QUESTION on How to Start a Mystery Shopping Business
I want to start up a mystery shopping business. Can anyone give me advice on how to do this and things to avoid when starting a mystery shopping business?
– Jennifer (Baltimore, Maryland)
ANSWER by Isabel Isidro
There are two dimensions of starting a mystery shopping company:
- getting corporate accounts who will hire your company to do the mystery shopping
- recruiting the mystery shoppers who will actually do the mystery shopping for you
Like many new companies, your main problem will be how to get that first corporate account. Companies who engage in mystery shopping in most likelihood already have a company that they work with; some may even have contracts with mystery shopping companies.
You have to first identify the establishments in your geographic area and categorize them accordingly:
- which ones CURRENTLY USES a mystery shopping company
- which ones SHOULD USE but are NOT using a mystery shopping company
- which ones are not but could benefit from a mystery shopping service
Then network with these companies. Learn who their main decision makers are. But you need to develop a solid presentation for your business:
Why should these companies use your mystery shopping company instead of the one they currently have?
What do you have extra to offer to them?
Once you develop your unique selling proposition, it would be easier to do sales calls and sales presentations.
The finding the mystery shoppers will not be as challenging considering the number of those looking for part time income. But you have to have a training system in place and teach them the right questions to ask, what to look for, who to talk to, how to evaluate an establishment, etc.
Here are some resources I highly recommend:
- Mystery Shopping Providers Association http://www.mysteryshop.org/
- How to Become a Mystery Shopper
Recommended Books on the Mystery Shopping Business:
- Mystery Shopping Made Simple: How to Earn Good Money by Shopping, Dining Out, and More!
- How to Become a Mystery Shopper, The Only Book You’ll Ever Need, Expanded & Updated Second Edition
- Mystery Shopper’s Manual, 6th Edition
- The Essential Guide to Mystery Shopping: Make Money, Shop, Have Fun, Get an Insider’s Guide to Success
Article originally published March 2006. Updated on January 19, 2012