One of the things I like best about mystery shopping is that I can make the job whatever I want it to be. When you work at a “real job,” you have to work the hours they set, and do the work you are assigned, while surrounded by supervisors and co-workers you may not like very much.
As a mystery shopper, though, you work on your own terms. Don’t like doing certain types of shops? Then only accept the ones you enjoy. Don’t like working with that mystery shopping provider? Dump ‘em! Hate working weekends? No problem.
Here are some of the things to consider when making mystery shopping your dream job. Answer these questions and build the career you want.
When do you want to work? You may plan to mystery shop weekdays, while your spouse is at the office. Or only when your children are in school. Or evenings and weekends, to earn extra income to supplement your regular job. You can choose your hours.
How often do you want to work? There are some shoppers who work almost full time at mystery shopping and related jobs (such as merchandising). Most of us, though, look at this as a part-time or even spare-time venture. Do you want to mystery shop a few times a month, a couple of times a week or almost daily?
Where do you want to work? Some mystery shoppers stay close to home, while others like to jump in the car and head out to route shop. I used to do some insurance work that sent me out on the road, across town and around the state. By booking mystery shops that I could complete before or after my business meetings, I was able to add to my income.
Like to travel? You could plan a trip and book mystery shopping assignments to cover some or all of your hotel, meals, gas—even some of your entertainment!
How much do you want to earn? You won’t get rich mystery shopping, but some types of shops pay better than others. If making piles of cash is the most important thing to you, focus on the shops that are primarily fee-based (as opposed to mostly reimbursement).
What other rewards do you want from mystery shopping? Some shoppers do this because they love the extras: the food, services, movies, merchandise and other goodies we get on shops. I have gotten meals at restaurants ranging from fast food to upscale, fine dining establishments. There have been salon services, massages, groceries, cell phones and more. I enjoy the freebies, but I always remember that they are not really free. They are part of my compensation for my work as a mystery shopper.
What do you like best about mystery shopping? I love doing restaurant shops with my husband, so those are the majority of shops I do these days. You may like retail, bank shops, video shops or some other type best. Focus on those but you can also be open to other types of shops.
What do you hate about mystery shopping? Are there certain types of shops you don’t like to do? Maybe you don’t like to do targeted apartment shops. Maybe you hate writing long narratives and avoid the shops that require them. That’s fine—you’re the boss!
Think about the best and worst of mystery shopping and structure your business so that you have as much of the best as you can, while tolerating as little of the worst as you can get away with. The great thing about being a contractor is that you get to build your own job. Take advantage of that and build the mystery shopper job of your dreams.