We have all heard of “stage fright,” but is there such a thing as “shop fright”? Some people who are interested in mystery shopping tell me that they are too afraid to take their first assignments and get started. How can they get past the fear and launch their mystery shopping careers?
Any time you do something new, it is normal to be a little nervous. You were probably nervous the first time you got behind the wheel of a car. (If you weren’t, the person teaching you to drive was probably very nervous. :o) ) After a while, though, driving became second-nature. Mystery shopping can be that way, too.
The best way to deal with the fear is to prepare for the shop. You always need to do some prep for a shop, no matter how long you have been mystery shopping. However, when you are starting out, you need to take extra time to make sure you know exactly what you are to do.
Read the guidelines and the shop form carefully. Print them out and highlight the most important points. Everything is important but some things are more critical than others. For example, most shops require some kind of timings. Maybe how long before you were greeted, or how long it took to checkout, maybe a whole series of timings. You only have one chance to get those timings. On the other hand, you can check the restroom any time during the shop visit.
There may be a scenario you need to follow. You may be expected to ask specific questions. Make sure you know what you are supposed to do.
Don’t expect disaster. Yes, sometimes things go wrong on a shop. The scenario doesn’t go as planned or the item you are supposed to ask about is out of stock or something else unexpected happens. If you read the online mystery shopper forums, you may think this happens in 90% of shops. It doesn’t. Most assignments go off without a hitch. It is like watching the news and assuming that every cruise ends in disaster. They don’t. There have only been a few with problems, but those are the ones that get talked about.
Start easy. You are not likely to get a big, complicated shop your first few times out. However, even some fast food shops can be a little tricky. Fast food shops, though, are…well, fast. It all happens very quickly, and you need to pay attention, but there is not as much to look for and remember as you might have in a more involved shop. You might also look for shops that do not have a purchase requirement, or are purchase-and-return retail shops. That way, if you do mess up (which you won’t), the worst that happens is that you are out some time but not any money.
Carry a tip sheet, if you can. On most shops, you can take something with you to remind you of what you are to do and to note what you need to remember. That might be a shopping list or other paper, or you might use a voice recorder or texts. Don’t use anything that will make it obvious that you are consulting or making notes, but there are lots of ways to do this without drawing attention to yourself.
If something does go wrong, contact your scheduler immediately. They have heard it all before, and they can help you sort it out. Maybe they can use the report with a little massaging. Some companies will try to make it work. Offer to make it right if you messed up. For example, if you did something that makes the shop unusable, but you did not do anything to make yourself stand out to the client’s staff, you may be able to do a re-shop. You will do the shop twice and get paid once, but you can salvage the shop and your relationship with that company.
If you are still really frightened about doing your first shop, try this:
Look for a shop that has a range of days and/or times when you can do it. Make sure it is a place you could reasonably return to in a short amount of time without arousing suspicion.
Do the shop a few days before the deadline, or as early in the day as you can if you only have one day to do the visit. If anything goes horribly wrong (it probably won’t) you still have time to reshop, do the report and turn it in.
You probably will not need to re-do the shop, but knowing that a mulligan is possible may give you the confidence to try it. And that is all you really need: Confidence. You can do this. Mystery shopping is not rocket science. You just need to be prepared and follow the guidelines.
Now, start checking those job boards and get out there and start shopping!