My husband and I like to eat out in restaurants, and we usually do so at least once or twice a week. A while back I accepted several restaurant mystery shops we could do for our usual date night dinners, and my husband joked about it being “the month of free food.” (Of course, it is not really free because I have to work for it. But I guess it is free to him!)
I only did one or two restaurant shops a week, but his comment got me thinking: What if I really tried to get “free” food every day for a month? How would I do it? Let’s play with this hypothetical for a bit, because I think you may get some ideas about how to get more of the shops you want, whether they are shops of restaurants, stores, banks, apartments or whatever you like to do.
First, to get the best selection of shops you would want to be registered with as many legitimate mystery shopping companies as possible. The more shops you have access to, the greater your chances of filling in all of the gaps and getting the number of shops you want. Start with my free list of mystery shopping companies.
You will need to plan ahead to get the best shops. Those usually go fast. Many companies start releasing shops for the next month no later than the 20th, so be ready to start claiming the shops you want and filling in your calendar.
Consider starting with the self-assign job boards. You will know right away what shops you have confirmed, then you can start filling in more days.
Talk to a few schedulers you work with regularly. Let them know you are looking for extra shops this month and see what shops they might be able to send your way.
Check job boards, such as Jobslinger.com to find more companies and jobs. Even if you have applied to many companies, you probably have not applied to every company. You may find new opportunities on job boards. Jobslinger aggregates available assignments from several legitimate boards, including the MSPA.
When you see a shop you want, apply right away and make sure your application is complete. Many times they ask a question such as what day you will do the shop, or if you will do the shop by the deadline. Be sure to answer this question if you want to get the assignment.
Be open to a variety of shops. It might be nice to do one or two fine dining shops, but you wouldn’t want to do those every night, even if you could. Mix it up with different types of food and restaurants, everything from fast food to pizza to casual dining to more deluxe choices.
Some restaurants have carry out shops where you phone in an order and go pick it up. I like those because they often have the same reimbursement as a dine in shop, but the reports are shorter. (Hey, we take our shortcuts wherever we get them!) Save a little time by looking for a few of those, as well as some drive-through shops.
You may also save some time by doing more than one shop of the same chain. You probably can not visit the same location more than once in a month, but you may be able to do multiple locations. When the requirements are the same, it takes a little less effort to prepare and do the shops. (Never take shortcuts such as copying-and-pasting from one report to another.)
So were you able to schedule a restaurant shop for every day of the month? I would be open to a little “fudging” on this to hit the goal. For example, we often bring home leftovers when we dine out. That is especially true when we are doing a mystery shop and may have to order an appetizer and two entrees, then save room for dessert. So if all I am doing is reheating leftovers for dinner, I think I can count that as another “free food” night. I have also done fast food shops where I ended up with extra meals after ordering in-store and at the drive-through, so one or two of those they could also take care of a second day’s main meal. And with a few grocery store shops you may be able to get enough “free food” for at least a few more meals.
OK, you get the idea. Now, do you see how you could apply this to other types of shops? What if you broadened this a bit and set a goal to get something you need “free” every day? Or to make a certain amount in fees and reimbursements? Be aggressive about going after shops and taking on assignments you normally wouldn’t consider. Look for opportunities to set up routes and do a group of shops one after another, or pick up a shop or two on your way home from your “real” job. Your goal doesn’t have to be per day, it can be per week or for the month overall.
Although there are some shoppers who go about looking for mystery shopper jobs with what Dave Ramsey would call “gazelle intensity,” most of us pick up a few assignments here and there as we have time. Being gazelle intense for a month or so could be a good way to jumpstart a stalled mystery shopper career or (if you focused on fee-only shops) a way to get cash to pay off an unexpected bill or save up for a special vacation or family treat.
So what do you think? Would you take on a challenge to do a shop a day, or a certain number of shops in a month, or to make a goal amount of money in a month? How will you go about it?