Many mystery shoppers spend a lot of time in the car, traveling from one client location to another. That can be lost time or, with a little planning, you can put it to good use. Here are some ideas on how you can use your travel time.
Plan your route. Use mapping software, such as Microsoft Streets and Trips, to plan your route before you get in the car. With this software, you can enter a list of addresses, and the software will map out the most efficient route. That way you will not spend a lot of time (and gasoline!) backtracking or getting lost.
Don’t forget your errands. Need to pick something up from the dry cleaner? Mail a package at the post office? Buy toothpaste at the drug store? Include the little errands you need to run in your itinerary for the day and get them out of the way between mystery shops.
Double up. Take a companion with you who can help you review the guidelines and reports for each shop as you drive from place to place. Or have them drive, so you can jot notes from the last shop and prepare for the next.
Catch up. Don’t get to spend enough time with a friend or family member? Take them with you, and use your travel time to catch up. If you need to do your mystery shopper jobs alone, they can pop in to a nearby store or get a cup of coffee while you work.
Learn something. Get an instructional program on CD, such as a language course, and listen to the lessons as you drive. Or choose an audio book of that new novel you have not been able to make time to read. Amazon has great prices on audio books, and many libraries have extensive selections of books on CD.
Be safe. Do not do things while driving that will distract you from your most important task: Driving. No texting, no conversations that cause you to lose focus, nothing that takes your attention away from the road and other drivers.
Using your travel time effectively makes you more productive and more profitable.
When you make a personal purchase along the way, you just lost your right to claim that mileage on taxes for that shop. I drive many miles a day, and I don’t want to lose that tax benefit of being able to claim mileage.
Cathy Stucker says
According to the IRS, incidental personal business conducted does not make business mileage non-deductible. Of course, if you drive out of your way to conduct personal business, that portion of the trip would not be deductible; however, making personal stops along the way will not affect your ability to deduct your mileage.
Rich Moyer says
I used to get hours of windshield time in my job. It gave me time to review in my mind the events of the day, and I always carried a digital recorder with me (or today, most cellphones and smart-phones have a voice recorder app on them). I would make voice notes while driving.
Invariably, after changing focus from business to driving, listening to an audio book or listening to music, I would remember things I had previously forgotten to record, or simply did not remember as a minor detail. I just took another voice note, and made sure that I transcribed those notes shortly after arriving at my destination so they could still jog my memory and bring out other details.
Today’s smart-phones and tablets have apps available that will actually transcribe your voice notes into an email or text message in real time. Be aware that the more you use these apps, the better they work because they “learn” every time you use them. Don’t expect a perfect transcription the first time.
Critically proof read your transcribed voice notes, because sometimes, background noise or other factors could allow your software to “get creative”. I still do not trust the transcription software totally, so I prefer an app that allows me to record my voice and save that recording, then translate from the recording. That way I still have my original “source document”, which can be saved as a WAV file (or some other audio file format), and saved to your computer and most importantly, be backed up to a reliable and secure backup source.
Cathy Stucker says
Great tips, Rich! The transcription apps work very well. Great tool for mystery shoppers.