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Work from Home & Save at Home with Frugal Living

Setting Up Your Office  for Mystery Shopping

In setting yourself up to succeed as a Mystery Shopper you must prepare to succeed.   Many people will try mystery shopping because it sounds like a lot of fun.  It is a lot of fun but it is also a job, and like most jobs it requires you to act in a professional manner.  Mystery shopping is also a lot of work.  Yes you can make $1000.00 per month but you are really going to have to take it seriously!   You must find the jobs, you must perform the jobs and you must submit the required forms.   

In this section I am going to help you set up your office and teach you ways that I have found to stay organized.  It is very easy to get overwhelmed when you start shopping because the shops all tend to blend together.  Especially if you are doing a lot of shops on a particular day.  You don't need to be overwhelmed though - you just need to stay organized.

What you need:

  • A computer with internet access - This is a must.  The mystery shopping companies use the internet to assign jobs, give job descriptions, keep track of shops, etc.

  • A printer - I use my printer to print out directions for completing the shop. Many companies need for you to mail completed forms to them and you must be able to print them out.

  • Access to a fax machine (some companies require you to fax the reports in.  Kinkos has a fax service that you can use for this if you don't own a fax machine.)

Things that are helpful:

  • Money for reimbursable out of pocket expenses.  Lets say you are doing a fast food shop.  You are going to be required to purchase a meal from the fast food company.  The mystery shop companies will, in most cases, reimburse you for the price of the meal but you must have the money upfront.  Whenever you accept a job you will always know how much money you need to have upfront and how much will be reimbursed to you.  If you don't have extra money then you will not be able to accept shops that require you to make a purchase.

  • A separate email account - My internet provider allows me to have more than one email account so I set up a separate account for my mystery shopping.  I check my regular email with Microsoft Outlook and I check my mystery shopping email with Outlook Express.  Outlook Express allows you to have more than one identity so you can keep the emails separate.  I think it is much easier to keep track of things.  You can also go to www.hotmail.com or www.yahoo.com to get a free email account.

  • A digital recorder - This is something that you should buy once you know for certain that you are committed to mystery shopping.  The reason is that you will need to make about a $100.00 investment.  I began by buying a cheaper recorder and I had to return it because the sound quality was horrible.  A digital recorder is very helpful for keeping track of the details of the shop.

  • Cell phone - This is nice to have with you in the car if you get lost and can't find the store you are supposed to shop.  Many mystery shopping companies will ask for alternate phone numbers and it is nice to have a second number where they can get in touch with you when you are out and about.

  • Accounting Software - Many people use Quickbooks  to keep track of their shops.  I have this software and it is very easy to use.  Another alternative is to use an Excel spreadsheet.  I have included a sample of a spreadsheet that you can use in my resource section. (coming soon!)
    When the end of the year comes and you are ready to file your taxes for your shop companies such as TurboTax and TurboTax Canada have options for importing your Quickbooks files making tax time for your shop simple.

  • Copy machine -This is to make copies of receipts or forms that you have to mail.  You always want to keep a copy for yourself of anything you mail out - just in case!  I don't actually have a copy machine but I use my scanner and printer and it works great.

  • A separate bank account - This is a smart way to keep all your mystery shopping income and expenses separate.  That way you won't get it mixed up with your household account.  I bank at BankofAmerica and was able to add a second account linked to my primary account at no additional charge.  I even set it up online.