So hard to bundle shops where I live

For those of you proficient at combining shops in cities that require you to drive; how do you do it? I’ve spent hours today trying to search for jobs in bigger cities, because my small town doesn’t have tons of shops available. I couldn’t come up with even 3 in a route or in the same area that would make it worth my while driving. The best I’ve found is 2 in a route, and I will try to combine with a fast food shop in the area (if and when I’m approved as I’ve “applied” and am waiting). I’ve been doing mystery shops for over a year, but I haven’t been successful in finding enough of them. Thanks for your input! ☺️

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Are you signed up with a lot of companies? After a while, we get to know which companies usually have shops in our areas. You could keep a list for easier searching when you need to know. It also depends on the time of month or quarter. Shops are usually released at the beginning of each, at base pay. Many people take them or at least apply right away. Nearer the end of the month or quarter fees usually increase but often the jobs that are still available are in the boonies. Nice routes can be made with them but it is always a challenge to get everything to fall into place. Make sure you are registered with all of the most discussed companies listed below and then apply to all the other companies on the official list. It takes time. Pace yourself. You can do it!

Eta: also, big cities usually have more shoppers so competition is often tough, hence the shops getting scheduled soon after their release. Are there other small towns, maybe in a different direction, where there might be less shoppers and more lucrative routes?

sestrahelena


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/15/2019 09:48PM by sestrahelena.
In order to better advise you, it would be very helpful know how many MSCs you are signed up with, and what urban areas are within about 30 miles of you. Also, do you have experience with overnight hotel shops?

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’m signed up with about 20. I’ve only done shops for 12 of them. I don’t like reveal shops. The current grocery shops are paying so little now that I’ve stopped accepting them. I’ve done several banks, but some require you to be a customer, others say you can’t be a customer, others have location restrictions ... maddening sometimes. I like the hardware store type visits, but you have restrictions where you have to wait 90 days to shop again. I’ve done storage facilities, but have to wait to re-shop those as well. I probably need some new shopping sites. I’m tired of the fast food ones. I have many around me that pay nothing for the fee, but they’ll pay for most (some?) of a very expensive meal. I dint like to dine alone at a fancy restaurant, so I’d have to recruit someone to go with me (but then they would have to pay for an expensive meal). I noticed in my area the higher priced ones go immediately, while the $8 ones sit for a long time. And it definitely comes in spurts!
Hi! I’m signed up with about 20. Many have only 1 client (at least in my area). I live in a tourist town (Colonial Williamsburg, VA). The larger cities within driving distance are Newport News, Hampton, Virginia Beach (30-90 minutes). In the opposite direction is Richmond, VA, where it could take 50-90 minutes depending on the exact location AND traffic. I spent part of my day today trying to find ones in the Richmond area that would be worth my while if I could do them in one day. I thought I found several, and then to my dismay as I read the guidelines I saw that many of them had a “military discount” requirement.
Okay, first off, you need to be signed up with 75 to 100 MSCs to have a chance at starting to learn to build routes. Forget fast food; on a route, you are better off packing snacks or a lunch so that you do not have to worry about restrictions on lunch hours as well as a report!
Search for posts about banks using the forum search function and set it to the last years. $12 bank shops lead to $18 and $22 ones which lead to $40 and $50 ones. (I did $475 in lending inquiries without leaving home last month!)

Sign up with every MSC that does banks! In a city you can often walk from on bank shop to 2 others. Ignore most retail shops because most have low pay. Search for MSCs with parking shops; anchor a mini-route by taking even low pay parking shops and then walk to banks, phone stores, and other shop venues.

I started doing mini-routes 15 miles from home by doing one parking shop and walking 2 blocks to a bank shop. Along the way I made notes about other parking locations, banks, cell phone stores, etc.

Sign up with MSCs that do oil changes; a few dollars pay but reimbursement for an oil change every 3 months. I have not paid for an oil change since September 2005!

Look for MSCs that reimburse dry cleaning, in-home rug cleaning, tire rotations, hair care. Those are all keeping money in your own pocket! Oh, yes, and spa shops, and manicure shops, and pizza carryout or delivery and any food carryout with a nice reimbursement and a choice of items, and movie theaters, and church services, sporting events, concerts, gas stations (reimbursed fuel!), vision exam shops(you get a new prescription i the deal with most and do not have to buy the glasses there).

Any day that you want to do two shops but cannot find ones that align nicely in terms of travel time....spend the day signing up with 5-10 more MSCs.

AND, remember that going from one shop to two when you leave the house is progress that will help you to gain the skills to make that three, and then 4 shops. So, in the beginning, even a couple of relatively low pay shops that give you more experience with a new type of shop are REAL progress.

Remember, we all started how you did. We learned by expanding from baby steps, to walking to running. You can too.

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 never wanted to do reveal audits either. I felt like I would screw up & everyone would be watching! Until one day... when a few gas stations got bonused to the point that they could not be ignored. I was still nervous as I knew I would be but studied instructions, created cheat sheets, smiled a lot while on site & took my time. Now, it's second nature, I can get through them pretty quickly and rarely need to reference the instructions. I am glad I took the leap. They have been a large portion of my income ever since.

sestrahelena
There are many parking shops in your area and Richmond. Start by signing up with Servimer. I know that they have some along the coast and Richmond. Very easy reports, nice schedulers. PM me and I will get you in touch with a scheduler that I know needs parking shoppers in your area.

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.
Almost all of the successful shoppers in this forum are signed up with about 100 or more MSCs.
www.sassieshop.com/2servicesense/shoppers

They usually have a 2-3 day time frame, so you aren't tied down to getting a shop on the exact same day.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/15/2019 10:48PM by SoCalMama.
I had 6 shops last week, but wish I could get more in the same day rather than spread out. I am going to do as you suggested and keep signing up for more!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/15/2019 11:33PM by Ercokat.
Sometimes (quite often) schedulers will move dates for you, especially when it's not close to their deadlines. Most MSCs, but not all, don't have shop deadlines until the end of the month. If you have shops that are in the same area and it's not close to deadline, email your schedulers and ask if they can change your due dates so you can bundle better. I do it frequently.
Tomorrow I have 9 shops all in a city about 12 miles south of here. They are with 4 different MSCs. Tuesday I have 10 shops in a city 15 miles NW of where I live with 2 different MSCs. Wednesday I have 10 shops about 10 miles NE of here with 2 different MSCs. And so on.
Small town denizen here. I hear you, OP! I used to have two other jobs in addition to this. That was madcap. Now I have one other job and have changed my expectations. I am happier.

For me, the most effective change was to add some merchandising assignments. Adding MSCs added few local assignments and a decent number of distant ones that could become part of routes. I can only do tiny routes due to my work schedule. This is a good thing. All in all, a combination of mystery shops, merch, and audits gives me enough work to keep me busy and meet my financial goal.

If I had days and days and nights and nights, and weeks and possibly even months, I would morph a nomad and follow the stars! Lead on, o work eternal... winking smiley Alas, I am centered around home. It's okay. smiling smiley

I know that you will find a good arrangement of jobs for youself. smiling smiley

A person should always choose a Halloween costume which is in direct contrast to her personality. (Lucy Van Pelt. From 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown'.)
Shop-Et-al, what are the merchandising assignments? I have done 2 sizing audits which I enjoyed.
[www.mysteryshopforum.com]

That is a link to the merchandising board within this forum. There you will find discussions about merchandising companies and job types. Some MSCs offer merchandising tasks and shops. Others specialize in merchandising. If your small town has a Wal-Mart, you might be able to sign up with one of the Wal-MArt preferred companies and have somewhat steady work as a merchandiser in that store.

I have: troubleshooted electronic thingys; updated displays, re-set products; pulled old/outdated products; added fresh supplies of product; updated marketing materials; refreshed medical information; and looked for recalled products. There are many other types of tasks!

As a small town resident, I find it useful to do merchandising tasks right here. Usually the dates and hours are generous and it is easy to do this work before or after a job. Sometimes, this is so quick that it could be finished during a lunch hour.




@Ercokat wrote:

Shop-Et-al, what are the merchandising assignments? I have done 2 sizing audits which I enjoyed.

A person should always choose a Halloween costume which is in direct contrast to her personality. (Lucy Van Pelt. From 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown'.)
Erco, if you check out the "new shopper" forum here, you'll see some "sticky" threads of vast importance to shoppers. One is "how to find shops". PrestoInstaShops shows dozens of shops just in Williamsburg....golfing? GOLFING? WOW. Gyms. Banks. Fast food and other restaurants.

And might I add, the shoppers that have posted are so awesome! So patient and helpful.

Welcome to the forum!
It’s mini golf! Lol! I’ve done most of them. I’ve done the gym, banks, etc. I refuse to apply for a credit card and lower my credit rating, though. The gym was a good one, as was a mattress place, but they don’t come along often enough.
It's difficult to see the light when you are in an area that doesn't have a lot of chains, much less shopping, but it is doable. Sign up for the 15 most talked about companies and go from there. In February I was forced out of a job and I live at the shore, so there was almost no way that I was going to be able to get a good job until May, at least. I decided to put all of my effort into my other (severely part time) job, going from one day a week to three and focusing a lot more time into mystery shopping. I went from shopping for a dozen or so companies over a decade to shopping that many companies in a week. It is not easy, but a little bit of signing up for other companies makes a major difference. Try some places that are scheduling companies with several different MSCs, like Kern and ISS and go from there. Do the jobslinger.com thing, too
Remember that some companies post every day and some post once a month. Just because there's nothing today, doesn't mean that there won't be something next week.
Good luck! You can do this, it just takes a bit of work.

Shopping the South Jersey Shore
Mini-golf? That's even BETTER! Now, that's what I would call a fun shop!

Are you signed up with Amusement Advantage?

@Ercokat wrote:

It’s mini golf! Lol! I’ve done most of them. I’ve done the gym, banks, etc. I refuse to apply for a credit card and lower my credit rating, though. The gym was a good one, as was a mattress place, but they don’t come along often enough.
Have you tried signing up with the apps (ie Observa, Field Agent, Survey, We Go Look)? They have jobs in a lot of more remote areas.
Actually, that is an area with quite a few MS jobs and even a ton of them 1 hour away. Working with a LOT more MSCs and trying new kinds of shops can move you fairly quiclly to hundreds of dollars more per month if fees.

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 received $200 for opening a new credit card just last week! I also get paid a fee to monitor this card each month for the next 6 months. The great thing is, this card has a 0% interest rate for the first 15 months and no annual fee. Just in time to pay for some expensive dental work I need done. It doesn't lower the credit score that much, and unless you are planning on taking out a loan, buying a new house or car, etc. it shouldn't matter if it's a few points lower.

@Ercokat wrote:

It’s mini golf! Lol! I’ve done most of them. I’ve done the gym, banks, etc. I refuse to apply for a credit card and lower my credit rating, though. The gym was a good one, as was a mattress place, but they don’t come along often enough.
Ercokat,
I have opened 4 new credit cards in the past 12 months and my credit score, monitored every month, has not budged! Don't believe everything that you read on the Internet, or even the forum, about harming your credit score!!! A also open and close bank accounts all the time, for pay, and have done 3 loan a[[lications with hard credit hits in the past 90 days. One of my new/used car and 2 for pay. They show on my credit report, but do NOT lower my credit score.

The key is to use a relatively small percent of the credit limits that show up. A new card with a $5000-8000 limit, on which I charge maybe $150 in a month and always pay it off in full = NO negative credit affects. Over the last year my score has actually gone UP 4 points! Because I do hotel shops, some of my credit cards rack up $800 to $1200 in a month, BUT all are paid, in full, monthly.

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.
You've been given some great advice, and really, it's how we all start out. My only advice is to try the gas stations before you toss them. They can be quite lucrative and make a route possible where it wasn't possible before. If you try them and hate them, then at least you know. But for now while you are building your secret shopper skills and knowledge base they could help you learn a multitude of shopping skills and give you the springboard from which to launch your better shops.
Good luck and happy hunting!

I enjoy awkward questions and uncomfortable silences. This gas station pavement is $%^@*#& hot.
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