Why do I do secret shopping? I don't know. Seriously. I the only reason I can come up with is
A- I love a good deal (Free is always a good deal)
B- I love multi-tasking and secret shopping makes me the ultimate multi-tasker.
I have been doing secret shopping since 2005, on and off. I even got a friend on to it when I lived in Sandpoint, and she used the money to buy something great! But I will be honest, there are times when I am finding it is hampering me, more than helping me. Sometimes the reports that you have to fill out are long. Sometimes you make simple mistakes that get them cancelled, so, even though you did it, they aren't going to pay you for it. But for the most part, I think it is a pretty great deal. I have even gotten to take my family bowling or to miniature golf FOR FREE. Something we would never do without secret shopping because it costs too much $$$. (Seriously, have you BEEN bowling lately? It is EXPENSIVE)
I try to make sure that if I am going to do a secret shop, it is something I would have probably done anyway. The way that it has helped us the most is on date night. Because I can set up a shop on Friday or Saturday night and VOILA, we just had a free dinner. Add that to a $1 re-fillable Harkin's cup, and Harkins Costco movie tix, and you get a pretty cheap date. I can't say where we have been to dinner, but I can say that I have been reimbursed up to $70 for my dinner. That ought to tell you that it is not always McDonald's. But see? Even then, doing a shop at McDonald's is great because then you can take your kids and they can play at the play land and they think you are the best mom ever because normally you wouldn't be caught dead in McDonald's. See? Win/Win.
IF YOU WANT TO DO SECRET SHOPPING HERE ARE SOME TIPS:
- Sign up with a shopper "reader". This is where secret shop companies place adds when they are trying to fill a shop. It makes it easier to find shops in your area. But after that, you have to sign up with the company directly and from there, you can get the shops from them directly. It is just kind of a way to meet local shopping companies. I used ShadowShopper.com. It costs money, but they do have a free trial, and after that, you can cancel because you will have most of the companies that were looking for shops in your area.
- Get "certified". This costs some initial money as well, but it DOES help you get shops. Especially if you have never done shops before. You can get a certification here. I have the Silver level certification. They also have shop listing on their site and you can get those for free if you want.
- ONLY DO SHOPS OF WHAT YOU WOULD NORMALLY DO! I am not going to do a shop of a place that I would not normally go, UNLESS, it is strictly a cash payment, and that cash payment is worth it. Even then, I try to make sure it is close by, or on my way to something else. Like this shop.
TOMORROW: Why I cook dinner for my family!