Friday, July 25, 2008

Got the job? Terrific! Now what?

Paperwork, of course! The assigning Mystery Shopping Company will direct you a web page containing specific instructions for your shop, and probably tools like printable note taking forms and surveys. This is how you will know exactly what measurements and timings to take, what to look for, ask, and do on a shop. Read this information carefully as soon as you have access to it. Sometimes errors are made, for example: women are sent on jobs requiring an inspection of the men’s restroom or dressing room, or a man is assigned a job during which he must try on three maternity items! If you find something about your assignment that doesn’t look right, contact your scheduler before the shop. Don’t wait until the last minute, please.

When you first accept jobs or you are working for a company you have little experience with, pull out their Independent Contractor’s Agreement you signed when you applied. Make sure you know how long it will be until you are paid, what will disqualify your shop, how you will submit your receipts for reimbursement and enter your survey data. Don’t go on your shop until you know all these things and are comfortable with them.

You’ll need to make a note of the date and time of your shop on a calendar you carry, on your computer, on your cell phone’s calendar, a calendar which hangs on your refrigerator, somewhere. If you have a busy life or tend to be forgetful, many computer program calendars include alarms that can be set to remind you of upcoming appointments.

Personally, I print out the information I need from the company’s website then enter the information in my computer’s calendar system. I assign each job a reference number for my own use and add the following information into my master database:

Mystery Shopping Company
Assignment # (provided by the company)
Assignment Start (some assignments can be done during a range of dates, this would be the first possible date the job can be done)
Assignment End (the last possible date the job can be done)
Shop Date (the actual date I plan to do the shop)
Location Name (store name)
Store # (the identifying number provided by the company to the Mystery Shopping Company)
Mall or Shopping Center Name
Address of the shop including City, State and Zip
Phone number of the store (in case I need it for directions or to confirm their hours)
Special Instructions (Is a purchase required? During what hours must the shop be completed, etc.)
Shop Fee (what I get paid for doing the shop)
Reimbursement Amount (how much the Mystery Shopping Company will reimburse of any required purchases I make)

I print out a map to the location with the help of Mapquest or Googlemaps and check it carefully with my common sense and what I know of the area. Immediately upon accepting the appointment, call and confirm the location and hours. Again, 99.9% of the time your assigned dates and times will be right, but there is always the odd job out. I’ve had two different assignments at stores that were closed for renovation. A call back to your scheduler in the case of error will be greatly appreciated.

Now that I have all the information in my hand, I grab a manila file folder to keep it in. On the tab I write my reference number, the MS Company, store name, date and time of the shop. I keep these in a file drawer next to my computer. Shops I have yet to complete are filed in date order, with the next shop that needs to be done right in front. Each night before bed, I grab the next day’s folders, give them a quick read-through, gather any instruments or devices I need for the shops and put it all together by my purse.

Now, I get a good night’s sleep and I’m off and running!

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