Lessons on LoyaltyJuly 1, 2005 By: Carrie Watson American Salon
Eric and Mary Fisher, co-owners of Eric Fisher Salon in Wichita, KS, say the best way to generate client loyalty is with a friendly staff in a caring environment.
Though located in unassuming Wichita, KS, Eric Fisher Salon is known all over the world for its cutting-edge work. Stylists from across Europe sign up to learn the hottest techniques at Eric Fisher's training seminars, and the salon once made the cover of Peluquerias, a beauty magazine in Spain. In the U.S., musicians like Robert Palmer and Tom Petty have featured Fisher's work in their music videos, and magazines from Vogue to Mode have written about the salon since it opened in 1998. But Fisher, who owns two eponymous salons in Wichita with his wife, Mary, doesn't measure success by these factors. "You're only as successful as your last haircut," he says. Even so, his 1,167-square-foot salon is now one of the busiest per square foot in the country. Fisher, who is also a spokesman for Aquage, received more international attention in 2004 when he won a Global Salon Business Award West for Customer Philosophy. Here, he shares a few of his innovative methods for guaranteeing client satisfaction and loyalty.
Eric and Mary Fisher: measuring success by client loyalty
RECRUIT THE RIGHT PEOPLE
Fisher believes that the quality of service at a salon is just as important as the work it turns out. "Customer satisfaction starts at the beginning. You've got to be manic about the people you hire," he says. "My motto is, 'Hire for attitude, train for talent.'" Fisher looks for friendly and caring people who are anything but egocentric, and he frequently enlists a human resources professional to build a psychological profile of prospective employees. This way, he can make certain a recruit is the service-oriented, social person he seeks.
"A great culture to me is more important than P and L," Fisher says. "A caring culture sets the pace for a great experience for the stylists and for the clients." He holds ongoing training programs that reinforce customer care and include topics like etiquette and chairside manners—protocol that isn't always taught in salons. "Once people understand what the culture is about, a self-policing culture develops," says Fisher. "So if things aren't going right, then the people who are not up to the task are forced out of the company."
The salon's mission statement is two words: authentic beauty. It's when the skill and insight of the hairdresser meet the insight of the client and result in a transforming experience. Fisher explains, "Authentic beauty is just taking the time to be more intimate, to really find out what the client wants, to look at the face, study the eyes, understand the texture you're working with and then create a great haircut that's going to make her look attractive."
USE YOUR SENSES
An easy way to ensure client loyalty is to create a memorable experience and an atmosphere that engages all five senses. "We always play the same kind of European dance music," Eric says. "We show fashion videos from Milan, Paris and London, and we don't just have magazines, we've got great books, too."
SET GROUND RULES
For each department, Fisher has established three things the staff is required to do for every client visit. For instance, the front desk staff must always use the client's name three times, ask if there is anything else they can do for her and acknowledge her as soon as she walks in. One of the most important "non-negotiables" the stylists must follow is, "The client is always right, even when she is wrong." When everyone knows the ground rules, Fisher says, the group functions as a team. And this is one team that's on top of its game.