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Field Associate Training

Training Orientation

Welcome to the training section. By now, you should have a pretty good understanding of this industry and the basics of how to get started.

In this section, we’re going to go a little more in-depth into the fine art of Field Associate Auditing and provide you with a lot of invaluable advice to help make sure your shopping goes smoothly, and more importantly – to make sure that you keep getting work!

There’s a fair amount of information in this section, so we’ve broken it down into seven sub-sections for your convenience and easy reference. They are:

1. Getting Certified
2. Your First Assignment
3. After the Evaluation
4. Techniques to Aid You in Evaluating
5. Filling our your Evaluations
6. Sample Evaluation Questionnaire
7. The 10 Commandments of Field Associate Auditing
8. Frequently Asked Questions
9. Market Research Company Log


1. Getting Certified

One of the first steps of this program is to get your certified as a “Field Associate Auditor.” The market research company we will have you sign up with will certify you for FREE. The sign-up takes just a few minutes as we will show you in the tutorial provided to get signed up and certified.

This is a real fun job that can make you some good money. We will explain the certification process the sign-up and what will be needed to get you certified as a Field Associate Auditor. You can actually start doing assignments in the next 24-48 hours after all is completed.


We will point out that signing up with this certification market research company is 100% optional and not required. However, this market research company is very busy when it comes to sending you assignments.

If you are wanting to spend a few minutes and get certified and work right away, then watch the sign up video tutorial below:

Certified Field Associate Auditor Sign Up

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You will usually receive an email when the process is complete along with your first assignment.

You are not required to do any of the assignments they send. Simply review the offer and accept or not accept it.



2. Your First Assignment

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When You Accept an Assignment

Here are some of the things to keep in mind whenever you accept an assignment from ANY of the market research companies.

Verify the assignment: the date and times that the shop needs to be done and the pay you will receive for the assignment. Will they reimburse you for mileage? How will the report be returned? Make certain to get the exact business, address and phone so you can be sure to find the correct location. It’s a good idea to make extra copies of the blank evaluation form.

Before The Evaluation

Review the report before the evaluation. Be prepared. Before you do an assignment, read the directions thoroughly. Read each and every question of the audit evaluation report form carefully. You’ll know what to look out for and what to expect. After reviewing the audit evaluation report form, make a note of the items that you are supposed to check and create a “cheat sheet”.

You can use a small piece of paper, index card, etc to jot down the essential items you are to look for in the store. Then you can sneak a peek at your list while shopping to make sure you have covered everything. There’s nothing worse than getting home and realizing you forgot a key piece of information.

Plan and prepare a scenario to raise the same kind of questions and concerns as an ordinary customer would. A scenario is an advanced, prepared plan of action – like “play acting”. Read the categories and questions of the shop thoroughly. You must consider what kinds of questions and problems a typical customer may have. A properly prepared scenario will cover all the bases that a shopper form requires and will give the employee the opportunity to perform.

Verify the location’s address so you can be sure to find it. Some companies have different branches on the very same street, block and town. Make certain that you know exactly how to get to the store. Most of the time you will be getting paid to shop in your local area. However, you may choose to accept a shop that’s in an area you are not familiar with. Do not call the shop for directions on the day of the shop (unless instructed to do so). Some companies will want you to check the outside of the building and may also want to know the names of any surrounding businesses.

If the shop is on a flexible time frame, schedule into your week to allow plenty of time to complete the shop before the deadline – never procrastinate! If it is a time / day specific shop, mark it on your calendar so that you won’t forget your commitment. After reviewing your instructions, contact your supervisor if you have any questions or concerns.


Your first assignment can be an exciting one. Remember that it isn’t a game and the company is relying on you. Never take a job that you don’t think you will be able to complete. Always be professional if you want to get a consistent schedule of evaluations. Be aware of your surroundings, how many other customers there are, etc. In most assignment you are a “secret auditor” so try not to give yourself away. Gather information for the evaluation, however don’t be obvious that you are taking notes.

Your Checklist:

  • If you are required to shop within a certain time frame, be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to arrive at that location on time.
  • Record the time when you arrive at the business.
  • Do all the outside checks and then in the store.
  • Get names and descriptions. Use your cheat sheet to jot down names and details indiscreetly before you forget.
  • Keep your notes organized. It will make filling out your report form much easier. Or as soon as you leave the shop you can quickly jot down important notes.
  • Be Natural. Always act like another ordinary customer. Your goal is to experience a normal shopping visit at each store that you visit. Don’t do anything out of the ordinary to call attention to yourself as you conduct business with a store’s employees.
  • Be thorough and precise: Get all the information that your company requires for the shop. Don’t take the risk of not being paid for a shop by failing to purchase the correct item, failing to visit a department or not getting names or descriptions. Don’t feel awkward being in the store longer than usual. Look occupied in order to get precious information such as register and customer counts, etc.
  • You will be asked to test for specific attributes by presenting employees with typical customer scenario’s and questions. For example, if the question was, “Did the employee satisfactorily resolve a problem presented? The shopper must create a problem for them to resolve such as “Do you have any more of the toothpaste that’s on sale? There isn’t any on the shelf.” So make sure you’ve done your job, since you’re evaluating them on their job. On the other hand, you are not supposed to do their job for them by leading them to the desired outcome such as “Could you please look in the back for me to see if there is more toothpaste?” Their responses and actions should be on their own initiative. When testing attributes, an employee could miss one attribute like suggestive selling but still do great in other areas.
  • Make sure you have your receipt or a business card. Ask for one if you are not given one. Some companies consider not having the required receipt or business card as an incomplete shop and will not pay.
  • Upon leaving the business, record your ending shop time.
  • Some shops will require you to call the business and perform a phone shop. A shopper phones the business and listens for particular criteria. Follow the specific directions given in your shop instructions.


3. After the Evaluation

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Do not let someone catch you filling out forms or making notes. This is a sure way to blow your cover. Drive or walk down the street and stop to make the necessary notes. You can also carry a small cassette recorder and tape your notes to play back later.

Most report forms require that you answer a series of Yes / No questions and a written summary. The more notes and observations you have the better your report will be.

It is absolutely vital that you follow all instructions for every assignment or your report may fall short of the requirements. Evaluation Reports are “subjective”. It is your customer perception that the company desires. Every shopper report that you fill out will be different. Some will have questions, some will have blanks for you to fill in. Most require a written summary of what happened during your audit evaluation.

Make a Copy of your Report

This is for your records in case there are questions from the client about your audit evaluation or if the evaluation audit report is lost in transit to the company. Review your form before you turn it in just to double check for errors and also that you have filled it out accurately.

Submit the Evaluation Audit Report

Most market research companies will require you to e-mail a copy of the evaluation audit report within 24 hours unless otherwise stated. Some market research companies will allow you to fax or submit the report on their website. Always check with the market research company for exact details. Submit your reports and receipts promptly to ensure you receive payment. This could determine whether you will get any future assignments with this market research company.

Your Evaluation Audit Reports are Confidential

You are not to duplicate, distribute or disclose information relating to your shop to anyone without prior written consent. Always keep your “Evaluation Audit Forms” confidential. Don’t show anyone, and certainly don’t ever give or sell your form to a store’s competition. As a trusted participant in the field auditing process, you must keep all information confidential.

The Evaluation

A copy of your evaluation audit report will go to the company you are working for. It may also go to their client. It is important that your report be neat without scribbles or cross outs. These things will make your report appear less credible. For these same reasons, check your spelling. If you are unsure of a spelling, look it up in the dictionary.

All evaluation audit reports must be sent in within 24 hours unless otherwise stated. Reports that arrive late normally will not be paid for. Most companies will allow you to e-mail in the report. Again, always check with the company for exact details. Don’t hesitate to call the company if something unusual happens. They want you to be successful and will assist you with any questions you may have.

4. Techniques to Aid You in Evaluating

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How Do I Get All the Data I Need During an Evaluation?

If you simply follow the normal process a customer usually takes, and you make mental or physical notes (when possible), you should be able to accumulate all of the data needed – unless there is some special criteria needed which will be disclosed before the assignment.

Do not take it upon yourself to be overly harsh or overly nice. Be a normal customer and allow the employee to perform under normal circumstances (unless instructed otherwise) so that you may collect information on their typical performance. Don’t take the position that you are going to not note something negative about an employee because the employee is nice. Remember why you are there, follow a logical process, and accumulate data which will answer the survey questions you must answer after your visit.

Don’t try to think too much and end up missing out on other evaluation incidents. If you pay attention to what is happening around you and to what employees are saying to you, you’ll be surprised at how the questionnaire jogs your memory as to what events took place and as to what was said.

What If I Have A Lot of  Information to Remember?

Sometimes you may need to collect information on service times, prices offered, product names, and specific terminology used by employees. If this is the case, you may need to take extra steps in order to remember what you need to remember. If you don’t think you can fully remember your shop until the time that you get home to fill out your form, you might want to bring along a miniature cassette recorder. That way, when you leave the store, you can record what happened while it is still fresh in your mind.

Later on that day you can fill out your report form while listening to your recorder. You could also discreetly carry along your cassette recorder and tape conversations. The easiest way to ensure absolute accuracy is to tape record your conversations.

One technique, which applies in restaurants is to try to get a booth in which you can sit next to a wall. You can simply keep a pen and small piece of paper under your leg or next to the wall where it won’t be seen. When servers are safely out of sight, notes can be jotted while leaving the paper down on your seat. Or you can take a newspaper and write notes on the crossword puzzle or write on a napkin.

Another technique, especially useful in a retail store shop, is to excuse yourself to the washroom or to get a drink of water where you can jot down your notes in private. Then you can return to the shop with a clear mind and continue the process.

Another technique is to have a cellular phone with you. You can jot down notes while holding your cell phone to your ear and pretend you are texting or pretend you are taking notes from someone you are speaking with. Or you could always just call yourself on your cell phone and leave notes on your voicemail or answering machine at home. Yet another technique is to have a checkbook and calculator with you. You can jot down notes and pretend you are balancing your checkbook.

Another very helpful technique is to have someone come with you on the shop (as long as this is approved by the company). Each person has different information to remember. One person may remember names while the other remembers service times, etc.

Getting Employees Names

Sometimes you will be required to get the employee’s name only to find that the employee is not wearing a name tag. Try some of these tricks to get that name:

If nothing else, at the end of your evaluation, you must simply ask the employee what their name is. If this gives you away, so be it. Your evaluation is already over. However, there are better ways to obtain names. One way is to simply be a name giver. Say, “How are you? My name is Sally… what’s yours?”

Another way is to pretend they gave their name previously and you forgot. Say, “That is a good suggestion, uh… what did you say your name was?” Another way would be to ask a different employee. Simply say, “he told me what his name was and I forgot. I am embarrassed to ask him again. Could you tell me his name?”

You can always just ask for their name so you can contact them if you have more questions about the product or service. Or you could always ask the cashier as you’re checking out for the employee’s name. For example, “Oh, what is that tall man’s name that wears glasses? I need to call him to check if my special order has come in yet.”

How Do I Keep From Being Discovered as a Associate Auditor?

This can be one of a auditor’s biggest fears but there are simple steps to avoid this from happening. An auditor’s job is to evaluate how employees treat a typical customer. If the employee suspects or discovers that the customer is actually a shopper, obviously the results of the evaluation will not be accurate. Always act like another ordinary customer. Your goal is to experience a normal shopping visit at each store that you visit. Don’t do anything out of the ordinary to call attention to yourself as you conduct business with a store’s employees.

Act natural and be yourself. If you are nervous, it is huge tip-off. Don’t look around or seem distracted. Maintain normal eye contact with employees and seem as though you don’t have a care in the world. The biggest complaint marketing research agencies hear from clients is that associate auditors are in a big hurry. Please, take your time and act as if being in that branch or store is the only thing you have to do that day.

Be natural and casual, yet observant. Be open, receptive, natural and friendly. You are not there to make any scenes or test their flexibility. Listen carefully and try to remember what the employee said to you and how you responded. This is most important. If an employee asks you if you’re interested in a service or item, generally say “sure / yes / okay” (whatever works for you) even if in “real life” it’s not something that would interest you. Remember, the companies you’ll be working for want people who are open and receptive rather than negative. Pay close attention to your feelings, impressions and thoughts. You will be asked to write these down in the commentaries.

Here Are Some Tips an Associate Auditor Should to Avoid Being Spotted:

  • Never bring your evaluation form into a store location with you.
  • Don’t let anyone see you taking notes. Be discreet.
  • Don’t leave your evaluation report in clear view in your car while in the business parking lot.
  • Don’t disclose to anyone that you are an auditor except your immediate family. Protect your anonymity.
  • If you are asked in a store “Are you a secret shopper or auditor?” be calm and answer, “What’s a secret shopper?” There should be no reason for any employee to suspect that you are an auditor. However, if asked, deny any connection with evaluation auditing. Just play dumb.
  • Do not fill out the report in the business parking lot. Drive down the street, out of sight of the business to fill out your report forms.
  • While visiting a store, don’t attempt to stand out from the crowd. Dress the same way that you think everyone else who will be shopping there will be dressed.


5. Filling our your Evaluations

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Describing your Experience

Detail, Detail, Detail…
Provide as much information as possible in your evaluation reports. You need to recreate your visit to give the reader enough information to visualize the entire interaction.

Before you get into detail, make sure you are aware of the style your company is looking for. Some companies only want the facts. Most companies, however, like to know how the interaction made you feel. Would you shop there again, did you feel welcome, etc. Just make sure that you know ahead of time what the company is looking for. Just remember that the more information you give, the better impression you have made and the better the chance of being asked to do it again!

Don’t be afraid to ask your scheduler for help. They are more than willing to answer your questions and would prefer that to an incomplete report, or one that is not done to the best of your ability. Most shoppers fear reaching out to their schedulers, afraid that they won’t be asked to shop again. This is generally not the case.

Spice up your reports by adding descriptive words and phrases. The best reports contain detailed informative summaries so you should use a thesaurus to come up with more descriptive words. Do not use qualifiers like very, somewhat, extremely, quite, etc. Pick an adjective and just leave the qualifiers off.

Instead of saying: “The service met our expectations.”
You could say: “We received excellent service because the server was so attentive and personable. We were made to feel welcomed and appreciated.”
Try to be considerate when describing employees. Do not be insulting. For example, you would use full-figured for women and / or husky for men rather than fat; and pale medium blonde / brown hair versus mousy colored hair.


Appropriate: Gender, height, hair color and length (beard or moustache), approximate age, attractive, glasses, piercings, tattoos.

Inappropriate: Overweight, skinny, short, ugly, bald, ethnic reference.


Pleasant to look at – neat and orderly appearance – well-groomed – professional attire – clean – pressed – sharp – well dressed – professional attire – dirty uniform – unkempt – wrinkled attire – disheveled – smelly – unshaven – messy – grubby…


Focused – professional – pleasant – efficient – warm – considerate – confident – enthusiastic – bubbly – informative – delightful – polite – professional – sparkling – task-oriented – focused – eager to please – friendly – attentive – bright – hospitable – cheery – outgoing – courteous – thoughtful….

Patronizing – slow – careless – abrasive – scattered – bored – loud – sloppy – indifferent – lethargic – incompetent – miserable – annoying – inattentive – aloof – angry – forgetful – hurried – routine – disrespectful – preoccupied…


Product was displayed neatly / organized – in sequence – in order – tidy – well organized – products were in disarray – product was disorganized / out of place / unsystematic / untidy / messy

Food Quality

Too cold – too warm – fresh / appealing – was not fresh / appealing – tasty – excessive seasoning – wilted – greasy – dried out – overcooked – undercooked – was sensational – served at the correct temperature, hot or cold – flavor was bland / excellent – meat was tender – portion size was generous / insufficient – visual display of food on the platter was appealing / unappealing…

Site Observations

Aisles were cluttered / obstructed with… – busy, friendly atmosphere – clean and in good working order – clean and well maintained – condiments were absent – counter was dirty / cluttered / messy – desk / counter was clean and organized – displays appear neat / clean / organized – entry was clean and inviting – excessive stains / dirt – exterior was (poor, fair, good, excellent) – in need of repair – lobby was (poor, fair, good, excellent) – noticeably dirty / dusty – overall appearance of the store appealing – garbage was overflowing – shelves were dusty – windows were dirty – windows were spotless…


No hand soap – no toilet tissue – no hand dryer or towels available – trash can overflowing with garbage – broken fixtures – door / latch missing or broken – unpleasant odors – burned out lighting…

Service/Summary Comments

Favorable / positive first impression – I would not hesitate to recommend this store – level of service I received… – my overall impression was… – this store did not meet my expectations – the associate performed below my expectations – this store exceeded my expectations…

Overall Impression

Very professional and considerate employees – approached customers in a courteous manner – asked detailed qualifying questions – asked me to return – engaged in conversation with me – gave a wonderful sales presentation – gave me their full attention – initiated the sale – interacted well with customers – knowledgeable in the products / service – listened attentively – made me feel comfortable by – made me feel my needs were important – quickly assessed my needs – sold me on the services because – thanked me by saying… – complimented my choices…

The atmosphere was… – the general mood was… – they encouraged me to… – they seemed genuinely interested in helping me… – treated me like an old friend – tried to up-sell or add on merchandise – welcomed me like an appreciated guest – went out of their way to…. – I felt appreciated – I felt I was a valued customer because…. – I would definitely recommend the business because…

I felt I was disturbing them – I felt I was imposing / rushed / not important – I felt ignored because… – I would not give them my business because – the employee appeared as though they couldn’t care less – the employee seemed indifferent because… – the employee was rude, did not maintain eye contact / smile – the merchandise was disorderly / dirty / cluttered…


6. Sample Evaluation Questionnaire

Note: Each time you go on an audit assignment, you will use a form designed by the store or business establishment. This is only a basic sample.

Business Name:
Location Address:
Auditor’s Name:
Date & Time of Assignment:


Was store
neat and clean?
Was lobby
/ waiting area clean?
Was your
presence acknowledged quickly?
Were you
greeted in a friendly manner?
employees dressed professionally?
Did they
offer to assist you with
Were they
Did they
know their products well?
Were the
dressing rooms clean?
Did they
thank you for shopping with us?


In the space provided below, please give a summary of your overall experience:


How would you rate this establishment?


Based on your experience, would you shop at this location again?











7. The 10 Commandments of Field Associate Auditing

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1. Sell Yourself to Market Research Companies

Express a strong interest in field auditing when corresponding with market research companies. Don’t just tell them you are interested. Let them know you are extremely enthusiastic about performing field evaluation audit assignments. Be as neat and thorough as possible when completing their application form. List any retail, customer service or related experience you may have.

2. Be Committed

The second you accept an assignment you must be committed to getting that evaluation audit done by the deadline given. A missed audit or a late audit can cost a market research company a client and you will probably not be getting any more assignments from that company. Get your evaluation reports in early if possible as to put the market research company more at ease in regard to deadlines they must meet.

3. Provide Great Detail

Remember, the more detail you provide – the more valuable you are to the company and the more audits you will get. Market research companies don’t always know everything that is going to need to be noted during an individual audit evaluation so let them know of everything that you determined to be notable.

4. Print Clearly

Where narrative reporting is needed, print very clearly and in dark ink. Use the best writing skills you can and make sure your report is legible. If a market research company has to interpret chicken scratch, you might not get any more assignments.

5. Never Give Yourself Away

If your audit requires you to be secret then always maintain the integrity of the program by remaining anonymous. If you are found out as a field associate auditor by the location you are shopping, it is best to let the company know so that they can address the issue. If word gets back to the market research company from the hiring company that you were found out and you never reported the problem, you will probably not get any more assignments from that company.

6. Don’t Run Up a Bill

If you are being reimbursed for expenses for your audit, don’t run up the bill too high. If auditing a restaurant, get what you normally would get if you were paying. Your shopping expenses are part of the cost of the program for the hiring company, and high expenses may cause them to cancel their program.

7. Just the Facts

Remember to observe and report the facts. Do not make recommendations and do not report your opinions. You are not being hired as a consultant. You are an auditor that provides a picture of what occurred during your evaluation. That means you report the facts – someone else interprets the data.

8. Read Your Instructions and Review Your Assignment Report

Before conducting any audit, you should be completely prepared for what you must observe. If you fail to study the instructions and survey, you may miss some critical information that you are being paid to obtain. This could result in you not being paid for the audit or you may have to return to the location and repeat the audit.

9. Names, Names, Names

Always, always, always, get the names of every employee you come in contact with. Without the names of the employees you encountered, your information could be completely useless. If you forget to get names, market research companies would prefer to forget to send you payment.

10. Audit For As Many Companies As Possible

There is probably not one market research company that could keep you busy with audits on a regular basis for any long period of time. Get your information in with as many marketing research companies as possible so that you can get as many assignments as possible. This will give you more experience and you should be more in demand with other companies. If you get too busy, you can always keep the assignments you enjoy the most and decline the other assignment offers.

Field Associate Auditing may be work, but it can be a lot of fun too! So enjoy yourself. Try to do your evaluation audits  just as you would if you walked into the establishment to shop or dine for yourself. Auditing is a great way to make money – have fun with it. Perform as many audits as you can to make the most of this exciting job field!

8. Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What if there are no marketing research companies in my area?
A. The location of the company does NOT matter. What does matter is the location of the client’s business. You can apply to any marketing research company regardless of where they are located. Most market research companies offer auditing assignments nationwide.
Q. If I live in a remote area, can I still be an Field Associate Auditor?
A. Yes! While it is true that the opportunities in a remote area may be somewhat limited (although it depends by what you mean by remote), if you live near a sizable town or city, you should be able to get assignments. Otherwise, you can still get jobs, but maybe not quite as many. Your earnings as an Associate Auditor are somewhat dictated by market demand for those services. However, it can also be a quality versus quantity thing. There are some requests for auditors in smaller areas that offer much higher than normal pay or bonuses attached because the companies might have more trouble finding shoppers in these areas. So you might do very well in a smaller town even if you do fewer assignments than someone who lives in a big city.
Q. if I go on vacation, should I contact the market research companies I work with?
A. Yes! You might even be able to work in the area you will be visiting if you are sure you can fit the audit into your schedule. Who knows, you might get a free hotel stay for filling out an evaluation or several free meals.
Q. I contacted a number of market research companies but I haven’t heard from any yet, why?
A. Not every market research company has the manpower to reply to every inquiry, so they might only contact you when they have an audit in your area or need you to fill out an application. Just be patient. You will be contacted.
Q. I turned down an assignment, will this hurt my chances of getting other jobs?
A. The more dependable you are, the more likely you are to be offered more assignments. Also, the more jobs you say “yes” to, the more likely you will be offered more assignments.
Q. Do I have to claim my earnings as income and pay taxes?
A. You will be an independent contractor – not an employee and will be responsible for keeping a record of your new income. Keep copies of all your receipts and keep track of your mileage. These are all deductible expenses. Consult your local tax preparer or accountant for personal advice.
Q. What happens if I can’t complete a job after accepting it?
A. If you cannot complete an assignment you should call as far in advance as possible. Remember that the more dependable you are the more likely  you will be called again for future assignments. Auditors who do excellent work are offered assignments more often than those who do average  work. Cancellations should be kept to a minimum because they are costly. Businesses are relying on you to complete the assignment you accepted,  often there is very little time to reschedule an incomplete audit.
Q. Can I bring my children on my assignments?
A. Here’s a special note for stay-at-home moms and dads. Auditing is one of those rare jobs where you can often bring along well-behaved children. While you can’t bring the kids on each and every assignment, enough market research companies will allow it and for some audits like day care centers, gyms with baby-sitting or toy stores, it could be required. Every assignment always has specifics on what dates and times it can be completed, so you know before you accept or apply for the job if it is something you can do.
9. Market Research Company Log

Here is an example of a log sheet you should keep which will allow you to keep track of all your market research companies and audits.

You can create this or something similar in a few minutes in MS Excel. OR simply keep your own Wordpad with the basics as shown below.

Field Audit Assignment Log

Company Audit Location Audit Date Purchases &/or
Amount Spent
Assignment Pay Date Paid Comments



Associate Auditor Job Resources