“Call Me CEO” is your master-class on innovation, creativity, leadership, and finding YOUR perfect balance between motherhood and entrepreneurship.

The entrepreneurial journey is often filled with unexpected turns and challenges, but for those who persist, it can lead to remarkable success and personal fulfillment. Mercedes Eckert’s story is a testament to this truth. Her ascent from a jewelry manager at Claire’s Boutique to the CEO of iShop, a leading mystery shopping enterprise, exemplifies the power of innovation and the significance of seizing opportunities.

Mercedes Eckert’s transition from an employee to a trailblazing entrepreneur was not a simple leap; it was a calculated metamorphosis driven by the discovery of mystery shopping’s potential. Initially, Mercedes saw it as a lucrative side hustle, but it quickly became apparent that this could be much more. She outearned her regular job, leading her to the realization that she had stumbled upon her true calling. This revelation laid the groundwork for her business, which would soon become the fastest growing mystery shopping organization globally.

Her success did not come without its challenges. Mercedes had to navigate through an industry shrouded in secrecy and skepticism. By conducting thorough research and applying innovative strategies, she demystified the concept of mystery shopping and presented it as a credible profession. Her ability to adapt successful practices from other industries, such as Walmart’s customer experience model, further propelled her company’s growth.

Mercedes also touched upon the intricacies of business acquisitions and the lessons learned therein. Integrating new team members seamlessly and respecting the established culture were critical to maintaining momentum during expansion. This kind of strategic thinking is crucial for entrepreneurs aiming to scale their businesses.

Beyond her professional accomplishments, Mercedes candidly discussed the harmony between her roles as a mother and a CEO. She emphasized the importance of quality time with her teenage children, reinforcing that entrepreneurship isn’t solely about financial gain but also about nurturing relationships and upholding values. This balance, she suggests, is vital for personal well-being.

Additionally, Mercedes recognized the necessity of self-care for entrepreneurs. Finding mental respite in activities such as reading allows for a much-needed break from the constant flow of business ideas. It’s in these moments of relaxation that one can recharge and return to their entrepreneurial endeavors with renewed vigor.

The episode wrapped up with practical advice for aspiring mystery shoppers and entrepreneurs alike. Mercedes underscored the flexibility and earning potential within the mystery shopping industry, illustrating that success is attainable with dedication and commitment. Her story is not just inspiring; it’s a blueprint for those looking to carve out their own path in the world of business.

In conclusion, Mercedes Eckert’s journey encapsulates the essence of empowerment and innovation in entrepreneurship. Her experiences serve as valuable lessons for anyone looking to scale their business or find a balance between their professional and personal lives. The podcast episode is a rich source of wisdom and motivation, encouraging listeners to transform their challenges into triumphs, just as Mercedes did.


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    Mercedes: 0:00

    Hold on. I'm making more money at this side hustle than I am at a full week at my job. Something shifted and I'm like this is it? This is what I've been searching for.

    Camille: 0:19

    So you wanna make an impact. You're thinking about starting a business, sharing your voice. How do women do it that handle motherhood, family and still chase after those dreams? We'll listen each week as we dive into the stories of women who know this is Call Me CEO. Hey, everyone, welcome to this week's episode of Call Me CEO. If you are not subscribed yet, please subscribe. We celebrate women building businesses here, and today we are sharing mystery shopping and Mercedes Eckert, who built a mystery shopping business. It's a real deal. I had no idea that this really was a thing, so check it out if you're interested in this kind of business or how you, too, could be a mystery shopper.

    Camille: 1:04

    Welcome back everyone to Call Me CEO. This is Camille Walker, your host and your hype girl for all of the women out there building businesses and changing lives. And today we are talking with Mercedes Eckert, who is the founder and CEO of iShop, which is a mystery shopping business for real. Like there are mystery shoppers that are making money shopping. I need this gig, and so we connected on Instagram, and when she told me what her business was about, I immediately said yes, let's get you on this show. I'm so thrilled that you are here today. Mercedes, thank you so much for coming on.

    Mercedes: 1:42

    Thank you for having me. I'm super excited to be on here today.

    Camille: 1:46

    Yeah, so tell our audience where you live your kids and how you got started in this business of mystery.

    Mercedes: 1:54

    Yeah, absolutely so. I am from Indiana, born and raised in Indianapolis, and now I live in Southern Indiana with my husband and our two girls, both teenagers. So we're navigating the teen years, which that's a whole nother route.

    Camille: 2:09

    We can go on. Yes, it is. That is another episode we could do for sure.

    Mercedes: 2:14

    So you know I spend my time running the business, maybe too much time. I'm a workaholic, I just I love it. You know, when you find something that you love to do, you just can't stop, won't stop.

    Mercedes: 2:27

    So, I spend most of my time doing that, running the mystery shopping organization iShop. I got started as a mystery shopper over a decade ago and that's a whole kind of a rabbit hole, but basically it just kind of fell into my lap. It was something that I had heard of in the past but I didn't know that it was real. I was skeptical. But when it kind of was just like boom in my face, I was like, oh my gosh, this is crazy. And so at the time I was working a job at Claire's Boutique I'm sure you guys have heard of Claire's, so I was a manager there. I was making not a lot of money, and so when mystery shopping came to me and I started realizing like hold on, I'm making more money at this side hustle than I am at a full week at my job, something shifted and I'm like holy crap, this is like this is it? This is what I've been searching for. Uh. And so I got really good at mystery shopping and fast forward. A few years after getting started, I uh founded iShop, and now you can fast forward to today and we are the fastest growing organization in the world. Uh, we actually yeah, we actually just bought out one of the oldest mystery shopping organizations. So it's like it's been a whirlwind and it's been awesome.

    Mercedes: 3:53

    But to be able to help people bring in extra income by shopping has been insane. Like it lights up my life just to hear all the testimonies of people you know before finding out about the opportunity. You know money, stress and just bored with life. I mean we've got retirees, we've got people who are working full time jobs, people who are working part time, single parents I mean everybody you could think of and they're all finding this as a source of income and just fulfillment. I had a girl tell me. One of our shoppers told me a few weeks ago. She said Mercedes, you don't understand. She's like I believe that I was put on this earth to be a mystery shopper, but she was so serious and it was like, oh my gosh, like I'm so happy that you find that much purpose in this, so it's been a wonderful journey so far.

    Camille: 4:52

    Oh my gosh, that's incredible. First big applause to you, the fastest growing company, Like that's a big statement and holy cow, Okay. So I do want to back up with your story, specifically because you, as I have said, and you have said you hear about mystery shopping and you're like, okay, but are they just trying to get us in the store, Like is this for real? Or you know, you hear about awards or that there'll there'll be mystery shopper awards. I don't even see, I don't even know the lingo, I'm like I kind of know about it, but I don't really know.

    Camille: 5:29

    So tell me, how did? How did it stumble into your lap as a, as an individual, and then how did you then turn it into a business for yourself?

    Mercedes: 5:37

    Yeah, so okay, cool story. So, uh, I can't even give you the math. It was 2012, 2013. I was on a double date with my now husband. We went on a double date with his best friend and his girlfriend and come to find out, the girlfriend worked for one of the mystery shopping companies locally and she said we're desperate for shoppers.

    Mercedes: 6:04

    Would you be interested in making some money? You know doing a shop? And I'm like, girl, that's for real. I'm like I've heard about this, but I had never could find out, you know, if it was real. She's like yes, so she got me in the door and I mean barely because once I did my first mystery shop, I was very intrigued. So I remember messaging her and I'm like how do I get more of these? Like I was asking her all these things and she had no answers. She didn't know. And she person I am I was on a mission to figure this out and so I began to spend hours of research and combing through all kinds of resources to figure this out and once I cracked the code, I mean it was game on the thing with the mystery shopping industry and I'll just be honest, it has been ran by a lot of older people.

    Mercedes: 7:08

    And they've been of the mindset of we need to keep this to ourself. And so it was very hard to get your foot in the door. It's very hard to figure out. How do you do it? How do you stay away from scams. So once I had, you know, put in this time and effort of figuring it out, I went just crazy with it, started making the money and then eventually, I think, I made a post on Facebook and I was like, hey, if anybody's interested in mystery shopping, there's some shops you know, wherever you know here, does anybody want? You know, I'm just thinking like, oh, this is going out to like my local friends, and so the response I got was overwhelming.

    Camille: 7:51


    Mercedes: 7:51

    I was like light bulb, like people are interested in this, but there's nobody to really show them how to do this. So I took everything that I learned, as as many of us entrepreneurs do. Right, we're a step ahead of everybody else. And so we package that and sell it to them, right? And I'm like, okay, well, I'm going to start teaching classes. So I began teaching classes and one thing led to another and it just got bigger and bigger and bigger and I ended up adding in, you know, different benefits and things like that to what I was doing.

    Mercedes: 8:28

    And it's so funny because at the time I didn't even know that there were mystery shopping organizations. So that should tell you right there how good of a job that these other organizations were doing, or how not good of a job that they were doing with sharing the opportunity or marketing and advertising. They weren't, and so I didn't know about them. So as I created iShop and began to implement all of these different benefits, I did that all from up here. You know, I didn't have a blueprint to go off of. I didn't even know something like this existed until a few years after starting iShop. And then I had someone reach out to me and they were the owner of one of the organizations and they were like quizzing me, like who are you, what are you doing? I was like, oh, I didn't know this existed. Okay, this is crazy Because I just built my own one of these. It looks a little bit different, but oh my gosh.

    Camille: 9:31

    And so Was it a friendly call? Were they like what are you doing? How dare you? Or was it like oh, welcome to this mystery hall.

    Mercedes: 9:41

    I don't know. So actually, the call, which is so crazy, the call was from the president, founder and president of a company or of an organization, the one that we just bought out, so that tells you that she had called me and it wasn't rude, it wasn't mean.

    Mercedes: 10:02

    It was more like let's see what you're doing. Are you? Are you pushing out like legitimate content? Are you scamming people? I think it was more out of a concern because she loved the industry and she wanted to make sure like there was good representation going on and so from there yeah. So from there we formed a relationship and a friendship and, um, yeah, and she called me a few years ago and was like I'm selling, I want to sell to you.

    Camille: 10:27

    So cool. Oh, I love that. I thought it was gonna be one of those like how dare you, like you're that's, you know not, how dare you? But kind of like who are you out of the woodwork? And seeing it as competition, like how cool that she was more collaborative and supportive, like that's really awesome.

    Mercedes: 10:46

    She was, yes, she's. She's such a blessing to my life now and, yeah, definitely.

    Camille: 10:53

    Okay, so you have this group, you're, you have this Facebook, you're doing the lessons. When does it become a domain and something that people are signing up for? I still consider this a pretty unknown industry, like we said, so how do you contain the interest but then also grow the business? It seems like it's a really unique situation.

    Mercedes: 11:16

    Yeah, so first family and friends right that, and then that circle began to grow because people would tell tell you know, tell others, uh, and I'm trying to think 2018, around 2018, I and I'm going to just give her, give her a shout out. I took a um, a challenge by, uh, jasmine Starr. Do you know Jasmine Starr?

    Mercedes: 11:41

    Yes, yeah okay, I took one of her challenges and I thought, wow, this challenge is so good, I'm going to recreate this for my mystery shoppers. Okay, so I recreated it for our industry and, um, I did it and sales went up like this and I'm like so what was?

    Camille: 12:00

    can you? Maybe we need a backup of like. It sounds like there's incentives that shoppers have where volume increases their revenue of what they're making as income. Is that, is that right?

    Mercedes: 12:11

    So shoppers get paid per shop that they do, okay, and the shop can vary. So you could do a $20 shop, you could do a $100 shop shop. So it just depends on if it's, if it's, how involved it is, okay, does that make sense?

    Camille: 12:27

    yes, and so maybe that's like crossing the t's of like what is this shopping experience? Like what is, is it clean? And I don't know like, what are they looking for?

    Mercedes: 12:37

    yeah, let's definitely back up and let me tell you I probably probably should start over that. So what is a mystery shopper, right? What do they do? So a mystery shopper is someone who is paid to observe and evaluate the customer experience they have in a business. So mystery shoppers are paid to go into just about any type of business that you can think of stores, gas stations, movie theaters, church, strip club, um, the car dealership like it's insane. But every business um, not every business, but a lot of businesses use mystery shopping programs to get an inside view of what's going on in their locations.

    Mercedes: 13:19

    Because, let's face it, we've all seen that show undercover boss yes for that and they would send, like the ceo or the president, they go undercover as an employee. Okay, that's makes for good tv, but it's not real life so in real life.

    Mercedes: 13:34

    They're sending in people regular people, undercover as as customers versus employees, right. So we get to be the eyes and ears of you know the company, right and and report that back. So, um, mystery shopping, it is a huge industry, there's a lot of money to be made and, um, it's pretty simple. You know, as long long as you can use a computer, you have good writing skills, you have transportation and you're at least 18 years old, I mean you can do it. So hopefully that answers your question and makes it more clear.

    Camille: 14:12

    So a business cannot have mystery shoppers come in unless they sign up for it. Is that right?

    Mercedes: 14:18

    Right. So a business will hire a mystery shopping company to facilitate the mystery shopping program. So usually it's not done in-house. They outsource the mystery shopping program and then the mystery shopping company is in charge of facilitating that, sending in the mystery shoppers, collecting the feedback and then giving it to the business and saying, okay, this is how you all scored. Here's areas where you can improve, right. So then the business can take that and say oh man, we're doing really bad. We could increase our revenue if our cashiers would do an upsell at the cash register, right? So this is very valuable to businesses to see that insight.

    Camille: 15:02

    I like that. Okay, so fast forwarding back to Jasmine Starr and this challenge, because I wonder for people who are listening and own a business and maybe want to facilitate a challenge that's similar but applies to their industry Could you share with us what that challenge was and how you structured it?

    Mercedes: 15:19

    Yeah, I can't remember what she called the challenge, but it was a challenge, where you know, because Jasmine Starr started out with like she was a photographer and then she started teaching people social media and so it was like a five day challenge where you had to post. She gave you a picture, she gave you copy, and then she would say, ok, take my copy, put it in your, your voice and post it each day. And now I mean, that was pretty much it, but for me it sparked the idea of, hmm, I'm going to turn this in, I'm going to turn this into something that will match my industry to attract more, more people more, more people, and that's what.

    Camille: 16:07

    That's what I did. Okay, so were you writing prescripted prompts that they could then change for themselves? Yes, and is that? Does that mean that your mystery shoppers are recruiting other shoppers?

    Mercedes: 16:14

    It does, so they are. So it was a challenge, right it's?

    Mercedes: 16:18

    not something that's ongoing. It was just a challenge, let's try this and let's give an incentive. So we're going to give away, you know, $500 to the winner, right? So we incentivized the challenge. It made it fun, it was a way for them to tell their friends and family and it was a way to grow the company. So that's what we did and it was very successful. And I even wrote Jasmine I'm like, thank you so much Like you don't even know so, but you know that speaks to as an entrepreneur. We always have a lot of ideas. Sometimes we feel like our creative juices have run dry, like we've tried everything, and just looking at other people, like what they're doing, you can always just get inspired by their ideas, and so that's one thing I do as an entrepreneur I'm constantly looking at what other people are doing in their industry and would this work in mine? Right?

    Camille: 17:21

    I love that I actually just finished. I read a lot of books, and when I say read, most of them are audio. I listened to a lot of books, and one of my favorites that I listened to this year was the story of Walmart. And the man telling the story of Walmart was saying that everywhere he traveled with his family, he would stop into the local retailers that were competitors of Walmart. So I'd imagine it would be your Shopko or you know, depending on the time, this was many years ago, so ones I can't even I don't know the names of, but his family was used to that being a part of their life.

    Camille: 17:57

    If they went on their summer travel, they did a lot of road tripping. They would get out and he would look at what was working. He got the ideas for end caps for him in Walmart to see, you know, to drive more sales that way. And he said observing what is working well for your competition is very important, and it's also very important to see what is not working well, and I am a student of both and there's no shame in that like copy what is working well, and so I think that that advice has really stuck with me and I think that it's not a shameful thing. It's appreciating what is working well and then making it your own.

    Mercedes: 18:35

    Yeah, absolutely. I love that. I'm going to have to look into that story because I don't know, I'm not familiar with it, but good Lord, he created a you know, huge, huge corporation, which is awesome.

    Camille: 18:48

    Yes, I think for you especially, especially with it being retail and the customer experience and that was really what Walmart was built on, what a lot of it was the customer experience and having that be a positive experience. So yeah, for sure, read that book. I'll link it below. I'm trying to remember what the name of it is. I think it's just his name, but I don't want to mess it up if I get it wrong, so I will link it below. I'll send it to you in a message, but it's a really good one.

    Camille: 19:13

    Okay great, yeah, perfect, okay. So I would love to hear what a moment was in your business that you learned a big lesson from, whether it was something that went terribly wrong or something that went really right. I mean, we did just talk about something that went really right, but is there something you can think of that you can share, that helps you in the positive or the negative?

    Mercedes: 19:34

    Yeah, well, I guess, since I've just said a positive, that was a major positive. Let's see Negative, something that happened that was negative, but but I learned from. I would say, um, okay, so recently we just did an acquisition, right, bought out another company. I, I thought I did my best, my due diligence, like I'm like we're gonna go into this, we're gonna, you know, we're gonna, we're gonna, we're gonna do this and it's we're going to, you know we're going to, we're going to, we're going to do this and it's going to be great. I mean, you know what I mean, cause I didn't know how they would receive me because a lot of the members they're a lot older than me, I mean, they're my grandparents age, they, they, they're not used to how I do things in my company at all, but that's the reason why it works, you know, yeah yeah, things change.

    Mercedes: 20:23

    I was, yeah, I was so nervous Like how are they going to receive me? And you know, I went back and forth on how to integrate them into what we're doing and I would say it did not go as planned. And so I in hindsight I'm like, okay, we ever, ever have to. We end up buying out the other one. I know I have a better idea of how I will integrate so that they don't that they they kind of feel like they're not a fish taken out of water. You know what?

    Mercedes: 20:59

    I mean um, not like. I'm in a completely different place and the only thing I understand is mystery. So I learned. I learned some, some lessons to help combat some of the negative, negative experience that I had with that.

    Camille: 21:18

    Yeah, it makes me think of, I mean, any acquisition. There's going to be bumps and trials along the way. I almost feel like it's parents getting divorced and you're coming into a new family, or I remember as a kid having a teacher in the classroom and then having a new one come in, and of course it's going to be different and that those changes can be challenging. So what are some of those lessons that you have learned or that you would do differently?

    Mercedes: 21:44

    Well, it's very industry specific, but I would honestly, specifically, one of the first things that comes to mind is I would keep them in their own community, if that makes sense. So we have groups and I think and here's the thing you brought up a good point You're switching teachers. The same thing, and here's the thing you brought up a good point You're switching teachers. The same thing happened to me in high school and I remember we all loved our teacher. He was for broadcast, it was our broadcasting class, and when he announced that he was leaving he said I want you guys, I brought in a book and I want y'all to read it. It's called who Moved my Cheese.

    Camille: 22:22

    Have you heard of that?

    Mercedes: 22:22

    book in a book and I want y'all to read it.

    Mercedes: 22:23

    It's called. Who Moved my Cheese? Oh yeah, and so he was trying to prepare us. You know what I mean.

    Mercedes: 22:28

    And we were just like 16, 17 years old and that has always stuck with me, because humans, typically for the most part, we don't like change, and especially, like what you said, with a big change where it's like, okay, this has been this way for 15 years and now we no longer, it looks completely different. And so embracing that change for most people, I think, is really hard, especially the older you are, like you know, our baby boomers and they don't like change. Baby boomers and they don't like change Right. So you know. So, coming from the side of I'm the one presenting the change. That's scary.

    Mercedes: 23:15

    And so I tried to lead with a lot of love and clarity and I think, you know, some people got it, some people didn't want to receive it, and that's okay. I learned things that I could tweak, like I said, kind of maybe keeping them in a community that was still just what they were used to and then giving them the option right, instead of integrating everything at once. I think that was a big thing that I learned. But I also learned that no matter how hard you try, you're not going to win 100%.

    Camille: 23:46

    Yeah, you can't please everyone, no way. Yeah, for sure I'm curious about as you were growing your business from Facebook, friends and family to I don't even know, are we talking? I'm for sure we're talking 1000s, but how are? How did you then organize the facilitation of the secret shoppers and recruiting the secret shoppers? Did you have a program built Like how did you keep it all straight?

    Mercedes: 24:14

    Okay. So we're an organization which we are different from a provider. So mystery shopping provider is the one who provides the work. They provide the shops, they are the ones that partner with, you know, the businesses. We are the ones that do the training, the recruiting, the training, the supporting, right? Okay so I recruit. Right, I taught a class, so I recruited people to the class, I taught the class and then it was more. So, hey, if you want continued support, you can join our membership, right? So as we grew, I mean and I got to be honest, you know a lot of people ask how did you become successful? It's not one thing, it's a lot of hard work.

    Mercedes: 25:05

    It's a lot of determination, but I swear to you it's a little bit of luck mixed in there as well, I look back and I'm like, oh my gosh, like how did this so very seamlessly and, you know, not a ton of bumps in the road, just kind of progressed beautifully? And I'm just like thank you God, because there's no way. I mean, some people work very, very hard and still don't get the results that they're looking for, and so I know that there's a little bit of power from above that helps. That goes a long way when you are working a business.

    Camille: 25:38

    So yeah, Okay, so I'll reframe a question because I think that does answer it, but I'll get a little bit deeper. What programs are you using for organization management? I know you said Jasmine Starr. I know she's like a Kajabi fan, like Amy Porterfield is. How do you house your trainings and take care of all of that?

    Mercedes: 26:02

    Great, great question Kajabi. Okay, okay, perfect, yeah, I use Kajabi too, so I'm a Kajabi fan.

    Camille: 26:10

    Yes, yeah, I'm so glad, go ahead. I was just gonna say, if you're listening and you're not familiar with what Kajabi is, essentially it is a platform where you can house. You can actually house podcasts there. I don't do that part yet. That's a newer feature. But if you have training videos, learning materials, there's even group and group management in the platform. I actually am an affiliate for Kajabi and I will put my link in below. If you're interested in checking it out, you can have it for the first month free, but their technology for organizing people and lessons and video and all of the materials is top notch. I'm a big, big fan. It sounds like you are too. So that's my little plug. You can check it out below and, yeah, tell us about your experience with that.

    Mercedes: 26:54

    I absolutely love Kajabi. I started with Wix have you heard of Wix? I started with Wix and then I went to WordPress and then I went to Kajabi. And, honey, I will never leave. I don't think I will ever leave. It has everything that I need. It's been amazing.

    Camille: 27:13

    Yeah, I love. What I love about Kajabi, too, is that you can set it up for your sales pages, as well as automated emails, as well as course reminders group. Have you ever used it for, like, hosting a membership site where, like, people are paying membership? I haven't done that. I'm actually starting that. My membership is going to be through Kajabi, the one that we're launching CEO in just a few weeks, so have you used that feature there as well?

    Mercedes: 27:41

    A little bit. I tried it out with my team first and just to see if I wanted to move from Facebook over. Yes, so it was. It's one of those things where I was like, oh, this would be nice, but I didn't end up doing it, so we're still in Facebook right now.

    Camille: 27:57

    That's so funny Cause I literally had this conversation with my sister today. We're like everyone knows Facebook, you can tag everyone so that they know and they're notified, and it's easy. And so Kajabi, for us too, is better for housing the materials, but then the actual like zoom meetings or trainings live, where you can like, tag everyone or just send out a quick message, facebook is probably still the easiest, I think.

    Mercedes: 28:21

    Yeah, it is, but I see a lot more people moving over into whether they use Kajabi or the other ones, so I don't know. We'll see how the next little bit goes.

    Camille: 28:33

    You know what I?

    Mercedes: 28:34

    mean I get so nervous because I'm like Facebook's right there, it's on everybody's phone, I know, you know. So I get nervous to switch over and I'm like maybe there won't be as much engagement because they're not going to get on that app as much. So that's why I get nervous. So right now I'm like I've got bigger fish to fry right now.

    Camille: 28:53


    Mercedes: 28:54

    We'll deal with that one later.

    Camille: 28:56

    Yeah, a big one right now that I see a lot of people using is School S-K-O-O-L, which is also another awesome platform. S-k-o-o-l, which is also another awesome platform, and another new emerging app also can be used web and phone is called Circle, which you can host live events and you can also do messaging and groups within groups, which is cool, so you can check those out if that's something that you're interested in. So okay, so cool. So you're on, you have your platforms, you're doing your training, you have it all coming together. At what point now, where you're in the space of fastest growing, how are you managing all of it? You're a busy mom. You have how many employees and how many shoppers right now.

    Mercedes: 29:40

    So we have five employees, so five paid positions. We have 10 volunteers We've got. I feel like we have quite a bit and it's enough to handle everything. You said how many. There was something else you-.

    Camille: 30:00

    Shoppers. How many shoppers?

    Mercedes: 30:02

    Oh, shoppers. So we've trained over. Uh four, are we at 15? We're almost at 15 000 wow, yeah, that's amazing.

    Camille: 30:11

    So if there was someone who's listening, I am sure of it that someone is listening and they're thinking I want to be a mystery shopper. Is it hard to sign up? Like, how do you? Are you still trying to get people in?

    Mercedes: 30:23

    yeah, that I mean, that's my main job that's your job you're like?

    Camille: 30:26

    yes, please, thank you for seeing us.

    Mercedes: 30:29

    Yeah, so we have a free webinar. Uh, you can go to our website, uh, wwwishopagpcom, and you can sign up for that free webinar. And, um, it is me on the webinar and I kind of go through, share, share more of my story, give you more information enough for you to decide. Okay, I want to give this a try, or maybe it's not for me, but, yeah, you can take our free webinar anytime.

    Camille: 30:56

    And what could someone expect to make doing mystery shopping?

    Mercedes: 31:01

    Okay, this is like one of the most asked questions and I'm going to say this it truly does vary. So let me just give you I will throw out numbers just to help you. But we have people, like I said earlier, from all walks of life, different States, different schedules. So the first thing is mystery shopping is flexible. So you are your own, you're your own boss, you can shop when you want, right, which is very good. So we have a lot of people that work full-time and this is this truly is their side hustle. So let me give you a number Out of the people that have full-time jobs and do this on the side.

    Mercedes: 31:41

    They're averaging around $300 a week on top of their full-time job just by doing this. You know, maybe go and doing something on their lunch break, doing a few on the weekends, so that adds up quickly, right For a side hustle. And then we have shoppers who do this full-time, who are making a thousand or more a week. We had one shopper. She finished up the month of March with $7,700. So it can. It's such a wide range, but it all has to do with you know your lifestyle and how much of this you want to do.

    Camille: 32:16

    Yeah, it kind of reminds me of being like an Uber or a Lyft driver, where it's like how much money could I make? Well, how many hours do you want to be doing it? And that is a result which is cool too, because it's flexible and then you can pick up, you know, whatever you want, which is awesome.

    Mercedes: 32:33

    Yeah, and with DoorDash and Instacart, which I've totally tried out both because I wanted to see for myself. How does this compare to mystery shopping? Great gigs. I think we live in such a cool time that there's so many ways to make money. I just told somebody the other day there's no excuse, like there's something for everybody. We can all find a side hustle to do so. Anyway, with DoorDash and Instacart and those delivery services you usually top out around $25, $30 an hour. So with mystery shopping you're not paid by the hour, so you can make a lot more. You know I've sat on my couch and made $300 in 30 minutes.

    Camille: 33:11

    You know I've made, so you can do it online.

    Mercedes: 33:13

    Or what do you mean? There are shops that you can do on the computer and there are shops that you can do on the phone. So basically, like you know you could, they might want you to call some businesses and ask them a few questions. I've totally sat at my kitchen table and made $100 in an hour from making some phone calls.

    Camille: 33:33

    So and is when you're shopping, are you using your own money? Is that part of the equation that you have to take into account?

    Mercedes: 33:41

    Yeah. So that's another. You're, you're. I love this because you're hitting all of the questions we're used to, which is great. So, yes and no. So that's another. I love this because you're hitting all of the questions we're used to, which is great. So, yes and no.

    Mercedes: 33:48

    So one of the common misconceptions is people think mystery shopping is you get free stuff, you pay and then you get reimbursed, that's it. They don't realize that you actually make a profit, that you actually are making money. So there are shops that don't require any purchases. Matter of fact, some of my favorite shops, they're apartment shops, where I have to go in pretend that I'm looking for a new apartment and just take a tour. I don't have to buy anything, I'm just having a conversation with the sales agent. Then there are shops like restaurants. Well, how are you going to evaluate the service if you're not eating there, right? So, like a restaurant, you'll go in, you will pay for your food, but you'll get reimbursed, right? So you have the option, you know, to do shops that do require purchases and those that don't.

    Camille: 34:37

    That's awesome. So one question and this is probably a trickier one because I'm like that, I'm giving it to you is probably a trickier one because I'm like that, I'm giving it to you what do you do when you have a bad egg? Let's say that there's someone that signs up to be a mystery shopper and, for whatever reason I don't know if this has happened to you, but maybe they don't do the job well, or they're belligerent, or they're just not keeping their end of the bargain, whatever that is how do you filter them out or let them go in a way that they're no longer representing you?

    Mercedes: 35:08

    So because we're not a provider, we're an organization, we just have a very different function from the provider. So this would be a decision that the provider makes.

    Camille: 35:17

    Oh, so you don't even have to. You're just the training education side, so you're not held to that. Okay, that's even better for you. That's awesome, yeah, okay.

    Mercedes: 35:27

    So, yeah, I don't really have to deal with that. Now if I have, you know, we do partner with the providers, so they, they partner with us to send them train shoppers. And so if a company does say, hey, you send us this person and they are completely, you know, horrible, you know, hey, you sent us this person and they are completely, you know, horrible, you know. Well, for one, I don't have control over people's actions.

    Camille: 35:53

    But if I need to reach out to that person and say listen, get together, you know what I mean.

    Mercedes: 35:55

    I mean I can do that, but I don't have. We at our organization do not have the ability to shut them out or, you know, cancel their account and say, hey, you can't do shops with us because we don't provide the shops.

    Camille: 36:08

    Okay, yeah, that makes sense. So, moving forward what I mean? You've been doing this for over eight years. What is your vision for the future? Where do you want this to go?

    Mercedes: 36:18

    I want this to be very big, like that's my goal. Honestly, I want to be number one, right, I want, when I say number one, I want to be the largest organization and also I tell, I tell people here's, here's the vision that I have, and you'll probably understand this I don't know if you've ever been in like network marketing or anything.

    Camille: 36:44

    I'm familiar with it.

    Mercedes: 36:46

    Most people have tried dabbled in something Well. I remember dabbling in Mary Kay okay, which didn't work out for me too well, but it's okay. I've got people and family members that do wonderful with it. One thing that I learned while being a consultant is it was a lot of fun.

    Mercedes: 37:07

    They hosted a lot of fun conferences. I mean they had convention centers full, they were giving away cars. I mean it was just so motivating and that is something that is the bigger vision of our company. I mean, yes, in numbers I'd love to be the largest, the biggest, the best. But seriously, when you break it down, my vision is to really motivate people to change their lives. Financially, I have big visions. We do host like an annual conference, and as that conference grows, I mean I want to. Who says Mary Kay is the only one that can give away pink catalogs?

    Camille: 37:44

    You know what I mean, yeah.

    Mercedes: 37:46

    Let's give out. I want to get to that point where we're able to do a lot and give back to the shoppers, because there's not been anything like that in the industry. It's all about gimme, gimme, gimme, like can you do the shop? Can you do the shop? Can you do the shop? Obviously they get paid for it, but where's a reward system? Where are the accolades and the recognition? Because these people are putting in hard work and so we've already begun to implement those things. It's just growing it to the point where those awards or those what's the word? Like the things that we give out to reward them. I want that to be bigger, I want that to be better, I want it to be. You know what I mean.

    Mercedes: 38:30

    So, I want people to scroll down their feed and somebody you know celebrating that they just, you know, hit a milestone in their mystery shopping business, so hopefully that gives you an idea.

    Camille: 38:43

    Yeah, I love that. If you could tell yourself from the very beginning some advice that you've learned from looking where you are now, what would you have told yourself?

    Mercedes: 38:53

    A lot of things I would say. You can't please everyone. Always be yourself, Always be yourself. Don't be intimidated and be creative.

    Camille: 39:11

    Try it all. Yeah Well, there are two questions that I've asked every guest that comes on the podcast, and one is a motherhood moment that you've had recently that you would like to share, and that can be a short story, something that happened. It can be happy, sad, funny, whatever. And the second question is what are you reading, watching or listening to?

    Mercedes: 39:33

    Okay. So let's see, I'll tell you, both of my girls are teenagers, so that's been a very interesting journey. But I would say one of the things that I have like recently, that's just like been warming my heart, is just to see my children blossom into who they are becoming as young women, and just seeing they have a heart for the Lord, and that really blesses me the most is, you know, when you're a parent, you raise your child a certain way and you raise them to be a good citizen. You raise them, you know, like, hey, I'm trying to shape you into a good person, and so when they start to live out some of the things that you've taught them, it makes you feel really good.

    Mercedes: 40:20

    And so I've been really proud of them as they grow up, and it's just a different time in their lives because you don't have that same control when they're little you go to bed. It's nap time, it's bedtime, it's. You know they're older now. You know it's like they've got a lot more freedom, and with freedom comes you know responsibility and decisions, and so you can't always make those for them, and so being able to see that some of the decisions that they make are very sound is very touching to me.

    Camille: 40:54

    What do you think that they or what would you hope that they've learned, or what do you think they've learned from watching you build this business?

    Mercedes: 41:00

    You know, I would hope that if they ever get to a point where they are unsure of how am I going to pay for something, you know, if they ever get to a point where, god willing, they don't get to that point but I hope that I've taught them that there is a solution for everything and when it comes to money, money is easy to get. You just have to put in some work and not be afraid to do something new. But you know, growing this business in front of them. I hope that they take away. You know that it does take hard work but it does pay off and that they have so much knowledge more than a lot of other kids. You know, because what they've been around and been exposed to, and I want them to know that they can have and do the same things and even more when they apply their self.

    Camille: 41:57

    Yeah, I love that. I know gosh, having teenagers it is a trip because so much of it I have. I feel like my house is almost divided a little bit because I have 13, much of it I have. I feel like my house is almost divided a little bit because I have 13, 15, he turned 16 on Friday and then I have seven and 10. And so I'm like just holding onto those little ones a little tighter and but also it's so fun having teenagers and seeing how they develop and blossom and who they're becoming and it's just wild to watch and it's so much fun. I would love to ask you I know I said I had those last two but what has been a way that you've helped to balance the demands of business and motherhood?

    Mercedes: 42:33

    You know what I think and, being honest, like it's hard to balance everything. It really is hard, but I think I'm doing it. I mean I don't think I'm going to have any like big regrets, like oh, I should have done this more that, more like you know what I mean, I do what I need to do. I get whatever they need help with and get done. I get it done. I think the biggest balancing act for me is not really the responsibility, because you know women, we're just awesome and we can just, you know, spin circles around people. You know women, we're just awesome and we can just, you know, spin circles around people. You know we're good at multitasking, so for me that's easy. The other part is just kind of spending that quality like one on one time and finding things that you both like to do, because you know when they get teenagers, they have what they like to do and they're not that interested in everything that you like to do. See, it's like finding that common ground so that you can have that time together.

    Camille: 43:30

    Yeah, oh, I love that. All right. So what are you reading, watching or listening to? And if you have one of each, that's great. If you just want to share one, that's fine too.

    Mercedes: 43:39

    OK, so I would just be honest. I like fiction and I know it's so funny, because whenever I'm in a group of entrepreneurs, everybody's talking about like I'm reading this book, I'm reading that book, I like fiction and here's why I like to have an escape. Okay, Because, as an entrepreneur and I'm assuming most are like me my brain is non-stop. I mean, before I go to bed, I've got an idea, oh my gosh. Okay, A new email sequence. I mean before I go to bed.

    Camille: 44:06

    I've got an idea. Oh my gosh. Okay, a new email, sequence a new offer.

    Mercedes: 44:08

    It's like it's insane and I have to have that time to slow down. So when I go to the library which the library is one of my favorite places I will go and I will get a fiction, a murder mystery, something like that. It relaxes me and so when I'm relaxed, my personal and my business life go a lot smoother. So that is the answer. It's fictional books. I just finished one yesterday and dropped it off at the library and I'm like okay, on to my next book.

    Camille: 44:40

    Was it a good one? What was it?

    Mercedes: 44:42

    Yeah, it was called the Marriage Game. It was pretty cute.

    Camille: 44:45

    Okay, cool. Yeah, you know it's funny that you apologize for that that I love fiction, but you would be surprised I've been asking all my guests this question this year and more often than not, it's that same sentiment of I need a minute to escape from what else there is to do, because there are so many amazing books that can tell you more about how to run your business or your life more efficiently, and a lot of times it's you just need that minute to you know, escape somewhere else and learn about a marriage mystery or a murder mystery or whatever it is. So, yeah, I think that's great. Well, this has been so wonderful. Thank you so much for being a guest and, of course, for everyone who is interested. We will put the links below and please do me the favor and subscribe to the podcast so that you never miss an episode. If you really want to go above and beyond, because you love me, please leave a rating and review. It really helps us to be discovered and to share more amazing stories of mothers building businesses.

    Camille: 45:44

    So thank you again, Mercedes. This has been such a blast getting to know you better.

    Mercedes: 45:49

    Thank you so much for having me All right, we'll see you next time.

    Camille: 45:54

    Hey CEOs, thank you so much for spending your time with me. If you found this episode inspiring or helpful, please let me know in a comment. In a five star review, you could have the chance of being a featured review on an upcoming episode. Continue the conversation on Instagram at call me CEO podcast and remember you are the boss.

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