Trying to be a FT Shopper

So...I'm trying to pick up more and more shops. Need the income right now and want to keep on shopping a lot so that I can get the income later too. It's a great way to boost the funds for a vaca, roof, home improvements, etc

That said, I've never done more than 2 shops in one day

Today, I did 10. OMG!

The problem is....I messed up at least two of them and doubt I will get paid :'( How do you keep all the requirements straight when you are doing a lot of shops at a time?

My mess ups:
1-Confero prize award shop. Forgot to take a pic of my food. But I still submitted the report, in great detail
2-Cadillac Shop- Made an ASSUMPTION (yes, I know that makes an ass out of you and me....) and thought I could arrive at the same time the Cadillac shop closer to home was open. Nope. This one closes two hours earlier and I arrived fifteen min prior to close :'(

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You have got to find the best method of organization that works for you.

I rarely have a new to me assignment so most can be done in my sleep. That said, if there is anything new or unusual in the guidelines, I add it to the notes in my calendar entry on my computer which then syncs with my phone. I am as paperless as possible plus written guidelines might get forgotten while my phone is practically glued to me. I'm the worst about taking exterior pics so the entry will often have "PHOTO" next to the name of the business. I tend to shop earlier in the day so I verify when the stores open then check to be sure there is no restriction to shopping the first hour. You should be doing the same for closing times if you tend to be out later in the day.

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.
Great ideas. I am trying to be paperless as much as possible, too (those pieces of paper are costly and deduct from income, in my opinion). Though I USED to ALWAYS write stuff down. I will try doing a calendar on my computer that syncs with my phone; or just use my phone calendar and putting notes in there. That is a really great idea, and thank you
Just be careful that you do not lose jobs because of the errors. Maybe, slow down a bit until you get used to it. I used a clip board and put colored paper to separate the shops. As I did one shop I would do all my notes and move that shop to the back of the clip board. I am old fashion I guess, the paper works for me.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/27/2018 04:09AM by breestjon.
I use my memo pad on my cell phone for things I need to remember. I also print the instructions (highlighting the main things I need to remember) and read them right before going into the shop.

Shopping Arkansas, Louisiana, & Mississippi.
breestjon brings up a great point. When you read veteran shoppers completing 6, 10 or even 15 shops in a day, keep in mind all shops are not created equal. None of us are out trying to complete 10 new to us shops which all require a minimum of 30 minutes or more on site with heavy narrative reports due by midnight the same day. Make sure your day has more familiar to you with only one or two new ones and a good mix of quick and easy with some longer shops. Balancing short and long reports with various deadlines is also important. Very few people can submit good work when they leave home at 8 am only to return 10 hours later and work on reports until 2 or 3 in the morning. Find out which MSCs have non-negotiable same day submission requirements and which are more flexible. Keep in mind some allowing 24 or even 48 hours will still require reports submitted by the midnight if it is the last allowable shopping day. Because routing is vital to making money, if a longer day on the road will be more cost effective, don't hesitate to ask for an extension to the following day for reports. Many schedulers are or have been shoppers. They know how it works.

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.
My thoughts would be 10 in a day might be 2 two many as messing up a couple won't work.
Try cutting down a couple and build from that, remember you went from 2 a day to 10, lots to remember.

Create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that just looks good on the outside.....
Dr. Judith Wright
Good points from all of you. Thank you.

It is the first time ever I have done more than 2. And I don't have another day like this scheduled, and probably won't for a while. I think I will work on doing 4 a day (one or two days a week) for a couple months and see how that goes smiling smiley
It's 11pm here. I have two more reports to finish, so that's good. One is due 12 hours after the shop and the shop was at 4. The other is due before midnight, but with sassie reports, I've found that when I work on them and get them in soon after midnight, it's still good.

I started at 7:00 am, and got two of them done before 8:30, so that was GREAT
@Jill_L..I think 4 a day is a good idea for now..did some quick math and if you do 4 jobs a day at a minium of 15 dollars and did that 5 days a week..you bring in approx 1200 a month-taxes..so around 20000 a year..not quite full time status but okay money..if you up it to 25 per shop thats 24000 per year-taxes
I take a photo of the food always.

Here’s why:
I don’t have to record what time it was delivered because it’s time stamped on my phone.
I don’t have to remember what it looked like when I need to describe it because I have a picture of it.
Some shops require that I have a photo to upload, and now I have one.
When I shopped full time, I avoided shops that required any kind of purchase. I would do a few higher paying shops per week (banks, apartments, gyms, autos) and use easy fillers nearby. The fillers were always banks, storage units and cell phones. The sheer volume of the fillers helped me reach my weekly goals.

Another thing that I did, I learned how bonuses worked for the shops I did. I could really maximize the profits at the end of the month.

The internet doesn't make you smart. It makes you good at regurgitation.
Honny's system is "work smarter, not harder." Always a good plan.

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 do this full time over summer months...
1. When planning routes and busy days, I generally only do shops with which I am already very familiar.
2. I know what I will and will not take for a shop. I don't undercut myself. If I am negotiating with an MSC, I am up front about what I need.
3. I map the order I am going to do my shops ahead of time. I take into account store hours, traffic, etc.
4. I keep a notebook next to me in my car which lists a few basics for each shop (required photos, weird scenarios, target name, any alias information I need). I prefer this to note on my phone.
5. I keep my my phone and PV500 charging in my car.
6. I have a list of self-assign fillers that I could grab during my route in different areas if I happen to get ahead of schedule or have a cancelled shop.
7. As I plan routes, I contact schedulers and let them know I am going to pass through areas that are not typically in my area and ask if they have needs. (If you video shop and are headed out-of-town, there is a good chance that somebody has a shop for you in your destination.)
8. I make sure I have back-ups for anything I might lose or could get broken, etc. (Imagine a long day of video shops for high-end cars, retailers, homes, etc. and then managing to spill coffee on your only video shirt.... Oops.)
9. I plan extra time each day, just in case something goes sideways.
10. I audio record almost everything and take lots of pictures to document observations. Memory aids.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
I keep a yellow legal pad in my car and write the date/address/store & any notes I need to remember for the report. For gas stations, I usually write the number of pumps, my in/out times, anything odd that happened, issues, etc.

Then I can just flip to a new page as needed, and everything is in order by date if I need to refer back later. No loose papers to lose.

I also keep a bag in the trunk with extra clothes, extra pair of glasses, extra phone charger, extra shoes (it will wreck your day to step in a puddle at store #1)... anything I might need.
My personal maximum in a day was 10 shops. I had one sheet of paper for each shop and when I was working on that shop I wrote everything on that piece of paper and then tucked it away and moved on to the next. I took pictures of everything because I could always delete them later if I didn't need them. I texted myself notes to keep track of things that I might forget later.

If you can, get someone to do the driving. Think outside of the box. someone who's retired or out of work and might just want to come out for the day and have lunch at Chili's which is free to you .winking smiley. someone who wants to get into mystery shopping can drive in exchange for a Ride along and some advice from you as a more experienced shopper. My day was about 8 hours in total and by the time I got home I only had one shop left to report because I reported on my phone while riding between the other shops.
Just finished a day of 1 Menards (home improvement store) 20 Citgo gas stations and 9 valet parking/ parking garage shops.
Started at 8:30am and finished just after 10pm.
I have hundreds of pictures so not much to actually remember. I'll spend tomorrow afternoon finishing up reports. Photos, photos, photos! They are the key to my success as everything is time stamped and documented.
Ask schedulers for additional reporting time BEFORE taking a shop, most will agree if at all possible.

Servimer Regional Manager- Midwest, including Chicago, Wisconsin & Minnesota
Holy Cow, Luckygirl! Road warrior, you are!

I don't think I've ever done more than 11 or 12 shops (spread over 2,000 miles, 3 days on the road).
I use a spiral notebook to jot down shop information including the MSC and scheduler (which has been very handy from time-to-timesmiling smiley)
I also have a folder in my email for “Today’s Shops” where I put my confirmation emails so I have a quick way to link to the shop instructions and report. If I expect to be in an area without cell service, I also download the instructions to my phone.
I whole-heartedly agree with everyone who suggested not doing too many new to you shops in one day. I would go a bit further and suggest that you only schedule one new to you shop at a time. As opposed to signing up for, and committing to dozens of shops. Do one to get a feel for it before you commit to more.
Personally, I don’t do reveal shops. Many people who work in customer service jobs such as waiters/waitresses and store clerks change jobs often. Several times, I have found a server at a restaurant who worked at a different restaurant I shopped just a month before. And they remembered me even without revealing myself.
I would also recommend finding some good paying shops to become very familiar with, then building your daily route with shops nearby or along the way. December should be a good time to find shops with good bonuses since it’s End of Year, End of Quarter and End of Month. For me, it’s always been a good time to try out new to me shops and build a solid reputation with schedulers.
Thats good to hear Troy about December should be a good month..putting in my two week notice today at my full time job that isn't mystery shopping and extremely nervous about income..(have to move to another state due to some family stuff that came up) but I will have a week off around mid month December just getting my apartment ready to move out of..

During this time..going to be mystery shopping like crazy...I can typically handle between 6 to 8 shops a day..but had not been seeing any December shops posted yet..I will also be driving through Oregon and always see Oregon shops listed..
Luckygirl left the best advice 'til the last; ALWAYS get extended report deadlines before taking on a route like she did. One day or multi day, get it in writing!

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 am also old school.. I write important notes down on paper. When the shop is completed, i put a check mark.. When it gets graded I throw it away.. But I do keep the e-mails till I get paid.. But a couple of months later it becomes aviable again and if I get it, I re write them.

I have started tying the guidelines up in to a word document and I have strated priting them.. That way when I am assigned a shop that I have done before, I just look at the guidelines in the e-mail and look at the ones I had last time and if there are any changes, I make a note in pencil.


The only time I use my phone is if I have to take pictures.. I have a stop watch for timings.
When I take on a route, it's no more than six shops a day. I often base a route around a hotel shop with a simpler report. My route is preplanned but has flexibility for changes in weather. It helps to group similar shops, especially if the requirements are intensive. As others have stated, I take photos to help me recall details and use those time stamps. And I've learned the hard way to bring along back-ups for my phone camera, auto phone charger, and reading glasses.
I setup a new system for tracking my shops last month that I'm quite happy with. It's quite technology-heavy and automates 75% of the work I was doing to manually keep track my shops before. The implementation details are quite uninteresting, but when I get a new shop, I put it into a form just like this: [airtable.com] (this is a demo form I created to show this off, submitting won't affect my actual system). This adds the shop to my 'database' (not an actual database, but that's what I call it).

Anytime a new shop is created in the database, it is automatically added to my calendar. A new task is then automatically created in my to-do app (Todoist) with the due date set to the shop date. There's a note attached to the task which has two links, one that will open my GPS app (Waze) pre-loaded with the location's address, and another to the MSC's website. (The note also includes any notes I included in the original form when adding the shop.) When I mark the shop task as completed, a second task is automatically created for the report, with the due date of that task set to the report due date I specified in the original form (usually the same or next day). When I complete the report task, it marks the shop as 'finished' back in the database, and adds the value of the shop to the "pending payment" amount for the respective MSC.

This system has kept me extremely organized over the past month. I especially like that the system runs itself, as I don't have to intervene between getting the shop and getting paid (other than actually doing the shop itself, of course!). It may not sound like much, but it's really simplified keeping track of my shops vs the more manual way I used to do things (a spreadsheet).
@ceasesmith wrote:

Holy Cow, Luckygirl! Road warrior, you are!

I don't think I've ever done more than 11 or 12 shops (spread over 2,000 miles, 3 days on the road).

Lots of shops but all very close together... most less than a mile from the previous shop. I was in Chicago. It was quite 'funny' going from South side (pretty shaddy neighborhoods) to The Four Seasons!
Evaluate the nastiest restrooms you can imagine and have MULTIPLE drug dealers watching you/ completing drug deals while evaluating the pumps then drive a few miles and get impatient when the valet doesn't open your door in 30 seconds! Lol, fun times......
It was a highly profitable day though.

I like to alternate my time in the city with routes that closer resemble ceasemith routes... I'll be doing one of those the 10th/11th when my husband has two days off in a row to help with the kids.

Servimer Regional Manager- Midwest, including Chicago, Wisconsin & Minnesota
@LisaSTL wrote:

breestjon brings up a great point. When you read veteran shoppers completing 6, 10 or even 15 shops in a day, keep in mind all shops are not created equal. None of us are out trying to complete 10 new to us shops which all require a minimum of 30 minutes or more on site with heavy narrative reports due by midnight the same day. Make sure your day has more familiar to you with only one or two new ones and a good mix of quick and easy with some longer shops. Balancing short and long reports with various deadlines is also important. Very few people can submit good work when they leave home at 8 am only to return 10 hours later and work on reports until 2 or 3 in the morning. Find out which MSCs have non-negotiable same day submission requirements and which are more flexible. Keep in mind some allowing 24 or even 48 hours will still require reports submitted by the midnight if it is the last allowable shopping day. Because routing is vital to making money, if a longer day on the road will be more cost effective, don't hesitate to ask for an extension to the following day for reports. Many schedulers are or have been shoppers. They know how it works.

I couldn't figure out how to delete this.

Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning; the devil shudders...And yells OH #%*+! SHE'S AWAKE!
LisaSTL, oh I wish I had taken the time to get the gems of wisdom you and a few other shoppers generously provide without compensation, 4 1/2 years ago.

Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning; the devil shudders...And yells OH #%*+! SHE'S AWAKE!
@MFJohnston wrote:

3. I map the order I am going to do my shops ahead of time. I take into account store hours, traffic, etc.

This is straight up the most important thing for me. I list out all of the hours with each shop (checking at least Google for location hours) and then drag the order around till I'm efficient and on time.

@reidtait wrote:

Anytime a new shop is created in the database, it is automatically added to my calendar. A new task is then automatically created in my to-do app (Todoist) with the due date set to the shop date. There's a note attached to the task which has two links, one that will open my GPS app (Waze) pre-loaded with the location's address, and another to the MSC's website. (The note also includes any notes I included in the original form when adding the shop.) When I mark the shop task as completed, a second task is automatically created for the report, with the due date of that task set to the report due date I specified in the original form (usually the same or next day). When I complete the report task, it marks the shop as 'finished' back in the database, and adds the value of the shop to the "pending payment" amount for the respective MSC.

This is awesome - I will definitely be looking at getting all of this automated or at least some parts! Way cool.
Hi,
I always make a copy of what I need to do on a hard paper and file it, like movie theater/oil changes. Now I don't have to keep reading the same guidelines. Then I fold it and put it into a magazine. So, when I go somewhere it looks like I'm looking in a magazine but I'm writing the answers in it. Like for ticket take- title I'll write TT under that #1 -2 #2- 3 #3- Hi, Welcome to Movie theater, what can I get you? That's how I write the answers. Read the questions, then just put the title to the sections and answer the questions with 2 for 2 cashiers. 3 for 3 customers. I've made it a lot easier to remember the shop and to answer everything. I always put Start time/end time/doodle of a camera and what pics I need at the top. I hope this helps, it's help me.
You all have such great tips for being a successful shopper!

As it turns out, I can't do much more than a couple a day without traveling out of town. It seems there is a large shopper presence in my town: stuff flies off the boards and there are few bonused shops, etc.

And I can't really do "routes" and get out of town very often at all because I just have so much going on each day in my personal life.
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