We’ve all had that terrible experience in our bar or nightclub before; there’s a very unhappy customer that isn’t pleased with their drinks or experience and wants to speak with a manager. Most of the time they just want to complain to the head honcho and get better service from that point forward. Conveniently, that allows you to pinpoint weak spots in your service or staff. However, occasionally you’ll run into a customer that simply won’t be satisfied regardless of what you offer them. Often times they are merely interested in the manager comping drinks or food from the bill.

However, this cause you to lose money on that specific transaction and your business expenses will run wild. Additionally, it sets a dangerous precedent for all of your other customers that you’ll waive the cost of their drinks if they complain hard enough. This can lead to excessive complaints, blatant lies, and overall unruly customers if left unchecked for too long. Instead, consider using another strategy to satiate those customers without going into debt. Here are some key strategies to help you never give anything away for free when an upset customer wants something comped from their bill.

Offer to Correct the Situation

The very first thing you need to do is offer to correct the situation. If the customer has an issue with a server or bartender, swap them out for someone else on the floor. If the drinks aren’t up to snuff, have them remade immediately the way the customer likes them. Most importantly, you need to do all of this with a great attitude that shows the customer that you understand their frustrations and will get the problem resolved, but you are still in control of the situation. It’s amazing how far some good customer service will get you in these types of situations.

Offer Them an Incentive Instead of Comping Drinks Outright

If sweet-talking the disgruntled customer doesn’t work, it may be time to pull out a better incentive. Consider having some sort of free admission voucher to an upcoming live performance or event at your venue or a “buy one get one half price” coupon for their next visit. Though you’re technically giving them something for free, you’re also getting them to come back another time to claim it and you’ll still make money on their business. After all, “buy one get one half price” still means profit if your pricing structure is correct; which is much better than taking a loss from waiving their bill all together.

Give Them a Discount Instead of Comping Drinks

When all else fails, sometimes you need to dig deep and give an angry customer a discount. This should be the last tool in your box. However, sometimes it’s the only option to stave off a massive public scene. Just make sure you set a maximum percentage for the discount such as 25%. That way, you stay in the black on the transaction. It’s okay to break even on a bill once in a while to ensure the rest of your customers have a great experience, but you certainly don’t want to get hit for a loss.

On certain occasions a customer may be very angry and present a real challenge. Even if it’s a holiday like Thanksgiving, you can always find a solution. However, you can always find a way to remedy the issue without taking a financial loss. Comping drinks should never be on the table because you can always remake one if it’s wrong. By using the three strategies above, you can stop comping drinks and never give anything for free again.