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Planning out mystery shopping routes

Planning a mystery shopping route is a great way for shoppers to increase revenue and build additional skills. Whether the route stretches through several states or simply explores one neighborhood, taking the time to plot one out can make better use of time, energy and resources.

Types of routes
Planning a mystery shopping route involves setting up a path to take with specific shop stops along the way. Mystery Shopper's Manual points out that choosing jobs that are located between work and home or near already scheduled errands is an easy way to make some extra money during the week. Mystery Shopper Magazine, on the other hand, references much longer routes that can take up to a week to complete and require traveling out of state and staying in hotels. Both entail extensive planning but provide a great opportunity for variety. 

Numbers, numbers, numbers
As Mystery Shopper Magazine reiterates often, the most important thing to know when preparing a route is personal numbers. This means understanding everything from how long a particular shop will take to travel time between gigs. Each shopper has to answer these questions individually, as it will vary for everyone. In addition, be sure to compare the payment amount to the anticipated expenditures to determine final profit. If travel time, gas mileage and possible hotel fees far outweigh the payment received and reimbursements, it may not be wise to follow through with a job.

Don't deny right away
Along with crunching numbers before setting off on a route, take time after a mystery shop offer to see what other gigs may be available in the area. It may not be profitable to complete one job if it is far away, but adding other opportunities to the mix can make the effort much more worthwhile.

Designing the route
Make sure the route picked out is easily navigable and straightforward to ensure all jobs are completed and as little gas is needed, if driving a car. Completing the job farthest away first allows for some flexibility if a travel snafu pops up and the route is interrupted. Mystery Shopper's Manual suggests comparing the shortest distance route with the shortest time route to see which is preferable. Also, don't forget to look up reverse directions to get back home.

Be efficient
Since multiple jobs will be completed throughout the route, creating a chart or swift note-taking method for each shop will help record details in the few minutes between each shop.