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Best Home Business Ideas That Earn Significant Income
Are Mystery Shopping Opportunities Worthwhile?
Mystery or Secret Shopping can be a part-time or a full-time occupation; however, it is usually part-time and good assignments with regular work can be very difficult to find.
Ads in local newspapers, particularly those aimed to the college market promise vaguely that earnings will be $125 per day. This is a rare occurrence, but with Mystery Shopping Seminar Training and Certification (a couple hundred dollars all together, often) larger-ticket assignments present themselves occasionally. CAUTION: one moderate-fee shop is the hotel/motel shop wherein a shopper uses her own credit card but walks out on the final bill and is charged accordingly. This may endanger her ever being able to book a room at that hotel chain again. So, there may be drawbacks.
However, there are a few professional mystery shopping and polling companies that can help you supplement monthly income substantially while establishing other home businesses; or, when you are between jobs outside the home.
If you have spent time on the Internet, you likely have been invited to participate in some sort of online survey. These offers may be real or fictitious, but a few offer moderate payments up to $25 or so. Many "paid survey" schemes require you to subscribe or to purchase larger-ticket products and services first. A related activity, paid focus groups, can pay up to hundreds of dollars, but only one time.
You can go to Volition.com to read about many legitimate Mystery Shopping companies that really pay you what and when they say they will pay, if you perform the required work in the exact way prescribed. Some pay within two weeks and some take 6 weeks to 3 months for payment, but they do pay.
Do not ever pay a mystery shopping company. Those on Volition will not ask for money or sell shopping directories.
Perhaps you'd rather accumulate some brand of Bonus Points that can be redeemed for gifts, gift cards, or cash. Some survey or email programs can lead to this activity as well, but after the first year of participation, you likely will run out of offers to accept that pay Bonus Points.
Many surveys target people aged 18 or 21 through 49 years old only. It seems that very few want to talk to 50+ year-olds, It's because the marketing belief is that people over 50 have their minds made up and won't buy new things. That may be partially correct, but they also have seen most of the scams and less-effective products and services already and don't want to waste any more time and money - even if the new things are good.
However, plenty of people over the age of 50 are eager to try new things, like Baby-Boomers. They still like to experiment with new things. NASA has even briefly operated a training program for seniors from 50 to 80+ in one study. One man and his son trained in that program and the story landed in the local news.
A search for "mystery shopping" in a major search engine will yield a huge number of results. Some companies suspended the use of mystery shopping companies since the minimum wage increased and the Great Recession, but they made a comeback.
Mystery Shopping can help increase business by providing:
- Ability to identify weaknesses in client and shopping processes via monitoring.
- Better understanding of the perceptions companies create in the public eye.
- Creation of better customer service focus, motivating staff to provide good customer service.
- Improvement of staff moral - as good customer service is recognized and rewarded and poor achievers are given training.
- Increase shopping and client recruitment and retention, as a result of improved customer service and products.
- Opportunity to ensure one's organizational standards and policies are met or exceeded. Most companies want to exceed nowadays, through "continuous improvement."
It is important to differentiate between online survey/opinion events and mystery/secret shopper opportunities, since there are clear differences.
Opinion campaigns represent filling in surveys based on feedback you can provide for products and services. Frequently these are based on profile criteria that you establish with the marketing company. Be prudent about logging personal information online. It is safer and more effective to register in your hometown with a local market research company; but, large mystery shopping companies protect their shoppers from Identity Theft.
Mystery or secret shoppers go to business establishments like movie theaters, restaurants, and retail stores and monitor service based on criteria that is given them by the mystery shopping company. These opportunities can also be very enjoyable since it is possible to visit restaurants for free food, see the latest movies, stay in a hotel and be reimbursed for the cost, etc.
Beginning the Right Way
There are some important criteria to follow when selecting survey/poll campaigns in which you want to participate. Start by choosing a few sites that offer paid surveys and then read carefully what they are offering. Some sites will provide direct access to the marketing companies that put forth the surveys. Then browse the database and apply for the surveys you like. Some sites act as intermediaries -- the "go between" connecting the marketing company and the participant. These sites have agreements with large marketing companies from which they receive surveys. These sites distribute surveys through registered users. In this case, you will have to wait for polls to be sent to you to complete.
Not all opinion polls pay cash or anything at all. They might provide a free product, a product sample, or a service, coupons, or even discounts at certain merchants, free trials, or free 2-for-1s (take a friend with you for free). There are also polls that only hold a contest based upon survey completion and these can be difficult to win.
How Do You Receive Money?
Another important criterion of participation is how you will receive the cash and who is paying. If you have joined a go-between site, you are usually paid by that site, not the one sending the survey. If you joined a database of companies seeking survey participants, you may be paid by the surveying company. Regardless, you should be aware of what the payment is and how you will get it. Some pay only through PayPal. Be sure to check your contact details very carefully. Make sure that your personal information matches what you originally submitted. The don't be surprised if you receive more junk mail and junk email regularly. Some companies provide your information to other companies, some do not. It will/should be in the fine print.
There are some fraudulent survey websites that attempt to lure you to participate in cash paid surveys, only to receive your personal financial information. Your personal financial information can later be sold to many other companies or used for Identity Theft.
Focus groups with marketing firms pay larger amounts than online opinions and surveys, but you may not be able to find them in your area. Check you local classified section in the newspaper for announcements.