With hundreds of mystery shopping companies out there, how do you decide which ones you will work with? Many mystery shoppers find that they end up working most with a few favorite companies and doing occasional assignments for others. They may also decide that there are a few they will never work with again. How can you find the companies you will love and avoid the ones that may not work as well for you?
First of all, remember that a company that one shopper loves may be despised by another. Mystery shopping companies, like mystery shoppers, have “personalities.” The culture of a particular company may mesh well with your style while another doesn’t. Those things you will learn as you go. What we will address here is how to increase your chances of finding the best companies for you with as little trial and error as possible.
Here are some ways to screen mystery shopping companies and find the best ones for you:
The first step is to determine that the company is legitimate and follows good business practices. Do they belong to the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA)? MSPA member companies go through a approval process that requires years in the industry, references and agreeing to uphold the standards and ethics of the association. Many member companies display the MSPA logo on their websites, and you can verify their membership at http://mysteryshop.org/shoppers/membercos.php. Although there are good companies that do not belong to the MSPA, if they are members you can rely on them being legitimate.
How long does it take them to pay? Most companies explain payment schedules on their websites. Obviously, sooner is better than later, but the bottom line is: Can you live with their payment schedule?
Is the amount of reimbursement and pay reasonable? Keep in mind that the postings on public job boards and the first assignments you are offered will not be for their best shops. Those went to the shoppers they know and trust. However, if you see extremely low pay, or reimbursements that will not cover the cost of a required purchase, you may want to think twice.
Are their guidelines complete and understandable? You may not have access to all of the shop information until you accept an assignment. However, often there is enough information in emails and websites to get a feel for their communication style.
Do they respond promptly when you have a question? If you need assistance with a question about a shop or another issue they should get back to you within 24 to 48 hours.
What do other shoppers think of the company? Do a search on forums such as Voliton to see what other shoppers’ experience has been with a company. One shopper saying that a company didn’t pay them or some other issue doesn’t mean that the company is bad, especially if there are dozens of other shoppers saying how much they like working with the company.
Watch for the signs that a company is a good match for you, or that maybe it is time to move on. Don’t force it if you don’t like the assignments, the pay or the people. There are lots of great companies out there–find the ones that are best for you and you will enjoy mystery shopping more and make more money.