Eric Fisher

Eric Fisher

Many years ago, salon owner Eric Fisher figured out a way to take the sting out of firing impossible-to-please clients: Give them a gift card for another salon. “We still continue the practice after all these years. Fortunately, we probably don’t do it more than once or twice a year,” says Fisher, the owner of Wichita, Kan.-based Eric Fisher Salons and Eric Fisher Academy.

“We deliver the message in a positive, upbeat way, saying something like, ‘I’m so sorry we’ve been unable to satisfy you in your last few salon visits. Because of that, we want to suggest that you visit such and such salon and here is a gift certificate to pay for your appointment.’ The client is usually taken aback and nine times out of 10 apologizes for her behavior.” Fisher holds firm however, graciously acknowledging the apology but insisting it’s time to try a different salon or spa.

The secondary goal of this approach — which may be even more important — is for the service providers to understand that management really cares about their experience. “It shows that the stylists’ well-being is our top concern and that nobody has to take abuse from a client,” he says. “Once in a while it’s good to fire a client just to show that you care. The client really can’t get too upset because you’ve paid for her next service at another salon. And often times they come back surreptitiously and never complain again.”