Theoretically speaking, providing a technically excellent treatment should be all that it takes to get clients returning to your business, but in reality that doesn’t always happen.

So why is it that some hairdressing and beauty salons struggle to find business whilst others have clients queuing at their door?

Of course, there can be a whole host of reasons but our mystery shoppers find that when carrying out their mystery shopping visits it is often the simple things and additional touches that can turn an excellent service into a great and memorable visit to a salon.

In our days of ‘deal of the day’ websites  with people ‘looking for a deal’, it can be a surprise to some that there are still plenty of clients who are prepared to pay for full price services, but in return they expect value for those treatments. Many consumers have come to realise that the ‘deals’ are often not such good value when they experience a blow dry that doesn’t last or a colouring service that is not thorough due to being carried out by a young and inexperienced salon team member. So avoid falling into the ‘deal’ trap and replace it by adding extra value to your treatments. The additional benefits do not cost much to supply but create an exceptional treatment experience for the client.

Reports from our mystery shoppers include the addition of fresh flowers at reception, quality snacks with beverage and interesting reading material which all can really make a difference to the client experience.

Client reception

Some of our male mystery shoppers often find that the magazines in salons are very ‘female centric’ and don’t always cater for male clientele so additional little extras such as a wider range of magazines can be welcomed by male clients, which you can also gain through your NHF membership.

Ask yourself, What extra touches could we add to our services that our clients would value?

Reception skills are another key area that our mystery shoppers report on which can make or break the customer experience. Whether its telephone skills or client welcome, front of house members must be trained to ensure that first point of contact with a client is nothing short of excellent.

Whatever the size of your salon or spa possibly the most important area of your business is the reception area both in terms of its physical appearance and the welcome it offers to clients.

Reception sets the scene for the client experience and should be the transitional area from the hustle and bustle of the outside world into the comfort of your salon. It should be a place where a client is happy to spend time – it’s the beginning of their encounter with your business. In many salons the reception is often very near the front door which can be draughty and an uncomfortable place to sit, especially in winter. See if you can re-think your reception space to give it a comfortable and inviting ambience.  


Unless you have a very large or extremely busy business, when staffing reception the ‘less is more’ rule generally applies. It’s very disconcerting for even the most hardened salon attendee to be faced by a host of staff at reception. Too many people at a reception desk can be very intimidating and off putting for clients.

Last year I gave expert guidance to a channel 4 programme, Britain’s Secret Shoppers and my lasting impression of the struggling salon was of a bored therapist slouched on a stool at reception at the front of the hair and beauty salon in full view of the general public.

What does this say about the salon?

Staff demeanour at reception is critical. Nothing makes a client feel more welcomed than a warm and friendly smile and also make sure that you make immediate eye contact with the client as soon as they enter the salon. No other job that a stylist or receptionist is doing at reception is more important than greeting a client. Reception is the beginning of the client journey and the first impression will often be the one that they take away with them. 

Angela Bartlett, MD Hidden Beauty Ltd