Mystery shopper: Pall Mall Barbers London

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Pall Mall Barbers (PMB) have four shops at key locations around London. Just naming them sounds like holding the best cards in Monopoly; Fitzrovioa (for trendy media types), Bishopsgate (Bankers), Trafalgar square (West end boys) and Westminster (Politicians and spies). Confusingly they don’t have a shop on Pall Mall, but they do have a pop up shop which goes on tour and to client locations too. They have been members of the British Master Barbers Alliance since its early days, and had been on my list to visit for a while.

My first visit was to the Westminster shop earlier in the year, and thought I’d give their Trafalgar Square shop a go too. It’s actually just off Trafalgar Square, on Whitcomb Street, on the way to Leicester Square. I was going to a show in the evening and needed a hair cut, so dropped in.

‘Have you made an appointment?’ the girl looking after clients asked?

Dreaded words. The subject of appointments for barber’s shops is controversial, and I’m torn by both sides of the argument. For many shop owners using an appointments system lets them give busy customers a guaranteed hair cut in a particular time slot. For PMB, with their time scarce and professional client base, it’s an obvious benefit.

However, I’m not used to it, and it always catches me slightly off guard.

‘No I’ve not’ I replied, sadly.

It was the end of a Saturday afternoon, and the girl looking after the team that day asked me to take a seat, and she’d see what she could do. After a short wait, 10 minutes or so, I was shown to a chair and introduced to a nice French lady called Clemence.

Clemence was friendly and chatty, and did a good consultation before sorting out my increasing lengthy mop. I was in the chair for 40 minutes or so, and felt happy with the quality of the cut and with Clemence’s friendly working style. She is warmly recommended.

Later I spoke with Daniel Davis, the General Manager for PMB who looks after the four shops currently in the PMB family, and their army of 32 barbers. I asked about the appointment system ‘It works for us and our clients, many of whom need to manage their busy day, and don’t have the appetite to queue up. We still try to accommodate walk-ins when we can, but we will be staying with the appointment system. In fact we are investing in a new version to make it even easier for clients to use’. Dan also mentioned that it allowed clients to build up a relationship with a preferred barber. As a client, that relationship with my barer is something I value greatly.

I asked about future plans for PMB, and Dan shared that they would be looking to expand with more shops not only in London, but abroad too. ‘The London barbering experience is valued overseas, and PMB are well placed to exploit that opportunity’. He mentioned he had just returned from Chicago, and I’ll be intrigued if we don’t hear of a store opening in the US in the near future.

I was really pleased to hear about plans for a PMB Academy (training for me offers confidence not only in the barber but also the shop). It’s an obvious step in making sure there is a uniform PMB experience for its ever increasing number of barbers. Dan explained ‘We bring in the best talent available to share new techniques and ideas, and make sure our barbers, no matter what their experience, know how to offer the PMB experience’.

And, given the location of the shops, and their client base, each PMB store has a customer relationship manager who is accountable for the client experience for the time they are with them.

Finally I asked about the PMB product range.

‘We offer the luxury wet shave experience in our shops’ Dan told me.
‘When we were developing it, we looked at the products available and decided we needed something else, particularly for the client’s skin, post shave. We brought our most experienced barbers together and started with something new, rather than rebrand an existing product’

With an expanding product range, store base and an ever-increasing number of barbers, things are looking good for Pall Mall Barbers, and if you are in London and in need of a hair-cut or shave, do give them a try.

Our Mystery Shopper visited two of the Pall Mall Barber shops;

Pall Mall Barbers Trafalgar Square
27 Whitcomb Street

Pall Mall Barbers Westminster
11 Palmer Street