Secret shopping helps small businesses

It may seem like hiring secret shoppers would be too much to ask for a small business, but that is not the case.

In nearly every industry or line of work, running a small business can be very complicated. Without a lot of financial resources or manpower, small businesses have to rely on everything they have to compete with the big boys, with little room for error. That can mean finding some creative ways to get work done and an extra emphasis on customer service to ensure people keep coming back.

It may seem like hiring secret shoppers would be too much to ask for a small business, but that is not the case. Instead, the process can be greatly beneficial. Here are some reasons why small-business owners should consider hiring mystery shopping companies.

Knowledge is power
The last thing a small business wants to do is continuously make the same mistakes over and over, with nobody telling them what they are doing wrong. A mystery shopper can prevent that. Having an outside presence come into a store, restaurant - or whatever the business may be - to talk with employees and give an honest review of its strengths and weaknesses will help tremendously in the long run.

"(Secret shopping) provides you critical feedback about your business and even helps you market your product or service," said a survey for small business owners done by The National Federation of Independent Business. 

The survey concludes that mystery shopping can prove to be invaluable for every type of small business owner. Secret shoppers are trained to look for ways a business can improve. They do this in a variety of methods, from making mental observations to asking intelligent questions of employees. The ability of a mystery shopper to locate an issue and inform a small-business owner in a discreet and helpful way can be of great value.

Time to make that money
In a survey titled the "2015 State of Small Business Report," Wasp Barcode Technologies asked 1,000 small-business owners what the biggest challenge of growing their brand is. For owners of companies with 11-50 employees, and companies with 51-100 employees, far and away the top response was "growing revenue." (For businesses with 101-499 employees, "growing revenue" came in second place, slightly behind "hiring employees.")

To grow revenue, a business must appeal to customers. There is no better way to do that than hiring secret shoppers, since those are people who have the customers' interests first and foremost in their minds. Mystery shopping companies can alert a small business if their prices are consistent or out of proportion with their competition, or if they are using a sales technique that is not working with their clients.

Hiring secret shoppers can help a business figure out where they stand and help them reach their goal of growing revenue.

Everyone on the same page
A small-business owner should tell her or his employees that they may be dealing with a secret shopper at some point. Why? Because it should inspire them to treat every customer they interact with as somebody who may be evaluating them.

Giving a warning that a mystery shopping service has been hired also will allow small- business owners the opportunity to share the information gathered at the end of the process. The feedback a business receives from a shopper could make all the difference in the long run, so it will be worth it to have every person in the business sharing an understanding of what is going on.