Mystery shoppers are also known as secret shoppers or anonymous evaluators. They visit different businesses to ensure that staff is following protocol.
It is a tool used externally by market research companies, watchdog organizations, or internally by companies themselves to measure the quality of service, or compliance with regulations, or to gather specific information about products and services.
A mystery shopping business can greatly increase the level of visibility into the level of quality in any given business. It can also save the company a lot of hassle and money.
For example, if a shopper enters a retail store and faces difficulties in receiving service then that issue can be addressed immediately. If a young person walks into a bar without being carded, then this can lead to huge fines for a business later down the line.
Who is ideal for the Business?
Those who have an eye for business will do well in this industry. As an owner, you also need some experiences in sales, as clients need to be convinced that they need these services. Salespeople will contribute a lot in this business to build clients.
You need to have excellent verbal and written communication skills and also a good sense of what customers are looking for at each business they frequent.
For example, if a person visits an electronic store then they will be much more concerned with the knowledge of the employee than any other services.
You also need to be flexible as the owner of a mystery shopping business, as certain businesses may make odd or unusual requests about when they want to be visited, how quickly they want their reports or the specifics of what they want to be done at each business.
Start a Mystery Shopping Business from Home
You should have a solid business plan to start with. Write down all your ideas in a piece of paper and mention all the operational requirements. Include cost analysis, operational planning, and promotional planning in the business plan.
Set your goals in the plan and identify your vision statement. There should also be a timeline to guide your business in the future.
Costs in Setting up a Mystery Shopper Business
You don’t need a lot of money or equipment to start a mystery shopper business. If you have a smartphone, a computer/printer, and a car, then that’s usually enough to get started. You should invest some money in getting a good camera to get more detailed photos.
Obtain all the licenses and permits before you start, you might require a private investigator license for the business.
The fees for such licenses will vary from state to state. The employees hired by you are generally compensated only when they visit a store and they are compensated by the clients and not by your business funds.
Your target market will include owners, CEOs, and Presidents with multiple stores or locations. This applies to commercial businesses, healthcare companies, even potentially government services.
Any decision-maker or owner who is unable to monitor all activity happening under their umbrella is a potential candidate.
Tasks to Perform in the Business
As a business owner, you need to find and conduct business on a regular basis. You have to cold call businesses to gain clients, present statistics and past successes to marketize your services, conduct site-visits or hire employees to conduct visits.
You also need to prepare reports for business owners stating the details of the visit.
The amount you can charge your customers depend on the nature of the site visit. For example, you should charge more for a hotel stay where you have to spend a significant amount of time and energy on the assignment and if it is a simple visit to a fast food place then you can charge a flat rate.
You can also charge more based on the details of the report you prepare. Those companies that require specialized knowledge like specific rules about cleanliness, should be charged more.
Also, research the market and check the rates of your competitors for the type of visits you would like to conduct to determine the benchmarks.
Licenses and Services Contract
It is very important to obtain certain state permits and licenses that may be required to operate a mystery shopper business. Your business should also require clients to sign a services agreement prior to starting a new project.
The agreement would clarify client expectations and minimize the risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations and intellectual property ownership.
Marketizing the Business
You need to be relentless to promote your services. You need to go an extra mile to establish relationships. You can physically visit the clients, cold call or email them. But cold calling can be easily ignored. While inviting decision makers, put your business in their mind.
You can also promote the business in popular social media platforms by creating a page dedicated to your business. Distribute business cards in your locality and also advertise on banners, tv ads etc.
Creating a Website
You need to create a website for the business. Take the help of a professional in building the site and also buy a domain. The website will help you to interact with your clients in a better way. Make sure that the website can be accessed from any device in a hassle-free manner.
Keep a section dedicated to receiving valuable feedbacks and reviews. Advertise your services on the website and mention all the achievements of your company.
Hence these are all the steps that you need to follow while setting up your mystery shopping business. Your business will help others improve their quality of services. The more you genuinely strengthen other people’s business the more you grow.
You can be limited by your geography but once you become reputable, you can start expanding the business to other locations and hire employees in other parts of the country to conduct site visits.
Show your customers why other businesses will be more profitable if they choose your services, this is the best way of marketing. Build a team, lead it and work hard to achieve your goals.