Do you wonder what it is like to attend an MSPA Gold Certification Workshop? More than 100 workshops have taken place across the U.S. and Canada since November, 2002, when the program began and, although live workshops were suspended for a time, they are back. You can view a schedule of upcoming workshops at http://mysteryshop.org/shoppers/gold.php.
As mystery shoppers, we are used to working alone. The certification workshops are an opportunity to meet other secret shoppers and network with them. Mystery shoppers all have stories, and this is your chance to share stories with other people who actually understand what you do as a shopper.
Here is a sneak preview of what you can expect when you attend a mystery shopper certification workshop.
Workshops are often attended by representatives from MSPA member companies. The number of companies represented will depend on where the workshop is held, as companies typically attend workshops close to their locations. This is a chance to meet schedulers, editors, account managers and even owners of mystery shopping companies.
There is a lot of material covered in a mystery shopper certification workshop and you will also have the chance to ask questions. At the end of the day there is a Q&A session where you may ask anything you want to know about mystery shopping—and I do mean anything. Have something you have been dying to ask? Bring your question to a Gold workshop and get it answered.
There is no experience requirement for Gold Certification, although it is necessary to complete the Silver Certification before registering for Gold. The experience level of mystery shoppers at a certification workshop ranges from those who have just started and may not have even done their first shop yet to secret shoppers with 20+ years of experience. The purpose of Gold Certification is education. With that in mind, the workshop content is designed to make sense to brand new shoppers while providing tips and advice to those with more experience. After all, no matter how good a mystery shopper someone is, it is always possible to be a better mystery shopper. Even if you have been mystery shopping for years, you will discover tips, ideas and insights that will help you to write better reports and work more efficiently and effectively.
After the workshop, you will receive an email containing a link to the Gold test. Once you have successfully completed the online test, you will be Gold Certified and you will receive your Gold Certification Code. This Code is not the same as the one you received when you became Silver Certified, and you will want to update your shopper profiles with MSPA-member companies as soon as possible to let them know that you are now Gold Certified.
A few logistical tips for the workshop:
Plan to arrive before 9:00 a.m. and stay until 4:00 p.m. If you miss more than one hour of the workshop, you will not be allowed to take the test and will not become certified.
Dress is “business casual.” Remember that you may be meeting representatives of mystery shopping companies, and this is a business event. It is wise to dress neatly and present a professional appearance.
Typically the temperature in meeting rooms will vary through the day so it is a good idea to dress in layers. Bring a sweater or jacket you can slip on if the room becomes chilly.
Many shoppers bring business cards to the workshop to hand out while networking. Other than bringing business cards, if you wish, there is nothing you need to have with you. You will receive a workbook to take home with you, so you may take your notes in the workbook.
Plan on attending a Gold Workshop when there is one near you. The feedback we get from shoppers is that the learning and networking were a great value for the time and money they invested. In fact, many shoppers like the workshop so much, they attend more than one!
Cathy Stucker is the author of The Mystery Shopper’s Manual. She has presented nearly 100 Gold Certification Workshops since 2002.