This isn’t a review, it’s an interview with Private Eyes Scheduling. If you’re new to the concept of a “scheduling company” then you should definitely read this. Private Eyes is a scheduling company with a good reputation in the mystery shopping community, and a company that we recommend. Here’s the interview…
Tell me a little bit about your company.
In 2005, Private Eyes Scheduling was started by a full-time mystery shopper/licensed private investigator. As a shopper, it became evident that there were always open opportunities/locations that schedulers were unable to fill. As an investigator, it was clear that the reason for this service was very necessary; whether it be customer service or cash-handling integrity. Those reasons coupled with a background in modeling/demos, retail store ownership, journalism, and a love for being resourceful, made the decision to become more involved in this industry very obvious.
What is a scheduling company, and how is it different than a mystery shopping company?
A scheduling company is very different than an “MSP” (mystery shopping provider, or “MSC” mystery shopping company). While they may be in the same industry, their methods, needs, and job descriptions can differ greatly. While some MSP’s do their own scheduling in-house, more often than not, there will always come a time when they need outside help finding shoppers.
That is where a scheduling company comes in. An MSP’s role is to contract with corporate clients and provide data to them that will increase sales and reputation. Example: Let’s say the client is Big Box Store “ABC”. ABC needs help making sure their promotional materials are being properly placed, or they think they might have a cashier who is giving steep discounts to friends. Their chosen MSP is supplied with a list of locations and visit requirements from ABC. The MSP must now find shoppers to properly conduct all of these visits in order to collect the requested data for ABC, within a specified time frame.
The MSP will then call upon a scheduler. This can be an independent scheduler or an agency that works with multiple schedulers. The MSP gives the scheduler/scheduling company the requirements, locations, etc, and the scheduler must use all resources possible to place shoppers where, how, and when they are needed. A good scheduler is one that will use all possible resources imaginable to find shoppers. Some schedulers are needed to simply “fill” a shop, but most are responsible for filling and then managing a shop, shopper and it’s report from beginning to end so it can then go to the editing process, and finally, to the client.
What types of shops do you typically schedule?
Private Eyes has scheduled shops across the spectrum… Bar integrity, auto dealerships, overnight hotel stays, promotional placement, merchandising and recalls, fine, casual and fast-food dining, auto parts, nightclubs, and so many more. We also provide editing and complete project management for MSP’s, and have even recently completed a survey template, questionnaire and guidelines for one of our MSP’s potential funeral home client. Some clients refer to us for just scheduling, and some for complete management of their entire MSP department.
What do you look for in a mystery shopper?
We have been asked this many times in various ways. It’s such a simple answer, but often gets overlooked because of it’s simplicity. Anyone can mystery shop. There is no schooling, degree, experience or certification that can make a bad shopper a good one. The basic requirements are none other than:
- The ability to communicate clearly.
- The ability to write a cohesively and comprehensively to give the client an overview of their shopping visit.
- The ability to read and follow directions.
- And most importantly, being reliable (too many think that once scheduled, it is optional that they conduct, complete, or even communicate).
What do you NOT look for in a mystery shopper?
- Previous “flakes” (when a shopper requests an assignment and does not follow through).
- A “certification” from any type organization or company does not influence Private Eyes in choosing an MSP, or scheduling a shopper. We have had just as many bad experiences as we have good ones, “certified” or not. Our shopper choices are made based on many elements (some pointed out above), but never on them having any kind of certification. Certifications are not governed or mandated on any legal level (with the exception of Nevada requiring they are a private investigator, or work under a private investigator), and we want all new shoppers to know that. If these existing certifications were free to shoppers (as we believe no shopper should be required to lay out ANY non-reimbursable funds in order to shop), we might endorse it, but we haven’t seen that happen yet. I have yet to see these programs make any real difference with issues (ranging from flaking to fraud). I really wish they did make a difference. My job would be much easier.
- In running the risk of implying there is a divide in shoppers vs. MSPs or schedulers, shoppers should take into consideration that anything they state publicly is seen by all, and companies/agencies work together or help each other more than shoppers may think. If a shopper publicly speaks negatively about a company (on social networking sites, etc), and while they have the right to do so (as long as to the best of their knowledge it is factual), chances are a representative of that company will see what’s been said and the company may not be in a hurry to hire that shopper again. I suggest sticking to the facts. While I understand that frustration can take place for shoppers (remember, I was one too), and venting/getting feedback is important as well, everyone needs to keep in mind that things are not always what they seem, so the best way to stay in the highest light is to keep to only the facts, don’t get yourself involved if the issue does not directly concern you, and speak about others with professional respect at all times.
How can someone sign up for to be a shopper Private Eyes?
Please register with our database on this page.