Mystery shopping gives you more control over your income than a typical j-o-b. You get to decide how you spend your time, the types of assignments you will accept, and how much money you will invest in your business. By making wise choices, you can make—and keep—more income. Here are some things that will make you more profitable in 2016 and beyond.
Organize for Profitability
Keep good records to avoid missing deadlines. Missing a shop not only means that you don’t get paid for that shop, you may even lose future opportunities. Know what shops you have accepted and when they are due.
Have a system for storing email and other electronic and paper documents. Make sure you keep copies of all email correspondence about an assignment, at least until you have been paid. That way, if there is any confusion about what you were told to do on the shop or how much you are to paid, you have all the back up you need, close at hand. Companies are not out to cheat you, but they can make mistakes or a scheduler can make a promise that is forgotten. Protect yourself by keeping all of your mystery shopping documents in one email folder or other location where they can be found quickly.
Do the same with other documents related to the shop, such as your notes, completed reports, receipts, etc.
Know when payments are due so you can promptly follow up if there is a problem. Most of the time payments will show up when expected. But there can be issues that delay payment. For example, an error in your email address will keep a PayPal payment from reaching you. A transposed number in the routing number or account number for your bank account means that your automatic deposit won’t be received.
Plan for Profitability
- Remember that your time is valuable. Choose shops that are worthwhile, based on:
- Fees and reimbursements;
- How they fit in to your schedule;
- How enjoyable the shops are: and
- Other benefits, such as relationship building.
Choose shops with the right rewards for you. Are you looking to maximize cash? Go for shops that are fee-based but may not include an reimbursement (e.g., banks, apartments, retail purchase and return). Or look for reimbursement shops that provide benefits you want or need.
Look for ways to use time and other resources more effectively. Do shops in groups based on location or type, or plan a route to avoid backtracking.
Use the 80/20 Rule. You have probably heard of the Pareto Principle, aka the 80/20 Rule. It says that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. When you discover what you are good at, spend most of your time on that. And spend your time on the shops that are most profitable for you.
Try Something New
Be open to trying new types of assignments, such as high-end financial shops, or technology shops (such as audio or video recorded). The more types of shops you are willing to do, the more you can earn. And many of these shops pay better than others.
You may enjoy doing merchandising, demos and surveys. To find many of these types of assignments, see the Retail World Alliance website.
Create Profitable Relationships
Good relationships with schedulers will help you to get more shops and more desirable shops. Schedulers who know they can depend on you will be open to working with you to create routes or perhaps working with you to work a shop into your schedule, when possible. Schedulers like to work with shoppers on whom they can depend. Become the go-to shopper by:
- Completing your assignments correctly and on time;
- Picking up hard to fill and last minute shops; and
- Communicating professionally with schedulers and others.
Invest in Yourself
Make yourself eligible for more and better-paying shops by upgrading your skills. Take a class on business writing at your local community college or adult education center. Get a mystery shopper certification.
Buy equipment that will help you work smarter or will make you eligible for more shops. I love using a digital voice recorder on shops. It makes completing the reports much easier. Get one with a jack for an external mic and a USB plug so you can connect it to your computer to upload the file. You might be able to financially justify the purchase of a new smart phone or video equipment, if those things will help you qualify for more shops.
Cut Out Time Wasters
It is easy to go online to check a job board and still be surfing two hours later. That is not productive. Be disciplined about Internet use. Check job boards no more than once or twice daily. Do not get caught up in spending a lot of time on forums or in chat rooms. These can be valuable tools, or acceptable diversions, but they can take up a lot of hours if you let them.
Implement as many of these suggestions as you can to increase your mystery shopping income this year. Can’t do them all or can’t do them all at once? Do what you can, when you can. Each thing you do can incrementally increase your income.