Writing Style

  • Narratives must be in paragraph form.  You should not use bullet points, movie scripts, or any other type of format.
  • The narrative sections must be written in complete sentences.
  • Paragraph your sections where appropriate, such as at the end of an interaction with an employee (when you finish ordering and leave the register or the server leaves your table).
  • Use proper grammar and punctuation.
  • Proofread and spell-check your work before submitting it.
  • Specific questions should not be referred to, i.e., “For question 26, the seating was…”.

You must avoid the use of the following:

  • Acronyms – BBB for Bed Bath & Beyond; ME for Massage Envy; etc.
  • Abbreviations –  w/ instead of “with”; approx. instead of approximately
  • Casual or Flowery language – “The service was the bomb,”; “The food melted in my mouth,”; or “She had a smile that lit up the room.”
  • Shortcuts – “thru” instead of “through”; “Cashier greeted me.” instead of “The cashier greeted me.”
  • Emoticons and text jargon – ☺, LOL, etc.
  • Excessive or inappropriate punctuation – ?! or !!!
  • Writing words in all capital letters – IT LOOKS LIKE YOU ARE SCREAMING.

Frame of Mind

Everyone needs the proper tools to do their job, and being a mystery shopper is no different. To be a successful shopper for Sentry, you will need the following:

  • Minimum 18 years old (some projects may require a higher age)
  • Reliable transportation and a valid driver’s license
  • Valid social security number, social insurance number, or EIN
    Reliable desktop or laptop computer running a current version of Mac OS X or Windows
  • Reliable high-speed internet access
    Sufficient working capital to allow for a purchase reimbursement

    • We suggest starting with $300 – $500 in a bank account dedicated to your mystery shopping activities
    • Many shoppers will accept assignments that don’t require reimbursement until they can set aside a sufficient amount of working capital
  • At least one valid phone number where we can reach you
  • Email with an appropriate email address
    • Avoid using an email address with any reference to being a mystery shopper

Point Of View

Many of our projects are structured as blocks of questions followed by a narrative. The level of detail varies by project.

The narratives should be written from the point of view of a reporter who is describing what they viewed and experienced without interjecting their opinions or feelings. Your narratives should never draw a conclusion; rather, they should allow the reader to visualize your experience without knowing your personal point of view.

Tone and Word Choice

The tone of your shop is very important. It is crucial that your shop be written in an objective and neutral manner so that the reader is able to visualize your experience without knowing your opinion.

The tone of your shop will be heavily impacted by your choice of words and the accuracy of your descriptions. You should not use words that convey emotion or attitude. Likewise, descriptions should be detailed, accurate statements and not vague or uncertain.

Before submitting your shop, save your work and then read the narrative/description sections. Look for phrases that include “I believe”, “it seemed like”, “they should” and/or “this was the best/worst experience”.

These word choices are key indicators of opinion and should not be included in your shop.

Writing From A Template/Using AI

As you become a more experienced and proficient shopper, you may find yourself taking on more shops, including shopping the same client for multiple rounds and/or locations. It is crucial and required that each report stand on its own.

In many cases, clients have district or regional managers who review reports for multiple locations. The clients need to have confidence that each report is written as an individual experience. This means that reports may not sound alike, even if the experience was similar.

You cannot save your narratives from one report and use them as a template, changing a few words for the next shop. Also, be sure to proofread your reports before submitting, and if you find yourself regularly using similar phrases, be conscious to vary your word choices and phrasing. You may also not copy the sample comments we provide as a training reference.

If we discover that you are copying our sample comments or reusing your comments across reports, those shops are subject to being rejected – in which case you would not be paid for them – and your shopper account may be deactivated.


Do not let your personal opinions influence your report. For example, if tattoos and body piercings are not prohibited by the client’s grooming standard but you do not approve of them, your report should not contain commentary that reflects your feelings.

Objectivity also applies to descriptions of the service, food and/or beverages that you experience as a part of your visit. It is crucial that you are familiar with the standards detailed in the assignment guidelines prior to conducting an assignment.

You are only to include your opinion if it is explicitly asked for, which will in most cases be in the last section of the form and may be titled Your Impression, Voice of the Guest, In Your Opinion or something similar.

While your opinion is allowed in this section, your commentary should be constructive and professional. It is acceptable to express your dissatisfaction with some aspect of this visit in this section, but any comments that are insulting or offensive will be removed.

It is important to qualify your opinion by taking into account the type of business that you are visiting, who their target customer is, and what is considered customary for their business segment. For example, do not criticize the drink prices at a hotel or fine dining restaurant. It is customary for restaurants and bars in this business category to charge a premium for their food and beverage. Likewise, do not compare prices at a high-end retailer to a mass retailer. If you do not qualify your comments in this section, the credibility of your overall report may be impacted.

Ready To Publish

You were approved to be a shopper for Sentry Marketing Group because you demonstrated a commitment to quality and a high degree of professionalism. These are characteristics that must be reflected in the quality of work that you submit to us.

The shop that you submit should be Ready To Publish. It should be able to be released to our client after a quick review by one of our editors.

Ready to Publish shops are submitted before the deadline specified in the assignment guidelines. These shops are written in complete, spell check and proofread sentences. The narratives are thorough and detailed and do not contain opinions or conclusions. The answers to questions in each section should be consistent with the narratives.

We understand that legitimate obstacles might come up during your assignment and that an occasional grammar or spelling error is going to be made. Our schedulers are always available to assist you with these problems.

If you have any questions about the content or quality requirements of this assignment, contact your scheduler for clarification prior to conducting or submitting your shop.

It is important that you review your shop before you submit it to ensure that it meets the assignment guidelines and our quality guidelines. If your shop is submitted late, contains blatant or excessive grammar errors, includes opinion in the narratives or is poorly written, then your shop may be subject to a deduction of the assignment fee/reimbursement or rejected outright.


Many projects require multiple visits or specific dates for their evaluations. Because of this, some projects include date restrictions for scheduling shops to meet their timing. This is why we ask for a planned date for your shops and why it is very important that you complete your shop on the planned date.

We understand that periodically a conflict arises that may prevent you from completing your assignment. We always try to accommodate mystery shoppers as the situation permits. Visits are part of a rotation, and it is not always possible to accommodate a rescheduling request. Likewise, it is not always possible to find a last minute replacement.

Be sure to check the assignment instructions and pay particular attention to any references to tight deadlines.

You will be assigned a specific day when your visit must be completed. Some projects may also involve a specific time or window of time. You cannot change the day and/or time of your evaluation without contacting your scheduler and receiving approval for the change.

Visits are part of a rotation, and accommodating a rescheduling request is not always possible. Likewise, it is not always possible to find a last-minute replacement.

Report submission is also very time sensitive. You should always submit your report as soon after your visit as possible. Each project will have its own deadline. However, the default deadline applies if a project does not include a specific period for report submission.

By default, reports are due by 24 hours after the scheduled date and time of the visit.

If you need more time to submit your report, you must request it before the deadline passes. Your request must include your name, shopper number, project name, location, and visit date. Please do not assume that your request has been approved until you receive a response from one of our team members.

Reports not submitted by the deadline are subject to a late fee or to a full rejection of the shop.

Assignments canceled within 48 hours of the planned date are subject to a rescheduling fee.

You will receive a confirmation when your report has been successfully submitted. We strongly recommend that you save the confirmation for your records.

If you need assistance, you can request it by contacting your scheduler or emailing help@sentryinsights.com

Submitting Your Report

If an issue arises where you cannot complete an assigned shop on the planned date, please contact your scheduler and/or submit a support ticket as soon as possible. We will determine if the shop can be rescheduled for a different date or if we need to reassign it to another shopper.

Do not do the shop on a date other than the planned date without confirmation from our staff that it has been rescheduled for you.

Because of the time-sensitive nature of our business, mystery shoppers who consistently reschedule assignments, submit their reports late or are not available after the submission of their report will find their opportunities with our company very limited.

Surveys and Comment Cards

On occasion, an invitation to take a survey or a printed comment card will accompany your bill, be mailed/emailed to you after your visit, or otherwise be offered to you. You may not complete a survey related to the visit conducted as part of an assignment for our company.

Completing a survey, which results from a visit conducted as part of a mystery shopping assignment, will result in the forfeiture of your payment and your account being suspended.

Required Documentation

  • The vast majority of our assignments require that you submit documentation as proof of the visit (POV).
  • You need to write the JOB ID on the receipt before uploading.
  • Most often, an itemized receipt is required for any purchases.
  • Photographs may be optional or required. Always be discreet when taking photographs.
  • Your documentation must be attached to the report in a JPG format.All images must be legible and upright so that they can be reviewed without having to rotate the image.
  • Your shop will be rejected if it is submitted without the proper proof of visit.

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