Are you about starting a mystery shopping business? If YES, here is a complete sample mystery shopping business plan template & feasibility study you can use for FREE.

Okay, so we have considered all the requirements for starting a mystery shopping business. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample mystery shopping marketing plan template backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for mystery shopping companies. So let’s proceed to the business planning section.

Why Start a Mystery Shopping Business?

Establishments over the years have been looking for ways to improve on their products and services hence attracting new customers and also retaining their old customers. One of the business tools that is used to achieve this is provided by business consulting firms cum marketing research companies that offer mystery shopping services.

The truth is that mystery shopping is perhaps one of the most cost-effective and flexible customer relationship management tools available in the business world today. It can be leveraged on quickly and cheaply. Additionally, it is a program that can be modified on the go, giving the client access to very current market research information without expensive set-up costs.

If you intend starting a mystery shopping business, you should analyze existing mystery shopping businesses in and outside of your area. Also, you would be required to check the existing competition, as well as know their strength and weaknesses.

By knowing the weaknesses of the existing mystery shopping companies around you, you would be able to learn from their mistakes and in turn come up with a better and more preferred business devoid of the mistakes and weaknesses of others.

Below is a sample mystery shopping business plan template that will guide you towards writing your own and ultimately launching your own business.

A Sample Mystery Shopping Business Plan Template

  • Industry Overview

Mystery shopping is a tool that is used externally by market research companies, watchdog organizations, or internally by companies themselves to measure quality of service, or compliance with regulation, or to gather specific information about products and services that will help them position their business for better performance.

Mystery shopping gives room for organizations to quickly gather reliable and quality feedback directly from a customer’s perspective. It is a helpful business tool for organizations that want to evaluate a team’s customer care performance levels, training budgets and the delivery of company mission statements to its consumer sector.

Mystery shopping is used mostly in the review of customer brand perceptions; analysis of competitors; review of internal procedures and processes; evaluating staff performance; evaluating point-of-purchase materials and the retail store.

The Marketing Research Industry is indeed a very large industry and pretty much thriving in all parts of the world especially in developed countries. There are several mystery shopping firms in the United States of America with thousands of employees and the industry rakes in several millions annually.

According to a 2005 report published by the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), the industry had an estimated value of $600 million in the United States in 2004. Companies that participated in the report experienced an average growth of 11.1 percent from 2003 to 2004, compared to an average growth of 12.2 percent.

The report estimates more than 8.1 million mystery shopping were conducted in 2004. The report represents the first industry association attempt to quantify the size of the mystery shopping industry.

The Independent Mystery Shoppers’ Coalition shows that there are 1.5 million mystery shoppers in the United States alone. Similar surveys are available for European regions where mystery shopping is becoming more entrenched into organization’s business procedures.

The Marketing Research Industry will continue to blossom because more and more organizations are beginning to realize that somehow, they would need the services of mystery shopping firms to help them improve on their services, penetrate their target market and create the required brand awareness that will facilitate business growth and expansion. From all available statistics, it is saf to say that the industry is growing steadily despite its competitive nature.

Some of the factors that encourage entrepreneurs to start their own mystery shopping business could be that the business is easy to set up and the startup capital is indeed affordable. You can actually start your own mystery shopping business from the comfort of your house. All you need to do is to create an office somewhere in your house.

Over and above, mystery shopping business has become an important tool for businesses all over the world, not only to sell to customers, but also to engage them. It is now easier for organization to expand their market from local level to national and even international markets with minimum capital investment and real data.

Mystery Shopping Business Plan – Executive Summary

Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc. is a licensed marketing research firm with strong niche in mystery shopping that will be located in New York City – New York, United States. We have been able to secure a long – term lease for a standard office facility in a good business district in the heart of New York City.

We will handle all aspects of mystery shopping and general marketing research consulting services for players in various industries. Our marketing researchers and mystery shoppers have the required skills and experience and they are primed to offer services that include reviewing of customer brand perceptions; analysis of competitors; reviewing of internal procedures and processes; evaluating staff performance; evaluating point-of-purchase materials and the retail store.

Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc. is a client-focused and result driven mystery shopping cum marketing research firm that provides broad-based services and experience at an affordable fee that won’t in any way put a hole in the pockets of our clients.

We will offer a complete range of mystery shopping cum marketing research consulting services to our clients and we will ensure that we work hard to provide the required consulting services and business development solutions needed by our clients to accomplish their business goals and objectives.

At Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc., our client’s best interest comes first, and everything we do is guided by our values and professional ethics. We will ensure that we hire certified marketing consultants who are experienced in mystery shopping cum marketing research consulting services.

We will ensure that we hold ourselves accountable to the highest standards by meeting our client’s needs precisely and completely. We will at all times demonstrate our commitment to sustainability, both individually and as a firm, by actively participating in our communities and integrating sustainable business practices wherever possible.

Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc. is founded by Nelson Pearson. Nelson Pearson graduated from University of New York – Berkley (First Degree), and Brock School of Business at Stamford University (MBA). He has MSPA-NA – Certification (Mystery Shopping Certification) and is a bona fide member of Mystery Shopping Providers Association – MSPA with over 15 years’ experience working as a senior marketing research consultant with one of the leaders in the industry in the United States of America.

  • Our Services Offerings

Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc. is going to offer varieties of related mystery shopping cum marketing research consulting services in the United States of America. Our intention of starting our business is to make profits from the industry and we will do all that is permitted by the law in the US to achieve our aim and ambition.

Our business offerings are listed below;

  • Review of customer brand perceptions; analysis of competitors; review of internal procedures and processes; evaluating staff performance; evaluating point-of-purchase materials and the retail store
  • Monitor and forecast marketing and sales trends
  • Measure the effectiveness of marketing programs and strategies
  • Devise and evaluate methods for collecting data, such as surveys, questionnaires, and opinion polls
  • Gather data on consumers, competitors, and market conditions
  • Analyze data using statistical software
  • Convert complex data and findings into understandable tables, graphs, and written reports
  • Prepare reports and present results to clients and management.

Our Vision Statement

Our vision is to establish Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc. as the leading brand in the marketing researching industry in the United States of America while maintaining an unwavering dedication to our people, values and principles.

  • Our Mission Statement

Our mission is to provide professional, trusted and result oriented mystery shopping cum marketing research consulting services that will help our client measure the quality of their service, or compliance with regulation, or to gather specific information about products and services that will help them position their business for better performance.

  • Our Business Structure

Starting a small – scale mystery shopping cum marketing research firm would require that you settle for two or three staff members, but as part of our plans to build a well – accepted mystery shopping business in New York City – New York, we have perfected plans to get it right from the beginning which is why we will ensure that we have competent, qualified, honest and hardworking employees to occupy all the available positions in our firm.

The kind of marketing research business we intend building and the business goals we want to achieve is what informed the amount we are ready to pay for the best hands available in and around New York City – New York as long as they are willing to work with us to achieve our business goals and objectives.

Below is the business structure that we will build Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc.;

  • Chief Executive Officer/Lead Consultant
  • Marketing Researcher/Mystery Shopper
  • Legal Secretary
  • Admin and HR Manager
  • Marketing and Sales Executive
  • Accountant
  • Customer Service Executive

Roles and Responsibilities

Chief Executive Office / Lead Consultant:

  • Increases management’s effectiveness by recruiting, selecting, orienting, training, coaching, counseling, and disciplining managers; communicating values, strategies, and objectives; assigning accountabilities; planning, monitoring, and appraising job results
  • Creating, communicating, and implementing the organization’s vision, mission, and overall direction – i.e. leading the development and implementation of the overall organization’s strategy.
  • Responsible for fixing prices and signing business deals
  • Responsible for providing direction for the business
  • Creating, communicating, and implementing the organization’s vision, mission, and overall direction – i.e. leading the development and implementation of the overall organization’s strategy.
  • Responsible for signing checks and documents on behalf of the company
  • Evaluates the success of the organization

Legal Secretary

  • Responsible for drawing up contracts and other legal documents for the company
  • Produces information by transcribing, formatting, inputting, editing, retrieving, copying, and transmitting text, data, and graphics; coordinating case preparation.
  • Provides historical reference by developing and utilizing filing and retrieval systems; recording meeting discussions; maintaining transcripts; documenting and maintaining evidence.

Marketing Researcher/Mystery Shoppers 

  • Monitor and forecast marketing and sales trends
  • Measure the effectiveness of marketing programs and strategies
  • Gather data on consumers, competitors, and market conditions
  • Prepare reports and present results to clients and management.
  • Handle any other responsibility as assigned by the Lead Consultant

Admin and HR Manager

  • Responsible for overseeing the smooth running of HR and administrative tasks for the organization
  • Regularly hold meetings with key stakeholders to review the effectiveness of HR Policies, Procedures and Processes
  • Maintains office supplies by checking stocks; placing and expediting orders; evaluating new products.
  • Ensures operation of equipment by completing preventive maintenance requirements; calling for repairs.
  • Defining job positions for recruitment and managing interviewing process
  • Carrying out staff induction for new team members
  • Responsible for training, evaluation and assessment of employees
  • Responsible for arranging travel, meetings and appointments
  • Oversee the smooth running of the daily office activities.

Marketing and Sales Executive

  • Identify, prioritize, and reach out to new partners, and business opportunities et al
  • Identifies development opportunities; follows up on development leads and contacts; participates in the structuring and financing of projects; assures the completion of new business development projects.
  • Document all customer contact and information
  • Represent the company in strategic meetings
  • Help increase sales and growth for the company

Accountant

  • Responsible for preparing financial reports, budgets, and financial statements for the organization
  • Provides management with financial analyses, development budgets, and accounting reports
  • Responsible for financial forecasting and risks analysis.
  • Performs cash management, general ledger accounting, and financial reporting for one or more properties.
  • Responsible for developing and managing financial systems and policies
  • Responsible for administering payrolls
  • Ensuring compliance with taxation legislation
  • Handles all financial transactions for the company
  • Serves as internal auditor for the company

Client Service Executive

  • Ensures that all contacts with clients (e-mail, walk-In center, SMS or phone) provides the client with a personalized customer service experience of the highest level
  • Through interaction with clients on the phone, uses every opportunity to build client’s interest in the company’s products and services
  • Manages administrative duties assigned by the manager in an effective and timely manner
  • Consistently stays abreast of any new information on the company’s products, promotional campaigns etc. to ensure accurate and helpful information is supplied to clients when they make enquiries
  • Receives Visitors / clients on behalf of the organization
  • Receives parcels / documents for the company
  • Handles enquiries via e-mail and phone calls for the organization
  • Distribute mails in the organization
  • Handles any other duties as assigned by the line manager

Mystery Shopping Business Plan – SWOT Analysis

Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc. engaged the services of professionals in the area of business consulting and structuring to assist the firm in building a reputable and result oriented mystery shopping cum marketing research firm that can favorably compete in the industry.

Part of what the consultant did was to work with the management of the firm in conducting a SWOT analysis for Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc. Here is a summary from the result of the SWOT analysis that was conducted on behalf of Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc.;

  • Strength:

Our core strength lies in the power of our team; our workforce. We have a team that are considered experts in the industry, a team with excellent qualifications and experience in mystery shopping. Aside from the synergy that exists in our carefully selected workforce, we have some of the finest marketing researchers and mystery shoppers under our payroll.

So also, Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc. is well positioned in a business district with the right demography and we know we will attract loads of clients from the first day we open our doors for business.

  • Weakness:

As a new mystery shopping cum marketing research firm, it might take some time for our organization to break into the market and work for some high paying clients; that is perhaps our major weakness.

  • Opportunities:

Digital technology has provided new opportunities for mystery shopping cum marketing research firms to assist multiple businesses per time. No doubt, the opportunities available to mystery shopping firms are indeed massive and we are ready to take advantage of any opportunity that comes our way.

  • Threat:

Some of the threats that we are likely going to face as a mystery shopping firm operating in the United States are unfavorable government policies, the arrival of a competitor within our location of operation and global economic downturn which usually affects spending/purchasing power. There is hardly anything we can do as regards these threats other than to be optimistic that things will continue to work for our good.

Mystery Shopping Business Plan – MARKET ANALYSIS

  • Market Trends

Notable trends have emerged in recent time in the marketing research consulting industry which is why mystery shopping firms are positioning their organizations to survive the peaks and troughs of an ailing economy. As a matter of fact, most of these trends aid mystery shopping organizations to become more creative, competitive, efficient, and productive in a global market. Some other trends could be attributed to changing demographics, attitudes and work styles.

As the cost of marketing research consulting services continues to increase and as corporate spending falls, new marketing research consulting delivery methods will continue to emerge and gain momentum going forward.

Lastly, with companies becoming more and more conscious of ethical practices, closely watching themselves to avoid scrutiny, a mystery shopping firm’s reputation has become a great concern. Ethical business practices are closely tied with reputation which makes it essential to follow ethical guidelines if the firm is looking to build their reputation.

  • Our Target Market

Although Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc. will initially serve small to medium sized businesses, but that does not in any way stop us from growing to be able to compete with leading firms in the United States. We hope to someday merge or acquire other smaller mystery shopping firms and expand our services beyond the shores of the United States of America.

As a full service marketing research firm, Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc. has a variety of practice areas to help startups grow especially as it relates to sales, finance, marketing, etc. While we work with a variety of organizations and industries, Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc. will also specialize in working with startups, procurement firms, contractors, manufacturers, distributors, banks, lending and financial institutions.

Below is a list of the organizations that we have specifically designed our services for;

  • Retailers
  • Corporate Organizations
  • Manufacturers and Distributors
  • Research and Development Companies
  • Entrepreneurs and Start – Ups
  • Investors

Our Competitive Advantage

The level of competition in the marketing research consulting industry depends largely on the location of the business and of course the business portfolio of your business.

Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc. might be a new entrant into the industry, but our management staff are considered gurus. They are licensed and highly qualified marketing research consultants and mystery shoppers. These are part of what will count as a competitive advantage for us.

Lastly, our employees will be well taken care of, and their welfare package will be among the best within our category in the industry meaning that they will be more than willing to build the business with us and help deliver our set goals and objectives.

Mystery Shopping Business Plan – SALES AND MARKETING STRATEGY

We are mindful of the fact that there are stiffer competitions amongst players in the industry in the United States of America, hence we have been able to hire some of the best business developers to handle our sales and marketing.

Our sales and marketing team will be recruited based on their vast experience in the industry and they will be trained on a regular basis so as to be well equipped to meet their targets and the overall goal of the organization. We will also ensure that our excellent job deliveries speak for us in the market place; we want to build a standard mystery shopping business that will leverage on word of mouth advertisement from satisfied clients.

Our goal is to grow our mystery shopping business to become one of the top 10 in the United States of America which is why we have mapped out strategies that will help us take advantage of the available market and grow to become a major force to reckon with not only in the U.S but on the world stage as well.

Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc. is set to make use of the following marketing and sales strategies to attract clients;

  • Introduce our business by sending introductory letters alongside our brochure to businesses, organizations and key stake holders in New York City – New York and other parts of the United States of America.
  • Promptness in bidding for mystery shopping cum marketing research consulting services contracts from cooperate organizations
  • Advertise our business in relevant business magazines, newspapers, TV and radio stations
  • List our business on yellow page ads (local directories)
  • Attend relevant international and local expos, seminars, and business fairs et al
  • Create different packages for different category of clients in order to work with their budgets and still deliver quality services to them
  • Leverage on the internet to promote our business
  • Engage in direct marketing approach
  • Encourage word of mouth marketing from loyal and satisfied clients

Mystery Shopping Business Plan – Publicity and Advertising Strategy

We have been able to work with our in-house consultants and other brand and publicity specialists to help us map out strategies that will help us walk our way into the heart of our target market. We are set to take the management consulting industry by storm which is why we have made provisions for effective publicity and advertisement of our mystery shopping firm.

Below are the platforms we intend to leverage on to promote our business;

  • Place adverts on both print (community – based newspapers and business magazines) and electronic media platforms
  • Sponsor relevant community programs
  • Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, twitter, et al to promote our brand
  • Install our Bill Boards on strategic locations all around New York City – New York and major cities in the United States of America
  • Engage in roadshow from time to time in targeted communities
  • Distribute our fliers and handbills in target areas
  • Position our Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the location where we intend getting clients to start patronizing our services.
  • Ensure that all our staff members wear our customized clothes, and all our official cars are customized and well branded.

Sources of Income

Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc. is established with the aim of maximizing profits in the mystery shopping industry and we are going to ensure that we do all it takes to attract clients on a regular basis. Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc. will generate income by offering the following services to individuals and for organizations;

  • Review of customer brand perceptions; analysis of competitors; review of internal procedures and processes; evaluating staff performance; and evaluating point-of-purchase materials and the retail store
  • Monitor and forecast marketing and sales trends
  • Measure the effectiveness of marketing programs and strategies
  • Devise and evaluate methods for collecting data, such as surveys, questionnaires, and opinion polls
  • Gather data on consumers, competitors, and market conditions
  • Analyze data using statistical software
  • Convert complex data and findings into understandable tables, graphs, and written reports
  • Prepare reports and present results to clients and management.

Sales Forecast

We are well positioned to take on the available market in the United States of America and beyond and we are quite optimistic that we will meet our set target of generating enough income/profits from the first six months of operation and grow the business and our clientele base beyond New York City – New York to other states in the United States of America.

We have been able to critically examine the market, we have analyzed our chances in the industry and we have been able to come up with the following sales forecast. The sales projection is based on information gathered on the field and some assumptions that are peculiar to startups in New York City – New York.

Below is the sales projection for Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc., it is based on the location of our business and the wide range of marketing researching consulting services that we will be offering;

  • First Fiscal Year (FY1): $250,000
  • Second Fiscal Year (FY2): $500,000
  • Third Fiscal Year (FY3): $1,000,000

N.B: This projection was done based on what is obtainable in the industry and with the assumption that there won’t be any major economic meltdown and there won’t be any major competitor offering same services as we do within same location. Please note that the above projection might be lower and at the same time it might be higher.

  • Our Pricing Strategy

Hourly billing for consulting services is a long-time tradition in the industry. However, for some types of consultancy services especially mystery shopping, flat fees or per hour billings make more sense because they allow clients to better predict consultancy costs. As a result of this, Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc. will charge our clients a flat fee or per deal for services.

At Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc. we will keep our fees below the average market rate for all of our clients by keeping our overhead low. In addition, we will also offer special discounted rates to startups, nonprofits, cooperatives, and small social enterprises.

  • Payment Options

The payment policy adopted by Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc. is all inclusive because we are quite aware that different customers prefer different payment options as it suits them but at the same time, we will ensure that we abide by the financial rules and regulation of the United States of America.

Here are the payment options that Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc. will make available to her clients;

  • Payment via bank transfer
  • Payment with cash
  • Payment via credit cards
  • Payment via online bank transfer
  • Payment via check
  • Payment via mobile money transfer

In view of the above, we have chosen banking platforms that will enable our clients make payment for our services without any stress on their part. Our bank account numbers will be made available on our website and promotional materials.

Mystery Shopping Business Plan – Financial Projections and Costing

Starting a mystery shopping firm can be cost effective because on the average, you are not expected to acquire expensive machines and equipment. What you should be concerned about is the amount needed to secure a standard office facility in a good and busy business district, the amount needed to furnish and equip the office, pay bills, purchase relevant software apps, promote the business and obtain appropriate business license and certifications.

These are the areas we are looking towards spending our startup capital on;

  • The total fee for incorporating the business in the United States of America – $750.
  • The budget for basic insurance policy covers, permits and business license – $2,500
  • The Amount needed to acquire a suitable Office facility in a business district for 6 months (Re – Construction of the facility inclusive) – $40,000.
  • The cost for equipping the office (computers, software applications, printers, fax machines, furniture, telephones, filing cabins, safety gadgets, spy cameras, recorder and electronics et al) – $ 5,000
  • The cost for purchase of the required software applications (CRM software and Payroll software et al) – $10,500
  • The cost of launching our official website – $600
  • Budget for paying at least three employees for 3 months plus utility bills – $10,000
  • Additional Expenditure (Business cards, Signage, Adverts and Promotions et al) – $2,500
  • Miscellaneous: $1,000

Going by the report from the research and feasibility studies, we will need about $150,000 to set up a small scale but standard mystery shopping business in the United States of America.

Generating Startup Capital for Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc.

Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc. is owned and managed by Nelson Pearson and other business partners. They are the financiers of the firm, but may likely welcome partners later which is why they decided to restrict the sourcing of startup capital for the business to just three major sources.

These are the areas we intend generating our startup capital;

  • Generate part of the startup capital from personal savings
  • Source for soft loans from family members and friends
  • Apply for loan from the bank

N.B: We have been able to generate about $50,000 (Personal savings $40,000 and soft loan from family members $10,000) and we are at the final stages of obtaining a loan facility of $100,000 from our bank. All the papers and documents have been duly signed and submitted, the loan has been approved and any moment from now our account will be credited.

MYSTERY SHOPPING BUSINESS GROWTH: Sustainability and Expansion Strategy

It is a fact that the future of a business lies in the number of loyal customers that they have, the capacity and competence of their employees, their investment strategy and business structure. If all of these factors are missing from a business, then it won’t be too long before the business closes shop.

The overall goal of starting Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc. is to build a business that will survive off its cash flow without the need for injecting finance from external sources once the business is officially running.

At Nelson Pearson® Mystery Shoppers, Inc., we will make sure that the right foundation, structures and processes are put in place to ensure that our staff welfare are well taken of. Our company’s corporate culture is designed to drive our business to greater heights and training and retraining of our workforce is at the top burner.

As a matter of fact, profit-sharing arrangement will be made available to all our management staff and it will be based on their performance for a period of ten years or more. We know that if that is put in place, we will be able to hire and retain the best hands we can get in the industry; they will be more committed to help us build the business of our dreams.

Check List/Milestone

  • Business Name Availability Check: Completed
  • Business Incorporation: Completed
  • Opening of Corporate Bank Accounts: Completed
  • Opening Online Payment Platforms: Completed
  • Application and Obtaining Tax Payer’s ID: In Progress
  • Application for business license and permit: Completed
  • Purchase of Insurance for the Business: Completed
  • Conducting Feasibility Studies: Completed
  • Generating part of the startup capital from the founder: Completed
  • Applications for Loan from our Bankers: In Progress
  • Writing of Business Plan: Completed
  • Drafting of Employee’s Handbook: Completed
  • Drafting of Contract Documents: In Progress
  • Design of The Company’s Logo: Completed
  • Graphic Designs and Printing of Promotional Materials: Completed
  • Recruitment of employees: In Progress
  • Purchase of the needed furniture, software apps, office equipment, electronic appliances and facility facelift: In progress
  • Creating Official Website for the Company: In Progress
  • Creating Awareness for the business (Business PR): In Progress
  • Health and Safety and Fire Safety Arrangement: In Progress
  • Establishing business relationship with key players in the industry: In Progress