by Barbry Booth

The dreaded deadline – we’ve all got them.  Every mystery shopper, scheduler, editor and client has a deadline.  If one link in the deadline chain is late, then every other link in the chain is adversely affected.  There is no secret or irrational reason for deadlines, but it does seem to be a hot topic for mystery shoppers, schedulers, editors and clients alike (with good reason)!

Some feel that there is a cloud of mystery that surrounds the shop dates given, as though the dates are just randomly set each month.  This isn’t really the case.  Before the month begins, the scheduler must choose dates for all the clients, according to the client’s specifications, and set up the schedule for the following month’s shops.  Some shops must be done on certain days of the week; others must be completed during a certain time frame of the month, etc.  The scheduler must also arrange the dates so that the editors are not overwhelmed with too many reports at any given time, but the reports are still completed according to the client’s deadline.  Cancelations, and shops not completed at all, must also be considered when arranging the month’s assignments.  The scheduler must always make sure there is still enough time left in the month to have a shop reassigned if needed AND still be able to meet the client’s deadline.

In most cases, the client requires that the report be in their hands in 24-48 hours after the shop itself has been completed.  After five days, most clients will not accept a shop or will accept them but not pay for them.  So we have little time from when the shopper completes the shop itself to receive, review, edit and send the report to the client.  A shopper may feel, after a long day of work, the 12 or 24 hour deadline submission for a report (after the shop itself is completed) is unreasonable.  However, once the shopper has completed the shop itself, the deadline clock begins to tick.

Once the shop itself is completed, the shopper has 12 to 24 hours to submit their report, depending on the submission requirements indicated in the shop guidelines.  The shopper has no more than 24 hours to submit their report because of the next two links in the deadline chain, the editor and the client.

Once the report has been submitted, the report is put into the queue to be reviewed by an editor.  The editor has no more than a day or two to review the report, contact the shopper for revisions if necessary, make the revisions and send the report to the client.  If for any reason the report is not usable, the scheduler must then have a new shop completed by the client’s original deadline.

Of course there may be extenuating circumstances as to why a shopper cannot submit their report within the 12 to 24 hour deadline.  We know things happen!  However, as good as the scheduler is, he/she is not a mind reader, and thus it is the shopper’s responsibility to keep us posted regarding any anticipated delays in report submission.  We’ll work with you, but we need to know about it ahead of time.  To be perfectly honest, we do penalize shoppers for submitting late reports and reward those who submit shops on time.  That’s just how important the deadlines are. 

The information in every report is all the more valuable to the client when it is received in a timely fashion.  Thus, it’s important for the shopper to submit their report within the given deadline and also to be available for follow-up questions up to five days after the shop was completed.  This same responsibility falls upon the editors and schedulers with their own deadlines.  The bottom line is we’ve all got deadlines, so it’s important to get to them before they get to you!

There are so many different ways of keeping up with deadlines.  Are there certain methods of tracking projects/assignments that seems to work best for you?  Do you use a computer program or an old school calendar to stay on top of deadlines?

Feature Image by: FreeDigitalPhotos