There are lots of reasons why mystery shoppers need to do field inspections.
Here are my top 10 reasons –
1) Hourly earnings $60-100/HR vs $15 assignments that take hours
Pretty basic – you simply get paid top dollar for field inspections. Meanwhile, even if you build a route, you will be lucky to be paid at these rates with mystery shopping.
2) Payment in2-3 weeks pay vs net plus 30 (30-60 days)
Reputable field inspection agencies pay like clockwork. You WILL get paid in a couple of weeks, often with direct deposit if you set it up.
On the other hand I’ve found most mystery shopping companies wait AT LEAST 30+ days to pay. Plus, many still use paper checks. (Really?? This is 2017, right?)
3) Knowing you’re going to get paid vs. guessing
Here’s one of the worst parts of mystery shopping. Even if you’re careful about following instructions and jumping through hoops, you might have missed one item and this ends up in you not getting paid. I’ve had this happen more than once.
This DOES NOT happen in field inspections. Only in extreme cases where I did an inspection without confirmation of an order have I not gotten paid. Sometimes this happened because it was more convenient for me to do the “drive by” inspection while en route to another site, rather than wait for the scheduler to confirm.
4) Simple assignments vs. complicated timings
80% of the field inspections are the same within their categories. Commercial inspections may have slightly different photo requirements or specific items. But in general they follow MBA’s outline.
Meanwhile, you spend at least 20-40 minutes to review specific shop instructions. If you’re lucky, it may be a recurring shop. So, you just need to make sure that an update hasn’t changed some items.
Still some shops require you to track multiple timings. Even if you’ve done a particular shop before, it doesn’t get much easier.
5) Minimal out of pocket expenses
Probably the biggest expense is gas and car maintenance. Other than that your digital camera is paid for and easily replaced. (No more film needed with digital, right?)
Meanwhile, mystery shopping assignments range from small $1 type purchases just to have proof of your visit, all the way up to some wanting you to buy major items like laptops or luxury items for high end shops.
6) Chance you may not even get back those expenses
Here’s the thing – while different shops allow you to simply refund the purchase, you can’t do that with others like upscale dining shops. One shopper messed up an item and won’t get back $160!!
I don’t know of any field inspections where you need to buy something. Once in a while I’ve bought lunch somewhere or treated a contact to coffee. But these were separate business expenses, and most of all completely optional.
7) Professional schedulers who value your time vs demanding, demeaning ones with unreasonable expectations
While I have enjoyed working with some mystery shopper schedulers, most of the time I feel like an inconvenience.
Field inspection schedulers LOVE you, when you are simply professional. I mean, while I teach my students to go the extra mile to “plus” the experience, all I’m doing is getting the inspection done on time. (See my Walt Disney article..)
Apparently, just like mystery shoppers there are field inspectors who flake. That makes the inspection agency looks bad, and sometimes they may be penalized or possibly lose a contract with a major client.
8) Simple appointments vs. trying to meet with “targets”
Okay, let’s talk about “targets.” This doesn’t exist in field inspections. Most of the time you just schedule an appointment with property manager or possibly owners themselves.
It’s when you need to shop a specific person for the shop. So, some locations (mostly apartment shops) will have only one onsite contact. But many require you to figure out someone’s schedule and when you might be able to catch them.
Plus, the more savvy targets know the game. They purposely make themselves rarely available, or simply hand you off to an assistant.
9) Stealth & possibly embarrassing situations
Some shops can be a fun way to vicariously play your inner James Bond or Jason Bourne. Others allow you to be Jim McMahon where you surprise the employees with a small bonus. They literally act like that $5 reward is a big sweepstakes check.
But let me tell you about the times when I got questioned by an employee. Some shops require you to inventory prices of many items. Well, after you’ve been hanging around trying to find some hard to find stuff, someone will take notice.
Luckily, they didn’t call security, never mind the police. Need I say that this pretty much never happens with field inspections? Okay, the one exception are driveby’s. But usually a quick “the mortgage company asked me to stop by” is enough for 99% of the populace!
10) Treated as advisor vs annoyance
Probably my favorite aspect of field inspections over mystery shoppers is when owners ask you about how the property is doing. Other times they have questions about other aspects of business such as marketing.
Sometimes property managers don’t like to be inconvenienced for that requirement to give tenant notice. (Most states require a minimum of 24 hours notice in order to go into residential units. Some like San Francisco require more.)
But for the most part these folks are professionals, and they know it’s part of their job description. At which point I do what I can to minimize their stress and work by giving them as much heads up as possible, scheduling out a couple of weeks out.
The bottom line with much of this is that field inspection work pays better and earns you more respect as a professional. Most of all it’s less work for more money – who doesn’t love that!