Tips for "Bonding" with Schedulers

I've been shopping a little over a year. I have yet to establish a good relationship with a scheduler. I've had communication with many schedulers; however, I rarely ever get the same one. Any advice appreciated!

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I'm in the same boat Lorrie. I am having difficulty building any type of relationship as they just assign me, I take the shop and complete it, and that's it. There is no communication going back and forth. I haven't figured out how to "make buddies" yet either!

Shopping up and down the Colorado Rocky Mountain front range.
Ask for their phone numbers. Say "please" and "thank you".

Ask if it's OK if you call them.

smiling smiley

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/27/2016 05:56AM by ceasesmith.
I am in the same position. As a low level part-time shopper, I just don't register on their radar.
It may be that you are mostly shopping for the really big MSCs where the schedulers do not have any time for, or interest in, making connections with shoppers. The medium sized and smaller MSCs seem to be better for building relationships. Most ACL schedulers seem to welcome interactions with shoppers, as do the schedulers for all but one of the video MSCs. But, if you are looking to become a favorite of someone at a place as large as MF or Intellishop, you are probably out of luck.

For shcedulers who are "approachable, of course "please" and "thank you." But also, remember that they mostly hear from shoppers when things go wrong or from angry shoppers. So, try sharing a fun or funny or triumphonat shopper moment with them.

AND, it is very important to create a sig line for all of your scheduler emails that makes you memorable in a good way, states your name, area, specialty (if any), willingness to travel and/or take last minute shops. This is your business card in a cyber world!

Sam Shopper,Shopping the West Boondock area from Toe to Heel since 2009
Willing to travel for your hard-to-fill shops
I love convenience store shops!
phone number

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
Also, be sure to do what you say you'll do, on time, and correctly.

The scheduler will recall you fondly as a reliable shopper.

And I will disagree slightly with the above post -- I have an entire page of names and phone numbers for Marketforce schedulers. I am on every single one's "go to" list. I often call one or more and tell them
"I'll be in XXXXX area on the 14th-- do you need me for anything at all in that area?"

I have been known to call a scheduler just to say happy anniversary or happy birthday.
Definitely make it personal with jokes or thoughtful remarks. "Wow you guys are really busy today! " Try to read their signals and sympathize or help them out. If they do something nice for you, remember it and bring it up again, and ask if there's anything you can do for them.
I always send an email to my schedulers that states that the shop has been done. I am also reliable, reliable, reliable and they know this. I email them when I will be in the area with the date. Lots of times I ask for a bonus, depending on the location. Most of the time they will schedule me. I also request more than one shop in some locations or I won't shop it. I have been shopping for almost 10 years.
I love the forum, I feel connected and valued as a shopper.
The only thing I can say is be there when they need you and maintain a very good record without cancellation. When mishaps happen and the cause is from their end, be understanding and take it with a grain of salt as long as it will not affect your record. Keep communications open but nothing is better than completing shops successfully and on time. And oh, be gracious and friendly. Arrogance is never acceptable anywhere. Respect begets respect. You will be surprised how your records can last for years in an MSC because of the staff you have befriended and with whom you went through 'calamities.' When they move to other MSCs, that record will stay better than any certifications. Good naturedness goes a long way.
I'll add don't be fake and don't force it. In other words, don't be friendly with schedulers just to be friendly with them and hope you get more work. My favorites not only give me a lot of work but they are people that I actually LIKE.

Edited to add @walesmaven totally hit the nail on the head re company size. It is definitely much easier to build relationships with the small and medium sized companies.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/27/2016 08:03PM by bgriffin.
I could not agree more with bgriffin. My favorites no only provide a lot of work, but are also people that I genuinely like. We celebrate success together and empathize when things go terribly wrong. We share industry "shop talk" (without violating any ICAs) and talk about best practices and warn each other about newly discovered ways of screwing up a shop! And, many of us meet, face-to-face, at shopper conferences.

Hmmm, that sounds a lot like many of the relationships here on the forum.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
I always thank them. I keep in touch if I'm having an issue. I've had some screw ups, but I was asked to re do some shops.. no prob per schedulers..
My attempts to develop relationships are pretty basic. I have notified a small MSC when I discovered one of their clients recently opened a new location that was not listed yet. I have also alerted a MSC when a client location was closed but still listed. I've attempted to notify a MSC if I found contradictions between their instructions, guidelines, and other supplied information. I have alerted a MSC when I identified incorrect information on merchandising materials.

My posts are solely based on my opinions and for my entertainment, contact a professional if you need real advice.

When you get in debt you become a slave. - Andrew Jackson
Deleted my post. Goodbye folks. Was fun while it lasted.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 03/05/2016 12:50PM by Canuck.
Yes, it's just as important dealing with a bad relationship, as building a good relationship.

If you live in an area where there aren't many shops, or where there is an over-abundance of shoppers, opportunities to establish rapport with a scheduler likely will be slim to none. Where I am, I'm fortunate to have good shops, enough to go around, and not quite enough competition. The schedulers with whom I am on a first name basis, and friendly terms, know my work and reliability. They also know that sometimes I will take one for the team. That is beneficial to the scheduler, who can sometimes reciprocate to my benefit.

I estimate that 75% of my communication with schedulers is via email, as that is their, and my, preferred method of contact. If one of my favorite schedulers has emailed with a need, and I'm interested, I reply, keeping it brief, and will add a personal sentence, or some humor. Not long ago, a scheduler sent an email for a shop I knew was urgent. I was willing and emailed back. She answered in less than a half an hour, letting me know another shopper had beaten me to it. She made a joke and I replied similarly. We went back and forth a few times, and we both had a laugh. I didn't get the shop. However, our communication was not only fun, but important to both of us.
Having a good working relationship with schedulers? Don't stop now! Editors and staff are very important too. I developed a very good relationship with some editors first and it went from there. I understand that they do communicate among each other, about US.
I would add that taking a shop that's horrible as a favor works... sometimes. You'll learn pretty quickly which schedulers remember favors and which don't. Those that do remember earn my loyalty and I have completed last-minute shops for them, occasionally even at a loss.

Also, do your jobs well, even if they are stinkers. I recently did one that required me to go back to the location three times and make half a dozen extra phone calls in order to complete it, even though I was paid just for the once. No complaining, it was just one of those #$%^ happens things. BUT, the scheduler was grateful and passed me on to a scheduler above her who doesn't advertise her lucrative jobs anywhere; she emails the shoppers directly.

As far as them talking about us, the bad part is that one messed-up scheduler can get you banned from other jobs or companies. Many are great; a few are despicable.

Now scheduling travel shops for the day after Christmas through mid-January.
I had a scheduler that would assign shops on the last day it was due after I had requested it and assign shops that I did not request in another city. I politely explained that I would not be able to do the last minute shops since I already made plans for the day and the scheduler would get pissed off. By the way, I did not request to do the shops at the last minute. I requested the shops when they became available. I also explained to the scheduler that I did not request the shops that were located in X city. The scheduler would send me the confirmation that I was assigned the shops by late night, the day before the shop was due.. I don't have the time to check emails late at night since my regular gig are late nights. I got fed up and spoke to the head honcho. Since then, the scheduler sent my my confirmations a couple of days before the shop was due.
@bgriffin wrote:

I'll add don't be fake and don't force it. In other words, don't be friendly with schedulers just to be friendly with them and hope you get more work. My favorites not only give me a lot of work but they are people that I actually LIKE.

Edited to add @walesmaven totally hit the nail on the head re company size. It is definitely much easier to build relationships with the small and medium sized companies.

Mostly true for me, although, I am on a texting basis with some of the biggest fish in the sea too. There are some small MSPs that I really like and have worked with for almost 20 years. Sometimes, they have nothign for years, but they reach out when they do.

I will say that meeting MSPs in person at MSPA events let them know that I am capable of handling their biggest jobs. It pretty much has been the best thing that I ever did.

I am genuinely nice (for real). People say that to me numerous times a week. It takes just as much effort to be nice as it does to be a beyotch.
Great thread first of all!!

I learned early on email the scheduler to either let them know I got a job done or to thank them for assigning me a shop. My first MSC was Bestmark and I'd always get a nice compliment from a couple of their schedulers who told me outright that they enjoyed me working with them and that other folks there said the same thing. Talk about a nice way to get into Mystery Shopping!!

As time has gone by, I have cultivated some great working relationships with schedulers. If there is a particular shop that I might want to get but can't shop during the timeframe they give, I'll email them and let them know that hey I can do this shop, but not on the dates given...can I do the shop on another particular date or range? I can count the number of times on one hand that I've been told no as most of the time they will give it to me.

There are a few schedulers I'll talk with on Facebook too...sometimes they will hint around at a potential project coming up and may even encourage me to give that shop a try.

Silver certified (since 2009) and willing to do shops all around the greater Chicago, NW Indiana, and Southern Wisconsin areas (including airports!.
Be sincere and honest - this holds true for everyone I interact with. Hey, if you screwed up, you screwed up. Own it, apologize (sincerely), make arrangements to make things right and ensure that it won't happen again. Mistakes happen - it's all about the recovery. Something I appreciate and acknowledge whenever I'm working on assignments. And when someone is kind and gracious, let them know you're appreciative.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/01/2016 05:40AM by Professional Guest.
I have had schedulers call me and I would pull up my spreadsheet and rattle off the names of the companies I was shopping when they conflicted with the shop they wanted me to complete when I had a filled schedule.

I have had more than one scheduler or possibly MSC owner offer me a bonus for breaking my ICA and telling them the name of the MSC that conflicted with the shop they wanted to have me do and stating they wanted to do that shop themselves and wanted to know the MSC that I was shopping it for.

This is something that every other MSC wants to know to attempt to poach a customer. As easy as it is for us shoppers to know who shops who when accepted at the more respected shopping companies, you have to know to never give the competing company any information.

I never took the bait, as it could be a trap to see if I would divulge their customers to another MSC. I do think they were sincere and wanted to shop the location though.
When I started shopping six years ago, I was able to develop good relationships with schedulers even with the largest MSCs.. Those schedulers would always call me when a shop is needed at a moments notice, and if they knew I would be close to those locations. As those MSCs outsourced their scheduling and stopped using schedulers here, I just became a number to them.

Schedulers from smaller companies do have a better chance of developing a great relationship with you. What you need to do is to not only accept and do the shops they assign you (and do them right and well), you also need to find out what other shops they need to have done and do them as well. Makes more money for you and also helps them make their month and possibly get their bonuses.

I had one time where I was doing shops for a particular MSC, and they couldn't let me take any of the shops in that month because they had new shoppers in the area that wanted to take those shops. In the last week and a half of that month I was called by the scheduler in a panic asking me is I could do those shops for her because there was either a flaking problem, or the shopper didn't follow many of the rules of the shop.

It's always great to develop a great relationship with schedulers because you always end up with a win win situation for both you and the schedulers. Plus, when there are other projects that are coming up that they know are going to be popular, you will be on the top of their lists to shop that new client. Again, a win win situation for everyone.
I always thank my schedulers when they help me. They will get thank you's in e-mails when they help or on the phone when I speak with them. It just takes time. Hang in there.
Reach out! Whether it is to say thank you, ask a question or inform that the shop has been completed. If you liked a shop, tell your scheduler that. Let them know where you travel and when. Most especially, be a good communicator. Be reliable. If life happens, be honest. Cars do break down and people do get sick or end up in the hospital, but your grandma can only pass away once, or twice, if you are lucky enough to still have them both. Building a relationship with a scheduler is key. You will be at the top of their list when they have something amazing. Offer to take something that is harder to fill once in awhile to be that "go to" shopper. The payoff can be great!!!
I recently had a way to get to know one of the schedulers a bit more persoally. I was reading through shops on the board and when my cat walked across my keyboard = the shop got requested and accept!
AKKKK!!! It wasn't a shop I could do. I contacted the MSC - told them what happened and that it was Serendipity's fault (the name of my cat) and the scheduler so kindly wrote me. Explained it was removed from my job board ,and then told me to let Serendipity know if she wanted to do shops, to feel free to apply. Of course I had to write back and tell her that if Serendipity ever signed up she would probably specialize in pet store shops where she could watch the birds, go fishing, sit on laps and leave her fur all over the place. Ohh, and I wasn't too sure how readable her reports would be. LOL. We had a nice little conversation back and forth, and got to know each other a little bit.
I'm still trying to get a hold of this concept. When I was a new shopper and naive, I tried to forge relationships with schedulers from the larger companies with much futility. I was eventually requested to call one in particular. He made the insinuation that he has 80k shoppers nationwide and whereas he'd like to be personal with everyone it's just not possible. It put things in perspective, so I now try to not send more than necessary to certain schedulers. I'd like to hope that my quality of work, accuracy, and ethic speaks for me, but again, at some companies you're only number 79682 out of 80000.
I live in an area where we do not get many shops or the gold card ones. I have understood from these companies that their schedulers are very busy and only want you to email them about your shop if there is a problem.

Some have one scheduler who calls me but others have two or in one case 5 or 6 schedulers all trying to get me (by email and phone calls) to do shops at the lowest rate at the beginning of a cycle. I find this very annoying when I have worked for them for 3 years effectively and I get a bonus So I tell them I am busy, perhaps try me in a few weeks. If they press, I explain I am usually paid a bonus (and the amount) and that they are contacting me too early in the cycle.

I can't imagine relationships with schedulers that are on a personal level. It looks entirely from my end that they are trying to work their own bonuses every cycle without genuine thoughtfulness or concern for their mystery shoppers.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/05/2016 01:48PM by kennedykr.
How many MSCs are you registered with and how many give you work on a regular basis? The likelihood of developing relationships with a scheduler saying they have 80,000 shoppers may be slim, but there are smaller companies with a much more hands on approach. I realize some people do communicate regularly with schedulers from companies like MarketForce. I just feel it is much more unusual.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
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