Are you interested in starting a mystery shopping business? Do you want to become a mystery shopper? Do you need a sample mystery shopping business plan template? If YES, then I advice you read on.

Mystery shopping simply involves posing as a regular customer in order to help a business evaluate its goods and services. Mystery shoppers report their findings back to their clients, who in turn use the reports to improve their products or services.

How Does Mystery Shopping Work?

A business hires you (assume you Are the mystery shopper here) to evaluate their products or services, or any other aspect of their business, such as customer support; and you will in turn pose as a customer to perform those evaluations.

Usually, the client will give you a list of things to evaluate during your mystery shopping session. Examples of these things include:

  • How long it takes the receptionist to greet you
  • The speed at which you were attended to
  • The attitudes of the employees you encounter
  • Compliance with company and industry standard—signage, dress code, greetings, language, and so on.
  • At the end of your mystery shopping session, you will submit your evaluation report, and you will be paid for your service.

What type of businesses use mystery shoppers?

Many businesses hire mystery shoppers to evaluate their products and services. Examples include restaurants, hotels and resorts, grocery stores, movie theaters, car dealerships, amusement parks, gas stations, retail stores, and many others.

There are variations to the mystery shopping business. Aside businesses, mystery shoppers also cater to homeowners who are trying to sell their homes but are unable to find buyers. Such homeowners hire mystery shoppers to evaluate the attitude of their realtor and find out what he’s telling potential buyers. Similarly, parents can hire mystery shoppers to evaluate their child’s daycare facilities.

Getting started

If you love to shop, dine, visit places, and talk to people, and you have a very keen eye for detail, then starting a mystery shopping business might be the right option for you. The following are the steps involved in starting your own mystery shopping business:

Starting a Mystery Shopping Business – Sample Business Plan Template

1. Develop a business plan

While the mystery shopping business might seem like a casual venture on the surface, it is not. And for this reason you need to write a detailed business plan. This plan will include the goals and objectives of your mystery shopping business and how you will achieve them with time.

Your business plan will also detail how much you will charge for your services, how you will carry out mystery shopping assignments, and how you will report your findings to the client after each mystery shopping session. Since the business typically requires no startup costs (except for marketing costs); you may not need to worry about that.

2. Advertise your business and hunt for clients

You must think of ways to advertise your business to potential clients. You can start by contacting owners and managers of businesses around you that may require your mystery shopping services. Present your business plan during each visit, as this will send signals that your business is legitimate and worth giving a trial.

Send a letter to potential clients that you cannot visit in person, or speak with them on phone. Tell them about your mystery shopping business and the benefits they stand to gain by hiring your services. Follow up your letter or call with a phone call a few days later and try to set an appointment with the owner or manager. In order to attract clients, you can offer discounts to first-time clients.

3. Start and build your business

Once you start landing clients, you must start work immediately. You must strive to deliver high quality service to your first-time clients, so they will check back whenever they need your services again.

Build your mystery shopping business honestly and ethically. That is, build your customer’s loyalty and trust. Always handle assignments you are paid for, and send the reports of your mystery shopping sessions to clients in a timely manner. Remember, if you satisfy your clients, they will send referrals your way.

Study other businesses around you that offer mystery shopping services. Find out who their clients are and what they are doing right to attract clients. Also, you must find out areas in which they are lacking and make such areas your strong points. This way, you will be able to push ahead of the competition and even “snatch” customers off them.

Additional tip:

You should consider marketing your mystery shopping business online. Visit online communities and forums often visited by your potential clients and advertise your services in a subtle way. You can also use social media to spread word of your business. If you can afford the costs, use paid advertising to promote your business on blogs targeted at business owners.