How to Be a Mystery Shopper and Earn Extra Income
DO NOT believe that every offer to become a mystery shopper (also referred to as a secret shopper) is a scam. It just isn’t true.
In fact, I have personally worked for over a dozen different mystery shopping companies. I’ve earned an extra income all while having fun.
Based on my positive experiences, I will give you all the details I’ve learned for you to determine if mystery shopping is something that you would like to try including how to get started and a list of legitimate mystery shopping companies that I have successfully worked with.
What Is Mystery Shopping and How Does It Work?
- Businesses Request the Work of a Mystery Shopper Through a Marketing Research Company: Businesses, usually retailers, hire marketing research companies (mystery shopping companies) to contract for a specific job.
- Marketing Research Companies Hire Mystery Shoppers: The marketing research company hires workers (mystery shoppers) on a contract basis to pose as a customer.
- Mystery Shoppers Work on a Contract Basis for the Marketing Research Company: The mystery shopper is an independent contractor who works for the market research company on a contract basis and is assigned to evaluate specific aspects of the business, especially customer service, regulation compliance and employee integrity.
Two Types of Mystery Shops
- Most mystery shops are UNREVEALED meaning they are a SECRET.
- Some mystery shops are REVEALED meaning whether or not the assignment begins as a secret, at some point during the shop, the purpose is revealed.
Types of Businesses That Use Mystery Shoppers
A variety of world-wide businesses use mystery shopping including restaurants, fast-food chains, stores, financial institutions, pizza shops, hotels, manufacturers, gas stations, movie theatres, call centers, travel services, colleges, retirement communities, medical facilities, bowling alleys, apartment complexes and more.
Assignments can be as basic as making a phone call from home or going through a drive-thru at a fast-food restaurant. They can also be time-consuming (with a much higher pay rate) and require you, for example, to take an all-expense-paid, week-long vacation to evaluate your overall experience.
The Mystery Shopper's Pay
A mystery shopper’s pay varies depending on the specific job. You may receive a free meal at a fancy restaurant, all expenses paid. You may have to purchase an item at a store that you get to keep plus receive an additional fee too. The shop job may have a set pay rate such as $20 to complete the shop. One of my favorite jobs I’ve done many times is to evaluate a bowling complex. I take a couple of friends with me and we have a blast for free. Always check out the payment details of the shop job before you apply.
There are a couple of companies that I have worked for that send a paper paycheck in the mail. Most transfer your pay into your PayPal account.
Tips for Becoming a Successful Mystery Shopper
- It is important to always be professional, give attention to detail, and utilize good organization skills.
- Be sure to completely understand the instructions prior to going on the mystery shop.
- Providing an on-time, accurate, and detailed written report of your experience is critical to your success. This is usually done online and in a questionnaire format, where the mystery shopper thoroughly completes an evaluation. Reports/evaluations usually have a time frame when they must be submitted, usually within 24 hours following completion of the shop.
- Build a positive reputation with more than one company. Not all companies have jobs available on a regular basis. Gain experience by working for many companies.
- Make a good, lasting first impression.
- Communicate! Immediately notify the company if you are unable to complete a shop so they may quickly offer it to other shoppers. Always contact them if your report is going to be late. And definitely let them know ahead of time if you do not understand the instructions for your shop.
- Mystery Shoppers receive ratings for each job completed. The better your ratings, the more job options will be available to you.
- Make sure to always keep all receipts. Many companies will not accept your report without the required receipts.
What You Need to Get Started Mystery Shopping
To get started, you must have internet access and an email address. Most mystery shopping jobs require you to visit a specific location and therefore, you will need reliable transportation. That’s it!
Some jobs require the use of a fax machine, scanner, or a digital camera. These things are not necessary to get started although you might find more jobs available to you with these additional equipment options.
Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) – North America
Although some people think of Mystery Shopping as a hobby, the MSPA recognizes it as a profession. They offer two certification programs: silver and gold.
After my first year of successfully conducting dozens of mystery shops, I decided to obtain the Silver Certification. Although it is not necessary, having this certification allowed me to apply for additional jobs that were only available to certified mystery shoppers.
Keep in mind—You do not have to acquire any certification to search and apply for assignments in the MSPA database. There are many jobs available that do not require any type of certification.
Click HERE to go to the MSPA website.
Specific Companies That I Have Successfully Worked For With Hotlinks to Their Websites
Now that you have a better understanding of the mystery shopping industry, it’s time to register with mystery shopping providers. I have personally worked for the mystery shopping companies listed below.
I am personally only endorsing the specific companies I have worked with. If you see an ad on this page for additional mystery shopping companies, please investigate first.
Keep in mind, legitimate providers never charge a fee to join.
Give Mystery Shopping a Try
Mystery shopping is a great way to earn additional income. It’s also a great way to obtain free goods and try things, like an expensive restaurant or a fancy hotel, which you might not be able to afford otherwise. Have fun!
Important Note: There has been great discussion with questions and answers in the comments section too. If you scan the comment section below, you will find more important information on being a Mystery Shopper. Thanks for stopping by!
Good Morning America on Making Extra Money as a Mystery Shopper
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.