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Start Your Own Mystery Shopper Business
Written by: Alice Seba
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*What is a Mystery Shopper Business?*

A Mystery Shopper is someone who goes to a restaurant, store, hairdresser, grocery store, amusement park or any other businesses and poses as a customer. For example: in a restaurant, the mystery shopper would sit down, order a meal, pay the bill and leave, just like any customer. The purpose of this visit is to evaluate the overall customer service (actual service, knowledge of staff, cleanliness, etc.) that is being offered in the establishment. The Mystery Shopper writes a report and rates the customer service based on a pre-established set of criteria. Then the report is turned into the business to use for training, employee rewards or any number of uses.

This is a business you can do with your family. You can bring the kids, your spouse or all of them. The experience is meant to be as authentic as possible and what's more authentic than a family of shoppers are restaurant customers? However, keep in mind, you are there to work and observe. Your children or your spouse should not distract you from that.

*Mystery Shopper Supplies *

There aren't a lot of business specific supplies you will need. Make sure to have the basics: business cards, contracts and professional attire to meet with potential clients.

*Mystery Shopper Skills*

Negotiation and Verbal Communication skills - you need these to seal deals with clients.

Objectivity - you need to be able to provide an objective report on your shopping experiences - WHAT happened - not necessarily your opinion.

Customer Service Skills - clearly you need to have customer service skills to establish relationships with clients and potential mystery shoppers, but you also need a solid understanding of customer service so that you can evaluate the service offered by others.

Observation & Memory - You need to notice all the little things and you can't take notes. You will have to remember all the small details and record them later.

*Mystery Shopper Rates *

The amount you make will depend on who is your client. Some companies only reimburse for expenses, some companies only pay a set amount for expenses (regardless of what you paid) and some do pay an hourly fee of $10-20 for your evaluation in addition to your expenses. You need to decide what you are willing to work for and choose your clients that way. As you gain more clients and references, you will be able to be more choosy in your assignments.

*Get Your Business off the Ground *

- When approaching smaller companies emphasize that you are a small enterprise as well. Many small companies cannot afford to pay the large Mystery Shopping company rates and might be interested in using your services if they are affordable.

- Save your money. Avoid paying for a list of potential clients. The companies or individuals selling these lists are making money by doing so and will sell the list to as many people as they can. That creates a lot of competition.

- Only take jobs that fit your schedule. Don't leave your client hanging. This will help establish your solid reputation.

- Check out the competition. You can do this on the Internet. Check out the big companies and the little ones. What services do they provide? What do they charge?

- Make a professional-looking brochure that outlines the benefits of your shopping program, etc. You don't need to spend a lot of money. If you're going to print your own brochures, avoid color ink unless you have a high quality laser printer. If you have an inkjet or other similar printer, you're best bet is black ink on subtly colored paper.

*Online Marketing Ideas*

Although most of your clients will be local and much of your business will be run offline, don't forget the importance of an Internet presence. Your web page is your "office". It's where your clients and potential clients can go to see you and what you do. If you plan to expand your business and offer the mystery shopping opportunity to others, a website is essential. It is a way to attract potential clients and mystery shoppers nationwide. Expanding your business in this way is what will ensure you the greatest success to your home based enterprise.

1. Include your website on all your promotional materials (i.e. business cards, brochures, etc.). It is a place where your current and potential clients can read about the services you offer, your rates and helps establish you as a legitimate business.

2. Join some home based business discussion groups. These are a perfect way to network and find potential mystery shoppers that would like to work for you. Try for some good groups or start your own.

3. Form partnerships with other sites that compliment your business. This can include everything from a simple link exchange or why not go a step further and really promote one another's businesses on each other's sites? Offer to incorporate their business information right into your website. Give them a page or two about their business, with links back to their site and have them do the same.

*Additional Mystery Shopper Business Resources*

Mystery Shopping Provider's Association - world wide organization of Mystery Shoppers

Message Boards and Useful Tools:

Free list of companies to apply to (Canada & US) ~ This is a listing of Mystery Shopping Companies. Applying to these mean you will work for someone else.

*For a More Comprehensive Look at the Mystery Shopper Business*

If you are serious about starting your own candy wrapping business, we recommend you purchase MyMommyBiz's Start Your Own Mystery Shopping Business.

This comprehensive guide will save you a lot of time in additional research and includes everything from: why start a mystery shopping business, getting set up, supplies, finding clients, being discreet, what kind of services you can offer, who pays for what, contracts with business, hiring other mystery shoppers and more.

Visit for more information.


Alice Seba is the editor of Fire up your online business with business ideas, web page building advice & marketing tips. Subscribe to the newsletter by sending a blank email to [email protected].

8,337 Posts
Thanks Sara !!!!!!!
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