Professional Beauty
Professional Beauty


Consult to with

I’m a big fan of mystery shopping. I tend to use it as a tool to not only see what other salons are delivering, but also to test the expertise and customer service of my own team. I also use it when there’s a performance problem. Let’s be honest, when was the last time any of us were salon customers? Sending someone to see a leading salon from a client’s perspective is a sure-fire way to get them to up their game, because sometimes all the coaching in the world is no substitute for experiencing the real thing.

I’ve always managed by one principal; if your staff training is good enough, there’s no such thing as a bad treatment, cut or colour - merely a below-par consultation. Failing to truly engage with the customer and discover their own personal wish-list will always leave them wanting. And with competition so vast, there’s always a competitor who’s willing to go the extra mile to discover and meet their needs, then exceed expectations, which remains the winning formula to ensure that crucial repeat business.

Failing to truly engage with the customer and discover their own personal wish-list will always leave them wanting

In evaluating the feedback with him, I likened his error to going for an eye test only to find the optometrist had already diagnosed your sight before using any of the equipment to check. Imagine that - not having the air puffed into your eyes, not using the dots to check peripheral vision, not reading the letters out, and so on. Not explaining why the tests were being conducted and what they were looking for. Even if the expert could conclude from the outset, you’d still feel shortchanged by the experience.

The other mystery shopper mentioned that because she’d told our salon director she was a hairdresser, he didn’t deliver the full consultation. I get her point, but using the analogy above, surely if an optometrist went for an eye test and told the operator what they did for a living, they wouldn’t bother to explain in detail every element of the examination.

Mystery shopping

With our salon manager doing so much globetrotting, delivering seminars on the ultimate salon experience, you won’t be surprised to learn that we are being increasingly mystery shopped by other salon owners, and we’ve learnt some valuable lessons from what we’ve been told.

A case in point happened just before Christmas. A fellow salon owner sent two of his key staff to experience us as a leading brand, and they were disappointed. One of our exceptionally talented team members cut and blow dried one of his team’s hair and it fell short of expectations. The problem wasn’t the result, but the lack of consultation. As fabulous a hairdresser as he is, he works purely on instinct. He omitted to explain why he’d arrived at his recommendation.

Managing expectations

Regardless, lessons were learned. We’re re-training on consultation skills and reminding all our team that they can never not explain eye colour, skin tone, texture, density and face shape. We’ve also alerted customers as a policy that if they come in on a Monday they won’t be seeing the salon at full pelt, as 90% of our 100-strong team take Monday as their day off (including our chef, so there’s no food available).

Mondays for us are merely there to service our regulars or for those who love a bit of peace and quiet. The fact was, we hadn’t really explained that before now, so learning from someone’s bad experience can only ever be a good thing. PB

This article appears in the February 2020 Issue of Professional Beauty

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This article appears in the February 2020 Issue of Professional Beauty