So what a lot of mystery shoppers do is set up a route to go from home or office to mystery shop, mystery shop, mystery shop and then back to home. Another way you can do that is instead of setting up a route of mystery shops, just work your mystery shops in with your other errands. If you are going to the bank, the post office, the mall, or wherever else during the course of the day, why not do some mystery shops along the way? Make a little money while you’re running around town.
The problem with doing any kind of route, though, is figuring out the most efficient way to travel from place to place. Because, generally speaking, you have to sit down with a map or with your GPS and try to figure out the best way to get there.
Well, I have a tool for you that is going to show you how to calculate the best route automatically. There are several different tools that will do this for you, and I have links to some others at the end of this article, but MapQuest is the one that in my tests seemed to perform the best in terms of coming up with the shortest routes—the ones that didn’t have me backtracking and driving around in circles at all. So you can try a couple of others and see what they work like for you, but MapQuest was what worked best for me.
First, go to MapQuest.com/routeplanner. The first thing you have to do is enter your addresses, and there are three ways to do that. You can enter each address individually by typing it in or by pasting each address into the box. You can also import a spreadsheet. They have a format there for you to follow.
The way I like is just to copy and paste the information in. I set up a text file with all the addresses that I’m going to, and then I just paste it in and then set some options.
If you look immediately below the box you’ll see a box that says “make this a round trip.” You want to check that, if that’s in fact what you want to do. Let’s say you’re starting from home, then you want to make home the first address and you want to make it a round trip if you want to end up there.
You can choose the shortest time or shortest distance. If it’s an option between, say, traveling on some highways versus traveling surface streets, you may want to go with shortest time in some cases, but I usually choose shortest distance.
This next item is really important. You want to be sure you check the box that says, “allow MapQuest to reorder the stops.” If you just have MapQuest draw out a route based on what you have input so far, they’re going to take you from place to place in the order you entered them. That’s not going to save you time or money, so what you want to do here is let MapQuest choose the best route for you. They’re going to find the most efficient way to go to all these places.
You can also choose to avoid certain types of roads, like if you want to avoid highways or toll roads or something else you can choose to avoid those. In most cases that probably won’t matter, but you might want to take a look at it and check any that apply.
Once you have entered all of this information, you are going to click, “get directions” and it is very quickly going to come back with a route for you. I got a nice round route that starts me out at point A, takes me right through my route then takes me back to where I started.
This is a simple way to come up with an efficient route in order to save time, save gas money, and get your mystery shopping done more efficiently or in conjunction with other things you’re doing. You get all of you directions with the time and mileage for each part of the trip.
From here the next step would be to decide what you want to do with the directions. You can print them out, you can download them to your GPS, or you can send them to your mobile device. In any case you’re going to have this information with you as you’re driving so that you can go from place to place efficiently.
This is another great way to save time and money and become a more profitable mystery shopper.