ExxonMobil site inspection; in over my head

I always fret when I do a job that's new to me, but in this case, I'm really kicking myself for taking it! It's a gas station/C-store mystery shop-turned-revealed inspection, which I've never done. I've done C-store and gas station mystery shops only, never a full site inspection with reveal.

I feel like I'm so out of my element and in over my head. I took it because the pay was finally up to where I thought it'd be worth it, but so far I've spent well over an hour downloading materials and taking the quiz (3 times to pass).

I know a lot of you do many of these and enjoy them. But my head is spinning after looking at all the guidelines. How much of these do you actually print out? Just the data-collection forms and the letters? Do you print out the "reminders" letter? I can view the rest of the guidelines on my phone, but maybe it's better to print them out? Who prints out 50+ pages of instructions, though? Some of the photos in the guides for signs and advertising are so damned small, you can't read them. Some of the terms are totally unfamiliar to me (they were written, apparently, for people who've done station inspections and audits before).

How do you remember everything without having to look at the instructions constantly?

Gah! I wish I hadn't taken it, but I'll see it through. I'm really freaked out, though. Sadly, there aren't enough of these in my area so that I can learn on this one and get more in the future to amortize the upfront time for a better ROI. But that would assume I'll even do the first one correctly. Which I'm doubtful about.

Any tips would be appreciated; thanks!

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

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I've done a lot of gas station audits over the years, but this one is the one I do the most because I am now familiar with how it goes and can do them in 20 minutes or less sometimes. Of course I have a "cheat sheet" which helps tremendously. I update it monthly when there are changes.

I printout most, but not all of the current month's OSA (POP) guide since I sometimes need to reference it on site. I only do that monthly and sometimes only need to add a page or two for a new month.

I print out the last page of the data collection form and use that when I do each pump. I also print out the introduction letter for each shop and have one of those declination letters with me just in case.

Lastly, I print out page one of the shop form. In total I then have 3 pages for each shop that I staple together, plus copies of the introduction letter for each shop.

The instructions do seem overwhelming, but the shops become much easier as you do them, just like any other. There is no need to print out everything. After awhile you will just see the stuff you need to know and a cheat sheet will jog your memory to make sure you don't forget anything, especially a photo.

I feel for you if you don't have an abundance of this brand near you because it's hardly worth the effort to do only one, as I'm sure you have found out.

Good luck..just remember what photos need to be taken. Make a list at least so you don't forget them.

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A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.

Zen Shin Talks
I'm with MsJudi on this as I also do a ton of EM shops. I prefer to print out the guidelines and update them as needed and keep them in a binder to which I refer occasionally. I use a well planned one page worksheet which I take to the shop along with the first page of the shop form and the LOA. All the info for the shop is on the worksheet and I fill in or stroke off each item as I do the shop. It takes 15 to 30 minutes for the shop and the report takes around 10 minutes. IMO this is well worth it if you do 5 to 8 (max 10) shops on a route. If there are very few shops near you then you won't be able to get in a rhythm and they are probably not worth the time that will be needed.
They were much easier with the app. I did one a few days ago and entered it into the website as I went along. Definitely slower but I didn't miss anything. I don't take any shops that I can't enter and submit on my phone while on site.
I don't print anything, including LOAs. If an employee needs to see it, I show them on my phone or tablet.

I keep a copy of the guidelines in my cloud in case I need to access them while at the site.

Important Bullet Points go in my memo program.

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope
Your manifest tech abilities astound and astonish me. I'm such a dinosaur! But I will chime in with -- yes, a cheat sheet listing every required photo is a necessity.

I, too, don't have enough of these nearby to make the time investment worthwhile.
Thank you, all! I will definitely make up a list of the required photos, although that was one part of the shop that didn't have me worried. Now it does! LOL. I'm also going to print out the data collection form, the LOA and refusal letters, and the "reminders" document, even though it's long. I can access the full guidelines on my phone if I need to.

@HonnyBrown, what do you do if you get a refusal? We're supposed to put the sheet on the counter and take a picture....

Fortunately, this gas station has only 3 islands and a small C-store. It is, of course, going to take me far less time to do the actual visit than it's taken to prep for it. The pay was just too good, on the surface, to pass up, though! ($30+). The next closest one of these is usually about 25 miles away, though. Not worth it. This one is out of town for me, too, but I have to go there anyway, so the travel time isn't an issue.

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.
OK, so stupid question: I assume you can buy more than $5 worth of gas? You just will get only the $5 reimbursement. I know you can exceed the whopping $1 reimbursement inside the store, but they seem intent on saying $5 in gas. I need gas today, so....

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.
I just get the required $5 gas for the receipt, and after I've completed the shop, I go ahead and fill up.

But that's just me....(and I'm weird).
You can get as much gas as you want. You will only be reimbursed $5, or whatever you spend below that.

BirdyC, you can do it!! Starting with a smaller station is perfect. Just keep rechecking your notes and instructions. If you are able, do the report on site or even a block away, in case you forget a photo you can just run back and get it. If employees are friendly, you can even explain that you might take a little longer than most because it is the first of this type for you. Most are very accommodating when you don't make them feel threatened. Rufusals are rare and usually happen when it's a new worker that has not been informed about the program and doesn't want to get in trouble. If they don't want the pic taken of the counter and document, don't force it (it says that somewhere, I think it was one of the update letters, not the main guidelines).

YES YOU CAN!

sestrahelena


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/30/2020 07:10PM by sestrahelena.
Well, I did it, but the report's not gonna be pretty. There were numerous out-of-compliance incidents. Some may be borderline, so I'm going to have to think on them a little bit. There were hookahs, water pipes, boxes piled up in the aisles without anyone unpacking and restocking shelves, pump and building maintenance issues, and so on.

I did have a problem that I'm not sure what to do with. As soon as I showed the employee (who was wearing a plain T-shirt but without a name tag) the letter, she turned around and grabbed her uniform jacket before I could snap a pic. I mean, literally, she spun around and put it on. So she knew "the drill" apparently and the photo shows compliance, but she wasn't in compliance when I walked in. Not sure how to handle this. She did help me find the Top Tier decal and answered any other questions I had to ask.

The entire thing took me about 40 minutes; would have been less if I hadn't had to take so many photos of non-compliant issues. I can see how, once you do a handful of these, they'd be a lot faster and would end up worth all the upfront time. But unless there are more around here, that time made this so not worth it! Lord knows how long it'll take me to do the report, too!

Thanks to everybody for your input. Putting together a checklist of photos needed and a few of the key observations helped. Now if only my report is accepted... That's questionable, I'm sure.

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.
Can you crop the employee photo so only the counter shows? If not, make sure to explain in the internal comments. Next time, just aim lower so you get more of the counter area.

sestrahelena
Just be sure to take a picture of the counter alone. They mad me go back and get a picture without the CSR when that happened to me not long ago.
I saw that there's an option to mark non-compliant for apparel and name tag, and explain that the employee put on proper attire after the reveal was announced. So I used the photo, checked off the appropriate option, and also noted that in the comments. Must be this is not at all the first time an employee has done this! LOL.

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.
Happens all the time! I usually start snapping pics while they're looking for their name tag then take the pic they've dressed up for to avoid confrontation. But instructions specify not to submit the employee pic if they have changed into uniform after the reveal. Just the counter pic.

sestrahelena
BirdyC, I am happy you got through the shop!

To answer your questiin, I have never been faced with a refusal. The employees know they are shopped and usually quite helpful.

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope
@sestrahelena wrote:

Happens all the time! I usually start snapping pics while they're looking for their name tag then take the pic they've dressed up for to avoid confrontation. But instructions specify not to submit the employee pic if they have changed into uniform after the reveal. Just the counter pic.

Aack! I misread the instructions. But as it turns out, her newly donned shirt wasn't compliant, either. But if they come back and want a photo of the counter, I have a great shot of the clerk at the counter where all the pretty water pipes are located.... And a whole lot of the counter is in the photo, so I can crop her out. LOL.

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.
After all these years of doing these shops, I did not know it was "legal" to crop the shops! I also just figured out that you can add more that one photo to each question. That comes in hand when the bathroom is long and narrow.
@barbage wrote:

After all these years of doing these shops, I did not know it was "legal" to crop the shops! I also just figured out that you can add more that one photo to each question. That comes in hand when the bathroom is long and narrow.

It may not be pretty soon. Ipsos doesn't allow cropping on most of their shops.
The number one problem on these, and all the gas audits, is POP that constantly changes. I make sure to download the latest updates and the guide to my phone so I can reference it. For the nontech people, just read the guide and print the pages you think might cause you trouble remembering details. The staff changing uniforms is a constant thing as others have mentioned. I always recommend take extra pictures of everything. I always start with the two receipts, so if I have multiple stations it is easier to sort them out.
It gets easier. Before long, you won't need any notes. Updating the current POP is a must though. Yes, most employees have been audited several times and are very familiar with the routine and are cooperative. However, I have had a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde experience. The cashier/owner was the nicest guy in the world until I revealed I was doing the audit. He got very angry and kicked me out. I just snapped a quick pic on the counter and a couple of exterior pics and left. He saved me a lot of time. The report was easier too! It is common for an employee to try to change uniform shirts or locate their name badge for a picture. There have been times when the cashier was not wearing a name badge when I was assisted, but after go back to the car to put on my safety vest and get the authorization letter, the cashier had put a name badge on. I think they smelled a rat when I asked for the receipt for the Snickers candy! In that case, if they have on the badge before I reveal myself, I give 'em credit. Another thing that happens more times than not is bribery attempts. "Can I get you anything? Do want anything from the store? What can I do? Please."
Yes, they get much easier after the first one. The photos are very important for these shops, but they are not difficult. If you can't use an app or download photos to a website report while onsite, check all of them for accuracy before you leave. I also take along a phone charger and back-up camera.
By the way, I do remember my first time. I looked at those instructions and I didn't no what the heck koalas, waves, and a couple of other things were. Yep, I remember getting mad.
If they hurry up and put on the uniform just tell them you need a picture of just the counter. I have this happen all the time and when I ask for a picture of the counter, they never give me trouble.

I do hundreds of these a month. They do get much easier, and now only take 15-25 minutes per shop.
Ah, yes..... the ExxonMobil audits......... the only time in my life I had someone (a customer) threaten to rape me, all because he didn't like the fact that I was walking around the pumps taking notes and pictures. Good times.
I agree with most of what has been said. I do print the LOA just because it makes it easier. I print the other stuff once and keep in a binder and update as needed.Once you do 1-2 you know what needs to be done and you can move through very quick. I just take a moment before leaving to go through my phone and make sure i have every pump. Sucks to have to go back. I have been doing a lot of these, but I usually wait till there is a bonus just because I can group 5+ a day and get them done quickly. If you intermix these with some fast food (which I feed to the homeless in the area) and some bank shops you can easily make $250+ a day. My issue is I have to make sure I take the car with the least amount of gas because that 2 gal at a time can add up quick. Just in case I keep a no fume small 2 gal gas can in my trunk. I love these when I plan a day in an outlying area say 25-45 miles away. One or two of these pays for my gas and I pick up other shops in the area that are usually bonuses because they are in outlying areas where there are few shoppers. The inside purchase ($1-$2) I stock up on peanuts, crackers and other 2/$1 snacks for kids and hubby's lunch.
@LIJake wrote:

That's not the fault of the audit. It is the fault of the jerk who threatened you.

That wasn't a dig at the audit. Just something I had forgotten about until reading this thread.
Say hello to my 38 special.

@Alan-Texas wrote:

Ah, yes..... the ExxonMobil audits......... the only time in my life I had someone (a customer) threaten to rape me, all because he didn't like the fact that I was walking around the pumps taking notes and pictures. Good times.
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