How to Become a Mystery Shopper
Are you interested in becoming a mystery shopper? It can be a fun way to earn some extra income. Market research firms often utilize secret shoppers to gather company and brand information for data analysts. Companies may also hire their own secret shoppers to make sure that employees are providing excellent customer service.
In most cases, these secret shoppers, or mystery shoppers, are not company employees. They are real shoppers doing research for fun and a bit of supplemental income. People looking for a side job or who simply enjoy the experience of shopping are making extra money with mystery shopping.
If you are interested in participating in this unique gig, here’s a quick guide to getting started.
Distinguish Scams from Real Jobs
Before you get started, make sure you know what’s a real job – and what’s a scam. When it comes to mystery shopping, no reputable company will make you pay for a membership or to see a list of jobs. While each company works a little differently, they typically all operate the same way:
- They give you directions on where to visit and what to shop for
- They may require you to buy a product up front (such as a drink or a movie theatre ticket)
- They have you submit receipts and requested records
- They pay you via check or direct deposit
- They usually hire you as an independent contractor (versus a payroll employee)
If the company asks something different from you, chances are that someone is probably trying to scam you.
Create Profiles with Mystery Shopping Companies
Companies don’t take everyone who applies. You will need complete an application, be able to follow directions, keep accurate records, and keep track of how the shopping trip went. It’s also helpful if you can work flexible hours. Each mystery shopping company will ask you to submit an application and build a profile. Many experienced mystery shoppers recommend signing up for as many companies as you can.
If your goal is to earn decent money with mystery shopping, you can create a template or two in a Word document from which to copy/paste your information to help you build more mystery shopping profiles faster.
Best Mystery Shopping Companies
- Retail Mystery Shopping Companies
- Restaurant Mystery Shopping Companies
- Phone Mystery Shopping Companies
- Entertainment mystery Shopping Companies
Here are more of the best mystery shopping sites for entertainment, healthcare, gas stations, and more.
- Management Consultant Group
- Confidential Consumer
- Customer Impact
- About Face
- Sinclair Customer Metrics
- Reality Based Group
- Sentry Marketing
- Northwest Loss Prevention Consultants
- Second To None
- Confero Inc.
- A Closer Look
- Market Force
- KSS International
- Secret Shopper
- Coyle Hospitality
- Pinnacle Financial Strategies
Getting Mystery Shopping Jobs
Read the Instructions Carefully
As you look at the available jobs, read each description carefully. Mystery shopping only pays you if you followed the directions exactly.
Go After the Jobs You Want
Once you are looking through mystery shopping company sites and job boards, you will find shopping jobs you like and apply for each one. It is rare (especially at first) that you would be asked to take an assignment. As such, you’ll want to apply for jobs that seem interesting.
Think Quantity – Do as Many Jobs as You Can
Mystery shopping jobs don’t pay very much. However, some mystery shoppers have done well enough to get paid a few thousand dollars a month. If you want to earn as much as possible as a mystery shopper, you will need to do a lot of jobs.
The more you do, the more relaxed and organized you will become. But don’t be surprised if you do it half-heartedly and earn only a few extra dollars along with a free meal or product.
Keep Good Records
In the job instructions, your employer will be looking for you to glean some very specific things. You may be asked to purchase a product and then submit receipts for reimbursement, along with notes on the quality of the service and cleanliness of the establishment.
Often, employers want you to price check or acquire a full list of products or services from a business. You will not want to conspicuously carry around a big notebook during the job. Workers will suspect that something is off, and the visit will not go naturally. Many shoppers use their phones for note and picture taking during their visit. Others keep a notebook in their car and record as much as they can remember immediately after the visit.
Submit Required Documents
Each mystery shopping job will have specific document requirements. You may be submitting notes and receipts along with mileage. Whatever the document requirements, follow the instructions carefully; otherwise, you may not get paid.
Do It All Over Again
Most people do mystery shopping for a little extra money and for fun. If you enjoy shopping, this side gig might be a good fit for you. Keep your records organized and do more mystery shopping jobs. Sooner or later you will establish a good system for yourself, make it even more fun and lucrative.