The Money Shed recently had the time to have a chat with Chris Pearson who is the head honcho at Field Agent UK. For those that don’t know Field Agent is an App available exclusively for iPhone (Available here) that pays you for going out and doing tasks such as audits in shops, photos of billboards and all manor of weird and wonderful things.
I myself have been a Field Agent for a number of years and have earned a LOT from the the App.
We asked him a number of questions and this is part 2 of that interview.
What is it that makes Field Agent better do you think than say, Roamler, Click and Walk or the soon to be in the UK StreetSpotr?
The one thing to remember, this industry is at best 4 years old and there are still very few people running this type of business, so all parties have a part to play in representing this method of data collection. I don’t think the companies you mention are better or worse than each other but their approach will be different.
From a field persons view the best company is the one with the most jobs for the best financial reward. There may be some secondary items like speed of payment, support response time, clear communication of tasks and overall how we treat people because without field people this business is over.
I don’t know one person who has ever said that this app is better than this one and I am sure technically each app has its own stronger points but we have just tried to keep it simple. No league tables, no getting you to take photos of your dog or the colour red when there are no jobs.
But the one big difference with Field Agent is that we are here in the UK, we know how this country works, how agents socially want to be treated, the language, the support and most of the locations we are aware of the rules.
I would not like to just launch Field Agent in Germany while sitting in the UK not really knowing the country but people feel they need to expand into as many countries as possible and as quickly as possible.
What would you say are the 5 main attributes that someone needs to be a successful agent?
- Read the brief, never assume, not sure then ask. This is such a common mistake and usually creeps in when you do loads of tasks because you start rushing to complete more. Just take your time and read the brief twice.
- Check the app every hour. Make it the first app you look at in the morning. This is a fingers first system, when you see a task just reserve it don’t wait to see if its still there in 5 mins. Then when you are already completing tasks keep checking for new ones, never stop checking, don’t wait for pushes or Facebook.
- Dont get annoyed / angry if we reject a job. If your going to do every job in your area, then you will make a mistake because we are human, clearly state your case if you have an issue but don’t waste time. Top agents take a monthly view of the income and know there is a small cost of getting jobs denied.
- Have a backup power solution, the top agents have a full kit and I know some have a spare iPhone. This means they can keep going all day
- Enjoy it and select the jobs you like doing but do try every type of task at least once, if you get comfortable with a task other agents don’t like so much then you can clean up.
What is the most bizarre work you have been asked by a client to setup/create for agents to do?
We have come to learn that bizarre actually is a customer request that challenges what we think Field Agent could be used for. I recently had a conversation about how we could collect water samples from all the rivers in the country, clearly an exercise which is very difficult to achieve today but with Field Agent it’s not that difficult in fact the difficult part is writing the brief so all instructions are followed correctly, it’s of course possible with a simple add on to gather the ph value of water on site so that saves posting back test tubes of liquid.
This may seem bizarre but when you think about it understanding the changing water conditions on a regular basis is very important to a whole group of people.
Ball park figures, how many agents have you get registered in the UK and how much have you paid out to agents?
We currently have just short of 50,000 agents registered but this really is the red herring number. You probably only need around 500 super agents to cover the UK. Generally agents fall into 1 of 3 categories or the 90/9/1 system as we call it.
90% are the big unknown and have a very random pattern, sometimes weekend people only or maybe only look at the app if in a supermarket just in case. Look at the app once a week.
9% are the casual agents, people who don’t travel far, stay within the local area and probably walk to most tasks. Look at the app once every day or other day but do complete the majority of tasks they can see.
1% are the super agents, these people check and complete as many tasks as they can, they chain jobs together, they plan, they build their routine around the app. Look at the app many times a day and invest their time in making it work for them.
The interesting thing is they all play a part in making a unique eco system of micro workers & deliver a great service to paying customers without a balance like this it would never work.
Before coming to run Field Agent UK did you have any prior experience in the ‘earn from home’ market? Either as a worker or working for a similar company?
Yes, prior to Field Agent I used to run a ‘traditional’ field company and those 15 years taught me a huge amount about the industry. We work with a number of the agency companies who see FA as a new and interesting change to their own proposition.
I would not really put us in the work from home segment but what we see as a new area called ‘digital citizens’ which is a ‘work from anywhere’ principal. A recent document from the Policy Exchange had a section entitled “Build the most connected and digitally skilled society in the world” The authors Eddie Copeland, Sarah Fink and Cameron Scott did a great job at capturing how the new ways of working will effect us all. Its a great read and would recommend to anybody – http://policyexchange.org.uk/publications/category/item/technology-manifesto
How do clients react when they see the quality of work that agents can produce for them compared to the usual data they get when doing some kind of audit?
As covered already, collecting data is covered by many companies but there are certain moments when clients can’t believe what has been achieved. A recent survey which covered over 1500 locations in less than 48 hours was a huge success not only because the data came in fast but clients can see the data come in live on a dashboard. This allowed them to spot an issue only a few hours into the project and we then changed the brief in the app so agents could capture some extra data around a issue, something which could not have been done the ‘old’ way.
One of our most successful projects has been with the billboard industry and the collection of board condition data after sunset. When originally asked will agents go out in the middle of the night and take photos of boards in the rain, well I have to be honest I had my doubts but we have a golden rule – we don’t decide what agents will or won’t do, let them decide. Now we run many different projects and we complete these faster than nearly everything we do.
When the company first started out in the UK was it hard convincing clients to sign up? How did you manage to do it at the start?
Convincing clients to give us work was easy, but convincing them to give us thousands of tasks has taken 3 years and that challenge still exists today but as more agents do great work the easier it gets. This year will be our biggest and the opportunities in front of us are huge.
To carry on talking about this topic and to see what other Money Shed members have said about their experiences take a look at the relevant thread on the forum by clicking (here)