Business At A Glance
Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? No
Mystery shoppers work for businesses like retail stores andrestaurants. Disguised as ordinary nondescript patrons, they shop ordine, then report to owners or managers on customer service issues andfood quality.
As a mystery shopper (also called a secret shopper oranonymous evaluator), you can also do undercover surveillance onsuspected (or unsuspected) employee theft.
You can report on thequality of care at hospitals, the treatment you receive from collectionagency representatives, or the effects of corporate customer trainingprograms.
Mystery shopping is a big benefit to businesses, both in thecustomer service arena and in averting employee thefts. Most unhappycustomers don’t complain–they simply take their business elsewhere,and so do the friends and family they tell about their dissatisfaction.
And $2 of every $3 lost to retail theft is attributable to employeesrather than customers. The advantages to this business are that you canstart on a shoestring, part-time if you like, it can be creative, andyou get to be out and about all day.
It goes without saying that youneed excellent observational skills. You should also be able to providean accurate and detailed written or oral report that cites exampleswithout resorting to trivia.
For written reports, you’ll need goodgrammar, punctuation and spelling skills as well. And last but notleast, you need the good detective or spy’s ability to look nondescriptso you can return to the same location several times and not be noticedor remembered.
Your clients can be almost any type of business, although large chainsand smaller firms with absentee owners make good starting points. So dohotels, which stake their reputations on excellent customer service.
The best way to sell to these potential clients is through adirect-mail campaign of sales letters and brochures. Be sure to followup with a phone call.
In some states, a mystery shopper is viewed as a private investigatorand you’ll need to be licensed. If yours isn’t one of them, all youneed is your trained eye and a reliable vehicle or publictransportation to take you on assignments.
A computer with a laser orinkjet printer and word-processing software will be a plus forproviding written reports but isn’t necessary if your clients willaccept oral reports.