How long does it take you to learn new guidelines?

Is it me or some of these small pay shops have very lengthy guidelines? How do you folks go about learning new guidelines? How long does it take for you to get a good hold of the guidelines before you can do a shop freely?

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That's a hard one. I have well over 10,000 shops under my belt and I always review the guidelines because things change and small details matter. I tend to review the guidelines right before I complete the shop to make sure I don't miss anything. I've gotten burned a time or two in the past by assuming I knew what was required or missing a key component that was hidden in the guidelines. However, if I'm looking at pages and pages of guidelines I'm probably not doing that shop unless it's highly compensated.
The thing about guidelines is, the shop usually isn't as complicated as it appears on the first run-through. Exhibit A- USPS.
@panama18 wrote:

The thing about guidelines is, the shop usually isn't as complicated as it appears on the first run-through. Exhibit A- USPS.

Agree with this!

And then you have some that are like Coyle, and you had better pay attention to every letter!
If a shop is brand-new-to-me, I generally sweat bullets over the first one. I will have those guidelines down pat before venturing out.

For example, on a recent gas station, the guidelines said "Take a clear photo of the front counter. Get as much of the working space as possible." That's a direct quote. My report was returned for a "Photo of the front of the counter." I fought tooth and nail, sending them a copy of the guidelines, etc. I insisted if they wanted a photo of the front OF the counter, they should have clearly stated that. It's ONE stinking word!!! The gas station was 100 miles away. I was NOT returning for one photo! Same gas station, next rotation, my report was returned because I took the "overall" photo from my car -- "This client will not accept photos taken from inside a vehicle". Again, absolutely no mention of this in the guidelines!
(But I clearly was sure to get a photo of the "front of the counter" this time, LOL! ) And, of course, on the previous report, I had taken the overall photo from inside my car, and not a word was said about it.

If you're new, every shop is new. Very stressful! And you want to try lots of different types of shops, to find which ones you are comfortable with/enjoy/etc. So there's a lot of time spent learning.

However, once you find that there are a few shops you're really comfortable with, and start doing them regularly, just a couple minutes to check for any changes is all it takes.

Once you get VERY comfortable with 3 or 4 different types of shops, you'll find you can build nice, lucrative mini-routes. Do a gas station or two (straight mystery shops are easy and fast, usually 2 photos or so; revealed audits still take me about an hour, but pay much better), a shipping shop, have lunch at a fast food, and head home, having earned $110-$145 in 3 to 5 hours.

And I urge you again, sign up with the "15 most discussed" companies on the list below.
I live in a rural area, so I don't often do several of the same shop. There only is one of each Franchise.
Some observations are similar, they get ingrained in my mind to notice even when not shopping.

I read the instructions, I read the report and create a handwritten cheat sheet to fill in.

After the shop, I sit in my car and read through the report and instructions. I fill in my cheat sheet or check it to see if I texted all the required info to myself. If needed, I go back in.

I bring up the guidelines on my phone/tablet before I leave home, as I don't have data.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/12/2020 07:30PM by prince.
I do the same as Prince but on my laptop or PC. I find I have to re read guidelines fairly slowly unless it is the rare msc that highlights changes. But if I am doing the same shop twice in a row I do not re read the guidelines if the other shop is the same month or three. There is no such thing where i live like a profitable "mini route" or even a longer route unless you are one of the top of the line people who do the very well paying shops. Before covid most bonuses were few and far between and only a few dollars. Shops mostly got taken at base. And no one that I have read about talks about extra pay based on time rather than miles. Miles mean little here. If I drive from one shop to the next even 2-5 miles apart between walking to my car in a rather large parking lot , driving at an average of 13 mph in my city, finding another spot and walking from some distant parking space can add at least a half hour to a shop that pays $10. It is impossible to live on that amt of money in this town. There is generally a long wait to talk to a banker, a cell phone sales person and often in a higher paying retail store such as a mattress shop if there is only one sales person on the floor and a customer who really wants a mattress is ahead of you trying out every mattress in the store. Bottom line I cannot imagine myself doing this job for pay. I mostly do work for reimbursements. It would take me an hour to get to a suburban city which has its own shoppers. To get to a rural area I would have to pass by several million peoples houses who live closer to the shop than i do so would do it for less.
Doing reimbursements I can "earn" a whole lot more per hour than I could doing fee shops with the exception for some occasional high paying shops. And doing reimbursements I don't have to take into account the huge tax bite in my state.
Except for hotel resort stays, first time nightclubs and bars, first time video new home, and Albatross shops, I can learn the guidelines on most shops in 5 -15 minutes.
Albatross is a good company to shop for. Their guidelines read as if they were translated from another language, complete with nonstandard idioms, so they tend to require a closer than average reading.
i usually make a checklist of things i absolutely need to get during the shop and I have it on a little note pad where I can jot things down if I'm sitting in the car, or i'll have a notepad app open on my phone and then i pretend to text a friend and write stuff in the notepad. my check list will have all the required things that I can easily forget, like person's name, description, timing, photo of interior, photo of exterior.
@chiffon cupcakes wrote:

i usually make a checklist of things i absolutely need to get during the shop and I have it on a little note pad where I can jot things down if I'm sitting in the car, or i'll have a notepad app open on my phone and then i pretend to text a friend and write stuff in the notepad. my check list will have all the required things that I can easily forget, like person's name, description, timing, photo of interior, photo of exterior.

I approach scenario shops like I presume a movie actor would approach a role. I try to rely on memory and having understood the guidelines completely. I take as few notes as possible, load them on my smartphone, and put it away after I am within view of the store.

If I am doing an Albatross, for example, I look briefly at the main points and study picture of model I'm supposed to shop for (such as specific watches). This takes very little time, and I do it while I am walking to the store or riding in the elevator. Some things, such as names and descriptions are habit and I find myself noting them automatically even when not on a job.

I address employees by name during the shop (also when not on a shop, even when talking to them on the phone). That helps me remember them and puts them in a helpful mood. When it is covertly possible, ColorNote is very useful on shops that have several different employee interactions, such as restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and casinos. When it is possible to covertly record, that is even better.

I try to keep the shop as close to the minimum required amount of time as possible. It's much easier to remember the details of a 20-minute shop than one that lasts 45 minutes. It also takes less time to report. I fill out the printed survey after the shop as soon as I am out of range of the employees. This ensures that I have not forgotten anything and allows me to possibly walk back and get the information (walking by the store because I forgot whether the employee was wearing glasses, forgot picture of exterior, etc).
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