Friday, May 29, 2015

So You Want To Be a Secret Shopper and the Connections You Will Need

In a tight year where I spend a lot of time trying to stretch every twenty dollar bill to cover groceries, bills, and gas money. If you're thinking its an impossible task you may be right. Especially if you have spent your time searching and finding that everyone charges you money to GIVE you ACCESS to the companies that do secret shopping.

What is Secret Shopping? 

Secret Shoppers are contracted through companies that do secret shopping by various merchant businesses for various reasons including: professionalism, appearance, pricing, quality of interactions and equipment, as well as to verify that employees are not using illegal or unethical practices. Companies may contract secret shoppers as an independent review of their company to enhance the quality rating and certifications they have. Companies may contract secret shoppers if they have received complaints and want more of an idea on how their employees are interacting with customers.

Keys to Secret Shopping Successfully: 

1. Utilize the training information provided by the companies you are working for. Different companies have differing preferences on what and how to report.

2. Read the directions on secret shops as well as the survey you will need to complete afterwards.

3. When you do a shop you NEVER tell anyone you are doing the shop, you go alone and you follow directions provided. NEVER "Make it up as you go along." Directions are specific. You can tell your family or friends, so long as they aren't the sort to walk in as a joke and blow your cover.

4. Sometimes you can take pictures without drawing attention, sometimes you need to take pictures as part of completing the shop. Pictures may be of store fronts, sales displays, receipts.

5. Keep copies of receipts and documentation. Date everything and catch the name and a physical description of the people who you meet during the shop as well as what and how they say it.

example: As Diana was seating us the manager, Joe, came and introduced himself and welcomed us with a friendly smile. Neither seemed rushed and both seemed attentive to our needs and interests. Diana was caucasian, about 5'5" with long black hair held back in a ponytail; she was wearing her uniform shirt, name badge and plain black pants. Joe was about 6'0." Joe was african american, with his uniform shirt, name badge and plain black pants on.

6. Grammar is important. No LOL No shortcuts No see answer above. Be clear in your writing.

7. Be Timely. Shops HAVE to be done WHEN they are ASSIGNED TO be done. You have to wait until you are approved.

8. There is a national certification you can take, it isn't necessary yet and each company has different guidelines so it is best to go through and do the training exercises they offer and get the training they request if they request any.

What kinds of secret shops are out there? 

You name it! Restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, banks, real estate, airport and airline, hotels, colleges and services.

You can make money doing shops. They take time and accuracy to complete. Different shops pay different rates for different types of shops. I have done retail shops that did not require me to purchase anything, were short, and paid $13 each. I have seen shops that offer $30-$60 payment with reimbursement for purchases up to $15 for bowling alley shops. Shops can take a few minutes to a few hours. There are shops in urban and rural areas. There are shops that are in person at a location as well as phone survey shops. Some shops require you to do hidden video or audio recordings. Medical secret shops may pay up to three hundred dollars and reimbursement without any medical procedure being done.

The Gem you have been waiting for: 

This is a starter list, avoid paying someone to hand you this list. Please share my blog and share the list freely. If you want to do a favor for me in gratitude after you do a few shops then share the links to my ebooks, the link to my blog, buy one of my ebooks or some of the jewelry I make and sell at Painted Lady Creations on Etsy. Pay it forward! If they ask if you were referred by anyone you are welcome to say Angela Hunt referred me or not; doesn't really matter. I just want this information out there free.

If you have more companies you want me to add, please add them in comments or message me and I will look them up and add them. Good hunting!

For more companies or to add to this list, search for scheduling companies, promotions and marketing as well. If you look up secret shopping you will likely get mostly hits on engines like Shadowshopper that will charge you to give you access to connecting with secret shop companies or blogs that are using paying advertisers to get paid for you sharing information. I am just handing it to you as I took the time to pay and gain access to the information and I feel it should be freely shared. Companies are always looking for good shoppers.  Use these company names to find and create an account to secret shop for these companies! When I say retail it's a generalization that includes restaurants, grocery, phone companies, fast food, gas stations, clothing stores etc.

Beyond Hello- various retail shops and app for your smartphone to find them!

Bestmark - in my experience they offer a lot of oil change shops.

Insula Research- Retail

Baird Group: - medical in person and phone shops, with excellent training modules

KSS International/ Kern Scheduling- retail

Mystery Researchers- retail, overarching company that Beyond Hello, Insula and mystery researchers are a part of

Goodwin Hospitality- I like their shops. Bowling alleys, retail

Strategic Reflections- retail

National Shopper Service- various

Ellis Partners in Management Solutions/ EPMS online - in person, phone shops many are real estate shops

isecretshop mystery shopper services

Informa Services - various retail

Stay Connected- promotions, demos, and secret shops

Fusion Marketing and Promotion- promotions, special events, secret shops

I wish you good fortune in stretching those twenty dollar bills with me as we earn side income occasionally helping companies review their practices, presentation, and quality of merchandise or services.

Doing retail shops could mean getting a product free or being reimbursed for purchases. 

 You could secret shop a grocery store and end up getting part of your groceries paid for as well as getting about $15-$20 to review the store. You could get reimbursed up to a certain value on purchases at other stores or service providers. Oil changes reimbursed with an added $15 paid to you for doing the shop. Restaurants with reimbursement and pay or just reimbursement which still adds up to a free dinner. Bowling alleys paying you for doing a round of bowling and having a snack and a drink as well as paying you to do the shop. Medical providers paying up to $300 for you to present and do shops on how staff deals with you and what they say in relation to the information you are providing.

Most secret shop companies pay monthly or at completion of the shop. Review the specifics for each on their websites! 

Secret shoppers should be neutral, follow directions and hopefully get to see people do their jobs well and see companies well represented. In the unfortunate situation when they are not, it is the shopper's responsibility to turn in the information requested by the company so the company can evaluate and make a course of action to improve their business. It is wonderful when you get to turn in a report or survey about how amazing someone did and how fast or professional the company was represented. However it goes, it is a tool that helps companies get non-biased information on how they are doing.