppers, quality auditors and trained customers etc.

Mystery shopping is the latest services evaluation tool employed by
the business owners to evaluate the service delivery at their business
establishments. Nowadays, customer behavior is very unpredictable
and to maintain good customer relations, gaining customer loyalty has
become a tightrope walk. Many customers would not complain if that
they dislike something at an establishment, they simply walk away.
The establishments rarely come to know of the reasons why they have
lost a precious and potent client.

Mystery shopping helps the business owners and the management to
get information, which they require to improve their businesses. It is
an observation that getting an objective, unbiased evaluation of the
products and services is a difficult task, and that is where the mystery




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shoppers come in handy. Mystery shoppers are very useful in providing
vital background information required by the management to make
improvements in their customer care efforts and product quality.

The observations of the mystery shoppers are then put to use in
improving the product quality and service delivery of the business.
Effective use of this tool can help the establishment to plug gaps in its
products and services and to improve its business and profits. Mystery
shoppers also come in handy for performance evaluation of the staff
and in the process help in making decisions regarding the excellence
awards and other motivational programs for the employees. Moreover,
the mystery shoppers can also point out if there is a need for training
and development of the employees.

Mystery shopping system acts as checks and balances system for the
employees and they have to be always alert and prompt in their
duties because they never know whom the “shopper” is. Mystery
shopping has helped the businesses/establishments to:


   •   Improve Customer Care: Mystery shopping has helped the
       businesses and establishments to improve their customer
       satisfaction level and increase customer loyalty because the
       employees become more attentive and customer oriented.

   •   Improve Sales: Establishments are able to improve their sales
       because the sales staff becomes more active and practices
       suggestive selling techniques.

   •   Minimize Theft: Mystery shopping helps the establishments by
       considerably reducing instances of theft and shoplifting as the
       employees are more attentive and alert when dealing with
       clients.

   •   Better Motivation: Mystery shopping is being used for
       performance appraisals and deciding on employees’ rewards.




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       This helps the employees to perform better and as a result, the
       other employees try to excel in their respective spheres to get
       reward.

   •   Enhance Profits: Mystery shopping helps the businesses/
       establishments to increase their profits because of better
       customer care, reduced thefts and improved sales.

Overall, mystery shopping is a win-win situation for the shopper as
well as for the client because it helps the former to make additional
income while it improves the business and profits of the latter.




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2. What Mystery Shoppers Really Do!


Mystery   shopping is fast becoming popular as effective evaluation
tool for the shop owners and business managers to improve the
service delivery and product quality at their establishments. Different
companies employ mystery shoppers to evaluate the quality of the
products, the setup and environment of the establishment and
efficiency and performance of the frontline staff.

Generally, the mystery shoppers need to evaluate the customer
service of a particular business establishment. These business
establishments can be department stores, a retail chains, restaurants,
hotels, health clubs, movie theatres, recreational or gaming
facilitates or resorts; virtually any establishment that has a retail
customer interaction.

In this process, the mystery shoppers visit the client’s business
establishment. They need to behave like normal customers while
keeping an eagle eye on all the happenings at the establishment.

Mystery shoppers are remote eyes and ears of the business owners.
They observe maintenance, display, quality of merchandize or
services offered and the staff’s response and behavior at the
establishment.




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The primary role of the mystery shoppers is to evaluate the quality of
customer service and customer care at the business establishment.
However, they also need to evaluate any specific parameter like
performance of the key frontline personnel, cash handling skills and
efficiency of the cashier, knowledge and behavior of the salesperson
and to assess whether employees are making appropriate and
effective use of suggestive selling techniques. In some cases, the
mystery shoppers involve in evaluating and observing the similar
aspects at the competitors’ establishments and find out the features
that give them the competitive edge.

In addition, the “shoppers” also need to observe how the employees
greet a customer at the establishment and how they behave while
interacting with clients. They need to notice whether the staff is
making use of phrases such as welcome to xyz store or thank you for
dining at our restaurant.

Once the mystery shopper has completed his shopping assignment, he
should fill up a detailed questionnaire about the customer service and
overall atmosphere of the business establishment and submit the
report to the owner of establishment. The management of the
establishment uses this data for a number of purposes like, improving
appearance and looks of the establishment, improving customer
service, deciding on employees’ rewards, motivation and training.
Overall, the findings are utilized for making improvements that help
in better customer retention, enhanced client loyalty and improving
the bottom line of the company.

The questionnaire filled at the end of a shopping assignment varies
from one company to the other depending on the type of business or
establishment. The type and scope of observation also depend upon
the objective of the study. Therefore, the parameters of study and
questionnaire are very vital for the mystery shopping.




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Generally, the questionnaires to be filled at the end of mystery
shopping exercise contain objective or close-ended questions with
answers in yes or no or the answers have to be checked in particular
boxes. However, some questions may require descriptive or narrative
answers.

At the time of handing over the shop assignments, mystery shoppers
receive background information about the company. The mystery
shoppers need to evaluate the customer service and overall
atmosphere at the establishment in relation to the information
provided and make comparative evaluation.

The general parameters on which the mystery shoppers need to
evaluate and report are:


   •   Customer care and customer service at the establishment

   •   Cleanliness and arrangement of the establishment

   •   Visibility of the product on display

   •   Product Quality

   •   Product related knowledge of the employees

   •   Adherence to rules and procedures

   •   Waiting time      for   shopping   or   service   delivery   at   the
       establishment

   •   Honesty and integrity of employees

   •   Efficiency of the employees

   •   Dressing, appearance and grooming of the employees

As mentioned earlier, the observations and evaluation vary from one
organization to other. However, some common points observed by
mystery shoppers visiting a store or a restaurant are:




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•   How employees       greeted      them   at    the   entrance    of
    establishment?

•   How was the general atmosphere and upkeep of the
    establishment?

•   Are the signage and window display attractive?

•   Are they maintaining the establishment properly? Is it neat and
    clean?

•   Have they stocked the racks adequately? Is the arrangement
    convenient and accessible to the customers?

•   How is the table arrangement?

•   Is the menu self explanatory and tempting?

•   Have they stocked the salad with fresh vegetables and fruits?

•   What is the service time of the restaurant?

•   Are the rest rooms clean and hygienic and have timely refills of
    soap and tissues?

•   Does the salesman/steward have adequate knowledge about
    the merchandise/cuisine?

•   What is the quality of products/service/food?

•   Are they handling customer queries properly?

•   What is the turn around time for delivery of goods and services?

•   Did the cashier greet you and how do you rate the cashiers’
    service?

•   Did they explain you about the customer loyalty program or the
    promotional schemes?

•   Did they greet you when you left the establishment?




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    3. Qualification of Successful Mystery
          Shoppers - You Can Do It!


Having   learnt about what is mystery shopping and what does it
involve the natural question would be- what is the qualification
required to become a mystery shopper? Can I become a mystery
shopper? Do I have in me, which is required to be a successful mystery
shopper?

The answer to all these questions is, yes! You can do it. You can avail
mystery shopping opportunities if you have some extra time and are
willing to make some additional money while having fun and enjoying
your favorite pastime like shopping, eating out, going to movies or
playing a game of golf at your favorite golf course. This moneymaking
opportunity is available to you at your own convenience, and you can
work and make money whenever you have spare time.

The mystery shopping opportunities is good for students,
homemakers, retirees, senior citizens, employment seekers and start
up entrepreneurs who would like to add an extra stream of income to
their purse. This career option is also available to part timers,
freelancers and creative persons like musicians, artists and writers.




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You have the freedom and opportunity to take your kids and family
members along with you for the mystery shopping assignments. This
makes it easier for sit home dads and moms to take up the shop
assignments. Even assignments like crèches, day care centers, toy
stores and play groups it is a requirement to take them along with
you. Going with your spouse, kids or family adds the credibility to
your mystery shopping assignment because in that case you look like a
genuine customer for that restaurant or business establishment.
However, you should ensure that your kids are well behaved. You
must always keep in mind that the objective of your visit is
observation and presence of your family or kids should not distract
your attention from the assignment.

In majority of cases, the persons taking up mystery shopping
assignments should be above 18 years of age, however in case of
certain establishment where the mandatory age limits are higher you
should match that minimum age requirement. This may be the case
with shop assignments where a purchase of liquor may be involved. It
is helpful albeit not mandatory to have a valid driving license or a
document to prove your age. The mystery shopping assignments allow
you the flexibility to decide your time schedule yet you should have
sufficient amount of spare time to complete the assignments within a
stipulated period.


Qualifications of Mystery shoppers

There is no specific academic qualification required to become a
mystery shopper. Persons from all lifestyles, occupations and with all
levels of academic qualifications can take up mystery shopping
assignments. The people opting for mystery shopping assignments
should have reasonably fair oral and written communication skills.
Mystery shoppers should be observant and should have an eye for
detail. They should have good imagination and should be reliable. The




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mystery shoppers need to have a reasonably fair memory and
retention power to remember their observations and report the same
accurately after the shopping is over. They should have an unbiased
attitude and good personal integrity.

Since most of the mystery shopping assignments are available on the
Internet, the basic ability to browse the Internet sites and operating
e-mail functions are necessary for those seeking online shop
assignments. The reporting requires basic knowledge of PC, word
processing and spreadsheet skills. You may need to create
spreadsheets but your job is limited to entering the necessary data in
the pre-designed spreadsheets. Neat writing and documentation skills
are necessary when you have to file a handwritten report at the end
of the mystery shopping assignment.


Experiences and Skills

There is no preset experience parameter required to take up mystery
shopping assignments. The person should have good written and
verbal communication skills. The oral communication skills are
necessary because you have to interact with the employees at the
business establishment.

It is helpful if you have some background information and experience
in customer care. Persons with an exposure to business areas like
retail, leasing and finance, education, travel and hospitality have an
edge over others while seeking the mystery shopping jobs. A prior
exposure to market research and experience in market surveys and
focus groups is a definite help to those seeking mystery-shopping
assignments.

Good memory, an eye for detail and ability to accomplish objective
observation are the key skill requirements for mystery shoppers.




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Another factor that is vital for your mystery-shopping job is your
reliability and impartiality. The assignment requires you to report the
facts “as it is” and not your personal preferences; therefore, it is
necessary that you do not let your personal bias to interfere with your
objectivity while taking up mystery shopping assignments.

No specific training is required for taking up mystery shopping
assignments. However, if there is a specific assignment that requires
training, the mystery shopping companies provide you the necessary
training. The companies also provide the background information and
observation parameters before commencement of each assignment.


How to become a successful Mystery Shopper:

Every profession has its own do’s and don’ts and there are certain
factors that determine your success in that vocation, and mystery
shopping is no exception to that doctrine. You have learnt that
mystery shopping is fun and it involves a great amount of leisure and
flexibility, however, you should remember that this is also a serious
business. The business owner uses the inputs provided by mystery
shoppers to decide on the business strategies and business plans.
Therefore, you should be careful and attentive and take the
assignment seriously, because carelessness would not only affect your
prospects for getting future assignments but also may affect the
client’s business.

You should never reveal your identity during the shop process,
because any such eventuality would be detrimental to the very basic
objective of mystery shopping. Once you reach the establishment,
employees should think of you as a potential client, who is there for
buying grocery, lunch, leasing an apartment, or opening a bank
account.




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You should not be carrying notebooks or paper for making notes
publicly. If you forget something that you need to observe, you should
avoid taking out the questionnaire in public, because doing so may
expose your identity. You can make use of checkbooks, grocery lists
or newspapers to make notes at a store or a restaurant. If you are
required to note the time taken for a particular service, you should
use your watch or cellular phone instead of using a stopwatch.

You should be careful to observe and report all the details including
the minute things and should not forget to observe whatever you are
directed at the time of assigning you the shop.

It is helpful that you go prepared when go for the shop assignment.
You should evaluate and clearly understand what all you need to
observe. You should follow the guidelines and be objective with your
study. You should also prepare the questions you need to ask from the
employees. You should also carry a buying list if you are on a store
shop assignment. If you have the basic understanding of customer
service, it would enable you to make comparisons and observe the
pitfalls.

The successful mystery shoppers are the ones who make the mystery
shopping company feel that they themselves have done the
assignment in person. You should also be careful to keep a record of
all your receipts and mileages and submit them in the required
format.

Your attitude should be that of a person interested in improving the
service quality of the place he is visiting. You should be careful about
timely submission of the reports because it may determine your
chances of getting future assignments.

Mystery shopping is an attractive career option and a serious
opportunity for making money. However, it is not a scheme for




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making fast money. You should take it up as a serious business and not
a joke if you really want to become a successful mystery shopper.




  4. What is The Best Way to Get Started?


The idea of making money while shopping and dining in your favorite
restaurant has appealed you and you have made up your mind to take
up a career in mystery shopping. You have found out that you are
suitable to get mystery shopping jobs wherein you can make extra
money in your leisure time while having fun. The question is how to
start and get your mystery shopping assignments?

Therefore, you have decided to start a wonderful career where
someone pays for your food bill, seeks your opinion and pays for it.
However, wait! Do not take a sudden plunge. It is always better to
understand the concept of mystery shopping and nitty-gritty of this
business thoroughly before you take up any mystery-shopping job. You




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must go through this e-book carefully and have a clear understanding
of mystery shopping business before you start accepting the shop
assignments.

The first thing you need to decide is the area and scope of your work.
You can decide on your preferences regarding the fields you would
like to work and what fields you prefer not to work. For example, you
can decide that you would like to work only for restaurants or only for
retail chains. Secondly, you should find out the actual amount of time
you can spare for the mystery shopping assignments.

Thereafter, you should decide on the geographical area you wish to
work. Once you have decided on your preferences, you should find out
the list of mystery shopping and market research companies in your
locality. For this purpose, you can make use of the contacts provided
in chapter-28 of this e-book. To widen your scope of search you can
utilize your telephone book or the local library to find out the list of
probable mystery shop employers.

Certain companies may require your photograph, so it is better to get
a photograph taken. It is not necessary to have a photograph taken by
a professional. A simple head shot from an aim and shoot camera at
your home or a Polaroid snap would do.

Before creating a resume or writing to the companies, you should
analyze your strengths and earmark your strong points that would
help you to become a successful mystery shopper. Once you are
through with the process you should create a resume and a covering
letter, which you need to send to the mystery shopping companies.
Your resume should highlight all your strengths and pervious
experience, if any, because it will help you in getting assignments
more suited to your profile. The resume should also include your
preferences regarding the location, category of shop assignments you
would prefer to do, the amount of time you would like to spend in




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this job per week and the time slots that are suitable for your
schedule.

To begin with, even a handwritten letter to a few market research
agencies would help. Once you have sent your letter or resume to the
market research agencies you should wait patiently for their call.
Your first assignment might take some time, but remember patience
is the key. If you do not get a call for some time there is no need for
repeated or bulk mailing.

Most of the market research companies are nationwide and therefore
it is better that you do not limit your selection to the local
companies. Mailing your resume to the national companies is helpful
because they have a better volume of assignments available at any
given point of time.

You should not to contact the clients directly because most of the
clients do not offer the assignments directly to the shoppers and they
prefer to use the services of the agencies. Moreover, contacting the
clients directly can take a toll on your time and effort and there is a
possibility that you might give up after not hearing after so many
contacts.

The shop assignments are not limited to physically visiting the
particular store or the restaurant only. Nowadays, you get similar
assignments for evaluating the mail order business or the businesses
that home deliver the stuff. A number of e-commerce and other
websites are also employing people for taking online surveys to
evaluate the services offered by their websites, for which you need to
make an online search and submit your application on the net.

When you receive the call from an agency or a client, you should fill
the appropriate form and send it back within the stipulated time. You
should be professionally dressed and reach in time for the personal




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meeting if the job entails a personal meeting. During the meeting
spell out your strengths and weaknesses and clearly state your
preferences regarding category, location and timings of the
assignments you would be interested to do. This would help you in the
end and save you from possible discomfort in future.

You should be attentive when briefed about the assignment. You
should carefully note down all the important points and should not
hesitate to ask if you do not understand any point. The new mystery
shoppers should go through the questionnaire thoroughly. A second
reading is always helpful. Do not hesitate to ask for training or mock
session before actually starting your mystery-shopping job.

Before you really embark upon the first mystery shopping assignment,
go through the relevant portions of this e-book and study the
instructions and guidelines given by your employer. Timely submission
and accurate reporting would enhance your chances for getting future
assignments.

If you accomplish few initial assignments successfully, you will get
repeat assignments. However, in the initial phase you should take all
the new assignments as if you are doing your first shop assignment. If
you fail to do so, you tend to become complacent, as you grow older
in this business. Complacency increases chances of making mistakes
and it may affect your growth and earning prospects.

Lastly, it is recommended that you should not pressured by the jobs
that are offered to you. You should not hesitate to say no to the
assignments that you are not comfortable. For example, if you avoid
alcoholic beverages it would be sane not to take up assignments that
require drinking, or you can decide exclude shop assignment at
computer or electronics outlets if you are not at ease with the
technical terms. It is always better to exclude the category you are
not comfortable with rather than doing a second rate assignment




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because such a situation ultimately jeopardizes your growth prospects
in the mystery shopping business.




  5. How to Apply to a Mystery Shopping
 Company & Get Your First Assignment in
             Just One Week


What Should My Application Look Like?
If you would like to work as a mystery shopper for a company, it is
very important that you must be very attentive while applying for the
job. You must mention all the required details while sending in your
application for the job. You should mention your full particulars
(including name, address, phone and fax numbers, email ID etc.),
academic qualifications, work experience, list of companies you have
worked with and kind of assignments handled by you. All you have to
do is tell the company who you are and that you are available to do
work as a mystery shopper in your local area.




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Tell them if you have mystery shopped before. If not, describe what
qualifies you for this job. Illustrate an example of good or bad
customer service that you have experienced. Explain in your words
what you think makes good customer service. Explanations to these
questions will help the companies to assess your attention to details,
an understanding of customer service you have and your ability to be
discreet and unbiased while preparing and working as a mystery
shopper.

You can apply either by writing or by calling. When you contact or
apply to mystery shopping companies, try to be professional and
above all courteous. How you act or write may be a noteworthy factor
as to whether or not you receive an upcoming mystery shopping
assignment from those companies.

As they say, “first impression is the last impression” therefore, it is
very important that you should contact a company by sending a
friendly and carefully worded letter. Make certain that your
punctuation and spellings are correct. You are likely to be 'pre-judged'
by your application. If it is not in order and neatly prepared, that may
reveal how you will fill out a shopper form in the future. So always,
take your time, and if you commit a mistake, just begin again. Keep
your application short, about two to three paragraphs at most.

If you send an application, you must wait for the company to receive
your application and then return the proper application format and
additional forms to you. This may take 2-3 weeks of time. Therefore,
you need to be patient and avoid calling and asking when you can
start working for them. Keep in mind that mystery-shopping
companies need you as much as you need them. If you do not get a
reply from a mystery shopping company right away, it will contact you
of course, as soon as it has vacancy for a mystery shopper.




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How Many Companies Should I Apply to at One Time?

Most of the companies you will be applying for will realize that they
cannot keep you busy working as a mystery shopper all the time. They
also know that you need regular work. That is why they know that you
will be applying to multiple companies for the job.

Hence, you should apply for mystery shopper’s job to more than one
company. It will help you to get the work on a regular basis. Apply to
as many companies as you can find. Do not be concerned that you will
have too much work. You have an option! You can always turn down a
job if you are too busy to work on a specific assignment.

While applying to multiple companies you must keep in mind that you
should avoid sharing information about one company with another. In
addition, you should not share one company’s evaluation report and
confidential information like report forms filed by you with the
company. Always show professionalism and try to be discreet in your
dealings with each of the companies you intend to work.


Companies That Hire First Timers

If you happen to apply to more than one company at a time, you may
get your first mystery shop job within four to six weeks’ time. In fact,
many of the mystery shoppers get their first assignment in the very
first week itself.

Please note that the companies and business establishments need
mystery shoppers every day of the week somewhere! So try to apply
for mystery shopper’s job to as many companies as you can. The more
companies you apply to, the greater the number of jobs you are
eligible for and the sooner you will get an assignment.




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Many companies hire first timers. Few of these companies are:

(1) Q.A. Mystery Shoppers, Inc.
PO Box 9009
Austin, TX 78766
B.M. - T.I.P.S
4915 West 35 St. Suite 206
Minneapolis, MN 55416

Q.A. Mystery Shoppers, Inc. is one of the largest mystery shoppers’
contractors in the United States. Apply for details of the mystery
shopping jobs available with the company.

(2) Advantage Marketing Group
PO Box 734
Portland, ME 04104

Advantage Marketing Group is a relatively new company looking for
new mystery shoppers. Send an application to the company
mentioning area you prefer to shop in, photo and best times
available.

(3) Security and Loss Prevention
Consulting & Mystery Shopping & Spotting
Franklin Office Park
38 Pond St., Suite 104
Franklin, MA 02038

(4) The Plethora
Mystery Shopping Services
Denton Downs Office Center
640 Denton, Suite 102
PO Box 591
Frankfort, Michigan 49635




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The Plethora is a Congent Company.

(5) Mysteryshop.com
3405 Kilmer Lane North
Plymouth, MN 55441

Addition to the companies mentioned above, in chapter-28 of this e-
book you could find more companies that hire first timers.

Besides these companies, there are several different ways to go about
finding work as a first time mystery shopper. Few of these are:

   (1) Log into Internet search engines like Google or Yahoo and
       search for mystery shoppers.
   (2) Look for advertisements in your local newspapers asking for
       mystery shoppers.
   (3) Contact marketing and research companies in your area, asking
       them if they have any new openings for mystery shopping job.
   (4) Ask your friends if any of the companies they are working for
       need additional mystery shoppers.


How Much Money I Can Expect to Earn

Now that you are aware how to do a mystery-shopping job, the most
important question you might have in your mind be about how much
of money you can earn doing this job.

You must know that because the mystery shopping work is not
regular, it is likely to vary for each mystery shopper. However, there
are people who do mystery shopping on a full-time basis, because
either one company has hired them on full-time, or they get sufficient
assignments to make it a full-time job.




                                 27.
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If you do higher-paying service category mystery shopping jobs such as
apartments, car dealers, banks, gyms, homebuilders etc. you can
normally make between $25 and $50 per assignment. A dinner
restaurant shop can fetch you $50-100 in the form of free food and
drinks.

Retail assignments usually pay less, $10 to $15, while a "purchase and
return shop”, assignment can get you up to $30.

Fast food shops do not pay much; usually they just give free food and
possibly about $5 or so for filing a report.

If you are lucky enough to get a newer technology-based shop, which
entails the use of hidden video equipment during the job, you may get
up to $125 per assignment.

The average mystery-shopping fee is about $20-25 per hour. This
amount does not include mileage or any other expenses incurred by a
mystery shopper. A typical shopper may suggest a shopping fee for 20
stores in a franchise, approximately 25-30 hours of shopping and
report writing, and quote a business of $600-800. This amount would
include all the costs incurred by you like shopping fees, gasoline
expenses and miscellaneous expenses.

Depending upon the requirements, some mystery shoppers execute
the larger contracts, while others execute the small contracts.

Mystery shopping fees earned may vary, depending upon where you
live, what is market demand, availability of mystery shoppers and
how pressing the job is.

A mystery-shopping job can take as little as an hour of your time
including filling out a report, to two hours. The more they ask you to




                                 28.
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do in an assignment, the more you are paid. If you concentrate on
the higher paying assignments, make the right links and generate a
method where you get the assignments coming to you, you will
become one of the top-earning mystery shoppers, earning $3000+ per
month.


How to Make Your Application Look Better Than the
Hundreds of Others that A Company Might Receive

Are you one of those persons who keep on applying for multiple
mystery shopping jobs yet do not hear back from them? Are you
wondering why some people get response for very first application
they send and some do not get any reply for 10s of applications sent?

Well, all that you need to get attention to your application is to make
it better than the 100s of others that a company might receive.
Always mention why you are a better-suited candidate for a mystery-
shopping job. Describe your recent experiences as shopper and tell
them how you can help being a mystery shopper for the company. Do
your best to raise your profile a little. Always send a well-written
resume along with a covering letter.

Keep on trying until you succeed. You have to keep trying, but not be
loathsome. Do your best to be impressive in a professional way. If
you are presenting yourself in the approved manner, you should have
a business-like approach when you first apply for the job. Sound
serious, patient and professional when you present yourself in a
follow-up interview. Market your skills in such a manner that get you
noticed in a positive way.

Remember that good things do come to those who wait and
courteously keep on trying to achieve excellence in the field they
work.




                                 29.
                                 30




Job Interviews -- What You Should Say?

So what do companies look for when they interview prospective
mystery shoppers? Well, most significantly, they want to know that
you are dependable, sharp-eyed and able to follow instructions. They
will train you on how to mystery shop.

When applying for a mystery shopper’s position you should look
forward to the following questions. Do your homework. Think up
answers in preparation for these questions so that you do not mess up
when they ask you these questions in a scheduled interview.


   (1) Have you done any mystery shopping before?
   (2) Why you would make a good mystery shopper?
   (3) What is your experience as a mystery shopper?

You do not require any experience, so do not behave as if you are a
novice. Keep in mind that as soon as you have completed one
assignment, you can then claim to have experience in future
applications.

When a mystery shopping company calls you for the first time, they
will inquire if you are available at a certain time and date, for a
specified job. So be prepared to work accordingly on your first
assignment.




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                                 31




6. Mystery Shopping Opportunities: Places
           Where You Can Shop


Companies   use information gathered by mystery shoppers as an
essential tool to improve the quality of service rendered to the
customers. Improvement in the quality of service and products brings
in more customers resulting in increased sales volume and profits for
the company.

Depending upon the objectives and requirements of their clients, the
mystery shoppers help their companies in assessing employee honesty




                                31.
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and integrity, customer service provided, product knowledge and
product quality, sales techniques employed, and cleanliness and
sanitation condition of a department store, an office or
establishment.


Places Where You Can Shop:

Below is a list of a number of the bigger and popular businesses that
employ mystery shoppers on a freelance or part time basis.
Companies may employ mystery shoppers on monthly, weekly or daily
basis. Each of these businesses functions in a different way. If you
happen to choose any of these, you can do so by either calling,
sending an email or writing a letter.

Given the fact that each of these businesses is distinctive and unique,
you cannot probably look forward to get the same amount of money
for each shopping spree that you may choose to opt. If one business
paid you, $20 to shop for a half hour it does not mean that another
business will pay you similar amount. A company may pay you a lower
or higher amount depending upon the specific needs of a business and
terms and conditions imposed or agreed upon. You should read the list
given below carefully and note the ones that interest you most. When
making your choice, keep it in your mind that the large chains or
businesses are the ones most likely to use mystery shoppers.
Therefore, try to send your resume to these companies first.

The possibilities and potential for mystery shopping are nearly never-
ending. Few of these businesses are:


   •   Acute care services
   •   Airlines
   •   Ambulatory care




                                 32.
                                   33




•   Any location serving customers
•   Apartment easing
•   Art galleries
•   Auto service stations
•   Automobile dealerships
•   Automotive supply stores
•   Banks/financial institutions
•   Beauty salons
•   Book stores
•   Camera shops
•   Car dealerships
•   Casinos
•   Catering services
•   Computer stores
•   Concierge
•   Convenience stores
•   Cruise lines
•   Department stores
•   Doorman/bellman
•   Drug stores
•   Dry cleaners
•   Fancy restaurants
•   Fast food restaurants
•   Family restaurants
•   Florists




                               33.
                             34




•   Front desk
•   Gas stations
•   Grocery stores
•   Hardware stores
•   Health clubs
•   Health plans
•   Home developers
•   Hotels
•   Housekeeping
•   Ice Cream/yogurt shops
•   Information services
•   Liquor Stores
•   Long-term care
•   Lounges
•   Mental health services
•   Movie theaters
•   Newsstands
•   Nightclubs and bars
•   Pet stores
•   Physician practices
•   Property tour
•   Real estate companies
•   Rehabilitative care
•   Rental developments
•   Reservations




                             34.
                                 35




•   Restaurant sales
•   Restaurants
•   Restaurants (cuisine)
•   Room review
•   Room service
•   Security
•   Shoe repair store
•   Specialty shops
•   Specialty shops (various forms)
•   Specialty stores in a mall
•   Stereo/appliance stores
•   Supermarket
•   Theaters
•   Theme parks
•   Toy stores
•   Travel agents
•   Traveling
•   Valet service
•   Video rental store




                                 35.
                                  36




 7. Insider Tips for New Mystery Shoppers


There is no short cut to learning from your own experience however,
for the newcomers in any field, quick learn tips are a great help. It is
better to learn by the experiences of those who have made a mark on
their own in a particular field. In the mystery-shopping business, a
fresher should try to learn from the veterans and professionals who
have made a successful career in mystery shopping and are making
good money from this easy and simple business opportunity.




                                  36.
                                  37




It may not be possible for you to find out and meet in person so many
people who have carved a niche for them in the mystery shopping
business. We have done the job for you and we are providing you
some tips from the people who have made big in the mystery shopping
business. The seniors say that-


   1. Those who are serious about making a long term and lucrative
      career in the mystery shopping should try to create a
      professional office like atmosphere. It is not at all necessary
      that you spend a fortune over the fancy and expensive stuff.
      The simple stuff like nicely printed business cards, professional
      e-mail address, personal stationary, a well-articulated voice
      mail or answering machine message go a long way in creating a
      professional image for you.
   2. Get yourself organized and create a small home office for you.
      Maintain a diary to record your appointments and assignments.
      Organize your documents, keep proper record of your
      expenses, and retain all your receipts. The more professional
      image you portray of yourself to your company and scheduler
      the more and better assignments you get.
   3. Be very particular about your instructions. The instructions are
      the key to success in this business and you should religiously
      follow them. For example, if you need to respond to the e-
      mails with a specific keyword or phrase in the subject line,
      follow it. Follow all the instructions regarding the shop and
      reporting. This would pave your way to successful career in this
      business because all the companies love to work with people
      who follow the guidelines and are organized and particular
      about their working.
   4. If there is a chance for you to do a rush-job for your mystery
      shopping company or scheduler to salvage them from a last




                                 37.
                                38




   minute ditch. Always grab the opportunity with your both
   hands, do a nice job, and complete it within the deadlines.
   Doing this would provide you an opportunity to climb the
   credibility ladder in that company at a better speed.
5. Never give out your social security number to the scheduler.
   Provide your social security number only to the mystery
   shopping company or their website only when you are sure
   about the credibility of the company and the site security.
6. Punctuality is vital for your success in mystery shopping
   business. If you are required to submit your shop reports within
   a stipulated time, do that. This would open your door to the
   future assignments. Most of the companies try to see your
   performance and delivery schedule in the simple small shop
   assignment before giving you better more meaningful and high
   paid jobs.
7. Be straight and to the point in your report. In this context, it is
   advisable that you should write only what has been asked in the
   report. For example, if you have need to report about the rack
   arrangement and the cleanliness than just report on that
   aspect only and do not comment on the staff behavior. Be as
   objective as possible in your report and do not let your
   personal beliefs and biases to cloud your reporting.
8. Take each assignment on its remunerative value. Evaluate the
   remuneration of the assignment based on time spent on it and
   the total benefits expected in cash or kind. For example, a
   dinner shop assignment might offer you just a discount on the
   food and it could take close to two hours of your time, while a
   simple shop assignment might offer you reimbursement of your
   purchase plus additional US$15-US$20 and just take 20-30
   minutes of your time.
9. Try to be realistic in your job search for mystery shopping, as
   you would do in a real world job search. Most of the companies




                               38.
                                 39




      and clients assign their jobs to the mystery shopping schedulers
      or agents. The best way is to get proper links to the mystery
      shopping companies from the list of the companies provided in
      this e-book.

If you follow these tips and take care to plan your moves in a
professional way, you would become a successful mystery shopper
with fatty paychecks.




  8. Making the Most Amount of Work in
   Least Amount of Time- How Can You
 Maximize Your Mystery Shopping Income


You must be wondering how some mystery shoppers are able to make
more than $3000-$4000 per month and why some struggle even to
reach $1000 in a month. The reason is the approach with which they
handle their mystery shopping assignments. It is true that experience
and expertise play a vital role in maximizing your income in the
mystery shopping business. As you become senior in this business your




                                 39.
                                  40




experience and income grow and you tend to get better and high paid
assignments by the mystery shopping companies due to your better
rapport with them. However, this is not the sole reason for earning
higher and better paychecks and even relatively fresh people can
make good amount of money if they know the tricks to maximize their
income in the mystery shopping business.

The most important factors that affect your earning prospects are
your organizational skills and approach to this business. You should be
able to make a better selection of the assignments and create a
professional image for yourself, so that companies and scheduler
consider you a professional known for timely and perfect
accomplishment of the tasks assigned.

Here are some ways through which you could make good money from
the mystery shopping business and make this job as a long term
satisfying career option.


Time Management
It is very essential that you make the best use of your most valuable
resource- time. Time is precious as you have only 24 hours in a day
and you have only limited number of hours that you can spare for your
mystery shopping business. Since it is beyond your capacity to
increase the number of hours available it is necessary that you should
make the optimum utilization of your time to maximize your income
in the mystery shopping business.

It is better that you club your assignments together rather than taking
one assignment at a time. If you club up the assignment you could
finish three to four shop assignments in one trip and save your time
and gas. Moreover, by doing so you could even make the best
opportunity even out of the low paid assignments. For example, if you




                                 40.
                                   41




can finish two or three $10 assignments in a trip your total
productivity per hour remains comparable to better-paid assignments.

In this context, picking up assignments that are located at closer
location like big shopping malls, local shopping trips, airports etc. are
very useful. At these places, you could finish more assignments in
lesser amount of time and boost up your productivity per hour.

Make use of the location maps to optimize your productivity and
rationalize your gas costs. Referring to maps would help you plan your
trip in such a fashion that you can cover the maximum number of
shops in the least time. Always prefer the fast food and restaurant
shops during the lunch breaks and dinner hours since you would also
be going for lunch in between the shops. The effective time
management holds the key for maximizing your income from this
career.


Go for Service Assignments

The service shop assignments are better paying jobs compared to the
retail and fast food shop assignments. Apartments, homebuilders, car
dealership, oil change, financial service, banks, gymnasiums, testing
centers etc. fall into this category of assignments. These kinds of shop
assignments offer you a better rate than the simple retail shops. You
can expect anything in the range of $20-$30 per assignment. The
audio and video shop assignments are even better because they could
fetch you up to $50-$100 per shop.

Most of the mystery shoppers shy away from these service shops
because of the narrative or descriptive answers involved in these
assignments. You should no get intimidated by the narratives as these
are very simple and are about your experience during the shop. You
need to put them in your words. They do not expect you to be a




                                  41.
                                 42




literary giant to write the narratives. You should not be too bothered
about the language or the grammar. After a few assignments, you
could be an expert at writing the narratives and the learning efforts
would be worthwhile considering the remuneration differential.

The dinner restaurant assignments are also lucrative because they
offer a composite shop fee of $30-$100 considering the cash payment
and food reimbursement. However, if you are a calorie watcher be
aware of accepting too many dinner shops and if you do so, make sure
that you compensate them by doing equal amount of gym shops.


Help the Scheduler or Your Mystery Shopping Company

There could be a situation wherein a scheduler or a mystery shopping
company is faced with a crisis due to a rush job or because of a last
minute cancellation by any other mystery shopper. In such situation,
the shop companies or the scheduler might look at you for help. You
should accept the proposal immediately for many reasons. First, these
kinds of situation mean that you get an additional job without any
competition from the other mystery shoppers. Secondly, these kinds
of assignments are generally better-paid assignments and thirdly, such
situations improve your credibility and respect in the eyes of the
scheduler and the agency. This would mean that whenever they would
have something lucrative you would figure higher up on their priority
list.

Maintain A Balance With A Number Of Mystery Shopping Companies:
You should keep following up with other companies once you start
getting assignments from one company. The successful mystery
shoppers work with a number of mystery shopping companies.
Because, sticking to just one company would mean that you would get
only a small number of assignments at any given point of time.




                                 42.
                                 43




The process of working with multiple companies also eliminates the
wait period, which you would have to face if you work with only one
or two companies. Working with more companies would mean that
you would always have sufficient buffer of assignments and you could
maximize your income from this business. Secondly, the buffer and
large number of assignment from multiple companies would mean
that you have a wider choice of assignments and can select the
better-paid assignments from the options you have.

If you work for more companies, there would be the initial teething
troubles because all the companies prefer that you do a good number
of low paid basic assignments before they could entrust you with
better high paid assignments. You should be ready to accept them but
keep reminding the company that after a particular number of
assignments may be after 5-10 small paid assignments you would not
be accepting the assignments less than a particular value say $30. If
you do so, it would help you in getting a good number of better-paid
jobs. However, it would not be possible if you keep working for just
one or two companies. This trick would work and after some time you
would have assignments that could pay you as high as $100-$150 per
assignment.


Find the Companies That Have Better Paid Assignments

The range of payments offered for mystery shopping assignments very
from $2.50 per assignment to $200 per assignment. In some cases, it
is merely a gift or a food voucher. Most of the people in the mystery
shopping business never reach the $50 and above range. The reason
for this is that they never get access to the companies that have
higher and better-paid shop jobs.

If you desire to make a successful career in mystery shopping you
should try to find out the companies that have large number of top




                                43.
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paid jobs. This is a two way process and finding the company alone
would not work. This would require a lot of hard work and concerted
effort on your part to impress the company and its executives by
consistent good and punctual work.


Comparison Or Competitive Shops Offer More Remuneration

The competitive shops are the assignments wherein you need to shop
for the same product or service from three or four different
establishments in the same category. In such cases, the companies
would like to compare their products or services with those of their
competitors. Herein the shoppers are required to fill up the same
questionnaire at different establishments. The comparison/
competitive shops are the better-paid shop assignments. A typical
retail comparison assignment would have $20 per establishment and
can go up to $40 per establishment. Assuming that you do three shops
for each day you can easily make $60-$120 per day. The range for
hotel shops vary from $50-$200. The service shop particularly the
homebuilder’s shop could fetch you $200 per establishment visited.

However, the competitive or comparison shops are fewer in number
and are generally available to select companies. Therefore, your
selection of company/companies is a crucial decision for your success
in mystery shopping.


Evolve Your Systems

Taking up mystery shopping assignments casually is fine. So long as
you wish to just make some extra money while you shop at your
favorite mall or dine at your favorite restaurants. However, if you are
serious about your career as a mystery shopper then it is important
that you make a habit of developing a system for your mystery
shopping work. The systematic approach to work pays in all spheres of




                                 44.
                                  45




life and it does more if you desire to be a top-earning mystery
shopper. Lackluster shop attitude would be detrimental for your
income prospects in the mystery shopping business.

It is better that you first make a system and thereafter let that
system work for you. It is better to set up realistic achievement
targets for yourself on a weekly and monthly basis and then try to
achieve those targets by concerted efforts. If you fail to achieve your
monthly targets for any reason, try to find out the reason for the
shortfall and work towards plugging those gaps. You should be careful
that your goals should be reasonable and achievable. However, you
should not be too conservative while deciding your targets. The
targets should be on a lower end for the first six months, may be in
the range of $200 per week for the first six months and then you can
gradually increase it to $300-$350 per week by the end of first twelve
months of your mystery shopping experience.

Setting the targets regarding timings is easy than setting monetary
targets. You need to plan this very carefully considering your current
occupation and the total amount of spare time available with you.
Setting productivity goals may be difficult in the first few months. In
the initial stages, you might have to spend some extra time to meet
the company executives for seeking the assignments. In the beginning
you might not be lucky enough to get all the assignments in close
vicinity and the traveling time involved for doing those assignments
may be too much. Nevertheless, do not get deterred by these issues
because every business has its own teething troubles. Remember,
tough time never lasts but tough people do.

Have your own small workplace dedicated to your mystery shopping
business. It should be neat and clean. You should have your own
mystery-shopping calendar and diary in which you should enter all
your assignments and appointments. Do not forget to remember and
note down a few salient features from every shop assignment you do.




                                 45.
                                  46




Your office should have the proper filing and documentation system.
You should keep track of each assignment in a separate file or folder.
It is always helpful to maintain a separate correspondence file for
follow up with the companies you have applied. Always keep handy
the numbers of your schedulers and key company executives and
remember to give them courtesy calls at frequent intervals. If you
have developed some sort of personal rapport with them do not forget
to send them birthday and anniversary wishes.

You should keep a copy of all the reports sent and the payments
received. This could be very helpful in an unlikely situation of a
payment dispute.


Discipline is the Key to Success and Fortune

Self-discipline is a key to success and this holds true for your mystery
shopping business as well. This book is your guide to a bright career in
the mystery shopping business and you should go through it carefully.
It is better that you should make notes of the points you find
important in this book. Make it a habit to visit the mystery shopping
sites daily and maintain regular follow-ups even after you have your
first few assignments. If you maintain a disciplined approach and
follow the schedule there is no reason why you should not be making
good money in your mystery shopping business.


           9. How to Do a Shopping Job


Preparing for an Assignment
The successful mystery shoppers are the one who pass on as the
normal customers unrecognized as mystery shoppers by the employees




                                  46.
                                 47




of the business establishment. In order to achieve this objective and
for successful completion of the mystery shopping assignments the
mystery shoppers should make adequate preparations.


•   You should revise the questionnaires and the instructions
    carefully before starting the shop assignments so that you do not
    miss any important point and complete the observation and
    evaluation with ease.

•   For retail and store shop assignments, you should make a list of
    purchases and probable questions so that during the shop you do
    not face any difficulty in the process.

•   You should not carry notebooks for making notes. However, if
    you need to make notes you should do that on the grocery list or
    the checkbooks.

•   For service shop assignments, it is better to go with proper
    background information regarding the establishment and the
    services offered by them. It is also necessary that you should
    memorize a list of questions, which you may need to ask, and
    the points that you may need to observe during the shop
    assignment.

•   For audio and video shop assignments, should you check your
    equipment and carefully understand the operational instructions
    so that you are able to operate them easily during the shop
    process.

•   If the shop assignments require that you should take your spouse
    or family members for the shop, you should brief them
    accordingly so that your identity as a mystery shopper remains
    undisclosed.


What you should be observing




                                47.
                                 48




The points for observation during the shop assignments depend on the
objectives of shop assignments. You should restrict your observation
to the instructions given to you prior to the shop assignment.

Some of the general points you require to observe during each shop
assignment are:


•   Exteriors and Signage: You should observe the exteriors, the
    parking facility, and the signage of the establishment. You
    should also make a note of the entrance and the passage way
    and their cleanliness. You should also look whether the doors and
    windows are clean.

•   Interiors: For the interiors, you should observe the cleanliness,
    access and pathways, rack arrangements and product display. In
    this section, the points of vital importance are special areas like
    the waiting areas, rest rooms or the trial rooms. You should
    carefully observe the cleanliness of the rest rooms and see
    whether they have adequate supply of soap, napkins etc.

•   Employee Behavior: This is the most important factor for
    observation and it starts right from the entry into the
    establishment. You should observe whether you were greeted
    properly at the entrance of the establishment, the product
    information of the sales staff, the attitude and friendliness of
    the staff, whether they were making use of suggestive selling
    techniques, whether they were briefing you and other customers
    about any special schemes or offers. You should also observe the
    cash handling, delivery and related procedures of the
    establishment.

•   Product or Service: In this section, you should observe        the
    quality of the product or the service offered by               the
    establishment. You should make an objective analysis of        the
    product or the service from the customer’s point of view.      You




                                 48.
                                  49




     should also keep a note of the time taken for the service in all
     establishments in general and restaurants in particular.


How to Look Like a "Real Shopper" and Not a "Mystery
Shopper" While You Are Shopping:

You should be extremely careful regarding your identity during the
shop assignment. You should be careful that your identity as a
mystery shopper remains undisclosed, because if it happens so the
very purpose of entire mystery shopping exercise would be lost. The
successful mystery shoppers are the ones that pass through as real
customers. You should be careful that during your shop assignment
your behavior or demeanor should in no way suggest that you are
different from a normal customer.

You should make adequate preparation before the shop assignment
and carry necessary shopping list with you. If at all, you need to make
notes during the shop you should do that secretly in the restrooms. If
you need to jot down something urgently, you should do that on your
checkbook, grocery list or a newspaper.

You should memorize all the vital evaluation parameters and prepare
questions you need to ask from the employees. If by any chance, if
someone asks you whether you are a mystery shopper, you should
answer in negative or simply show ignorance regarding the mystery-
shopping concept.

While reporting the shop you should be careful that any thing
mentioned in your report might not reveal your identity if the report
is read out before the employees. It is always better to report in the
third person to avoid any such eventuality.


How to write the best reports:




                                 49.
                                 50




Reporting is the most important factor of your shop assignment and
you should be very careful while filing your shop reports because
because of the reports you receive your shop fee. Incomplete and
erroneous shop reports may remain unpaid and it might hamper your
chances for getting future assignments. The reasons that you should
be careful while filing your reports are:


           You should file the report within the stipulated deadline
           and it should carry all the necessary information required.
           You should not leave out any point.
           You should write the report neatly and legibly. Write the
           report in simple English without any grammatical or
           spelling errors.
           You should be careful not to use either too flowery or too
           complex words. You should be careful not to be too
           emotional or insulting in your report.
           Write your reports based on your objective evaluation and
           without any personal bias or preferences.
           Stick to the word limit while writing the narratives. Do not
           try to go overboard or be too brief. Limit yourself to three
           to four sentences for each important section if you do not
           have a word limit.
           While reporting any particular incidence during shopping,
           report in the third person and not as your own experience
           and make a note regarding the same in the remarks
           column.


What you should do to follow up the job:




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Once you prepare the report there is not a lot of work left. However,
you will need to file a report or fill out a questionnaire form within a
short time of your visit. Try to answer all the questions to the best of
your knowledge without any bias or favor. Follow the instructions
given in the form. If you are uncertain how to reply a query, call the
company for details. If they ask you to call within a given time, do
everything possible to comply.

You can fax or mail your forms in, but always stick to the timings set
by the company. You should file a report within one-two business
days. If you are unable to file a report in time, call the company
without delay and let them know why. Once you have prepared a
report or questionnaires make a copy of it for your records. Now you
just have to wait a few more days for your check in the mail. Start
planning where you would like to mystery shop next!




  10. Caution: Things You Might Be Doing
  Wrong In Your Mystery Shopping Work!




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As mentioned earlier, mystery shopping is fun but it has no place for
people trying to act funny. This business is fun and goes well along
your leisure but you should be careful not to make mistakes that may
jeopardize your career as a mystery shopper. Remember that this is a
serious business as the company uses your reports for making
necessary policy decisions. Some of the errors that people tend to
make during their mystery shopping business are:


Improper Reporting

You should be very careful while filing your report for the shop
assignments. Generally, the people make common errors like checking
yes when they want to check no or omitting some of the columns. It
should be borne in mind that the report is the most important factor
for your mystery shopping business and is the basis on which you get
the payment. Sloppy reporting might result in deductions from your
paycheck or making no payment to you at all.


Ignoring the schedules

The mystery shoppers do this gravest and common mistake. Actually,
by ignoring the schedules the shoppers put the schedulers in problem
situations. At times it so happens that the shoppers find it difficult to
finish some specific service category shops within the stipulated
period. This happens more with the new people in the business and
more so with those who take up more assignments than they could
comfortably handle. This situation is further aggravated when the
people just give up without informing the scheduler or the company.
The schedulers come to know about the ditch when it is too late. This
kind of situation leads the schedulers into serious problems. If you do
this mistake, you should expect not to get any future assignment from
that scheduler or the company.




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Deviation from the guidelines: Every shop assignment has a particular
set of observations and a different questionnaire. The shop company
and the client design the questionnaire based on the objectives of the
shop assignment. You will get the guidelines and the instructions at
the beginning of each assignment. You should stick to the instructions
given and limit your observation to the given questionnaire. Your
reporting should be very objective and you should not cloud it with
your opinions or personal biases.


Selecting wrong company

Some of the beginners in this business tend to get anxious about
getting their first job as quickly as possible and end up landing in a
fraudulent company’s net. So be very careful about selecting the
mystery shopping company. Do not pay any upfront money to the
company for any reason whatsoever. Before starting to work with the
company, check if there are any complaints against them in The
Better Business Bureau. It is always better to work with the company
that you have worked before or the one that has a clean record.


Improper planning

Some of the mysteries shoppers tend to be so overawed by the new
assignments that they forget to calculate the time taken and the
travel cost to and from the shop. In certain cases, it goes to an extent
that either the shoppers make no money or in some extreme cases,
they are not even able to recover the gas costs. Careful planning is
the key for your mystery shopping success. You should try to club the
assignments and make use of the map to plan your trips.




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11. Expert Advice from Successful Mystery
     Shoppers and Mystery Shopping
               Companies


Mystery shopping is business where you have to sell the product that
is “YOU”. In this business, there are no benchmarks like the
traditional businesses and each shop experience is a unique
experience. In such a scenario, it becomes vital for you to have a
clear understanding of how the successful mystery shoppers have
become successful.

Here is some expert advice from the successful mystery shoppers and
the mystery shopping companies that could be vital for your success in
this business:

1.    You should strive to be efficient in whatever you do in your
      business of mystery shopping. The efficiency relates
      particularly to the way you scout for work, accomplish your
      shop assignments and manage your reporting. Your efficiency
      regarding how you complete your assignments would mean how
      you organize yourself during the shops. The mystery shoppers
      who are particular about their reporting and submit error free
      reports within the stipulated deadlines get the maximum
      number of assignments and they climb the success ladder at a
      faster pace compared to other mystery shoppers.

2.    The successful mystery shoppers are the one who are selective
      about the assignments they wish to do and the ones they prefer
      to say no. While selecting or rejecting a particular assignment
      the factors you should consider are- the category of the




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     assignment, the remunerative value (in cash as well as kind) of
     the assignment, your relationship to the company, and the
     travel time involved. The experts say that you should try to
     find out the prevailing rate for comparable assignments and the
     time factor before deciding to accept a particular assignment.

3.   After considerable amount of experience and expertise in the
     mystery shopping business one should try to get focused. The
     experts believe that the serious people in this trade should get
     focused on the categories like service shops, technology shops
     and restaurant shops. The service category shops include
     apartment shops, homebuilders, day care centers, car
     dealerships, golf courses, gaming centers, oil change, testing
     centers etc. These jobs have a fee range of $25 to $ 100 per
     shop assignment and in some cases; it might go up to $200. The
     technology shops are the ones that require audio and video
     recording and might add $50-$100 to your kitty. The dinner
     restaurant serves might offer you a lower shop fee probably in
     the range of $5 to $20 but it still has value addition due to the
     complimentary food included and the fact that you can take
     your spouse along.

4.   Some of the people who have made big on the mystery-
     shopping arena get tempted to start their own mystery
     shopping company. If you decide to start your own company,
     you should do so only after gaining substantial experience and
     getting a clear understanding of all the nuances involved in
     running a business.




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12. What to Do When You Are Not Getting
                 Paid


Most of the mystery shoppers are concerned about getting a timely
payment for the shop assignments they do. By and large the mystery
shopping companies are regular and prompt in their payments, but
sometimes you could be in a situation where you face difficulty
regarding collecting your payments for your shop jobs.

You should have a clear understanding of the payment schedule of the
company. The check for which you are eagerly looking for in your
mailbox might have not become due. Generally, the mystery shopping
companies follow a monthly payment schedule. The system works in a
way that you can expect your payment one month after close of the
month in which you have submitted your report. The wait period
generally ranges from 30 to 60 days and you should always keep a
margin of 5-7 days for delivery and other purposes.

Understanding the payment schedule of the company you are working
with will help you in making the correct idea as to when you can
expect your check. If you do not receive your check even one week
after the due date, you have reason to be concerned. In such a case,
you can make a polite call or send e-mail to the company. In your
mail or the call, you should clearly mention the complete details of
the assignment and the date on which you have submitted the report.
It would be better that you keep a record of the date, time and
person you spoke with about your payment.

Chances are that you might receive your check after the reminder but
if your much-awaited check still eludes you, then you can make a
second reminder call or mail to the company. Remember that even




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this time too you should be polite. However, in this mail or call you
could be more firm and clear regarding your concern. Insist on
knowing the reason for the delay and seek a definite commitment
from them regarding the date by which you would get your check.

If your check fails to appear in your mailbox even after the second
reminder, you could make another call after the expiry of the
deadline offered to you. This time you should speak to the manager or
supervisor. In case of small companies, you could speak to the owners
directly. During your call, you should maintain cool and should make
use of phrases like, “I have a nice time and a wonderful experience
working with your company” or “I understand that there could be
omissions but I have not got my check as promised despite repeated
reminders.”

Depending on the situations, you can make subtle and veiled warnings
like, “In such a situation it would not be possible for me to take up
fresh assignments for your company until I receive my previous dues”
or that you would not hesitate in reporting the matter to ‘The Better
Business Bureau.’

This trick is likely to work and you might receive your check, but if
the company you are dealing with has a tortoise shell, then there is
time for action and you should act as promised. You must find out the
office of The Better Business Bureau in your local area and file a
complaint with all the details.

In certain cases, there are possibilities that the issue of non-payment
or a short payment may be due to a problem with the report
submitted by you. In such an eventuality your paper work and proper
records comes in handy. To deal with such situations you should keep
a proper record regarding the assignment conversation, your report,
and the back up and support material like the receipts, business cards
etc.




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You should make a claim to the company in polite yet firm language
supported with all the documents. You should also provide necessary
evidence to support the legitimacy of your claim. If it does not work,
you could approach ‘The Better Business Bureau’ or the professional
mystery shoppers’ organizations like the ‘National Center for
Professional Mystery Shoppers’.

The people who are new to the business of mystery shopping should
try to find out about the legitimacy of the companies offering the
shop assignments. For such details, you could check out on the
bulletin boards put up by shopper associations. The better companies
providing mystery-shopping services are the members of mystery
shopping providers association. You can check about the membership
details of the company that you are interested on the website
www.mysteryshop.org.

You should not pay any money upfront to the shop companies under
any garb such as registration money or security or caution deposit.
Generally, the companies that ask for such charges on upfront basis
are not legitimate and genuine in their intentions. If you would still
like to pay then you must ensure about the legitimacy of the company
before doing so.




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   13. Mystery Shoppers Income Drainers-
          And How to Avoid Them


Money saved is money earned because if you do not guard yourself
against the possible losses and drainers you would end up decreasing
your income or reduce your income prospects. Making good amount of
money from the mystery shopping business is very important for you.
However, it is equally important for you to guard yourself against the
possible drainers that reduce your paycheck substantially. If you do
not take adequate care, there is possibility that you would drain out a
great amount of your possible mystery shopping earnings. Some of the
factors that drain the mystery shopping business are:


Excessive narratives for peanuts

Normally the objectives are involved in service shop assignments but
some of the retail and fast food shops also involve narrative
description. The narratives are lengthier and time taking responses in
your mystery-shopping questionnaire. The narratives are based on
your personal experiences during the shop and are not like the simple
“Yes” or “No” type responses. You should find out the actual amount
of narratives involved in a particular shop assignment before
accepting it. You should evaluate the exact amount of narrative and
the number of “Yes” or “No” type answers or the simple one-liners.
Once you would evaluate this, it would help you in making an
objective assessment of the actual time expected to complete one
report. Once you are thorough with the assignment you should decide
whether the assignment is worth your effort or not.




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Not all the service category companies pay the same amount for
mystery shopping jobs. There have been examples in which the
apartment shops involving the similar effort and the same quantum of
narratives have a big differential when it comes to the remuneration.
Some companies offer up to $50 for the same assignment while others
might offer as low as $15. You should be very careful that the
company is not taking you for a ride and not offering you peanuts for
your efforts.


Skipping the deadlines

Adherence to the deadlines is very important. If you miss on your
deadlines, you may face a penalty and it may affect your credibility
with that company and the scheduler. So be very careful about the
deadlines. Another important factor here is that most of the
beginners tend to confuse between the shop deadline and the report
submission deadline. Both the deadlines refer to two different things.
This would become clearer by understanding this example. Suppose
you got a shop assignment on January 5 and you need to complete the
shop by January 10 and you are expected to file the report within 48
hours of completing the shop, chances are that you would
automatically assume the report submission deadline to be January
12, which is not correct. In this case, you should submit your report
within 48 hours of completing the shop assignment, which implies that
if you finish the shop on January 8 you should submit the report
within 48 hours of completing the shop or latest by January 10 and
not January 12. If you take January 12 as your submission deadline,
you may be late in report submission and in such situation you might
have to pay a penalty for late submission.


Being innovative while reporting:




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Being innovative pays but not in mystery shopping. Every shop
assignment has a particular set of instructions to follow and your
shopping parameters are predetermined. Generally, the shoppers are
tempted to make use of their personal observations, overlooking the
guidelines. In such situations, they either forget some crucial points
from their observation or tend to report on some additional points,
which they should not as the companies prefer to work only with the
shoppers that adhere to their guidelines. If you ignore some points,
you might have to face some deduction from the shop fee. For
example, if you report about the cashier’s efficiency and the delivery
system you should not mention anything about cleanliness, knowledge
and behavior of the sales staff.


Being vociferous about checking leads:

Most of the mystery shoppers get themselves signed up on almost all
the message boards for mystery shopping like Yahoo, Delphi and
Topica. They do this to make sure that they do not miss any of the
mystery shopping opportunities. However, what actually happens is
that they waste a lot of time in the process. Most of the assignments
posted on all the message boards are a cut and paste from other
websites or message boards. Secondly, these boards have a
nationwide listing and most of those listings would be geographically
unviable for you. Such a process means that you are wasting a major
chunk of your time on an exercise that is not productive. It is better
to stick to a few good schedulers and companies and you should log on
only to the area specific message boards.


Waiting for the job to come:

Mystery shopping is an independent business where you are the boss.
It is a business where you have to work to get fresh work. Your getting
new assignments depend primarily on one factor that what efforts you




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have done to bring in those assignments. This means that you should
be scouting for fresh assignments while doing one shop assignment or
else there would be a situation when you would have no new
assignment on completion of the previous one. The longer the wait
period the more you are draining out on your possible earnings.

Like every small business, the mystery shopping business also requires
some sort of business development and relationship building on your
part. You should try to develop good relations with the mystery
shopping companies and the schedulers and try to remain in their
good books so that they consider you for their future assignments.
Remember that the most crucial driver remains the quality of your
work yet you need to buttress it with your regular follow-ups and good
relationships.


Watch Out for the Batteries and Equipment During the
Audio/Video Shops:

There has been a great hype about the audio/video mystery shop
assignments. These assignments involve secret audio or video
recording of the employees during the shop process. The audio/video
shops are favored and proffered because of the better remuneration
offered for them. The typical audio/video shop job could fetch
anything between $50 and $100 and the complex ones could be as
rewarding as $200 per shop. The other advantage for the audio/video
shop assignment is that the amount of reporting required is less
because of recording process and therefore the assignment does not
take much time in completion.

However, there is catch, not only you are recording the employees
but also your record your shop process as well. This means that your
performance during the shop process is also being recorded and there
are chances that if you have made any mistake during the shop




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process it will come to fore. There is a possibility that the audio or
the video equipment might not work properly during the shop process
due to a technical fault or battery failure. Such a situation means that
all your efforts and time spend goes down the drain because you
would not get payment for such incomplete shops. It is also possible
that the newcomers will get uncomfortable because of carrying the
equipment and might get conscious and stand a chance of being
exposed. The newcomers should try their hands on this version of
mystery shopping only after gaining sufficient experience and
becoming considerably comfortable with the process of mystery
shopping.

The second and more crucial factor involved with the audio/video
mystery shopping is the ethical and legal concern regarding the
recording of employees without their permission. In some cases secret
recording amounts to the breach of the employee’s privacy and falls
under the ambit of surveillance. In some areas, such recordings might
require the license of private detectives. Such a situation might lead
you into legal hassles. You should check on the legal aspects in the
location of the shop before you take up such assignments.

Furthermore, there could be the situation where a company or its
representative may tell you that the employees have consented to the
idea of a secret audio/video recording. However, if you would like to
be sure about the ethical issue regarding the employees’ privacy you
should ask for the copies of the consent given by the employees. In
the past, some of the mystery shoppers have experienced that the
companies generally do not get the consents and simply tell a lie that
they have the consents. Hence, you must check the facts before you
give in to the temptation of doing these lucrative audio/video shops.


Ignoring Your Tax Liability Could Cost Too Much:




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Most of the mystery shoppers are under the false impression regarding
filing the tax forms. The mystery shoppers believe that since they
work as independent contractors they need not file tax returns if their
income from the mystery shopping company falls below $600 per
annum. It is true but partly true. It is true that if you work as an
independent contractor and your income form a particular company
falls below $600 the company would not claim tax and should not
issue a 1099. Nevertheless, as an independent contractor you are still
required to file a Schedule C for your total income even if the
company does not issue a 1099. The Schedule C, which you need to
file, should carry all the details regarding your income as an
independent contractor from all the companies and your other
incomes. If you fail to do so, you could be inviting trouble and expect
penalties and punitive action from the IRS.

The Schedule C filed by you should carry all the details regarding your
business income and expenses. In this, you can claim deduction of
your business related expenses as applicable to sole proprietorships.
The expenses that fall into this category are the expenses related to
the business cards, email, Internet, travel and gas expenses, repairs
and maintenance, supplies and materials and depreciation. In this
category, you could include the expenses explicitly linked to this
business. It is therefore necessary that you should maintain a
complete record of all the expenses and maintain all the receipts to
support your claim. If you are not maintaining the proper record of
the expenses and are not maintaining the proper receipts there are
chances that you might end up paying tax, which you would have
otherwise saved.

Disclaimer: The information regarding Taxation provided in this
e-book is for simple suggestive purposes and not as professional tax
advice. You should take professional tax advice from your tax partner
or tax professional before taking any step on this issue. You must




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verify the form details mentioned here from the IRS before you file
any tax return.




 14. Low Paying Mystery Shopping Jobs-
Should I Be Accepting These Assignments?


The mystery shoppers are always in a dilemma whether to accept the
low paid mystery shopping jobs or not. The shoppers believe that they
should not accept the low paying mystery-shopping assignments.
However, there are certain exceptions to this rule and there are
situations when one should not mind accepting even the low paying
jobs. These situations are:
    a. If you get an opportunity to do a shop assignment right in your
       vicinity or for a location, which you otherwise also visit like
       your bank or the nearby grocery or video store or your gym. In
       such cases, you can complete the assignment without much
       effort and add another experience to your portfolio.
    b. If the assignment offers you the maiden shop opportunity, you
       should accept it. You can use such opportunities as a platform
       to move towards better-paid assignments.




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   c. If the low paid assignment provides you to join hands with a
      new company that has a wide repertoire of clients and better
      assignments you should not shy away from doing a couple of
      low paid assignment for that company to gain an entry into the
      company.
   d. You can accept the low paid assignments when you are in a
      cash crunch. However, in those cases you should try to fix up a
      bare minimum per shop or per shop area. In such cases
      assignment in locations like bigger shopping malls or airports
      offer an opportunity to cover a large number of small low paid
      shops in less time. In such cases, your productivity for that
      particular period remains more or less the same.

    15. Current Mystery Shopping Trends


Mystery   shopping business is fast becoming popular and with the
increasing popularity, newer trends are emerging in the mystery
shopping business.

Recently stores have started to recruit direct customers for the
feedback and evaluation, enabling these companies to use services of
the amateur mystery shoppers at economical rates. These companies
place notices on the exits or check out counters to call a toll free
number and answer to a few questions. The customers get a payment
of $5 to $10 for answering these questions. Some shops print a mini
questionnaire on the back of the receipts and offer the people
chances to win attractive prizes if they submit the filled
questionnaires. Some restaurants are also adopting the same
procedure, and are offering food vouchers or discount coupons for the
evaluation and feedback offered.




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The questionnaire or the questions in these cases are simple when
compared to the detailed mystery-shopping questionnaires, yet they
allow the beginners to have a basic feel of the mystery shopping jobs.
These simple questionnaires could in no way provide a substitute for
detailed feedback that requires narrative questions related to the
service establishments like apartments, banks or gyms. However, the
professionals should not get concerned because in any case they
should be targeting the high paid service category shops. Moreover,
for the beginners these evolving trends would give them the necessary
experience to develop into seasoned professionals.




    16. Tips & Tricks- How Professional
  Mystery Shoppers Do Their Best Mystery
             Shop Evaluations


In the mystery shopping business, the shop report is the most crucial
aspect because that is the reason they hire you. The professionals are
known for their systematic evaluation and reporting, and that is what
makes them stand tall among the crowd of the mystery shoppers. If
you desire to become a successful mystery shopper, you should learn
to professionally evaluate and file an equally good report.


Remember the Guidelines

It does not matter whether you are new or old to the mystery
shopping business, what matters most is how best you could
remember all the instructions and guidelines for a shop assignment
and follow them diligently during your shop assignment. It is always
better to be most attentive during the briefings and ask questions if




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you would have any doubts regarding any particular topic. You should
always carry a copy of the questionnaire when you leave for the shop
assignment but remember to leave it in your car before you proceed
for the shop. A through reading of a questionnaire is necessary. The
experts are the ones those who remember all the points covered in
the questionnaire and cover all of them in their evaluation. If you are
not thorough with the questionnaire chances are you might miss vital
information, which might waste your time because either you may
have to repeat the process or your report may not be accurate.

Here is a point of caution for the serious and the experienced mystery
shoppers. Generally, they assume so many things out of their
experience from the previous shop assignment. They make the
mistake of applying those assumptions to the subsequent assignments.
This may not be correct. Remember that every assignment is new and
have different objectives. Therefore, you should take every
assignment as if you are doing your first mystery shop assignment.
Doing this would not only save your time by not allowing you to
observe unwanted things but also help you in accurate and
professional reporting.


Remain Unidentified

The last thing your mystery shopping company or the client wants is
that the employees should identify you as a mystery shopper during
the shop. The experts are the ones who comfortably pass on as just
another inquisitive customer and not attract any extra attention by
the employees.

You should not carry your questionnaire or your notebook and pencil
during the shop. If at all, you would like to make the notes you can
use your checkbook, grocery list or newspaper for taking the notes. If
you think you would like to note down something on are urgent basis




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you should make it a point to do that in the restroom. Another factor
regarding identity has to be born in mind while reporting. There are
chances that when your report is being read out in front of the
employees they might recall your identity on the basis of some
unusual conversation, receipt number, the product purchased or any
other thing. To avoid such situations it is always better to report in
third person and report regarding your experience. Suppose the
employee said a particular thing you should not report, “Xyz said to
me” you can say, “xyz said to the customer standing in front of me”
and make a note of the changes in the comments column.


Accept the honesty audits only if you are comfortable with
them

“Honesty” mystery shop assignments are the situations where you
need to evaluate the honesty or integrity of the employees. Honesty
shops are legal but these situations might make some mystery
shoppers somewhat uncomfortable. In this type of shops, you would
have to make an offer to the employees like “Hey here is $20, keep it
and give me this thing. Don’t bother to issue the receipt.” If the
employee accept the bait you know what to report and if not you can
vouch for the integrity of the person involved. The honesty or
integrity assignments are occasional and you should make a proper
assessment of yourself that whether you would like to get into those
situations or not? Would it be possible for you to make such an offer
and would you like to become a reason for causing embarrassment to
someone?


Systemize Your Evaluation

The experts are the ones who adopt a systematic approach for work.
An expert mystery shopper draw out a systematic and step based




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evaluation program to accomplish his evaluation with ease and make
that process swift as well as error free.

There are four steps for the evolution process. They are:


    1. Decide objectives: You should decide on your objectives from
       that shop based on the guidelines provided to you along with
       the assignment.
    2. Decide your type: If you are going for a particular shop, you
       should decide on what you should be posing as. For example,
       you can visit the establishment as a customer, potential
       customer or just a visitor.
    3. Start the shop: Begin the shop with all the arrangements. Get
       your shopping list ready if you are going for a retail shop
       assignment and you should prepare some questions that you
       would like to put up to the employees at the establishment.
    4. Reporting: The reporting is vital and therefore you must take
       utmost care while filing a report.


What should you evaluate?

Most of the shop assignments are having predetermined assessment
and evaluation parameters. In general, you should keep your
observational process focused on the following issues:


    1. Access and appearance: You should keenly observe how the
       shop establishment has been done up. For an example, you
       should be careful towards signage, signs for finding your way
       around, display, rack arrangement, general atmosphere and
       upkeep of the place and cleanliness.




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   2. Employee behavior: Employee behavior is the most vital
      aspect of the evaluation, starting from your entry into the
      establishment. You should keep an observant eye on how you
      were dealt with at the parking, did they greet you at the
      entrance, how was the behavior and knowledge of the sales
      staff, did they use suggestive selling, were your queries
      answered properly, how efficient was the cashier, how
      comfortable and homely did you feel at the shop?
   3. Facilities at the establishment: This aspect becomes
      prominent in the hospitals and hotels while it is also important
      for other service establishment as well. You should observe
      the quality of the facilities offered at the establishment, their
      maintenance and their user friendliness. You should observe
      how the baby-sitting facilities are organized. Are the toilets
      clean and have regular supply of soap and towels?
   4. Systems at the establishment: You should have a look at the
      customer orientation of the systems, for example, how
      efficient is the order taking system? Is billing and making
      payments a time taking procedure? Is the information
      sufficient and self-explanatory? How much time they take to
      service an order?

Reporting

Reporting is the main aspect around which the entire mystery
shopping business revolves. Reporting is very vital for the mystery
shopping success. You should be careful and prompt about your
mystery shopping reports. You should neither add something to the
questionnaire nor omit any important point from your report. You
should strictly follow the instructions given and be careful that you
should not forget any of the required columns. If you do so, your
report would be incomplete and the company either might deduct
some money from your shop fee or may not pay you at all.




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Writing narratives is an important aspect of reporting. You should be
very careful about writing the narratives. Some important factors that
you should keep in mind while writing the narratives are:


   1. The narrative should be neither too long nor too short.
      Generally, the company will give you a word limit for the
      narratives. If not, then you should limit your narrative to 2-4
      well-structured sentences for each section. If you leave out
      any question for any reason do not forget to mention the
      reason for the omission.
   2. As far as the content is concerned, take the care from the
      guidelines. In absence of a specific guideline you should use
      the role-play method and imagine if you were in the place of
      the shop owner what would you have liked to know from the
      shoppers? Draft your report accordingly.
   3. You should balance the language of the narratives. You should
      avoid too casual and too flowery language. You should also
      avoid making use of excessively emotional language in your
      reports. Even if you would like to express your anguish or
      resentment over something during your shop experience, you
      should make use of softer and suggestive language rather than
      using harsh emotional words.
   4. Avoid making a detailed narrative, for an example, “I went to
      the store, when I reached the door, the door keeper stood up
      and he greeted me. He said, good evening sir. Then I went in
      to be------.” Replace this by “upon my arrival the door keeper
      greeted me warmly.”
   5. Try to avoid using the same phrase in most of the sentences or
      avoid framing sentence with same opening words. You should
      also be careful not to make any grammatical or spelling errors
      in your report.




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  17. How to Work With Multiple Mystery
           Shopping Companies


Mystery shopping is serious business opportunity and those who are
determined to make rewarding career out of this business should try
to explore all the possible ways to maximize their income from this
business. Working with multiple mystery shopping companies is one
such way to maximize your income from this business.

Generally, a newcomer in the mystery shopping business applies to a
number of mystery shopping companies in the beginning but once the
shopper starts to get assignments from a particular company the
follow-ups with the other companies take a back seat. This is not an
intelligent business practice because just sticking to one or two
companies is the factor that limits your income potential and affects
the quality and variety of assignments. If you continue working with




                                73.
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one company, chances are that you would have a very limited choice
regarding the selection of assignments.

The successful mystery shoppers always work for multiple companies.
It is better to maintain a regular follow up with a number of
companies even after you start getting assignments from one
company. The advantages of working with multiple mystery shopping
companies at a time are:


Reduced Waiting Period In Between Assignments

If you work for just one mystery shopping company, you will get only
one or two assignments at a time. This would mean that you would
get the next lots of assignment only after you finish the ongoing ones.
The longer the wait period more you will loose out on your possible
mystery shopping income. If you work with multiple companies, you
would have sufficient amount of assignments without any waiting
period, helping you to maximize your income from this business.


Better and Higher Paid Assignments

Working with multiple mystery shopping companies would mean that
you would have a wide variety of jobs offered to you. After the initial
teething period, you would be in a position to demand better paying
assignments. This would translate into better earnings and better
average income per hour for you.


Wider Experience

Working with multiple companies would expose you to all kinds and
categories of shop assignments in a short period. More companies
mean the better variety of jobs you have, gaining wider exposure and
experience in all the categories i.e. retail, restaurant and service




                                 74.
                                 75




establishments. Your experience has a direct bearing on your income
in this business.


More Productivity per Day

Working with multiple companies would mean that you would have
more assignments per day. This situation would help you in planning
your day and would provide you with an opportunity to club together
all the assignments, saving your time and gasoline.


Access to Rush Jobs

When you are working with more than one company or scheduler you
get access to the rush assignments of the companies. The rush
assignments are generally the ones, which are refused or left out by
the mystery shoppers at the last minute, putting the company or
scheduler into awkward situation. The rush assignments have two
advantages. First, they have a higher shop fee and secondly, by doing
rush assignments you are actually rescuing the company or the
scheduler. This would help you to become a close confident of the
company and placing you higher up in their credibility chart.

However, one should be careful regarding some common mistakes
that mystery shoppers tend to do while working for multiple
companies:


1. Some of the shoppers tend to accept whatever offers they get.
They accept work more than what they could comfortably do. By
doing so, they mess up with the assignments and the deadlines. Those
working with multiple mystery shopping companies should be good at
assessing their abilities and accept only that much work which they
can comfortably complete.




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2. If you work with more companies, it would mean that you would
have to do more number of less paid assignments before you could
graduate to better assignments. Therefore, you should be careful
while choosing the number of companies to work with.
3. While working for too many companies you tend to be careless and
may fail to make objective evaluations about the company and
chances are that you maybe working with the companies that either
have too little number of good assignments or the companies that are
bad pay masters.
4. By working with too many companies, you may not be able to
establish good relations and rapport with the executives and the
schedulers and therefore, may never figure on their priority list.


   18. The Business of Mystery Shopping-
     How to Keep Those Higher Paying
          Assignments Coming In


The mystery shopping is one of the most legitimate part time or work
from home opportunities. This job can churn out great earnings for
you. The quantum of earnings depends on your approach and there
are chances that you may end up being stuck in a situation when you
overworked with a number of underpaid assignments. Such a situation
would mean that you would make less money from your stint with
mystery shopping. The successful mystery shoppers who made good
money in this profession master the art of the followings:

   •   Evaluating which type of shop assignments is worth the time
       and efforts. It helps them in optimizing their incomes.




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   •   Selecting their coverage area and limiting their assignments to
       that particular area.

   •   Finding out the remuneration for their time spend including the
       travel time to and from the assignment and time taken for
       submitting the reports.

   •   Develop a system for procuring shop assignments on a regular
       basis.

   •   Doing their assignments carefully and learning the tricks for
       optimizing the income and avoiding the mistakes that might
       result in loss or deduction from their earnings.

The key is on making the right connections in the mystery shopping
companies and research agencies that have most of the high paid
assignments of large chains on a regular basis. Moreover, the focus
should be on doing the jobs perfectly and evolving a nice working
relationship in a few substantial agencies rather than hopping from
one agency to another in search of new assignments. Frequent
hopping would mean that every time you would have to start afresh in
that agency.

If you wish to optimize your earnings, you should focus more on the
assignments of the service category like banks, brokerage houses,
homebuilders, daycare centers, car dealerships, service stations,
testing centers, apartments etc. These assignments fall in the
category of higher paying shop assignments earning you $25 to $50 per
assignment.

If you follow these guidelines and select your jobs carefully, you
should become a successful mystery shopper earning up to $1200-
$1500 per month.




                                 77.
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      19. Opportunities for Teen Mystery
                  Shoppers


Mystery   shopping is a big opportunity and the teenagers too have
joined the bandwagon along with their parents. The teenagers are
also looking for opportunities wherein they could add some money to
their pocket allowance while having a nice time at their favorite fast
food joint, watching a movie, playing their favorite video games or
buying the surfing boards. There are innumerable mystery shopping
opportunities available for the teenagers and many mystery-shopping
companies do employ teenagers for shop assignments on teen related
products and services. In these assignments, the teenagers are
required for the shop process either alone or in conjunction with their
parents.




                                 78.
                                  79




Generally, the mystery shopping companies have the minimum age
limit of 18 years. That is, one should have completed eighteen years
of age to work as a mystery shopper. This rule at times acts as
limiting factor for teenagers who want to start their mystery shopping
experience. However, there are exceptions for this rule and plenty of
mystery shopping jobs are available for teenagers. Many companies do
not have any such age limit and they are willing to take the services
of the young students for shopping assignments related to the
products and services targeted to young clients. The department
stores, games and toy stores, sports and activity shops, video gaming
centers, hobby centers, fast food restaurants, movie theaters are
some of the examples where the teenage mystery shoppers are
preferred. In such cases, the services for teen mystery shoppers
come in handy for assessing the staff behavior and the product quality
and for designing the marketing strategies for wooing the young
clients.

In case of certain shop assignments where the company is offering for
the specific products for youngsters like the video games, skates,
surfboards etc there is a requirement that the shoppers should carry
their children along with them for the shop. There may be questions
in the report that may specifically relate to the experience of the
teenagers.

There have been instances when mystery-shopping companies have
hired the teenagers for entirely different category of assignments. For
example, The Federal Trade Commission wanted to study the
instances of marketing violent entertainment to the children below a
particular age group. They were specifically looking for sale of movie
tickets, movies on DVD, music recordings, and electronic games at
899 theaters and stores to the children unaccompanied by the
parents. In this mystery shopping assignment, the FTC hired the
teenagers of 13 to 16 tears of age for making the undercover study to
find out whether or not these establishments were selling the




                                 79.
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classified products to the unescorted children. These kinds of
assignments are limited in number but they provide the teenagers
with some exposure to the mystery shopping business.

The young students are also very helpful for the parents in the
mystery shopping business in their role of assisting their parents for
their mystery shopping jobs. Children could accompany the parents
for the shop and their presence adds credibility to the shop process.
Not only this but also at the time of reporting they are a great help to
their parents because they could help the parents in writing the
reports and save considerable amount of their parents’ time which
could be used for some other productive jobs.

If you are a teenager and you are looking for mystery shopping
assignments to have some extra pocket money while having fun, you
could do that either in conjunction with your parents or alone. Below,
we have provided a list of companies that do not have a minimum age
requirement and the companies that have shop assignments for the
teenagers. What you should do is that you should carefully plan the
schedule and find out the amount of time you could comfortably
spare for the mystery shopping business. Thereafter, you should write
to the companies mentioned in this list or you could register to the
other companies mentioned in chapter-28 of this e-book.
Alternatively, you could also register yourself on your area specific
online discussion boards and keep a watch on the teen specific job
postings.

The teenagers should also try to understand the basic point that this
is a serious business besides being fun and therefore, they should not
take this business casually. Secondly, they should learn to adhere to
the deadlines and do the assignments professionally. Lastly, the
teenagers should also be careful that they should not ignore their
studies for taking up the shop assignments. If you keep these factors
in mind, you could easily make some extra pocket money while eating




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at those swanky fast food outlets or playing your favorite video games
or shopping for your skates.


List of Mystery Shopping Companies, which hire teenagers
for some specific assignments:

(1) Action Research
    212 Battery St
    Burlington, VT 05401
    (802)862-4370
    E-mail: info@actionresearch.com
    Website: http://www.actionresearch.com



(2) Anonymous Consumer Research Institute
    PO Box 167
    Whiteford, MD 21160
    (410)352-0312
     Website:
http://www.worcestercountyonline.com/companies/anonymousconsu
merresearchinstitute.html



(3) Ath Power Consulting
    12 Essex Street
    Andover, MA 01810
    (978)474-6464
    Fax: (978) 474-4161
    Toll free: 877-97-POWER (877-977-6937)
    E-mail: info@athpower.com
    Website: http://www.athpower.com




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(4) Bay Area Research
    9936 Liberty Rd.
    Randallstown, MD 21133
    (410)922-6200
    E-mail: baya@erols.com



(5) B. Business Solutions, Inc.
    55 Greystone Dr.
    Mountaintop, PA 18707
    1-800-380-6559
    (570) 474-2212
    E-mail: salli@bizshoptalk.com
    Website: http://www.bizshoptalk.com



(6) Capstone Research, Inc
    623 Ridge Rd.
    Lyndhurst, NJ 07071
    (201)939-0600
    E-mail: info@capstoneresearch.com
    Website: http://www.capstoneresearch.com



(7) Datatron
    P.O. Box 30605
    Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33420-0605
    (800)694-0089
    E-mail: lyn@usd-datatron.com
    Website: http://www.usd-datatron.com



(8) David Sparks & Associates
    107 Clemson St.




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   Clemson, SC 29631
   (864)654-7571
   (864)654-3229
    E-mail: dsa@sparksresearch.com and more@sparksresearch.com
    Website: http://www.sparksresearch.com



(9) D.S.G.
    2110 E First Street Ste.#106
    Santa Ana, CA 92703
    (800)462-8765
    (800)210-5350(fax)
    (714)835-3020
     E-mail: shoppers@dsgai.com
     Website: http://www.dsgai.com



(10) Global Growth Group Mystery Shopping
    (Formerly Sparagowski & Associates)
     5855 Monroe Street
     Sylvania, OH 43560
     Phone: 1-877-379-5067 ext. 285
     Fax: 1-800-762-9007
     E-mail: dnkaiser@globalgrowthgroup.com
     Website: http://www.globalgrowthgroup.com



(11) ICC/Decision Services
    100 Hollister Road
    Teterboro, NJ 07024
     Phone: (800) 444-1717
     Fax: (201) 288-6841
     E-mail: info@iccds.com
     Website: http://www.iccds.com




                              83.
                                 84




(12) J.C. & Associates LLC
     3578 Hartsel Drive Unit E #352
     Colorado Springs, CO 80920
     Phone: 719-264-6402
     Fax: 719-637-8353
     E-mail: jrivera@jcandassociates.com
     Website: http://www.jcandassociates.com



(13) JKS, Inc.
     1706 Goodnight Lane
     Austin, TX 78757
     (512)452-0200
     (512)452-2713 (Fax)
     E-mail: damico@damicoaustin.com
     Website: http://www.jks-inc.com



(14) Quality Assessments Mystery Shoppers, LLC
     PO Box 168
     Rochester, IL 62563
     (800)580-2500
     E-mail: mfurrie@qams.com
     Website: http://www.qams.com



(15) RKR
    Virginia Office
    171 Somervelle St.
    Suite 409
    Alexandria, VA 22304
    Phone: 703-298-2381




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                                 85




   Fax: 800-905-0506

   Florida Office
   P.O. Box 7542
   Jupiter, FL 33468
   Phone: 561-626-1220
   Fax: 561-626-0577
   E-mail: rkruh@aol.com
   Website: http://www.rkrmg.com



(16) Satisfaction Services, Inc.
     P.O. Box 11045
     Fort Lauderdale
     Florida 33301
     Phone: 954-564 6570
             800-564 6574
     Fax: 954-564 1032
          800-457 1032
     E-mail: contact@satisfactionservicesinc.com
     Website: http://satisfactionservicesinc.com



(17) Taylor Research
     1545 Hotel Circle South, Suite No. 350
      San Diego, CA 92108
      Phone: 619-299-6368 / 1-800-922-1545
      Fax: 619-299-6370
      E-mail: taylor@taylorresearch.com
      Website: http://www.taylorresearch.com/index1.html



(18) TrendSource
    4891 Pacific Highway Suite 200




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                                86




    San Diego, CA 92110
    Phone: 619-718-7467
    Fax: 619-718-7490
    Website: http://www.trendsource.com




  20. Starting Your Own Mystery Shopping
                  Business


What   could be better than making money while being engaged in
your favorite pass time? Yes, it is possible with mystery shopping.
Mystery shopping is fun way to make money and enjoy it. Mystery
shopping is an old business but in the current market when the
consumer is the king and more and more companies are keen to
refurbish their image and offer better services to their clients,
mystery shopping is gaining great amount of popularity.

Many people are taking up mystery shopping as a way to add some
income to their kitty and a large number have taken it up as a
singular career option. Another opportunity that springs out of this
business is to start your own mystery shopping company.




                                86.
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Normally the independent shoppers get mystery shopping assignments
directly through mystery shopping companies who in turn recruit and
train the mystery shoppers and get them to do the shopping
assignments. These companies act as the bridge between the client
and shoppers and they make good amount of money by keeping in
their margins on all the shop assignments. You would be wondering if
one mystery shopper could make such an amount of money by doing
the shop themselves how much could a company make who has
hundreds mystery shoppers working for them.

Now the question is should you start your own mystery shopping
company? Will it be viable for you to start your own mystery shopping
company? What are the minimum requirements?


Advantages of Mystery Shopping Business

Why you should start your own business if you are making sufficient
amount of money doing the mystery shopping jobs? True! You might
be making good money but there are certain advantages of starting
your own mystery shopping business:


   1. In this business, the upfront investment is less; you could
      comfortably start the business from your home. You need not
      to set up a great and swanky looking office. To begin with, a
      cozy little room in your home with a computer and internet
      connection, a telephone and fax is all that you need to start
      your own mystery shopping company.
   2. By starting your own business you become your own boss and
      are not required reporting to someone or being dependent on
      someone.




                                87.
                                 88




   3. By starting the business, you need not actually do the shopping
      yourself and you can make others do it for you.
   4. You are cutting out on commission agents or middle persons
      and you deal directly with your clients.
   5. To find shoppers is an easy task. Who would know it better
      than you would? It would be simple for you to get the work
      done for your company.
   6. You can set your own limits. There is no limit to the amount of
      money you can make doing your own mystery shopping
      business. The amount of money you can make depends upon
      your ability to generate business and service it effectively.
   7. Unlike the mystery shopping experience, if you do your
      business geographical barriers would not bind you. While as a
      mystery shopper yourself you could accept assignments in a
      particular area, however, as a company there is no such limit
      and if you have the guts and the ability to expand you could
      serve clients all over the country or even other parts of the
      world.


The Prerequisites of Starting Your Own Mystery Shopping
Business:

The requirements for starting a successful mystery shopping business
are:


   1. Experience as a mystery shopper: You should have sufficient
      amount of first hand mystery shopping experience before you
      venture out to start your own mystery shopping company. This
      is not a mandatory requirement for getting the mystery
      shopping business and there are chances that with the
      aggressive marketing skills and disciplined approach you would
      be able to rope in a few good clients. However, you should




                                88.
                                  89




       remember that there is no short cut to a real first hand
       experience. If you have experience in the mystery shopping,
       you have a definite edge over the one those who do not have
       the first hand experience. Experience lets you learn from your
       mistakes and you would be in a better position to get quality
       work done from the mystery shoppers if you know the real road
       map to that business.
   2. Ability to generate leads: Getting business is the most
      important prerequisite of being in business. You should
      therefore know how to generate the leads and effectively
      pursue those leads. The leads could be generated from the
      television, your friends in the new service, your friends in the
      other mystery shopping companies, newspapers, websites of
      companies, message boards etc.
   3. Better organizational and men management skills: Remember
      that you are entering the business arena that has customer
      service written all over it. You need to offer the best service to
      your clients while you have the limited choice of working with
      amateur and less experienced mystery shoppers who are more
      prone to making mistakes or missing on deadlines. This is the
      place where your organizational skills and man management
      abilities come into play. You have to strike a cordial balance by
      offering the best service to your clients and getting the best
      job done by the mystery shoppers working with you.


Factors Responsible        For    Successful     Mystery     Shopping
Business:

To be successful in your mystery shopping business you should:


   •   Create a professional image for yourself no matter how small
       an initial investment you would have put up for setting up your




                                  89.
                               90




    mystery shopping business. You should be very careful about
    the image you portray to the clients. Remember the clients
    would not like to entrust their sensitive business research to an
    amateur who does not have a professional approach.

•   Your business is all about customer service. If you have a good
    customer service background, you would be in a better position
    to offer value added service to your clients. You should try to
    impress your clients with your proactive approach and
    innovation.

•   Try to play safe. Most of the people who start new business are
    so engrossed in their dreams that they forget some vital points.
    You must consider the safety aspects before you try to take
    steps towards realizing those dreams. You should also carefully
    plan about the money and time required for running your own
    business. It would be pragmatic that you evaluate the costs
    involved and the success to meet out those costs. It is vicious
    cycle where your faulty financial planning starts to stress you
    and as a result, your health suffers. After that your business
    comes under pressure due to ill health, you miss deadlines and
    start to damage your reputations, and ultimately you stand on
    the verge of being thrown out of business. Therefore, you
    should carefully plan all your moves before you start your
    mystery shopping business.

•   You must try to set your priorities right and strike a fine
    balance between your home and your business. Remember that
    while your family and your kids are your priority number one
    yet your business is in a start up phase and therefore you
    should be very careful not to ignore your deadlines due to
    family responsibilities.

•   You should try to make the best use of Internet marketing tools
    and not waste money by buying the list for potential clients.




                               90.
                                  91




   •   You should be careful enough to keep pace with the
       competition and should follow the market trends. You should
       keep a track of the services and pricing offered by your
       competitors.

Many people have done it successfully and you too can do it.
However, remember that you should make an honest analysis of your
skills and experience, and think carefully before you take a plunge. If
you think that, you have necessary attitude and determination to
start your own mystery shopping business then there should be no
stopping for you.




 21. Certification - Do I Need to Become a
 Certified Mystery Shopper To Excel in My
                   Career?


The    popularity of mystery shopping as a serious career option is
growing with the passage of time and more and more people are
becoming keen to adopt mystery shopping on fulltime or part time
basis. Due to the popularity there has been a spate of activity among
the people and everyday mystery shopping companies are flooded




                                 91.
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with applications of new people willing to join the mystery shopping
bandwagon.

In these circumstances, it has become difficult for companies to
distinguish between serious mystery shoppers and the people who just
want to join the mystery shopping business to have a hang of it.
Although, there is no need for any special qualification or
certification to enter into this business, yet having a certificate could
be helpful for those who wish to adopt mystery shopping as a long-
term career. The certification helps the companies to ensure that the
applicant is serious regarding this business and has the basic skills
required for this profession. In the past, there have been examples
when the certified mystery shoppers got priority over the others for
higher paid jobs.

There are some organizations, which provide training and
certifications to the people who wish to take up mystery shopping
jobs. Out of the many companies providing certification, the
certifications provided by MSPA (Mystery Shopping Provider's
Association) are most creditable by the mystery shopping industry.
The details regarding the certifications offered by MSPA are available
on their website www.mysteryshop.org. MSPA is an organization that
is working towards according seriousness to the mystery shopping
business. MSPA believes that there is a need for developing standards,
training modules and certifications to infuse some amount of
seriousness in this profession.

The MSPA offers two kinds of certificates - the silver certification and
the gold certification. The Silver Certification is the basic
certification and is available online on a payment of $15. You can get
this certification after an online test that evaluates your
comprehension and basic understanding of the industry.




                                  92.
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The Gold Certificate is the advanced certification. It is available to
those who possess a silver certificate on a payment of $115. You can
get the Gold Certificate after you attend a personal workshop after
attending one to one testing.

On the question whether the certification ensures you more mystery
shop assignments and a better remuneration than those who do not
have a certificate, the answer is still NO! The certificate does provide
you an edge over the others and in situations where other factors like
experience and past performance are similar then the certified
professionals get a priority. The certification gives you a better
chance of getting a job if you are trying for a new company or
scheduler. However, there are also examples where your reliability
and past performance score an edge over the certifications and the
schedulers and the companies tend to prefer a reliable and tested
shopper to a certified shopper.




22. The Best Mystery Shopping Companies
              to Work For


Mystery shopping is beneficial to both- the company and the mystery
shopper working for it. If the shopper happens to do the assigned job
well, the company gets to know its insights as how its employees are
working and can think about ways to improve its customer service.
The shopper also benefits by getting money or ends up getting




                                  93.
                                  94




something free (like a movie ticket, a restaurant meal, clothes etc.)
for providing feedback.
When you sign up with a mystery shopping company, it enters your
name and details into the company's database. It will call you or
contact you via email when a mystery shopping assignment is
available in your area. At that time, the company representative will
talk about the requirements and rate of pay for that mystery-shopping
job with you. The frequency and volume of assignments you receive
is entirely dependent on the company's need for mystery shoppers in
your area.

Here is a list of few very good companies, which hire mystery
shoppers on regular basis.


(1) Company: Courtesy Counts
   Website: http://www.courtesycounts.com/
   Telephone: (800) 233-7751
(2) Company: Mystery Shopper, USA
   Website: http://www.bmiltd.com/
   Telephone: (941) 379-5611
(3) Company: Mystery Shoppers, Inc
   Website: http://www.mysteryshoppersinc.com/
   Telephone: (800) 553-7468
(4) Company: Sights on Service, Inc
   Website: http://www.mysteryshop.com/
   Telephone: (612) 525-1460
(5) Company: Feedback Plus
   Website: http://www.gofeedback.com/
   Telephone: (800) 882-SHOP (7467)
(6) Company: Service Sleuths by Howard Services




                                 94.
                                 95




   Website: http://www.howardservices.com/homess.html
   Telephone: (508) 520-1500
(7) Company: Sinclair Service Assessments
   Website: http://www.ssanet.com/
   Telephone: (800) 600-3871
(8) Company: Reality Check
   Website: http://www.rcmysteryshopper.com/
   Telephone: (800) 550-4469
(9) Company: Second to None
   Website: http://www.second-to-none.com/
   Telephone: (734) 668-8148
(10) Company: Shop'n Chek Worldwide, Inc.
   Website: http://www.shopnchek.com/
   Telephone: (800) 669-6526




   23. Secret Mystery Shopping Websites


Mystery shopping websites are a great way to learn and earn by way
of working on mystery shopping assignments. These websites can be a
mystery shopper’s dream realized. You need not to travel to and from
a store/establishment to shop. These websites provide you equal
opportunity mystery shopping experience.




                                95.
                                 96




These companies need people who are willing to shop on the Internet.
To get an assignment from them you do not have to have ever
shopped by computer before, or even know much about computers.
They will pay you similar rates to what you would earn in standard
mystery shopping jobs. Moreover, you will not have to travel or deal
with tedious paperwork.

These companies need many different shoppers from diverse
occupations, who live in different places throughout US. A typical
shopping job will take about one to two hours, though it could be
more depending on how speedy your connection to the Internet is,
how fast you can type, and how much time is occupied in dealing with
customer service.

Every website/company is different. Normally you get payment to
find out how easy to use the site is, and to observe if you get useful
and timely replies from on-line customer service or sales staff. You
may be required to file a simple check-off form or send an email
summarizing your visit to a given website.

One such company is Web Mystery Shoppers, which is looking for
people in the U.S. to mystery shop web sites and web-related
customer service from their own computers. They pay you for your
time on hourly basis, and you can do the work from home, at a time
convenient to you.

To find out more about Web Mystery Shoppers and sign up to work
with them, check out http://www.webmysteryshoppers.com.

Web Mystery Shoppers™
Toll-free telephone: 1-866-211-7027
Telephone: 780-444-5645
Fax: 780-444-5649
E-mail: contact@webmysteryshoppers.com




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Mailing Address:

Web Mystery Shoppers
#14-9977-178 St., Suite 190
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada T5T 6J6

Some other useful websites are:

Dollar Frog
http://www.dollarfrog.com/
Email:CustomerCare@DollarFrog.com

Mystery Shopper’s Coach
http://www.mysteryshoppercoach.com/

Dot Com Mummies
http://www.dotcommommies.com/

Shopping Jobs
http://www.shoppingjobshere.com/

Service Intelligence
http://www.secretshopnet.com/

     24. Money Making Opportunities and
       Resources for Mystery Shoppers

Here are some links you might find helpful.

Mystery Shopping Providers Association
http://www.mysteryshop.org/




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The mystery shopping providers association is a one-stop source of
information on Mystery Shopping and marketing research.

Volition
http://www.volition.com/mystery.html
Visit this website’s Mystery Shopping Bulletin Board where companies
post their immediate needs. There is also information regarding what
companies other shoppers have used. It will give you an idea about
who pays on time and who does not. It is a great way to learn from
those who are already doing this.

Melanie Jordan
http://www.mysteryshoppercoach.com
This mystery shopping coach has an informative site containing
articles about how to earn more as a mystery shopper, and links to
sources of mystery shopping jobs.

The Work at Home Place
http://www.workathomeplace.com
This site has listings of jobs and information for people who want to
work at home.

Mystery Biz
http://pub12.ezboard.com/bmysterybiz
It is another source of listings, broken down by Canada, plus
individual states.

Mystery Shopping Providers Association
http://mysteryshop.org/shoppers.php
It has a search feature for searching for jobs by region/country.

The National Center for Professional Mystery Shoppers and
Merchandisers
Website is http://justshop.org/




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This website is full of useful information about mystery shopping.




 25. Free Mystery Shopping Newsletters &
       Sources for Weekly Job Leads

Free subscription to Mystery Shopper Jobs
To subscribe, e-mail to shopjobs-subscribe@topica.com and they will
send you a confirmation e-mail upon receipt of your request.

Big Ideas/Small Budget
You can subscribe this newsletter by sending a request to:




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Big Ideas/Small Budget
2201 High Road
Tallahassee FL 32303

Mystery Shop
Go to http://hometown.aol.com/mysteryshops/index.html for the
Mystery Shopping Online Beginners Guide and leads.

Michelson & Associates, Inc
They are a full-service marketing research firm. Their internet web
address is www.michelson.com/research. There is no fee required to
apply as a mystery shopper with them.

Shop and Check
Shop and Check hires mystery shoppers directly. For an application
call (800) 669-6526 or write to them at P.O. Box 28175, Atlanta, GA
30358.

To become a secret shopper for a restaurant or hotel service, visit
Bare Assoc. International at www.baievaluators.com
Mystery Shopping Provider's Association
http://www.mysteryshop.org
Worldwide organization of Mystery Shoppers

Message Boards and Useful Tools
http://www.volition.com/mystery.html

Free list of companies to apply to (Canada & US)
http://www.mom-mom.com/mystery.htm
This is a listing of mystery shopping companies.




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26. Mystery Shopping Assignment Logs For
           Weekly Scheduling


You need to schedule your jobs as a mystery shopper in one of two
ways. React promptly and reply as quickly as possible to these
assignments. In some instances, the scheduler will assign the job and




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the shopping location within a matter of hours, and at other times, he
may wait as long as 24 hours to assign the shops and locations to you.

Companies schedule most of the mystery shopping jobs several days in
advance. Sometimes, schedulers will give you plenty of time to
arrange your schedule. However, in some cases, the companies may
be running with a short deadline and they may not be able to give 6-7
days of notice. In addition, some companies may require day,
weekend, evening or even late night auditing.

If you are not able to carry out the shopping for any reason, you
should contact the scheduler before the due date. Your failure to
contact the scheduler about a shop, which is not likely to complete by
the due date, may have an effect on your business relationship with
that company.

If you are a new mystery shopper, it is very important that you
complete your job on time and that the report comprises all the
necessary information requested. You may not get another
opportunity if you do not succeed in completing that first shopping
assignment on time.

In order to get regular work, your work must be without fail on time
and deliver your shopping assignment report of high quality. If you
regularly respond to postings but do not get jobs, please be patient. It
most likely means you are in an area where there are several
shoppers.

                      Weekly Shopping Assignment Log
 Use this chart to keep track of your mystery shopping assignments and payments received

Company      Assign      Location       Amount        Mileage      Amount      Date Paid
              Date                       Spent                      Paid




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                103




27. Sample Assignment Reports with
   Typical Questions and Answers




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                                         104




Every time when you will embark on a mystery shopping assignment,
you will get a form from the business establishment or the store. You
will be required to fill up this form after completion of your shopping
trip.

The evaluation form or questionnaire should fulfill the objective of
the mystery-shopping program. It should be focused and to the point
for quality of information and accuracy of shopper reporting.

Here is a sample mystery shopping questionnaire form:


Name of the store/business establishment:
Address of the store/business establishment:
Name of the mystery shopper:
Date of visit:
Time of visit:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Please describe your shopping experience (in YES, N/A or NO):
(1) Was area outside the store clean and neat?
(2) Were windows and doors of the store/establishment sparkling
clean?
(3) Was lobby/waiting area clean?
(4) Were all employees professionally dressed?
(5) Did they acknowledge your presence within a short time of arrival?
(6) Did they greet you in a friendly manner?
(7) Did they offer to assist you with problems?
(8) Were the staff members courteous?




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                                         105




(9) Did employees know their products well?
(10) Were products neat and well stocked?
(11) Were the dressing rooms clean?
(12) Did you get a thank you from the employees for shopping?
(13)    How     do    you               rate      this      store/establishment?
Excellent/Good/Fair/Poor
(14) Based on your personal experience and observation, would you
shop at this store/establishment again in the future?
(15) Give a brief summary of your entire shopping experience at this
store/establishment in 150-200 words.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Your name:

Your signature:

Date submitted:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




    28. Direct Links to Over 100 Reputable
         Mystery Shopping Companies

Here is a list of over 100 reputed mystery-shopping companies:




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                                106




(1) Company: A&A Merchandising Ltd
    Website: http://www.aamerch.com/

(2) Company: A&M Business Services
    Website: http://www.ambussvcs.com/

(3) Company: ACE Mystery Shopping
    Website: http://www.acemysteryshopping.com/

(4) Company: A Closer Look
    Website: http://www.a-closer-look.com/

(5) Company: ACRA Inc.
    Website: http://www.secretshopacra.com/

(6) Company: Amusement Advantage
    Website: http://www.amusementadvantage.com/

(7) Company: ASAP
    Website: http://www.asapittsburgh.com/

(8) Company: A Step Above Service Evaluations
    Website: http://www.serviceevaluations.com/

(9) Company: At Your Service Marketing
    Website: http://www.aysm.com/

(10) Company: A Top Shop
    Website: http://www.atopshop.com/

(11) Company: Bare Associates International
    Website:
http://www.baiservices.com/Overview/overviewmain.htm




                               106.
                                107




(12) Company: BestMark
    Website: http://www.bestmark.com/

(13) Company: Beyond Hello
    Website: http://www.beyondhello.com/

(14) Company: BMA Mystery Shopping Services
    Website: http://www.mystery-shopping.com/

(15) Company: Business Evaluation Services
    Website: http://www.mysteryshopperservices.com/menu.htm
(16) Company: Business Insights Group
    Website: http://www.businessinsights.com/
(17) Company: Byers Choice
    Website: http://www.byerschoiceinc.com/

(18) Company: Certified Reports Inc.
    Website: http://www.certifiedreports.com/

(19) Company: Check Mark Inc.
     Website: http://www.checkmarkinc.com/

(20) Company: Check-Up Marketing
     Website: http://www.checkupmarketing.com/

(21) Company: Cirrus Marketing Consultants
     Website: http://www.cirrusmktg.com/

(22) Company: Confero Mystery Shopping
    Website: http://www.conferoinc.com/

(23) Company: Consumer Connection
    Website: http://www.consumerconnection.net/




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                               108




(24) Company: Corporate Images
    Website: http://www.retailserviceevaluations.com/

(25) Company: Courtesy Counts Inc.
    Website: http://www.courtesycounts.com/

(26) Company: Customer 1st
     Website: http://www.customer-1st.com/

(27) Company: Customer Perspectives
     Website: http://www.customerperspectives.com/

(28) Company: Customer Service Perceptions
    Website: http://www.csperceptions.com/

(29) Company: Customer's View
    Website: http://www.customersview.com/

(30) Company: CyberShop
     Website: http://cybershoppers.surveys.com/

(31) Company: Datatron
     Website: http://www.usd-datatron.com/

(32) Company: DSG Associates Inc
    Website: http://www.dsgai.com/

(33) Company: Ellis Property Management Services
     Website: http://www.epmsonline.com/

(34) Company: Elrick and Lavidge
     Website: http://www.elrickandlavidge.com/




                               108.
                               109




(35) Company: Employee Evaluators
     Website: http://www.mysteryshops.com/

(36) Company: Feedback Plus Inc.
     Website: http://www.gofeedback.com/

(37) Company: FieldFacts
    Website: http://www.fieldfacts.com/Home.html

(38) Company: Focus on Service
    Website: http://www.focusonservice.com/

(39) Company: Genesis Group Inc.
    Website: http://www.genesisgrp.com/

(40) Company: Golden Resources Marketing Group
    Website: http://members.aol.com/cgr315/index.html

(41) Company: Graymark Security Group
     Website: http://www.graymarksecurity.com/web/

(42) Company: Green & Associates Mystery Shopping
     Website: http://www.greenandassociates.com/

(43) Company: Hilli Dunlap Enterprises
     Website: http://www.dunlapenterprises.com/

(44) Company: ICC Decision Services
    Website: http://www.iccds.com/

(45) Company: imyst Inc.
    Website: http://www.imyst.com/




                              109.
                                110




(46) Company: Infinity Assurance Group
    Website: http://www.infinityag.com/

(47) Company: Infotel Inc.
    Website: http://www.infotelinc.com/
(48) Company: Instant Replay
    Website: http://www.mysteryshopservices.com/

(49) Company: IntelliShop
    Website: http://www.intelli-shop.com/

(50) Company: Investigative Marketing Services
     Website: http://investigativemarketing.com/

(51) Company: Jack's Mystery Guest
    Website: http://www.jacksguest.com/

(52) Company: Jancyn Evaluation Shops
    Website: http://www.jancyn.com/

(53) Company: J.M. Ridgway
    Website: http://www.jmridgway.com/

(54) Company: LeBlanc & Associates
    Website: http://www.mleblanc.com/

(55) Company: Mainstream Marketing
    Website: http://www.mainstreammarketing.com/

(56) Company: Maritz Research - Virtuoso
    Website: http://www.virtuoso.maritzresearch.com/

(57) Company: Marketing Systems Unlimited Corp.
    Website: http://www.msultd.com/




                               110.
                                111




(58) Company: Mars Research
    Website: http://www.marsresearch.com/index1.html

(59) Company: Melinda Brody and Company
    Website: http://www.melindabrody.com/

(60) Company: Mercantile Systems and Surveys
    Website: http://www.mercsurveys.com/

(61) Company: Merchandise Concepts
    Website: http://www.merchandiseconcepts.com/

(62) Company: Metropark Mystery Shoppers Network
    Website: http://www.metropark.com/nggroup/

(63) Company: MGC Retail
    Website: http://mcg-retail.com/

(64) Company: Michelson & Associates Inc.
    Website: http://www.michelson.com/

(65) Company: Mosaic Info Force
    Website: http://www.mosaic-infoforce.com/

(67) Company: Mystery Shoppers
    Website: http://www.mystery-shoppers.com/

(68) Company: Mystique Shopper
    Website: http://www.mystiqueshopper.com/

(69) Company: National Shopping Service
    Website: http://www.nssmysteryshoppers.com/




                               111.
                                112




(70) Company: National Shopping Service Network
    Website: http://www.mysteryshopper.net/

(71) Company: Nationwide Integrity Services Inc.
    Website: http://www.nationwideintegrity.com/

(72) Company: Northwest Loss Prevention Consultants
    Website: http://www.nwlpc.com/

(73) Company: Pacific Research Group
    Website: http://www.pacificresearchgroup.com/

(74) Company: Pat Henry Group
    Website: http://www.pacificresearchgroup.com/

(75) Company: Patron Edge
    Website: http://www.patronedge.com/

(76) Company: Person to Person Quality
    Website: http://persontopersonquality.com/

(77) Company: Pinkerton
    Website: http://www.pktnshop.com/

(78) Company: Promotion Network Inc.
    Website: http://www.promotionnetworkinc.com/

(79) Company: Professional Review & Operational Shoppers Inc.
    Website: http://www.proreview.com/

(80) Company: PulseBack
    Website: http://www.pulseback.com/




                               112.
                                113




(81) Company: Quality Assessments Mystery Shoppers Inc.
    Website: http://www.qams.com/

(82) Company: Quality Assurance Consulting
    Website: http://www.qacinc.com/

(83) Company: Quality Check
    Website: http://www.undercovershoppers.com/

(84) Company: Rapid Check Reporting Inc.
    Website: http://www.rapidchek.com/

(85) Company: Retail Biz Consulting
    Website: http://www.retailbiz.com/

(86) Company: Rocky Mountain Merchandising
    Website: http://www.rockymm.com/

(87) Company: Second to None Inc.
    Website: http://www.second-to-none.com/

(88) Company: Secret Shopper
    Website: http://www.secretshopper.com/

(89) Company: Sensors Quality Management Inc.
    Website:
http://www.sqm.ca/sqmwebsite.nsf/index.html?OpenPage

(90) Company: Service Check
    Website: http://www.servicecheck.com/

(91) Company: Service Evaluation Concepts
    Website:
http://www.serviceevaluation.com/iss/program/home/default.asp




                               113.
                                 114




(92) Company: Service Excellence Group
     Website: http://www.mysteryshopsplus.com/

(93) Company: Service Intelligence - Secret Shop Net
    Website: http://www.secretshopnet.com/

(94) Company: Service Performance Group Inc.
    Website: http://serviceperformancegrp.com/spg/default1.htm

(95) Company: Service Quality Department
   Website: http://www.service-quality.com/

(96) Company: Service Research Corporation
    Website: http://serviceresearch.com/

(97) Company: Service Sleuths by Howard Services
    Website: http://www.howardservices.com/homess.html

(98) Company: Service TRAC
     Website: http://www.servicetrac.com/

(99) Company: Ser-View
     Website: http://www.ser-view.com/

(100) Company: SG Marketing Group
     Website: http://www.sgmarketing.com/

(101) Company: Shop'n Check International
     Website: http://www.shopnchek.com/

(102) Company: Shoppers Inc.
     Website: http://www.shopperjobs.com/




                                114.
                                115




(103) Company: Shoppers Critique International
     Website: http://www.shopperscritique.com/home.asp

(104) Company: Sinclair Service Assessments
     Website: http://www.ssanet.com/WEBS_home/index.htm

(105) Company: Southwest Mystery Shoppers
     Website: http://www.mysteryshoppers.com/

(106) Company: Sparagowski & Associates
     Website: http://www.sparagowski.com/

(107) Company: Speedmark Information Services
     Website: http://www.speedmarkweb.com/

(108) Company: Spot on Solution
     Website: http://www.spotonsolution.com/

(109) Company: Texas Shoppers Network
     Website: http://www.texasshoppersnetwork.com/

(110) Company: Theatrical Entertainment Services Inc.
     Website: http://www.rapidchek.com/

(111) Company: The Field Force Inc.
     Website: http://www.thefieldforce.com/

(112) Company: The Quest for Best
     Website: http://www.questforbest.com/

(113) Company: The Secret Shopper Company
     Website: http://www.secretshoppercompany.com/

(114) Company:




                                115.
                                116




     Website:
http://www.sassieshop.com/transunion/shoppers/Signup.php

(115) Company: Trend Source Inc.
     Website: http://www.trendsource.com/TSI/nexst.htm




    29. Educational Programs for Mystery
                 Shoppers


Learn more about technicalities of mystery shopping. It will help to
improve your performance and earnings. Take admission in an




                               116.
                               117




advanced learning program designed to teach both the beginner and
the pro mystery shoppers.

Here is a list of the companies conducting educational programs for
mystery shoppers on regular basis. These educational programs are
mainly for members of the company only.

MSPA
http://www.mysteryshop.org/shoppers.php

The Mystery Shopping Club
www.ed-u.com/mystery.htm

Universal Class
experts.universalclass.com/Penny63

FabJob.Com
http://www.fabjob.com/mysteryshopper.asp

Shopper University
http://www.shadowshopper.com/shopper_university.cfm

Business Evaluation Services
http://www.mysteryshopperservices.com/section.asp/csasp/Departm
entID.29/cs/SectionID.64/csasp.html

Service Intelligence
http://www.secretshopnet.com/Questions01.html

NSS Mystery Shopping
http://www.nationalshoppingservice.com/public/solutions/audits.asp




                               117.
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             30. Mystery Shopping FAQ

Q. What is mystery shopping?
A. Mystery shopping is a service evaluation tool employed by
businesses. In this, companies send decoy customers to shop at their
business or its competitors and they are required to file a detailed




                               118.
                                 119




report regarding their shopping experience. The business
establishments to improve their customer service and to decide about
the employees’ rewards then use that report.

Q. Who can become a mystery shopper?
A. Practically all who have a customer service orientation and basic
communication skills can take up mystery shopping assignments.
Retirees, students, homemakers, part time job seekers, sit home
moms and dads can take up mystery shopping jobs.

Q. Do I need specific qualifications and experience to become a
mastery shopper?
A. No, There are no such minimum qualification and experience
requirements for taking up mystery shopping jobs. You should have
decent communication skills and a keen observation. An experience in
the customer service or hospitality business enhances your
possibilities to get mystery shopping assignments. However, it is not a
precondition for taking up such jobs.

Q. What are the business establishments that employ the services
of mystery shoppers?
A. All the business establishments that have a customer service factor
employ the services of the mystery shoppers. Specifically the mystery
shoppers are employed by retail chains, restaurants, fast food outlets,
department stores, health clubs, beauty parlors, salons, hotels and
resorts, amusement parks, movie theaters, clubs, casinos,
gymnasiums, new apartments, home builders, banks, gas stations,
auto dealers, service centers, day care centers, crèches etc.

Q. What is Audio Video mystery shopping?
A. In this category of mystery shopping the shoppers are required to
do secret audio/video recording of their shopping process. These
categories of shopping assignments are generally the better paying
shopping assignments.




                                 119.
                                120




Q. What do I get if I take up mystery shopping?
A. The payment for your mystery shopping assignments depends upon
the kind of shop assignments you do. Generally, most of the shop
assignments offer you reimbursement of your food or retail purchase
and a token shop fee.

Q. How much can I make if I take up mystery shopping jobs?
A. In the mystery shopping business there are no fixed paychecks and
the amount of money you can make from this business depends on
how well you organize yourself and how you make optimum utilization
of your time. The major factor that affects you earnings in the
mystery shopping business is the kind of assignments you take.
Depending on these factors, the amateurs and part timers can easily
make anything in the range of $250- $500 per month and the serious
people who take this business as a fulltime profession and those who
make optimum utilization of their resources can easily make up to
$1500 per month. There are examples of people who earn as high as
$3500 per month from this business.

Q. What are the prevailing rates of remuneration for the different
type of mystery shopping assignments?
A. The remuneration for the mystery shopping assignments varies
from company to company and for different category of assignments.
However the typical retail assignments could fetch you any thing in
the range of $5-$15 per assignment, the shop fee for fast food
assignments range from $4 -$15, dinner shop assignments have a price
tag of $10-$50. The service establishments have a better
remuneration, they could fetch you $20-$100 per assignment, and the
audio / video shop can make you richer by $50-$200 for each shop
assignment.

Q. How do I get access to mystery shopping assignments?




                               120.
                                  121




A. There are a number of names and addresses of mystery shopping
companies mentioned in this e-book. More than 150 mystery-shopping
companies post their job listings online. You can also register yourself
on the online discussion boards. With the passage of time, you would
be able to establish a good rapport with the schedulers and the good
mystery shopping companies to get regular assignments.

Q. Is it all right to pay for registering at websites that offer
mystery-shopping assignments?
A. No, it is not at all necessary for paying and registering at the sites
or companies that offer mystery-shopping assignments. There are
number of companies and assignments that are available to people
without payment of any upfront fee. Secondly, there is no surety that
the company or the site that is asking you to pay the fee might be
having any assignments or leads at all. It is always better to establish
direct contacts with the companies and the schedulers and there is
possibility that the site you are paying might be a fraud. You should
be very careful and make proper enquiries before making any
payment if you decide to do so.

Q Is it right to work with multiple mystery shopping companies?
A. Yes, it is perfectly ethical and right if you register and work with
more than one mystery shopping company. In this business, you are
not an employee of a particular company and you work as an
independent contractor, therefore, there is no moral or legal
obligation for you to stick to a particular company. However, you
should be careful to accept only such assignments that you are able to
finish within the deadlines.

Q What are the mystery shopping opportunities available for the
disable people?
A. The answer to this depends upon the extent of your disability and
the kind of work you can do. There are number of mystery shopping
opportunities that are available for online mail order businesses. You




                                  121.
                                 122




can comfortably take up those assignments. Even in certain cases, it
would be a help to the company to evaluate the employee behavior
towards the physically challenged persons and to evaluate factors like
wheelchair access.

Q Is it mandatory for me to obtain a license for taking up a
mystery-shopping assignment.
A. The requirement of taking up licenses for mystery shopping jobs is
not mandatory in most of the states, however, some states for
example the state of Nevada has a requirement for mystery shoppers
to obtain the license. If your state has such a requirement, you should
obtain a valid license to better your prospects in the business and
avoid unnecessary legal hassles.

Q. Is it possible to find out that which company shops for which
retail chain or restaurant so that I can make my choice?
A. To find out that which company shops for a particular chain is a
difficult task for the beginners because most of the companies do not
display their client’s list to the shoppers. Only in some cases, the
companies or the schedulers divulge the names of the establishments
in their offers.

Q. Is it advisable to give my social security number or bank account
details to the mystery shopping company.
A. Since there are many frauds operating it is not advisable to provide
your vital information to the company on the website unless you are
satisfied about the credentials of the company and the website
security.

Q. How do I check on the credentials of the mystery shopping
company?
A. You should verify the credentials of the mystery shopping company
from “The Better Business Bureau”. You can do so by logging on the




                                 122.
                                123




‘Better Business Bureau’ website and checking if there any complaints
against the company.




                                123.
                           124




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