Customer Service

What You Need To Know About Salon Mystery Shopping Visits

4 min

What You Need To Know About Salon Mystery Shopping Visits

I used to hate mystery shopping visits. Although I knew I would be getting constructive feedback (and expected it), there was always a part of me that felt like I was being criticised. Today, I value them so much that I recommend they take place at least twice a month. So what changed?

The thing is, at some stage, you realise that what matters the most in your salon or your spa is the customer journey. Getting their feedback on it should be at the heart of your business’ development, hence why, on the one hand, testimonials are so important. As long as your customers feel right, they’ll come back to you. Mystery shops, on the other hand, give you more details – consider them as your business’ eyes.

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Why Are Mystery Shopping Visits So Valuable?

Even though we all strive for perfection, it’s unrealistic to think that everything can be perfect at all times. As salon owners, managers and directors, we have so much to deal with that it might feel like just “another thing” to add to the never-ending to-do list. And sometimes it’s hard to hear about the things we need to improve on. However, mystery shopping visits shouldn’t be seen as a chore, more as an opportunity to identify what can make your salon or spa’s operations better.

    1. They highlight what you do well and reassure you.
    1. They highlight what needs to be improved in your salon or spa.
    1. They help implement best practice guidelines and procedures.
    1. They identify training needs.
  1. They let the team know that you are serious about your salon’s customer journey.

The Two Main Types Of Mystery Shoppers

As I mentioned at the start of this blog, I recommend organising two mystery shopping visits per month. The easiest way of doing it is to get:

  • a friend (or a friend of a friend) to enjoy a treatment, and
  • someone from the industry to give a more detailed view of the salon experience.

Let’s start with friends. They tend to be happy to visit. I mean, why wouldn’t they! They get a free treatment. For your feedback though, they represent the “true” customer’s feelings – meaning, they tend to give feedback on what your regular customer would see. Therefore, it’s essential to have a feedback form to ask them the questions you want them to think about.

For the second visit, I would have someone from the industry come in. This is where things get more nerve-racking. You’ll get a lot more thorough feedback, which is to be expected from someone from the industry.

Where To Find Industry People For Your Mystery Shopping Visits

    1. Networking allows you to meet industry experts like yourself. Inviting them to conduct a mystery shop visit is usually relatively easy and also extremely cost-effective! If you need an angle, I used to propose a trade: “you test my spa, and I test yours!”
    1. Once that person has been in for their visit, they can’t really return. However… that’s not to say their senior team members can’t come in for a treatment!
    1. Next, think about who these team members know. Do they have contacts within the industry? Next thing you know, you’ll have a long list of potential mystery shoppers!
    1. Your coach or mentor can also make a great mystery shopper as they already have an understanding of where you’re at in your business. For most of my clients, when at all possible, I do a mystery shop before starting a programme with them. It’s one of the best ways to understand the areas that need improvement.
  1. Finally, there are also mystery shopping companies that can offer their services. However, I would ensure you get one from the industry, or at least that has been doing mystery shops in the industry.

What Feedback Should You Expect?

Getting feedback from all areas of your business is essential. Of course, you want to – and will – get feedback on the treatment itself, but it’s important not to forget about the experience clients have when booking in with you and also, how they’re treated at your salon’s reception.

At Booking

    • How easy is it to secure an appointment?
    • Was the menu on the website confusing?
  • When you booked online, what happened?

Get your mystery shopper to call as well to change the time or date; it will give you an understanding of what happens on the phone.

At Reception

    • How did they fill the consultation form?
    • What happened at the end of the treatment?
  • How did the reception make them feel?

In all, mystery shopping visits are great; you can’t be in your business 24/7… Use them correctly, and you will learn to find that they are of extreme value; helping you build a business with a consistently smoother customer journey and a stronger team month-on-month!

Happy mystery shopping, and thanks for reading! #LetsGrow

Looking for personalised advice on salon management? You can always email Valerie at! Got general feedback? Let us know either in the comments below or tweet us @ThePhorestWord! (Pssst! We’re on Instagram too!)

Valerie Delforge is a Commercial Trainer and Coach for the Spa, Beauty and Hair industry. Valerie specialises in creating specific workshops to support managers. Founder of Delforge + Co, she is keen to support the industry in achieving its best. Delforge + Co is also proud to announce the modules available at The London School of Beauty & Make-Up, which you can sign up for here!

Featured image shot on location of Art+Autonomy Salon, in New York City. © 2018 Phorest Salon Software.
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