Retaining Clients in a Service Business


If you prefer video, you can watch the video above. Otherwise, read below. But the content is largely the same.

Last month Jacob was cutting my hair (with the help of his little pink razor) and I decided to record the conversation. The past few times I’ve gotten my hair cut we’ve talked about business. Specifically, we’ve been talking about ways for him to grow his client base. I thought maybe some other people might find this conversation useful as well, so decided to release both a video and blog summary.

Quick backstory on Jacob. I love this guy. He came to the U.S. six years ago from Seoul, South Korea, not knowing a word of English. He took classes and practiced by talking to people. What’s so impressive to me is that he did this all while working as a hair stylist. He proves that if you actually want to do something, you have no excuse. When I first met him five years ago we couldn’t communicate that much. But I knew how good he was and how much he cared about his craft. I suppose part of me was used to this — my great grandmother moved from Italy to the US and never learned English. I couldn’t communicate that much to her, but I always knew she cared.

I have a lot of respect for Jacob. He’s also my friend. And I always like to see my friends do better. Especially when they have the work ethic and drive that Jacob has.

Even though he’s doing well now, there’s always ways a business can be improved, whether it be a minute or a drastic change.

One key idea came out of our discussion that I’d like to share. One thing that can always be improved – something I like to focus on in my own business as well – is the retention of clients.

Let’s start with men. Men have haircuts every three to four weeks in order to maintain the style. I don’t know of any hair stylist that schedules appointments in advance. Jacob knows I come like clockwork every three weeks. Why not book me in advance for the next three months on three week cycles? Put it in my work calendar so I know it’s there and I don’t have to worry about it. He then knows he has a client every three weeks and I know I have a haircut. Do this will all your clients and now you start filling up your calendar for the next month. And you’re not hoping I, or others, come back. You know because you scheduled it. Sure, a percentage still won’t come even if it’s scheduled, but I’d rather have a percentage of that drop off then hoping they all come back.

People may ask, “But what if clients don’t like to schedule in advance?” Great question. Here’s an alternative. Jacob knows the frequency needed for each hair style. Some men are three weeks like me, some are four. Maybe five days before that time has come Jacob texts the client:

“Hey, it’s about time for your next haircut. Here are three days and times that I have available. Do any of these work for you? YES or NO? If yes, let me know what time.”

Boom. By responding to one text – or email or however he wants to do it – Jacob has a repeat customer. This makes the process of getting a haircut easier for the customer. It gives the customer no reason not to come back to Jacob. The small, simple reminder will not only increase the number of Jacob’s clients but it will better serve his clients.

This can be applied to anyone: hair stylists, dentists, doctors, really any type of service provider. Yes, the product has to be good. If the product isn’t good none of this matters. It doesn’t matter how much I love Jacob, if he sucked at his job I wouldn’t come back.

It is all about serving the customer. It is all about the relationships you have with your clients. If you don’t have a good relationship, why would they stay with your business?

Lastly, always make sure to confirm. Send a text confirming the appointment a few days prior. This will help you avoid last minute cancellations or people forgetting about their appointment.

Jacob implemented these suggestions with me and the experience was great. He shceduled my appointment on the way out. And then I received a text to confirm my appointment a few days prior. Beautiful.


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