Here's a little acting tip for those of you who are looking for a career in the theater. You don’t have to be an aspiring actor or actress to become a mystery shopper. However, mystery shopping can be a good place to practice your skills as an actor. Plus, you can make some money on the side.
Many mystery shop assignments I've received over the years required me to have a story ready or a part to play. I've had several bank shops where I had to portray a person who had $50,000 to invest. I had an envelope in my hand that suggested I had just inherited a lot of money. I had to evaluate a banker to see if they give me good advice on how to invest my inheritance into a money market account.
Mystery shops have many specific requirements that you have to follow to get paid. For many assignments, you will not be asked your name or address. However, new home builders will ask you to fill out a card with your contact information. They will store this information in their computer network for all of their properties to view. You can’t use your real name, address, and background for every location, because you will be spotted as a shopper.
This is where the performer in you can
come out. You play a different person for every different location. You
can put some improvisational skills to work. It's an acting tip I've given to a few friends to help their careers.
The key to these locations is to see how the sales agent does in their presentation to sell you a home. You do not actually buy the home.
Now, here's another acting tip. Do not go off acting like Scarlett O'Hara or Stanley Kowalski and make a big dramatic scene during your visit. You have an opportunity to play someone that you are not.
Here are a couple of rules to follow.
One of the biggest fears I had about using a different name was the possibility of forgetting it during a visit. I always wrote down my fake name, address, and phone number on a piece of paper and took it with me. I only used it discreetly if I forgot it. There were a few times that I walked up to the sales person, extended my hand, and accidentally said my real first name. When that happened, I made sure I used my made-up last name.
I forgot my name completely during a new home shop. It was a video mystery shop and I introduced myself as Fred Simpson to the agent. I was not asked to fill out a card before the demonstration, so the agent only heard my name once. After a few minutes, I forgot both first and last name. While the agent was telling me about all the features and benefits of living there, I was trying to remember what name I told this sales agent. I left the slip of paper with my fake name, address and phone number in my car.
The agent forgot my name as well. She eventually asked for it again and I just gave a first name. I said Frank. The agent seemed a little puzzled at first, but went on with her presentation. I think she knew that wasn't the name I gave earlier. She had some problems of her own. She struggled through her presentation and could not remember everything from her training. The shop ended smoothly and I did get paid for. I was lucky, because I could have had a deduction from my payment or not get paid at all.
Another acting tip that is helpful for mystery shopping is the ability to change your story every now and then. Actors play different roles with different backgrounds. The same goes for mystery shopping. You'll run into sales agents will ask you questions about your family, where you work, what your hobbies are, and what you look for in a new home. You can’t walk into every location with the same story. These sales agents know that there are mystery shoppers out there and the agents do call one another. If someone comes in with the same story at every location, the agent may be tipped off that this person is a mystery shopper. They may tell the other agent to be on the lookout for this person.
Video mystery shopping is growing and we need new participants all the time.
The computer will pick up addresses and see who from that location has visited before. There are some mystery shop companies that will provide you with phone numbers to use. If there was no follow up required, I would give a fake phone number.
Apartment shops will also ask you to fill out a card. You can change your story and address with apartments, but not so much your name. You will more than likely be asked for your driver's license. One requirement for an apartment shop is if a sales consultant asks you to see an apartment, you must say yes. At that point, you'll be asked for your driver's license, which mystery shop companies don't want you to fake. Using the same name here is not a big problem. But, there are a couple of creative things you can do. You can use a fake nickname for yourself. Your name may be Joseph, but people call you "Skip" or "JJ" to differentiate your real name. Women can do the same, or say the last name was a maiden name.
Mystery shoppers need acting tips to help them become successful. Actors have to memorize lines for a performance. Mystery shoppers have to remember questions to ask, scenarios, and who they are.
Again, you don't have to be an actor to do mystery shopping. Likewise, mystery shopping is not a prerequisite to become an actor. It's simply an acting tip for you to portray someone you're not for a short period of time -- and make some money while you're at it.
Here's a government report on mystery shopping.
The mystery shopping industry is always looking for new faces to visit different places. If you're interested in making some money in your spare time, I have a book (and eBook) that can help you get started. "Take That Job and Mystery Shop It!" gives you the information you need to get started. There are over 200 mystery shopping companies throughout the world that are listed in there.