Notaries with strong punctuality habits and attention to detail can find new income opportunities in the field of mystery shopping. Retail stores, restaurants and hotels and other businesses hire independent contractors to evaluate customer satisfaction and employee performance. A “mystery shopper” visits the business as a customer, and then provides detailed feedback on the experience, said Dan Denston, executive director of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA). Assignments can range from a quick stop at a convenience store or dining at a restaurant to an overnight stay at a hotel. Anyone can apply to become a mystery shopper. But the shoppers in highest demand are detail-oriented, observant, and punctual — traits that successful Notary entrepreneurs typically share, Denston said. “A lot of people misunderstand what mystery shopping is,” Denston said. “It’s not just going shopping for a sweater or getting a free meal at a restaurant — it’s a measurement tool. If a company wants someone to show up between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., you have to be there at that time — you can’t show up at 5 p.m. or the next day.” Mystery shoppers typically start by registering with a provider company offering assignments in the shopper’s area. Denston strongly recommends interested applicants start with providers that are members of MSPA, as members have been vetted to ensure legitimate assignments. Notaries should stay away from any companies that ask for a fee in exchange for work — you should never have to pay anyone for mystery shopping assignments. With that caveat, mystery shopping can be a good way for a Notary to earn extra income. Fees can range from $5 for a five-minute store purchase to $100-$200 for an evaluation that requires an overnight hotel stay, Denston said. Also, a mystery shopper has a lot of flexibility in choosing assignments that are convenient for the shopper. “You have the ability to do as little or as much as you want,” Denston said. More information about mystery shopping is available through the MSPA website, which also offers available mystery shopping assignments by zip code. David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.