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Creating Clients vs. Customers

Clients and customers; both familiar terms, but what are the actual differences? Why should we be focused on creating clients vs. customers in our business?

First, let’s grab our dusty Merriam-Webster Dictionary off the shelf and talk about the definition of each:

Customer (noun)- one that purchases a commodity or service. 

Client (noun)- a person who engages the professional advice or services of another. 

Straightforward, yet, we don’t think our dear friends Merriam and Webster elaborate enough on the impact that clients vs. customers can make on your sales, employees and business model. 

Clients are individuals who rave about your store on Facebook or Yelp, without discounts or incentives. Clients are loyal to your store and go out of their way to support your business even if they can find a cheaper product elsewhere. Clients are the ones you can call or text when no one is walking through your door. Clients are the ones who send their spouse to you for birthdays and holiday shopping knowing you’ll pick out the perfect gifts. Clients are even those customers who invite you to dinner, baby showers, or their wedding! Clients are the people who make getting up every day to run your store (even if you are working 8+ hours, 7 days a week) all worth it.

While reading this, I bet you can think of some people right now! Those are your clients, and those rewarding relationships are the ones you want to focus on.

There are two simple ingredients for creating clients vs. customers:


Personal relationships thrive when interactions are intentional and trust and loyalty is gained. How is that accomplished in your business?

  • Engaging with your shoppers in real conversations about themselves, their interests, family, hobbies, and career.
  • Gaining their trust with your care, as you ask open-ended questions about their life and shopping needs.
  • Providing them with genuine attention and offering appropriate input, space, and expertise as needed. 


Following up is the key to creating clients vs. customers. Once a relationship is established, ask permission to contact them via email, text, or phone call. This step may take multiple interactions, so be patient and persistent. Communication that’s personalized will help to build more trust, as your client recognizes that they have been made a priority.

Finally, don’t forget that the relationship was built not with the store, but with an individual employee. For that reason, it is super important for employees to understand the concept of creating and maintaining client relationships. It’s now their responsibility to personally invite clients to events, contact them about new product, send thank you letters, etc.  

Anyone who walks through your doors has the potential to become a client. Creating client relationships, building loyalty, giving exceptional service, and providing a personalized experience makes all the difference in a thriving retail business. 

Want to implement these strategies in your business and see results? Have a conversation with your employees about the differences between a client and a customer. Empower your staff to create more clients, increase your store’s impact, and, ultimately, surpass sales goals!

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