One of the greatest perks of mystery shopping is that it's great for people who already lead busy lives. For example, usually companies allow you to make your own schedule. That is what makes mystery shopping perfect for stay-at?-home moms or full-time students who are looking to make some extra money on the side. Yet organization is key when it comes to secret shopping, and unfortunately this doesn't always come easily for everyone. Here are some ways to ensure organization as a mystery shopper.
Before the job
As a secret shopper it's vital that you're armed with all the information you need to do your job before you walk out the door to work. This can include: your assignment's location, your goal as a mystery shopper, things to look out for in the place of business, etc. Most things have to come from memory, so be sure to read your assignments beforehand. Try highlighting any special requirements of the job so you can easily find vital information when scanning the paper. Not everyone is great at memorization. That doesn't mean you can't be a mystery shopper. A helpful tip is to write down important notes in your mobile phone. For example, your assignment could be to mystery shop at your local grocery store and your company specifically wants you report on the cleanliness of the fish counter. Instead of potentially forgetting to do this while at the job, make a note in your phone. You could explicitly write "fish counter" or, if you want to be a little bit more discreet, try writing "need to buy fish." Do whatever works best for you so that you can do your job the most successful way possible.
In addition to the specifics of your assignment, preparing for the location you're heading to is extremely beneficial. Some of your assignments can take you to stores or restaurants that you've never been before. While you won't be working very far away, make sure to do your research beforehand. Plan your route ahead of time including: where the location is, what the best way to get there is and the best way to get home. By doing so you won't waste any time or gas aimlessly driving around. Also, be mindful of the hours of the place of business you're heading. A general rule of thumb is to visit before dusk and at least an hour before they close.
After the job
As your mystery jobs accumulate, so will your paperwork. Organization of your records is a necessity. You will likely find yourself with stacks of reports over time. Be sure to set up a filing system that suits your lifestyle. If you work best with a computer, make a folder on your desktop titled "Mystery Shopping." There you can store all your assignments, reports, receipts and other documentation, all with the click of a button. A lot of mystery shopping companies reach out via email. Having a separate email account strictly for mystery shopping could be helpful to manage your personal and professional life.
"Dedicating a small sliver of your time to organization will save you a headache down the road."
Try archiving the folders by date so that you can always start current with your jobs but can still maintain your past work. If you don't prefer online databases, try hard copy filing systems. Buy folders with different sections so you can organize all your paperwork by month. Don't be afraid of color either. Various colored files, tabs or labels can make it easier to find exactly what you're looking for. Above all else, pick your preferred system and stick to it. Everyone gets busy, but dedicating a small sliver of your time to organization will save you a headache down the road.
As a mystery shopper, you will benefit greatly from a calendar. Because most shoppers already have either full-time or side jobs, they have other responsibilities that take up a large portion of their time. Balance is key. By immediately putting your secret shopper jobs on your calendar, you can avoid future conflicts. Always be sure to consult your calendar before accepting jobs. Some shoppers work for more than one mystery shopping company, so conflicts may arise. Find what works best to organize your mystery shopping life.