Top winter mystery shopping assignments

The holidays are behind us, but that doesn't mean mystery shoppers should expect to see a drop in the number of assignments posted on providers' job boards.

The holidays are behind us, but that doesn't mean mystery shoppers should expect to see a drop in the number of assignments posted on providers' job boards. Rather, the chilly months in January and February may be one of the best times for jobs as brands are revamping their strategies for the new year.

Companies that have set new goals for customer service standards in 2013 might be bringing in secret shoppers to see whether those efforts are paying off in terms of guest satisfaction.

Secret shoppers might also find they can take advantage of this time to increase their paychecks and get free products or services from companies that will make their winters a little more enjoyable.

1. Coffee shops
Along with fast food chains and fine dining restaurants, casual eateries and coffee shops hire mystery shoppers to check service time and employee friendliness. Individuals who take these jobs can enjoy a cup of coffee to warm up on a cold winter day or take the opportunity to order something exotic they might not otherwise try.

2. Movie theaters
An Oscar-worthy flick can be a saving grace for secret shoppers during a winter storm. Although they have to take care to get to locations safely, they can enjoy a few hours in the warmth of the theater and snack on some popcorn, allowing participants to see the features that came out over the holidays but they haven't had time to see yet.

At these assignments, secret shoppers might be required to note whether facilities and theaters are clean, if shows start on schedule and employees ask for identification for entry into movies with restrictive ratings.

3. Tanning salons
If individuals are dying for some vitamin D, they can stay on the lookout for tanning salon assignments on mystery shopping companies' job boards. Beauty shops and tanning companies bring in anonymous auditors to verify that employees are providing prompt and friendly service, keeping facilities clean and providing customers with the information they need to make educated decisions. Secret shoppers might be asked to verify that employees at these companies require all customers to use protective eye wear in tanning beds or recommending lotion purchases that can enhance results.

By picking the right assignments, mystery shoppers can make the most out of the chilly weather and keep their incomes steadily rolling in.