5 Ways Service Businesses Are Losing Clients


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What’s wrong with service-based businesses?

There was a time when the service in customer service was the focus of a successful business. Are those days gone?

I live in Central Connecticut where we have extreme weather throughout the year. We can see 100 plus degrees in the summer and -20 in the Winter. Blizzards, Tornadoes and Hurricanes are not out of the realm of possibility.

With that comes home equipment failures. In the past year our Central AC hit the fan (pun intended), the water line to our refrigerator broke (unknown to us for at least a few days) and we have some lawn challenges that need to be addressed.

I am not an expert in any of these things so naturally, I reached out to area service providers. What a mixed bag of results, almost as extreme as the weather in Connecticut.

About half of the local businesses I reached out to never returned my phone calls. A few were straight forward with us and advised they could not help. Of course, we found service providers for every issue but not before putting in a lot of work.

It’s mind-blowing to me that small, local businesses are not returning calls.

Here Are 5 Ways Service Businesses Are Losing Clients.

I see these as an opportunity for business owners. My business is in IT and I see similar behavior from other IT service providers. I,n my eyes these are opportunities for my business.

1. Not Returning Calls – My personal pet peeve. Even if you’re unable to help the client call them back to let them know. I like to give local businesses an opportunity, so I don’t necessarily call a bunch of places to get the help I need. I will ask for recommendations and call those recommendations first.

Not returning the call means you’re leaving someone hanging. Even worse is telling the potential client you will call back, and you don’t.

Not calling back is unprofessional and shows a lack of empathy for potential clients. Return the call even if you’re unable to help.

2. Ignoring Social Media – This is an evolving problem for many business owners. Just about every town in America has a Facebook group (or 2, or 3) where people routinely ask for recommendations for plumbers, landscapers, cleaning services, electricians, computer repair and my personal favorite…pizza delivery. Plus, many more.

When the recommendations are made people often tag the business owner or the business’ Facebook page. I personally know that businesses create Facebook pages because they know it’s important but then they don’t use it.

You are leaving a lot of money on the table if you are not at least active on Facebook. I will take it a step further and say you should be active on Instagram as well.

When someone asks for a plumber in a local Facebook group and you’re not part of the conversation you are not meeting your clients where they are. People ask for recommendations on Facebook because that’s where they’re comfortable.

3. Destroying Your Referral Channel(s) – Not following through when someone personally refers you is such a terrible thing to do. Let me tell you a story.

My lawn mower died, and I needed lawn care last summer. I asked for recommendations in a local Facebook group and called four of the recommendations made multiple times in the group.
Two of them never called back. One came to my house and said he wouldn’t do it because he couldn’t get his stand on mower through my gate. I can somewhat respect this as at least he took the time to let me know.

The last one did cut my grass (the prerequisite to the rest of the work that needed to be done) and did such a terrible job I refused to have him do any other work.

OK, so I move on from Facebook and ask a friend who lives in the same town. He gives me a recommendation and that landscaper never calls back.

I finally gave up and learned how to fix my lawnmower. I still need some help with my lawn (almost a year later) so if you know anyone let me know.

All those businesses not only left a bad taste in my mouth but now I know longer trust recommendations made by the people who referred them.

4. Not Following Up – One thing I always do is call a client back after the work is completed to make sure they are satisfied with the work and if they have any questions.

This is a great sales tactic as it’s easier to maintain an existing client than it is to obtain new ones. The bigger reason for me doing this is customers really appreciate it. They often have follow-up questions or concerns but might be reluctant to reach out to you.

5. Admitting Defeat – this one is a tough one even for me. Admit when you’re in over your head. There’s nothing worse than going down a rabbit hole without a rope and support.

Before you know it you’re in too deep and risk destroying your reputation in the business. More people will post a negative review than will post a positive review. You best believe that if you make a small problem worse because you can’t admit that it’s not in your skillset the client will tell others.

Don’t be that service provider. If you can’t do it then find someone who can. I’d rather lose a few dollars than my reputation.

I sincerely hope this helps a few service businesses see the light. What might seem like a small issue not worth the money you would make or the time you would spend probably seems like a much bigger issue to the person reaching out to you for help.

I know they did for me!

Scott Gombar
Scott Gombar is the owner of Nwaj Tech, a Managed IT Services provider. He has been in IT for almost 20 years and customer service for over 30 years. Scott believes in a client-focused approach to providing service and communicating with his audience whether it be customers or social media.


  1. Great article. I agree with all of those ways businesses are losing clients especially with #1 . I think that’s the worst when a business don’t return a client or possibly a future clients call.

  2. I agree with these tips, 100%! When I was in sales, our biggest issue was with our staff not following up with potential clients. Not only did we lose out on a sale, we let them go to a different provider, and potentially developed a negative outlook in that person’s eyes.

  3. I think of all of these, knowing when to admit defeat is probably the one that does more people in that we know. Sometimes we hang on so long to failed business ventures that it ends up actually losing way more in the long run. It’s a hard thing to know when to cut our losses and throw in the towel, but figuring that out can save a lot of time, money and tears.

  4. I think that referral to a large degree dependent on their referral channel. When current clients refer other people to your business, the new customers you generate will become just as loyal, giving you even more opportunities down the line. I agree that referral marketing or proper management of one’s referral channel is a major path to business success.


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