Cheap tools for Mystery Shopping

Hey Queen B,

Do you have any recommendations for things that can help out with shopping? Sometimes I find myself overwhelmed with all the little things and I want to be better organized.


-Cluttered Cathy

Cartoon plumber

Image courtesy of and Vectorolie

In general, some tools you should always have are:

  1. A computer and Internet access. You’ll need to hop online to get your assignments and file your reports.
  2. Some kind of filing system. Both online to keep track of your IC agreements and shop reports, as well as physical files to keep track of all your shopping collateral: business cards, brochures and  pamphlets.
  3. An accounting system to help you keep track of which company owes you what and when. As well as your own notes about if you like working for the company and the assignments that you do.
  4. A car, or some kind of reliable transportation. If you’re in a city like New York or San Francisco, where public transit is the norm, then you’ll be fine getting from shop to shop. However, in most areas, you’ll need a car if you’re going to make assignments worth your time.
  5. Maps: GPS in your car or on your phone, or you can use Yahoo, Mapquest and Google Maps to help you get to where you’re going.
  6. If you want to do restaurant shops: A timing app on your phone, or watch with a second hand. Many shops (specifically restaurants) are adamant about timing. They want to know how long it took for you to be greeted, seated and get your order, so having something to keep track of those times is very important.
  7. If you want to do apartment shops: Craigslist, The Apartment Guide and For Rent guides (available in most grocery stores) will help you figure out the kind of property you are visiting so you can appear to be a typical customer. For example: You wouldn’t call asking about a studio apartment if the community only offered one and two bedroom apartments.
  8. Digital cameras can be helpful (or required) for when you need to take photos of locations. If you have a fairly decent camera on your cell phone, those may meet the requirement of the shop.
  9. Cell phones: If you don’t already have one, getting one can become a business expense. You definitely don’t need the latest and greatest phone out there, but smart phone can open you up to other shops that require apps to complete. Cell phones are very handy to leave yourself notes while you’re shopping since it just looks like you’re texting. Also, cameras on phones can help when pictures are required and you want to be a little more covert.
  10. Video cameras are becoming more popular to use on shops. Sometimes the company will require that you use their cameras, (you’ll have to go through a whole screening process) so don’t just head out to the spy-shop yet. Yes, these are the ‘hidden’ cameras that you’d be wearing on a tie, hat, or pin.
  11. Fax Machine and/or Scanner: for sending back collateral materials (business cards, brochures, etc) to the mystery shopping company. I have had a scanner software malfunction when I was trying to send back materials, but I was able to get around it by taking photos and uploading them that way.

These  tools should help you get your shops a little better organized without to much added expense. And, don’t forget: they’re all tax deductible!

Good luck and happy shopping!

 Think about all the extra money you could make by being a mystery shopper, starting your own business, or working from home for a legitimate company.  Take control of your income and check out our LEARN page for a list of classes, books, and more!

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