Frequently Asked Questions


Who is BestMark?

BestMark is a mystery shopping and market research company based near Minneapolis, Minnesota. We partner with clients in an array of industries including restaurants, retail establishments, banks, automotive service operations, and casinos to provide feedback regarding the overall customer experience.


Who are BestMark shoppers?

Our mystery shoppers are regular people whom we profile to ensure that they fit into the target market of each particular establishment. In other words, as a mystery shopper, you would be sent into an establishment to go through the same experience any normal customer would - except that when you return home, you will complete an in-depth survey form that recounts the specifics of your experience. Shopper narrative should include the "facts" of the experience (what was said, what was done and in some instances sharing how the shopper felt about the experience).


BestMark mystery shoppers must pay attention to detail: Each assignment has a specific set of parameters, guidelines and deadlines which must be carefully adhered to when performing and completing the shop.


BestMark mystery shoppers must communicate effectively and concisely: Our survey forms require a significant investment of time. Typically, survey forms include numeric scoring as well as in-depth narrative which substantiates and justifies the numeric scores selected. We expect our shoppers to write clearly, thoroughly and objectively, and to adhere to standard rules of spelling, punctuation and grammar.


BestMark shoppers must be observant: Each survey form includes a number of specific categories which, in order to complete correctly, require keen observation and retention skills on the part of the shopper. Shoppers ARE NOT ALLOWED to bring survey forms into the establishment with them, so they must thoroughly familiarize themselves with required specifics PRIOR to performing the shop.


BestMark shoppers MUST adhere to deadlines: All shoppers MUST confirm completion of assigned shops (either on-line or by phone) prior to 10:00 am Central Time on the day following shop performance or the shop will be cancelled, and the shopper will forfeit compensation for the shop. (Note: Shop confirmations by e-mail will NOT be accepted.) With a few exceptions (those shops that require accelerated turnaround times), all shops must be completed and returned to BestMark according to shop specifications (on-line, fax back or mail) within 24 hours of shop completion. Where required, receipts must be returned to BestMark prior to shoppers being compensated for their shops.

BestMark shoppers must be dependable: If our shoppers agree to accept an assignment, they must commit to a specific day, date and time when the shop will be performed. When accepting assignments, our shoppers must be completely confident that they can perform the shop according to their commitments. If you must reschedule or cancel a shop for any reason, you must give us as much notice as possible. Our Reschedule and Cancellation policy is very strict; any shopper who reschedules or cancels more than two shops in a six month period will be removed from our database and will be precluded from all future shop assignments.


BestMark shoppers must be discreet: All shoppers must keep in mind that in order to effectively perform a shop, they must not be identified as shoppers while performing their shops. Shoppers must NOT bring any paperwork into their assigned locations, nor may they openly take notes while performing their shops. Restaurant shoppers may not drink more than one alcoholic beverage while performing their shops, nor may they behave in any manner that would draw undue attention to themselves. Shoppers must select appropriate partners for their shopping assignments, dress in appropriate attire (business casual) and are restricted from bringing children on assignments without prior authorization at the time of scheduling.


How are BestMark shoppers compensated?

In return for performing their shops, BestMark shoppers are compensated in a variety of ways depending on the shop venue. Compensation may take the form of a cash payment for shops performed, reimbursement for dollars spent, or a combination of the two. Compensation specifics will be clearly communicated to shoppers prior to the acceptance of the assignment. Please note that compensation does not include mileage or shopper time. Gratuities will be reimbursed up to specified reimbursement caps.


Checks will be processed after surveys have been received (within specified time frame), validated and processed by BestMark staff. If shoppers do not adhere to all shop specifications, BestMark reserves the right to withhold all or part of the specified compensation. The payment process generally takes from 3 to 4 weeks after shop completion. Checks will be mailed to shoppers.  BestMark does not make payments via PayPal or direct deposit at this time.


What is the role of a mystery shopper?

Mystery shoppers "secretly" visit specific stores and businesses in order to observe and report on the quality of customer service. The information submitted by mystery shoppers enables clients to reward staff for excellent performance, develop staff who perform less than satisfactorily, and evaluate staff compliance compared to company service standards.


Is mystery shopping considered a full-time job?

Mystery shopping should be considered more of an avocation than a job, although the commitment required on the shopper's behalf is important. Some shoppers choose to work only a few hours every few months and others choose to complete as many shops as possible, depending on what is available in their area.


The amount of work available depends on the following:

  • The amount of work available in areas you are willing to travel
  • The number of current/active shoppers in these areas
  • Your level of experience and ability to handle multiple shops
  • The quality of work you produce on previous assignments
  • Our clients' specifications and restrictions

How can I benefit from mystery shopping for BestMark?


There are many benefits to working as a BestMark Mystery shoppers:

  • The opportunity to earn extra money
  • Free meals for yourself and a guest
  • Making a contribution toward the development of customer service
  • The opportunity for continuous learning through our online training
  • The opportunity to earn money by introducing friends and family to our program

What skills and abilities do I need to be a BestMark shopper?

Previous experience is not required. Shoppers are hired based on the information provided in their online application form to include overall aptitude, written communication skills, and ability to meet certain requirements of our clients. BestMark offers you online training and the ability for you to be a self-sufficient mystery shopper. We offer you everything you will need.


How do I know if there are any mystery shops in my area?

BestMark is continually growing and once you are hired on with us, you can check our website for available mystery shops in your area. Even if there are no shops in your area right now, there may be in the near future. We also offer mystery shops in other states, and you can shop when you are traveling or on vacation. After you apply on our website, a representative will contact you as soon as a shop is available in your area.


After I complete the application, how long will it take to be contacted?

Applications are accessed as additional shoppers are required, and you will be contacted as soon as a shop becomes available for which your demographics are appropriate. Sometimes this will happen in a few days; other times it could take up to several months. Although you may not be contacted right away, be assured that your application has been received and it will be held until you become an active shopper with BestMark.


What is the process for becoming a mystery shopper?

After you have completed an application and a shop becomes available in your area, a BestMark Regional Coordinator will contact you either by phone or e-mail. Initially, he/she will cover specifics about our company and our mystery-shopping program. If you are still interested in being a BestMark shopper and you meet our shopper profile requirements, you will be entered into our database for "active" shoppers and assigned a "test" shop to be performed. You will also be given a shopper ID and password allowing you to freely access our website and the available options for our mystery shoppers.


What type of training will I receive?

Your Regional Coordinator will make sure you receive step by step instructions for not only successfully performing your shop, but also for navigating our website. BestMark believes that communication is a key component to our relationships with our shoppers. Our intent is to train our shoppers to be as self-sufficient as possible, while having direct access to us when questions arise. We will train you with the specifics that our clients are looking for with each and every mystery shop, as well as how to properly complete the survey. We also offer training in regard to what we expect from our shoppers such as communication, timeliness, thoroughness, etc. We consider our training to be ongoing as we develop our shoppers to be as effective as possible.


Are there any fees involved in becoming a shopper for BestMark?

No. BestMark covers all expenses incurred in locating, screening, training, and developing our mystery shoppers. There is no "membership fee" or cost to be a shopper for us. While many of our mystery shops do require shoppers to make a purchase during the shop (for example paying for a meal or making a small purchase to obtain a receipt), these expenses are either reimbursed or already calculated into the shop payment received upon submitting the completed and valid survey. 


How is my work evaluated?

Quality Assurance Editors evaluate all assignments and offer positive feedback to shoppers regarding areas of improvement. At times you may be contacted by one of our editors for additional information and you can always contact us if you have questions regarding your work. We want to help you do the best work possible.


How do I receive assignments and get them back to BestMark?

Most of BestMark's assignments are posted on our website and must be completed and submitted online. The exact details of each mystery shop will be discussed with you before you accept it. You will also know:

  • Where the shop is located and in what time frame it needs to be completed.
  • The deadline by which the survey is due back to BestMark.
  • The designated dollar amount to spend if there is one.
  • Any other necessary details and expected procedures.

Are all the surveys completed on BestMark's website?

Yes. All of our surveys are completed online.  Mystery shoppers must have reliable access to a computer with an Internet connection in order to perfrom mystery shops for BestMark.


Do I need a specific browser or software to access BestMark's assignments?

BestMark recommends that our shoppers maintain an up-to-date browser and email program on their system. The free version of Adobe Reader is also required. The browser we suggest you use is:

  • Internet Explorer,  version 6 or higher

NOTE: WebTV is not compatible with our system. WebTV is not capable of handling the advanced functionality that is required of BestMark surveys.


Can I use any computer?

We suggest that you do not use computers that are located in public facilities (i.e. libraries, computer labs) due to security settings, which make our site inaccessible.


Do I have a specific contact person or can anyone assist me?

Typically, you are assigned one representative who is in charge of your state. However, any BestMark staff member would be happy to help you if your representative is not available. We encourage our shoppers to listen carefully to the voice-mail prompts when calling in order to get properly connected and receive adequate help when necessary.


What if I have questions after hours or on weekends?

For any shops scheduled over a weekend, it is recommended that you print and review your dispatch assignment sheets prior to 5 pm Central Time Friday and call your Regional Coordinator with any questions. If you experience technical difficulties outside of office hours, be sure to leave a message on the tech support mailbox and include the dispatch number of the shop you are completing. We will respond to your issues in as timely a manner as possible; however, response to technical issues encountered over the weekend will most likely not be until Monday.


What happens if I have to cancel a shop?

We prefer that shoppers "reschedule" a mystery shop before asking to cancel it. However, if you reschedule a shop, you must be prepared to perform your shop on the new date agreed upon. Because we are bound by strict parameters and guidelines to have shops performed on certain days, we depend on our shoppers to honor their commitments unless emergency circumstances prohibit them from performing a shop. We do, of course, understand that situations occur and we allow a minimal number of cancellations within a six-month period. Shoppers with excessive cancellations may need to evaluate their ability to continue mystery shopping. We at BestMark will monitor shopper cancellations and reschedules and reserve the right to terminate shoppers who exceed our limits in these areas.


If necessary, can I take a break from mystery shopping and still remain a shopper for BestMark?

Absolutely. We understand individual circumstances and ask that shoppers simply inform us when deciding to not do mystery shopping for a period of time. We will document the request in the shopper's records and resume scheduling shops at the appropriate time.


How and when do I get paid after an assignment is completed?

BestMark shoppers are paid two times a month, by check. Typically payment is received 3-4 weeks after the shop date, but payment can be received in as little as 2 weeks and rarely is more than 4 weeks.


How far do I have to travel to do assignments?

The distance a shopper travels is completely up to that individual. BestMark does not cover travel expenses, which is why we suggest shoppers take shops in their local area. However, shoppers may take shops anywhere they like providing the travel is not a problem. We do not expect shoppers to travel further than they prefer to.


Is there a minimum or maximum number of assignments I must take each month?

BestMark does not require you to take a minimum number of shops, but we do prefer that our shoppers stay as active as possible. The maximum number of mystery shops a shopper can conduct in a month is nine, unless we have additional shops in your area, and all of your assignments are already completed. This also depends on how experienced a shopper is, what the shop details may be, and what the deadlines are within the month.


How soon is the survey due after completing the mystery shop assignment?

Typically, surveys are due within 24 hours of the mystery shop. However, we have clients who require immediate turnaround. In these cases, shops will be required to be submitted by 10am Central Time the morning after the shop.


Can I mystery shop outside of my local area and state?

Absolutely. BestMark allows shoppers to perform mystery shops anywhere they may be going, whether it is due to business travel, or being on vacation. If shoppers are interested in areas outside their local state, we ask that they contact their Regional Coordinator to locate shop possibilities in the areas of travel. Please note, however, that survey deadlines will still apply and you should make prior arrangements to ensure you will have access to the Internet while out of town.