5 reasons why you should treat mystery shopping like a business

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In business, there are several guiding principles that lead to success.  Many of these same principles can help you in your activities relating to mystery shopping.  If you want to understand more about what mystery shopping is, click here.

1. Efficiency

Efficiency is something that businesses are constantly looking at.  In simple terms, this means minimising the length of time it takes to get things done.

If you look at mystery shopping in terms of dollars per hour, you’ll realise you get the best return on your time when you’re most efficient.  As a mystery shopper, the most wasteful time (least efficient) is learning the details of a job for the first time. 

Where your efficiency increases is after you’ve done a particular job a few times.  You’ll get to the point where you can quickly check the requirements to make sure nothing’s changed.

Then you’ll be able to turn up to the job and complete the work in the fastest possible time.  That’s efficiency.  Minimising travel is another way of maximising your efficiency.

2. Economies of scale

In business, it’s usually more economical to complete certain activities on a larger scale rather than one by one.  For example, a business can produce a clothes peg for just a few cents.  At home, you could never produce a clothes peg anywhere near that cheap.  This idea (grouping tasks together to minimise the cost per unit) is known as ‘economies of scale’.

When it comes to mystery shopping, economies of scale relate to the potential for you to group your jobs together.  If you do your mystery shopping jobs one at a time, chances are you’ll inadvertently maximise the time it takes and your travel costs (usually in terms of petrol and wear and tear on your car).

On the other hand, if you can group together a few mystery shopping jobs in the same trip, your petrol costs might end up being halved or even quartered – a much better situation.  Recently, I had to drop my son off at a local shopping centre.  I managed to pre-arrange two mystery shopping jobs at that shopping centre and did them during the same trip. 

Effectively, I had no additional petrol costs nor was there any additional travel time (I would have had to go anyway).  This is an example of where economies of scale can work to your advantage as a mystery shopper.

3. Don’t be all things to all people

Most businesses recognise that they can’t seek to provide every service to every customer.  The best businesses work out who their ideal customers are and target those people.  Porsche doesn’t target lower socio-economic areas for their customers; similarly you don’t see too many Cash Converters in affluent areas.

As a mystery shopper, recognise that you can limit the mystery shopping jobs you do too.  There’s no need for you to be all things to all mystery shopping companies (most businesses sub-contract their mystery shopping work to specialist mystery shopping companies). 

You may find that you’re best suited to certain types of jobs based on your interests, where you live, and what fringe benefits you like.  Maybe, you are prepared to travel for fewer, higher paying jobs or perhaps you prefer lots of smaller jobs closer to home?

4. Market yourself well

If a business fails to market themselves effectively, they’ll go out of business – simple as that. As a mystery shopper, you’re unlikely to go out of business but there are benefits of marketing yourself well.

Whether you realise it or not, you’re in a competitive environment as a mystery shopper.  There are often multiple mystery shoppers competing for the same jobs that you are.  Mystery shopping companies often have some discretion about how and to whom they allocate jobs. 

If you market yourself well, you can be picked more often and get more jobs.  So, how do you market yourself well?  Apart from providing good quality work, do whatever you can to make yourself stand out from the pack.  Go to extra effort when communicating with the company – even call them and ask how to be a preferred mystery shopper. 

If you get an email, make sure you reply and even use it start a brief conversation.  “Thanks for contacting me with this opportunity, I’ve applied online.  By the way, is there anything I can do to be a better mystery shopper for you?”  When it comes time to allocate jobs, make yourself an easy first choice.

5. Know the business you’re in

Businesses sometimes struggle to work out what business they’re in.  Did you notice there are not too many businesses making buggies for horses these days.  Yet, once upon a time buggies were in high demand and there were many companies producing them.  Where are they now?

One of the reasons these companies died is because they didn’t realise the business they were in.  Such companies thought they were in the buggy business.  The reality is they were in the transport business and because they failed to adapt, they went out of business.

As a mystery shopper, what business are you in?  Your main goal is to remain focused on providing great customer service and feedback (in whatever form is required), rather than just thinking in terms of filling out surveys.  Focus on great customer service and feedback and you’re unlikely to go out of ‘business’.

As time moves on, you may need to adapt too.  The types of mystery shopping jobs on offer seem to come and go – no longer is every job face to face.  More and more are via phone or even on Facebook. 

The way that you provide your feedback changes too.  Some mystery shopping companies are now offering phone apps for you to enter your work whereas others do the reporting via phone.  Are you moving with the times?


As a mystery shopper, you can learn a lot from how businesses conduct themselves.  A few small actions can be the difference between thriving and wallowing – I know where I’d rather be. 

If you’d like to learn more about how to become a mystery shopper, complete the details below to receive a free report on how to get started.

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