Because I present the Gold Certification workshops on behalf of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association, I get a lot of questions about the value of certification. Should you get Gold or Silver Certified?
If you currently get as many shopping assignments as you want, you have good relationships with several companies for which you regularly work, and you are satisfied with the type of assignments you receive, then you may decide that certification is not for you. If you are an experienced shopper, the companies with which you work are not likely to drop you for an unknown shopper with a certification.
Can certification help you get more and better shops? The answer is a qualified “yes.” What certification can do is open doors. The rest is up to you.
Most MSPA member companies recognize MSPA certifications, but each company decides how they will use certification to assign shops. Some companies will give first notice of available shops to certified shoppers. Some will give preference to certified shoppers over non-certified shoppers and seek to give assignments to certified shoppers when possible. Others use certification as a tiebreaker. That means that, all else being equal, if a company has to choose between a non-certified shopper and a certified shopper, they will choose the certified shopper.
Having a certification can give you a chance to show what you can do. Once you get the assignment, the rest is up to you. I know of no company that will continue to give shops to a shopper who turns in late reports, writes poorly or otherwise fails to perform–even if that shopper has a certification of some kind.
With all of this in mind, I recommend that shoppers at least complete the MSPA Silver certification. It is inexpensive and can be done online. Having the Silver certification is a marketing edge. You are competing with hundreds or thousands of other shoppers. Why not give yourself every advantage?
The Gold is a greater advantage, but it requires a greater investment of time and money. If you can do it, you will likely see that you are offered more and better shops. The shoppers who have obtained the Gold Certification overwhelming say they are glad they did so.
Ultimately, you must make the decision of what is best for you and your shopping business. And do not overlook the value of education. Certification is not just about getting more assignments. Even if you are an experienced shopper, through certification you may learn at least a few things that help you to do a better job, or make your job easier, and that has value, too.
For more information on MSPA Certification, see http://www.mysteryshop.org/shoppers/certification.php