Mystery shoppers travel to unfamiliar places at all times of the day and night. Although the vast majority of mystery shops are perfectly safe, some locations may pose dangers related to crime, road conditions or other hazards.
There is also the chance of your car breaking down or getting into an accident. Some shops require that we consume alcohol. Sudden changes in weather can make travel to a previously scheduled shop hazardous.
How can you make sure you stay safe from harm while mystery shopping?
Never accept an assignment that requires you to go somewhere you do not want to go. Do not go out in dangerous weather conditions to do a shop. There is no job worth endangering your personal safety or your property.
Beyond that, here are some tips to keep you safe when doing mystery shops, or any time you are out and about.
Check the location before accepting an assignment. If the client is in a “bad part of town,” or you are required to pass through an unsafe area to get there, just say no. When you are not familiar with the area, take a look at it via Google Maps Street View. You can check out the neighborhood and see how things look, and also scope out things such as the availability of convenient parking.
Don’t practice distracted driving. Leave texting, phone calls, and checking email or apps on your phone for times when you are not behind the wheel. There are lots of studies showing that distracted driving is at least as dangerous as driving drunk.
Speaking of drinking and driving, don’t do it. If you are required to consume alcohol on a shop, don’t overindulge. Most people can have one drink or glass of wine with dinner without becoming impaired, but that can change based on the individual’s weight, metabolism and other factors, such as any medications they may be taking. This chart shows that even two drinks can put some people over the legal limit. Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum, or have a designated driver. Another option is to take a cab or public transportation when you know you will be consuming alcohol.
Check the weather reports to be aware of any expected severe weather. If there is a storm or other hazardous weather headed your way, get your shop done ASAP or, if it is really too dangerous to go out, reschedule for another day.
Keep an emergency kit in your car. You can buy packaged kits with things such as jumper cables, flashlights, etc., or make your own. Be prepared for the situations you may encounter. Here in Houston we don’t get a lot of ice, but if you live in an area where you may have to deal with snow and ice, put some kitty litter and a small shovel in your trunk.
Trust your instincts. They notice things you do not. If you have a bad feeling about a place, get out.
No matter where you are, be aware of your surroundings. If you are distracted because you are fiddling with equipment or reviewing shop forms, you will not be aware of what is happening around you. Pay attention!