Most mystery shoppers do not think of themselves as business owners, but that is exactly what we are. As business owners, we are responsible for our profitability. Don’t like the shops you are doing, the people you are working with or the amount of money you are making? It is up to you to change those things.
Start by having a business plan. That’s right, a business plan. No, you don’t have to have a binder full of spreadsheets, charts and graphs. All you really need is about a page that describes your vision for your mystery shopping business.
- What types of shops do you want to do?
- Will you take on other types of work, such as audits or surveys?
- How much money do you want or need to earn?
- Where will you work?
- How many days or hours will you work in a typical week?
You also need a marketing strategy. The mystery shopping companies are your clients and you need to market to them. That means, at a minimum, having a professional image and demeanor.
- Is your email address professional (e.g., email@example.com, not firstname.lastname@example.org)?
- Do your emails include a simple signature file with your contact information?
- Do you proofread all communications for proper spelling, grammar and punctuation?
Want to make more money as a mystery shopper? Step up your game.
- Apply to more mystery shopping companies. There are always more companies out there.
- Let schedulers know that you are interested in more assignments and that you are available when they have a cancellation or other last-minute job. Then help when they call.
- Consider putting together routes of shops so that it becomes profitable to travel farther from home.
- Take on new types of shops.
- Improve your skills. Take a one-day business writing course to improve your grammar and writing skills. Get MSPA certified.
- Learn about video mystery shopping, and be willing to invest in equipment as you begin getting assignments. (Many video mystery shopping companies will help you put together the equipment you need at a discount.)
And here is one way to make your mystery shopping business more profitable that you might not have considered: Keep better records. Keep track of mileage, tolls, parking and other expenses you incur while completing shops. Keep track of expenses for office equipment and supplies. Note the amounts of required purchases on mystery shops. All of these things are deductible. If you do not keep records of your expenses as they occur, you will forget many of them and pay more tax than you owe. And the IRS requires that you record expenses all through the year, not on April 14th as you get ready to file your tax return.
Mystery shopping is a business. Treat it like a business by always being professional, keeping good records and looking for ways to make your business more profitable.