Mystery Shoppers Training Group

Learn to get paid for shopping!

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Mystery Shoppers Training Group was founded by Elaine Moran. She is currently an Author, Lecturer, Consultant, College Business Instructor, Director of Chula Vista Village Literacy Center, Business Owner, Court Appointed Special Advocate, and Mystery Shopper. Other principals include Herb Moran (partner and advisor), Travis Williams (web design and marketing), and Katya Williams, photographer (www.katyawilliams.com).

Elaine has been a successful business owner, teacher, administrator, and entrepreneur for her entire adult life. She has taught a variety of business classes in colleges on the West Coast since the mid 1980s, possesses a California Community College Instructor Credential (Lifetime), and has "worked" part time as a mystery shopper for over 20 years!

In the year 2000, Elaine developed a mystery shopping program which has become tremendously popular. It has been instrumental in helping hundreds of attendees get started in this rapidly growing industry. Her newly published book is already receiving positive and enthusiastic reviews. You can reserve your copy today by clicking on the Guide Book tab.
 
 MYSTERY SHOPPER MAGAZINE INTERVIEW FEBRUARY 2015

MSM talks with Elaine Moran:

MSM: In the mid-1980s, you taught business classes at West Coast colleges and somewhere in the mid-1990s you began mystery shopping. What was the catalyst to start mystery shopping?

EM: I worked full time as a corporate manager, but also worked part time teaching classes on business procedures. I taught at several community colleges. One day, while looking through a women’s magazine, I saw an ad about mystery shopping. At that time, there weren’t the scads of scams that are so prevalent today, and I was not concerned about replying to the ad.  (I caution everyone now to be very careful of answering ads without further research.)  I was accepted as a mystery shopper for a company in New York. I loved the idea of helping to improve customer service. My first few jobs were so much fun that I also got my children excited about doing it and we became a family of mystery shoppers.

At that time, which was before the popularity of computers, we did our reports by typewriter and mailed the completed reports to the mystery shopping company (MSC). Unfortunately, the MSC went bankrupt and my family and I were left out in the cold. Years later, a friend told me she worked for a mystery shopping company that was in need of shoppers; the company was called ShopNChek. I decided to try it again. Scheduling was done by telephone and the typewriter was still being used for reports. Along the way, ShopNChek became Market Force; a company for which I still work and highly recommend.

MSM: By 2000, it appears you switched your focus from teaching college business courses to teaching mystery shopping classes. Can you take us through the transition and also explain how you kindled an interest in the community colleges for such a course?

EM: I decided to propose a mystery shopping class to one of the colleges where I was teaching business courses. They thought it was a great idea. I developed a class that was held over a three-day period, which included mock mystery shops. I prepared handouts and the students loved the class.

As years elapsed, and I no longer worked my full time job, I made proposals to more and more colleges and eventually ended up with over 30 schools. The handouts evolved into a book and the class structure was modified, from a three-day class to a three-hour class. We pack enough information in those three hours to give everyone a head start on applying and writing reports. On average, up to 1,000 students attend the classes each year.

As a result of the classes, I also began giving talks about mystery shopping at various other venues; such as cruise ships, women’s organizations and libraries. This enables me to reach a lot more potential shoppers and, in an hour talk, they get just enough whet their appetite and to get them excited about exploring mystery shopping as a viable income source.

MSM: We watched an excerpt on youtube.com of the introductory portion of one of your well-attended classes. The students all seemed enthralled, with dollar signs dancing in their eyes and, although you stated, (as beginners) they should expect shop fees in the $10.00 range to the $0.00 fee/reimbursement-only dining shops, their enthusiasm did not appear to wane. How are you or the community colleges able to attract such an interested and enthusiastic audience for a one-day class? What is the draw?

EM: Everyone loves the idea of being a spy. The term mystery shopper is a button-pusher. My students range from college age to senior citizens, from professionals to stay-at-home parents. At the beginning of each workshop, I ask the students why they took the class. Their answers run the gamut; they include working flexible hours, improving customer service, earning additional income and enjoying new and challenging situations. My happiest moments are when I receive emails, letters and cards from students, relating how mystery shopping has positively impacted their lives. I am thanked time and again; who could ask for a better reward?

MSM: If we enrolled in one of your classes, what exactly could we expect to learn? Is there any practical experience, such as in writing narratives or simulating an actual shop?

EM: We no longer offer mock shops as part of the class. During the first part, we focus on determining the difference between phony mystery shopping come-ons and legitimate companies. Right now, there are so many scams, especially in the mystery shopping industry, to the point that many people are afraid to search the Internet, for fear of signing up with a disreputable company. For instance, a legitimate company does not charge you to become a mystery shopper, so that in itself should raise a red flag. A legitimate company has a website and does not request your credit card number. Perhaps, most importantly, and we stress this, a legitimate company does not send you unsolicited money in advance of doing the job.

In summary, the students leave armed with information about how to write an objective report, how to understand and follow guidelines, how to schedule their time and how to organize their paperwork. We review “dos” and “don’ts”; I offer suggestions about how to remember details; and I emphasize the importance of submitting accurate and complete reports. Discussion also involves the industry as a whole and the important role mystery shopping plays in improving a company’s bottom line, by providing objective measurements of service delivery, of associates’ knowledge and, if appropriate, customers’ impressions.

MSM: Your book, “How To Become a Mystery Shopper” is jam-packed with information for the beginner shopper. For example, it explains the application process and discusses report writing and even includes a sample narrative. A variety of sample evaluations are shared and understanding guidelines is discussed in detail. The back of the book contains a directory of mystery shopping resources, such as mystery shopping companies, associations and websites. Of course, we were quite intrigued by the chapter titled, “Mystery Shopping Secrets Revealed”. If you will, please share some of the revelations with our readers.

EM: Interviews were conducted with principles of several large mystery shopping companies.

They talked about what they are looking for when considering and accepting a shopper. One of the major “secrets,” is the importance of viewing the application as a job interview. You want to shine! Those who take shortcuts or fail to answer all of the questions or use poor grammar, simply, will not be accepted. This is the most important first step toward this new and exciting career of mystery shopping.

“How To Become a Mystery Shopper” is used as a workbook during class, since it has step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow. The main difference between just reading the book and taking the class is that the class adds another dimension. Students can ask all the “what if’s” they can think of and we discuss real life solutions. For example, what happens when you go on a shop and it’s the wrong address? What do you do if you don’t understand the guidelines that are provided? What happens if you get sick the day of the shop? Or if your computer crashes while you’re writing a report?
MSM: We realize that women are often sensitive about revealing their age, however you have given us permission to share with readers that you are “a senior citizen”. In addition to continuing to mystery shop and with your mystery shopping classes scheduled pretty solidly throughout the first quarter of 2015, we just learned you are also teaching a new class, “You’re Retired…Now What”. How in the world do you keep up this pace?

EM: I have to admit that I am a very senior citizen and am fortunate to still have some of the energy of a younger person. I have always been active and involved in work, charity, and friendships. My husband plays a major part in everything I do. Without his support and assistance my time and energy would be much more restricted. The new class on retirement has been a lot of fun. Can you imagine how wonderful it feels to be able to help others have a more meaningful life, no matter their age or handicap?

MSM: Elaine, thank you for squeezing us into your busy schedule. It’s inspiring to hear how you took “a good idea” and turned it into a fulfilling career!

 
 

Read what others have to say about Elaine Moran:


Feedback from the Media:

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, California

Rancho Cucamonga woman tackles mystery shopping.         There's nothing mysterious about Elaine Moran. … the petite brunette looks like the woman in your neighborhood who walks her dog every morning or the kind stranger who held the door open for you at the department store.

Courier Post, Cherry Hill New Jersey

“If Elaine Moran does her job well, you’ll never know she’s there. The mystery shopper is the business person’s secret weapon.”

Orange County Register, Orange County California


“Spy who loves it. Elaine Moran is a professional mystery shopper who tells corporations how their employees and stores are performing.”


Mystery Shopping & Merchandising Awards
Elaine Moran: Nominee Secret Shopper of the Year

Feedback from Classes:

KJ, Interpreter
“Thanks to you I feel even more confident. I can’t wait for my first assignment.”

AC Student
“Loved the class—well delivered—too short.”

MS Student
“Handouts and stories make the information come alive.”

JR, Student
“I’d like to thank you for your class. I am happy to tell you that I successfully completed my first shop.”

TS, Mesa Community College
“Everyone who’s attracted or drawn to you is great (myself included).”

JW, University of Washington
“Your course was fabulous. I was jazzed.”

CS, Paradise Valley Community College
“Thank you for an informative and exciting day. The hours flew and the day ended too soon.”

JW, Glendale Community College
“THANK YOU. You are a dynamic/charismatic speaker.”

JA, Student
“A viewfinder into a whole different world”

PC
“Fast paced—informative—terrific”

Feedback from Mystery Shopping Companies:

BS, Managing Director MS Service
“We really liked that you provided comments for all your perception questions and your written commentary was excellent.”

L, Editor MS Service
“Very nice details, I really appreciate your writing style, felt as though I was dining with you!“

Editor, MS Company
"Great job!"

J, MS Company
What can I say?? This was an excellent shop! ... appreciate the extensive detail you provided, especially in the food section and the overall. Your grammar usage is very good. Punctuation and spelling are all correct. Nice, Nice, work!!

J, Mystery Shopping Company Owner
Your reports were great, I need more like you!!

Editor, MS Company
Thanks for the well-written report. You provided lots of specific detail. This information will be valuable to the client

Editor, MS Company
“Perfect report. You did everything by the book.”