Pros and cons of mystery shopping with a friend

When picking up a new mystery shopping assignment, especially if it's one of your first, you may not want to go in alone.

When picking up a new mystery shopping assignment, especially if it's one of your first, you may not want to go alone. Bringing a friend along isn't all that uncommon, but it comes with its own list of benefits and drawbacks. 

There's really no cut-and-dry rule set on allowing someone else to come with you on your assignments. Given that every assignment is different from the last, each one should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. This should be factored into your decision on whether you want to bring along a partner or take it on on your own. 

Pros of mystery shopping with a partner

  • Moral support: Sometimes there are assignments that just seem more difficult to do than others. This might be because it's in an area you're unfamiliar with, or maybe you're still getting used to the mystery shopping industry. Having someone to provide the occasional pep talk could help you get the job done.
  • Makes you look more natural: Walking into a shop with another person may make your transactions look a lot more natural to the employees. For example, having someone to eat with at a fine dining restaurant looks more organic than sitting there along, constantly on your phone. 
  • Splitting the workload: If the person you've brought with you is there for more than just moral support, you may have a solid partner on your hands. Two sets of eyes are better than one. With both of you working to mark down specific details, you'll have even more to talk about in your report. Also, you'll have someone to double-check your details with later to make sure that everything is accurate. 
  • Could be anyone: The person you bring with you could be of any demographic. To make things more interesting, you can even act as if you're complete strangers to each other to lower the suspicions of store employees. This can also give you more of a reason to be in particular shops. For example, even though they can't help with your assignment, bringing a child to a toy store draws less attention than being there as a sole adult. 

Cons of mystery shopping with a partner

  • Could be a distraction: For many people, shopping isn't work. They take it as an opportunity to treat themselves, socialize and get a dose of retail therapy. There's a chance that anyone you bring with you will serve as a distraction and prevent you from doing your job. Even if you've already discussed what you need to get done, they may not truly understand how much work mystery shopping takes. 
  • Could mean less money for you: Depending on the prearranged agreement between you and whoever you bring, you may have to give up as much as half of the money you've earned for the assignment. You'll have to decide whether this is worth the convenience or not.
  • Could blow your cover: There's a possibility that your guest could blow your cover if you're on an assignment that doesn't allow you to reveal your motives to the shop's employees. Saying the wrong thing to, or around, the wrong people could completely jeopardize the assignment. 
  • Teaching on the fly: Whether your guest is working with you on the assignment or not, there's going to be a certain level of educating that needs to be done on your part. Unless you choose to keep them completely in the dark, you'll need to let your guest know the do's and don'ts of the assignment, which could take your focus away from preparing for the task at hand. 

There are many more reasons to support, and dispute the addition of an extra person for your mystery shopping adventures. Whether you decide to even let them know you're working is your choice, but there's a lot that needs to be taken into consideration.

Choosing whether or not to bring someone along on your mystery shopping assignment is entirely up to you. In some cases it could be the smartest thing do to. In others it may be best to handle the assignment on your own.