By Barbry Booth, Customer Impact Senior Scheduler

Throughout the course of any given month, I get asked numerous questions about shops and the scheduling process. I’m going to cover a few questions that I get asked most frequently. Some of this information has been covered in past blogs, but it’s definitely worth mentioning again.

1) I’ve tried to apply for a shop on your site, but all of the dates on the calendar are grayed out and there are no available dates to select. What’s wrong with the website?

Fortunately, there isn’t anything wrong with the site. The calendar shows up on every application page.  The confusion occurs when all the days on the calendar are grayed out, and therefore unavailable for the shopper to select.  Only the dates that are in black font are available for selection.  Any date that is in gray is not available. If a shopper does not meet the requirements of the shop (rotation, demographics, or shopper rating, for example), there will be no dates available for that shopper. A lesser known hurdle that a shopper might run into when applying are what are called “clean days.” For any location that is shopped more than once a month, clean days are established between the shops for that location. A clean day is a day that no shops are allowed. Clean days can range from one day, up to a week or more. The clean days are set by the client and can often not be waived. For example, if the requirement for XYZ Restaurant is five clean days, and a shopper is going to do their shop on the 3rd day of the month, another shopper cannot select a shop date for five days before OR after the 3rd. The second shopper would have to select a date after the 8th day of the month in order for their application to be accepted. The website doesn’t mention clean days when the shopper applies, but if you see days grayed out on the calendar, it could be because of this.

2) Do you assign your shops on a first come, first serve basis?

If a shop is set up as a self-assign the shop, the first person who meets the requirements (rotation, demographics, shopper rating, etc.) and qualifies for the shop is assigned to it. This is for self-assign shops only. For shops that are not self-assign, the scheduler reviews each applicant and then chooses the shopper who is the best fit for the assignment.

3) Which shops are self-assign and which are not?

Most retail, fast food, and casual dining assignments are self-assign. Fine dining shops or other more complicated assignments are not, and we hand select the shoppers from the list of applicants.

4) Does it matter whether I elect to be paid via PayPal versus Direct Deposit?

In most cases, shoppers that have elected to be paid via direct deposit are paid a few days sooner than shoppers that have selected PayPal as their payment method. All shops completed during the previous month will be paid between the 15th and 25th of the current month.   If a shopper is completing a shop for Ground Control, those shops are paid a bit sooner than most of our other shops. The Ground Control assignments are usually paid within three weeks of shop completion.

5) How often am I allowed to do a shop at a specific location?

Every client has a shopper rotation. This can range from 45 days up to 1 year. This means that shopper cannot go to the same location again within that time period. For example, if a shopper shops XYZ Restaurant and their rotation is six months, we cannot send the shopper back to that location for at least six months. Our website will prevent the shopper from applying if they do not meet the rotation requirements.

Do you have any questions you’ve wanted to ask a scheduler but haven’t? Please include your questions in our feedback and I’ll write another blog in the future addressing those questions.

Happy New Year and may your 2016 be fantastic!