How do you control the stress?

I’m new (shopping for 2 months) and I’m terrified that if I make a mistake, the companies will drop me. Sometimes there are jobs that I would really enjoy doing, and feel that I would be a great match for the shop, but I don’t apply because I’m fearful of doing something wrong and not being able to work for them again.
I study the guidelines very carefully and take notes in my phone for reminders. I also try to record each shop if it’s possible. 4-6 hour shops just can’t be recorded, though.
Is there a way to foolproof a shop so that nothing is forgotten or overlooked?
I’m still learning but I know that’s not the company’s problem, I know they expect perfection and I want to do everything I can to give them the report to their criteria.
Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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I've been doing this for years. I still sweat bullets on new-to-me shops.

The only people who don't make mistakes are people who do nothing.

You WILL make some mistakes -- I've made probably more than my fair share.

If possible, I redo the shop, at my own expense, if the MSC will allow me to. I also apologize.

As for helpful hints, I actually use a sheet of paper as a cheat sheet; when shops have a restroom available, I can duck in there and go over my cheat sheet just to make sure I haven't missed anything.

OTOH, if it's truly stressing you to unbearable levels, this just might not be the career for you.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/07/2018 01:22PM by ceasesmith.
First, take a deep breath and let it out slowly. It would be a very, very rare shop where a mistake on your part would get you dropped by the MSC. We ALL make mistake, and a LOT of them. A few real head slappers are reported here but little ones? Little ones abound for almost every shop and shopper. That is why we sometimes gets 9s or 8s instead of 10s on our shops, even as seasoned veterans!!! There is a good reason why MSCs that grade us on a 10 point scale say that certain assignments will go only to shoppers who have an average grade of 5 or above. Now, please take another deep breath and exhale slowly. Yes, the 5 average score even means that a lot of that MSC's shops are open to those shoppers.

In short, relax a bit, be attentive to the guidelines, read editor and/or scheduler comments. If you do not understand a comment on one of your reports, email and, if necessary, email an account manager or head scheduler for advice on just what may have gotten you an unexplained deduction. Do a few shops of each type that you discover that you like so that you begin to internalize the client's guidelines and expectations. Watch for changes in that client's guidelines! Avoid taking more than one "new-to-you" shop, so that you can decide whether or not that shop really is for you. For example, I did one fast food shop and hated it. I decided to do a second similar one to see if I would be more comfortable and do a better job. I then realized that I HATED split second timing. I never did another ff shop. I did one bank teller shop and one bank platform shop and was very, very nervous for/during both. But I relaxed as I did the reports and realized that I had liked the shops, hoped that the targets would do well, and also that I actually had taken mental notes that pretty well matched what the survey asked.

As for recording your shops, you may find that the time that it takes to review the recording as you enter the report makes those shops bad bargains in terms of pay for effort and time expended. I suggest that you work on repetitive shops, training your brain to remember long enough to get to a restroom or your car and jot down notes. Then use the recording ONLY to double check something of which you are really, really not certain. Soon, you will be able to stop recording that type of shop. And remember, even long-time shoppers with high scores on their shops walk out of shops murmuring to themselves, "about 5'6", blond short hair, 30-40 years, never smiled."

The way to handle stress, in other words, is to take actions to reduce stress. Training your brain to be attuned to common shop requirements can start with just mentally reciting staff descriptions and seeking a place to make notes early and often. Those memory muscles WILL strengthen.

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.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/07/2018 01:43PM by walesmaven.
@Rhondabryant wrote:

Sometimes there are jobs that I would really enjoy doing, and feel that I would be a great match for the shop, but I don’t apply because I’m fearful of doing something wrong and not being able to work for them again.

If you're not working for some companies because you are scared then you have nothing to lose. If you do a shop, and it's so horrible it gets you dropped, then you are still not working for them. The end result is the same, you aren't working for them.

If instead you try one of the shops, a, at least you've tried, and b, you will rarely get dropped for a bad shop, especially if you are new. There's a learning curve. They understand that. Just don't do something fraudulent and you're probably good.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
Thank you for these responses. I do feel more comfortable and confident when I’ve done a shop more than once. I think the new-to-me shops are a bit daunting at first.
I have a new shop today and I’m sweating bullets that I’ll miss something.
Right now, my scores are all 10’s and I’ve been terrified that I’ll get less and be removed, but I feel much better about that now.
In fact, that shop I did where I had to go back 3 times to get a photo with no people in it.... they asked me to explain and I did. Haven’t heard a word back from them so I assume they’ve booted me.
You can't assume that. Typically no news is good news so its entirely possible that they accepted your explanation, turned in the report and all is good. Check to see if you are still with them. For all the explanations I've given or been asked for I've not yet been booted from anywhere.

@Rhondabryant wrote:

In fact, that shop I did where I had to go back 3 times to get a photo with no people in it.... they asked me to explain and I did. Haven’t heard a word back from them so I assume they’ve booted me.

This gas station pavement is $%^@*#& hot.
@Rhondabryant
As long as you are honest and fix blunders as requested, MSC's are going to be pretty patient with you and not give you the boot. What will get you tossed is cheating on your evaluations, flaking on shops, and being rude to schedulers, etc.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
As others have said, we all make mistakes. Unless you royally screw up a shop, it probably won't be rejected. Editors will ask for clarification, you may be asked to re-do the shop, you may get part of your pay deducted, etc.

I had a shop over the weekend that I'd never done before and felt overwhelmed by the prep materials. I obsessed over making a mistake. As it turns out, I forgot to ask a question I was supposed to ask. I got the information from the company's website and explained in the comments that's what I had done. Also, I corrected something in the narrative, and one entire sentence got so garbled I couldn't understand what I'd written! I deleted more than what I needed to fix and didn't see it until after I'd submitted the report. I fully expected to get my hand slapped for the overlooked question and asked to clarify my incomprehensible (to me) sentence. I was particularly worried because on one of the last shops I did for this MSC, I got downgraded by the editor for grammar mistakes that weren't mistakes. Nope. 10 out of 10. I feel like I dodged a bullet, but that's just to show that you can't be frightened into paralysis in this business. Or you won't succeed. That being said, I've been shopping for more than five years, and I still do worry about shops I haven't done before. But I still give them a try. Some I won't do again, but I find some I really enjoy.

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/07/2018 03:43PM by BirdyC.
I only do a couple shops MAX per day. (Lazy Lioness) One way to lessen the anxiety is to re-read your notes before you go. Start off slow. Pick a few easy shops before diving in to the hotel or casino shops. If the shop is at a restaurant and the guidelines say you can bring a guest, prep your guest before walking in. They have a little job to do, too - help you with names & other details. You'll be fine.
My first few shops were gas station audits. After printing out the 28 plus pages I started to panic. I felt obligated to try one and since the pay was decent, just had to sit thru the anxiety. What I found was that it was not nearly as daunting as the instructions indicated. After 3 they were easy. It is just a learning curve and you may have a happy surprise when you challenge yourself a little bit. If you are consistent, reliable and honest you will be an asset to mystery shopping companies. Oh and have a little fun also, it does not have to be too serious all the time. Good luck!
Doing a new-to-you shop can be stressful. Here's what I did with fast food shops when I was new to shopping. I scheduled a shop for a few days in the future, printed out the guidelines and questionnaire, then went and did a practice shop at a different location for the same restaurant chain. It helped me to figure out how to get the timings and check to make sure I had everything I needed. When I filled out the questionnaire, I noticed a couple things I had forgotten to look at, like if the credit card logo's were displayed on the menu board. There was no stress on me since it wasn't a real shop. I actually did second practice shop before the real one, but it was a chain I was already going to a couple times a week, so I wasn't spending money I otherwise wouldn't have.
You can practice things like timing and remembering names just about anywhere you go, restaurants, grocery shopping, movies. Just carry your stopwatch with you and have a notepad in your car to write down employees names.
When I take notes on my phone during a shop, I do so by composing an email to myself. If anyone notices, it looks like I'm just replying to an email. After the shop, I send it and it's waiting for me when I do the report.
Not sure I have any wisdom to impart which hasn't already been mentioned.

Being prepared and honest in your evaluations will go a long way toward being successful. Read guidelines and the questionnaire / report in advance if possible to know exactly what details to notice.

As for your worst-case scenario....what if that actually happens? You'll just find another MSC to work for to replace the one who dropped you, much like they'll find someone to replace you. But if you're honest and don't flake out, chances are very small you'll ever be dropped.

I don't think there are any Russians / And there ain't no Yanks
Just corporate criminals\ / Playin' with tanks
Wow, everyone, great advice!

rhondab, even the best, most seasoned shoppers make mistakes. That is a part of being human. You can alleviate your fear by doing a variety of shops over and over until the "newness" has worn off. Another option is that you can stick to the easy shops. Either way, best of luck to you.

The internet doesn't make you smart. It makes you good at regurgitation.
I can't speak for other companies, but it is very rare for us to "boot" a shopper. Usually, we do not deactivate a shopper except for cases of fraud. Excessive flakes (not doing your shop, and not contacting us about it) may also lead to a deactivation. Keep honest, open communication with your scheduler and editors, and you'll do fine!

Scheduler and Editor for Shoppers' View
www.shoppersview.com
christinew@shoppersview.com
616-608-1594
I am a little puzzled by this statement you made, "I also try to record each shop if it’s possible. 4-6 hour shops just can’t be recorded, though. " I am scratching my head and trying to figure out what types of shops you are doing if you have to record for 4-6 hours. Certainly not a shop a beginner would usually encounter within the first two months. The above advice is all good but I am wondering if you are just applying for some very unusual shops. Remembering what happened in a 4-6 hour constant shop would be stressful for a lot of us. Perhaps if you can let us know what these shops are someone who has done them can help you to sort out the best way to tackle it.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/08/2018 12:30AM by sandyf.
These days my real life is so stressful, mystery shopping is a stress-free break.

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
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
@Rhondabryant; I can't speak on other msc's because I was only shopping KSS, Intellishop and SecondtoNone for about year because I just was not aware of other MSC's out there. After shopping for a couple other MSC's, I do find the 3 above mentioned MSC's as very newbie friendly. I've never personally had an issue with Intellishop but some shoppers on here don't like Intellishop at all.
Those were entertainment venues. I almost asked to be removed from one because I was so nervous. The scheduler called. Me and talked me through the note taking which was very easy since it involved taking kids and using a map. I could simply write on the map! Those actually turned out easier than some of the pizza shops I’ve tried.
I’ve besn trying out all sorts of shops just to explore the realm of shopping and figure out what suits my particular set of of skills best.
I’m finding that the restaurant shops that tell me what I can eat and require timing every little thing are not enjoyable. Those are most definitely a stressful endeavor to me. I do however, really LOVE bank shops and car dealerships. I don’t feel too stressed on those and can recall a great deal of details right off the top of my head, but give me a timing shop and I freeze up with fear.
What mystery shop companies have shops allowing 3 glasses of wine? lol We all want to be non stressed on those timings shops.
The best way is to put things in perspective. Don't stress. Its not like waiting to find out if a love one survives surgery. Its just a business.
If you're pretty new to this and starting out with entertainment shops, bravo to you!! I'd really suggest lining up a day with low-spending and low(ish) fee shops, prepping all your note-taking things the day before, and then just going for it! I found that after my first day of doing a bunch of shops I'd never done before, I felt way more comfortable accepting any kind of job.

I also recommend outlining what I call 'hard' requirements. IE a company will be more forgiving if you miss certain things than if you forget to get proof of visitation or take required photos. I put my notes on my phone so I can check them right before I walk in, and in the bathroom if necessary. This isn't like crazy unique advice or anything, but the system works pretty good for me grinning smiley

@ wrote:

Location name - address
Important requirement !!!
Important requirement !!!
Important requirement !!!
-Requirement:
-Requirement
A thing to notice:
Did they do this thing?
Etc:

So it would look something like this:
@ wrote:

Phone Store - 1234 Main Street 98765
Exterior photo !!!
Business card or brochure !!!
Time in: 1:23
-If asked, say you prefer Apple products
-Browse 5 mins before asking for help
Target name: Mr. PhoneGuy
Time to greet me: 1 minute 13 seconds
Pleasant greeting? Hi there, is there anything I can help you with?
When considering stress, consider this:

STRESSED spelled backwards is DESSERTS!!!
So maybe when we're all feeling a little stressed out from all the shops and sometimes lengthy reports, we just need to go splurge on our FAVORITE DESSERTS, be they potato chips, ice cream, chocolate or whatever!! smiling smiley smiling smiley smiling smiley

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/10/2018 11:58PM by guysmom.
@Rhondabryant wrote:

I’m new (shopping for 2 months) and I’m terrified that if I make a mistake, the companies will drop me. Sometimes there are jobs that I would really enjoy doing, and feel that I would be a great match for the shop, but I don’t apply because I’m fearful of doing something wrong and not being able to work for them again.
I study the guidelines very carefully and take notes in my phone for reminders. I also try to record each shop if it’s possible. 4-6 hour shops just can’t be recorded, though.
Is there a way to foolproof a shop so that nothing is forgotten or overlooked?
I’m still learning but I know that’s not the company’s problem, I know they expect perfection and I want to do everything I can to give them the report to their criteria.
Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

I don't think you have to have that fear, Rhonda. Mistakes happen and it's a part of life. Even mystery shopping companies make mistakes in scheduling, bonuses, etc. smiling smiley But, I'm like you in that I'm a perfectionist on shops sometimes and if overdone, it can become paralyzing and unhelpful. There might be some healthy amount of fear that motivates you to prepare well and that's good. But, just realize that everyone in every area of life makes mistakes.

I won't speak to avoiding mistakes, because I'm sure others probably have lots of great tips. I would just say that for the 10's of shops that I've made mistakes on, I've always admitted them to the MSC up front. A Closer Look is great, because they even have a "disclosures" part of their reports that allow you to report areas you're unsure of or made errors on. I love that! They'd rather you admit them up front rather than lie and have the client find out and then you may not get paid. I respect them highly for that, because I've had situations where the scheduler or editor for a company more or less wanted me to lie on a report. I did not do that, but I did let them use my report using whatever final edits they made on it. At that point, it's out of my control and I feel I did my part to be honest. If the editor wants to overwrite what I said, then I can't help that. That's been very rare. I think it's only happened 2 or 3 times out of 100's of shops I've done now. I also always keep emails of convos I have with MSC staff to exonerate myself should it ever be needed. If there is something shady going on, I'll take a picture of the email and print it, etc. for records. But, again, that's been VERY rare, thankfully.

I've made tons of small mistakes and always admitted them in the actual report (or, if not possible, to the scheduler via email) and they've always been accepted, except for one case.

I did a restaurant shop once where they wanted an itemized receipt and the server gave me a signature one and I forgot to ask for the itemized. That shop got rejected. But others that got accepted WITH a mistake included:

-forgetting to observe if a manager was on duty
-estimating a timing, because I forgot to press my stopwatch (that was back when I didn't have a hidden audio recorder)
-forgetting to observe how a server handled delivering parts of the meal (one aspect in particular)
-forgetting to observe if music was playing in the background
-forgetting what the apartment agent said in response to a question!!! (yes, I was so nervous asking a neighborhood crime question that I literally did not remember what she said to me afterwards)
-forgetting if a crew member repeated my order or not

...and there are lots more. Most happened when I was a newbie and didn't have an audio recorder. And, it happened when I was rushing to do shops and not preparing for them very well. Once I put in the work to study for them and even practice some elements in fake scenarios, then I started to get perfect shops. A hidden audio recorder I bought for about $35 from Best Buy was really a life saver! So much that I didn't have to recall as much. But one thing to keep in mind is that recorders can malfunction sometimes or have high background noise that makes the audio hard to hear. That's rare, but it does happen occasionally. So, it's best to rely on BOTH the recorder and notes/memory.

All those mistakes I admitted up front and the reports were never rejected except for that one with the itemized receipt mistake. MSCs are not as draconian as one might fearfully believe. smiling smiley Many of them and their clients are very understanding. Preparation, preparation, preparation makes the biggest difference.

I think you'll do fine with your careful attitude! Good luck!!! smiling smiley
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