Gas Station Routes

Can someone who has one explain to me how a gas station route works? I live in a rural area, and the stations in the closest city seem to be taken by someone with a route, since they’re never available, so I would have to travel some, but it’s still doable. It would be nice to have a route every month instead of waiting for the few, scattered, single ones to be bonused enough to be profitable, then hope I see them before someone else does. For the “luxury” of having an assigned route, are you expected to work at the base rate? And, I remember reading a post where someone quoted a scheduler as saying it wasn’t their problem you didn’t live closer and had to travel, so didn’t know if they would factor in a travel allowance or not. Geez have I asked enough - I’ll stop there. Thanks in advance for any input.

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In short, a gas station route is just a bunch of gas station assignments you do in one trip to minimize travelling. There are no "routes" you apply for and get as one package. Instead, you create your own package and either take them at the going rate or negotiate the price. Some brands let you get a bunch of stations auto-assigned to you every period, but those are at base rate. (You used to be able to apply for pre-packaged routes, but that is uncommon today.)
Whenever I see several shops that I could build a profitable route from, I make a proposal to the scheduler. In addition to the shop fee, I will need to receive $$$$ compensation for miles, weather, and also lodging if I will be gone overnight. There seem to be more routes available than there are shoppers wanting them. So, complete a route successfully, submit good reports on time, and this scheduler will offer you future routes once you show that you are dependable and fair. Charge a travel fee that is realistic and consistent. The easiest, fastest, and most profitable way to begin to build a good reputation as a sheduler's go-to route shopper is to volunteer to complete routes that include remote, hard to fill shops and locales.
It totally depends on the MSC.

After several years on Marketforce's "do not call" list, I've recently been offered several lucrative routes. Not money like in the good old days, but I did accept 17 at roughly $100 each. It took me several days to cover them all, as they ranged from WY through NE, eastern CO, and southwest KS. IIRC, maybe a couple in TX and OK, too.

I also made my own route of 11 gas stations with IPSOS by checking the board every hour and snatching them up when they hit $90 each. Which I did on purpose and deliberately, as I had bid a route of these stations at $45 each and never heard back from them. They didn't even bother to tell me they received my route, which I spent hours on, to meet their new requirements for routes.

It also depends on the scheduler. I'm giving up on a particular scheduler with SeeLevel because her typical reply to questions is....crickets. Which can leave the shopper hanging.

Other schedulers with the same MSC will talk with me on the phone and work out a route, or answer questions timely.

And this is part of why I urge shoppers to develop a relationship with your schedulers. A good one can make your day (month, year! ), and a bad one....well, avoid when possible, and keep contact minimal when avoidance is not possible.
Since most gas shops are now with Ipsos, and I have either been ingored when making request or flat-out told no, I simply don't bother with schedulers at all anymore. Actually, Ipsos barely bothers with them either. So I just watch the job board and when there are enough shops for a route, at the fee I want, I self assign.

Besides Marketforce, Another company who is willing to work with you on a route is Alta360. Unfortunately, they are not willing to work with you on fees. Not much, anyway, until one month or so after their client's deadline.

In fact I recently got an email from Alta for pre-bundled gas routes that they had grouped up. They called them "packages" and were grouped by county if I remember correctly. Individually the shops paid $10. But if you wanted, say, a pre-packaged bundle of 6 shops, they were willing to pay $60 for the group.

I'm not good at math so I'm not understanding the advantage of this package arrangement, especially when shops are spread all over an entire county.

sestrahelena
@sestrahelena wrote:

Since most gas shops are now with Ipsos, and I have either been ingored when making request or flat-out told no, I simply don't bother with schedulers at all anymore. Actually, Ipsos barely bothers with them either. So I just watch the job board and when there are enough shops for a route, at the fee I want, I self assign.

Besides Marketforce, Another company who is willing to work with you on a route is Alta360. Unfortunately, they are not willing to work with you on fees. Not much, anyway, until one month or so after their client's deadline.

In fact I recently got an email from Alta for pre-bundled gas routes that they had grouped up. They called them "packages" and were grouped by county if I remember correctly. Individually the shops paid $10. But if you wanted, say, a pre-packaged bundle of 6 shops, they were willing to pay $60 for the group.

I'm not good at math so I'm not understanding the advantage of this package arrangement, especially when shops are spread all over an entire county.

I don't deal with IPSOS bonused shops after they canceled one on me the day before.

Alta's packages normally state that if you do 1-3 they'll add $2 per shop, 4-6 they'll add $3 per shop or something like that. That's the advantage of the packages. That and the fact that they have grouped them geographically, so you don't have to.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/07/2022 10:14PM by wrosie.
I could be wrong but I don't think this most recent email stated the customary buck or two increase for multiple shops. I could have missed it but either way, that's simply not enough for the time, required purchase and travel involved, IMO. For someone who finds the pay acceptable, Alta would certainly work with them to create a route.

sestrahelena
Yes, if you call the scheduler, she will work with you on building a route. Their number is 419-535-5757 and I believe Nicole X119 does the gas stations. They are inhouse schedulers not independent contractors. I've found them all to be straight shooters about what they can and can't do.

Just don't expect to be paid enough to make it a route of JUST their shops. But they make great fill ins as they are not time intensive.
A helpful hint:

If an IPSOS Sassie shop goes uncompleted past its deadline, it’s automatically dropped from the shopper’s Job List and reappears on the main Sassie Job Board between 10:30-10:31 AM EST.

I always set an alarm for 10:28 AM EST on my smartphone, log in to Sassie, and then begin quickly refreshing the Job Board.

Recently I picked up an entire route of $200 gas stations in under 5 minutes using this method. Some route shopper didn’t get their six stations at $200 done in time, so I snatched them up with lightning speed and knocked them out in a weekend.

Work smarter, not harder, guys!!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/06/2022 04:05PM by ColoKate63.
Thank you everyone for all the input. I have never seen a Marketforce or Seelevel gas station, so they must be in a different area than me. I'm in the southern part of Alabama - it doesn't really bother me to say where I am, if I get it, it was meant for me, if I don't, it wasn't - and Ipsos and Alta are about my only options. Alta's I may get if I'm in the area, but not going out of my way for $10, or $12 for that matter. Ipsos is who I was thinking of - but the bonused shops are very remote, and all in different directions. I don't see $200 bonused shops here though, or even close to that, so they must not be as remote as some of ya'lls, On the bright side, Karen Holland is the scheduler for many of these, and she always answers back, and is helpful and friendly. Oh if they were all like her. Thank you again everyone, I surely appreciate it!
I am shocked that MSCs would cover a hotel room for doing a "route" of shops. I must be missing something in my negotiation skills.
Some people ask for the cost of a hotel room and travel, others just give a total dollar figure to do the shops. To a scheduler, it's all the same. They just add up the numbers and say yes or no based on the total.

Wrosie brings up a good point. Just because an MSC offers a "route," it does not necessarily mean you can make any money off it. It fact, you could pay more in gas than the shops pay and lose money. Buyer beware.
Every company is different - some may bundle them up and email you about routes and leave some room for negotiation. Some routes are going to be things you put together on your own. Some companies may not offer routes for actual mystery shops, they want some rotations to occur, but for audits they may be more open to someone repeatedly going to the same location.

I would always recommend at least trying ONE of the shops before you decide to work on getting a route - its always better to know what you are getting yourself into.
The rumor on the street is; that IPSOS will pay 20k per route... in 30 days, lol or so they claim, on a FB post; with the "selected panel" I would love to see how they manage to do the reports so quickly, or prove pay rates $646.00 per day? x 31 days.... I find it strange that the IPSOS upper management is in the field doing shops now. I wonder if they are doing the gas shops for peanuts or are getting nice bonuses?
@KayDan wrote:

Thank you everyone for all the input. I have never seen a Marketforce or Seelevel gas station, so they must be in a different area than me. I'm in the southern part of Alabama - it doesn't really bother me to say where I am, if I get it, it was meant for me, if I don't, it wasn't - and Ipsos and Alta are about my only options. Alta's I may get if I'm in the area, but not going out of my way for $10, or $12 for that matter. Ipsos is who I was thinking of - but the bonused shops are very remote, and all in different directions. I don't see $200 bonused shops here though, or even close to that, so they must not be as remote as some of ya'lls, On the bright side, Karen Holland is the scheduler for many of these, and she always answers back, and is helpful and friendly. Oh if they were all like her. Thank you again everyone, I surely appreciate it!

Karen in the best. She may not always have the answers you want, but she will always respond and try to give you the right info.
@Auditor wrote:

The rumor on the street is; that IPSOS will pay 20k per route... in 30 days, lol or so they claim, on a FB post; with the "selected panel" I would love to see how they manage to do the reports so quickly, or prove pay rates $646.00 per day? x 31 days.... I find it strange that the IPSOS upper management is in the field doing shops now. I wonder if they are doing the gas shops for peanuts or are getting nice bonuses?

Ummm. How many shoppers are woking on that route and how big is the country they're covering? I'm pretty sure no single shopper can manage that at regular fees. Very weird indeed.

sestrahelena
I did a three day gas station route, but one day was all in a city...I had to drive "the long way" to each station that day because my tank was so full and my mileage was so good. :-D I'm just out here adding to Denver's traffic problem!
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