Senior managers in a hospitality business have moved from an operational focus to a strategic one. Despite years of experience, and often jumping behind the bar or café in busy periods to assist, it is easy for executive managers to lose direct contact with the customers’ experience, and consistent standards of service. According to Louise Heffernan CEO Mystery Management, “In many cases, managers can struggle to see where they’re crushing it, and where they need to improve”.

“Internal reviews carried out by the club or restaurant asking regular customers about their experience has limited value as they are unable to give objective or unbiased feedback. They get better service by default because there’s already a relationship between them and the staff”.

That’s why Louise’s best piece of advice is “It’s not what your regulars tell you, it’s what your new customers say”.

Having an experienced, well trained professional in to overview your service on an average day, with a fresh set of eyes, and no prior knowledge of your venue and staff, is the most effective means of testing where extra training is required, or where customer service processes need improvement.

According to Louise, there are a few consistent issues that come up every time Mystery Management “mystery shops” a business:

  1. There is often a lack of engagement and connection with customers. It’s the simple things like “hey, how was your day”, or when clearing the table “how was everything” that is often missed by busy staff, but always noticed by the customers.  “It’s so simple”, says Louise, “however, it never happens”.
  2. Regular maintenance checks during peak trading periods often get missed when staff and managers are focused on speed of service and just getting a job done efficiently. However, “staff just walking past dirty ashtrays or empty glasses and no hourly review of toilets, is a fail from a customer’s perspective and consistently comes up in venue reviews” says Louise.
  3. When up-market restaurants don’t follow the SOS (sequence of service), it’s disappointing to the customer as they are there for an experience and are willing to pay for this.


Many in the industry will know Louise Heffernan from Girl Friday Solutions, started in 2006, but a rebranding to Mystery Management better reflects the specific services that they now offer.

“Mystery shopping was an effective way of getting clear, detailed and to the point feedback from someone experiencing the business without staff knowing. This information over time became so valued by customers, with strong positive results for venue sales, that over the years since the company started Mystery Management shifted to exclusively providing this service”.

The service does take different forms that reflects the diverse businesses that Mystery Management deals with including mystery shopping in venue, customer satisfaction surveys, compliance checks, price checking, web and phone mystery shopping, as well as merchandising and promotional audits.  Cutting edge, online reporting tools are a distinct advantage of Mystery Management’s services and gives easy access to customer service trend reports over time, assisting venues as improvements are made.

To discuss a mystery shopper program for your venue contact: 0407599277

Louise Heffernan:

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