Why a la carte Services are Killing Your Personal Styling Business


Hi! I am Sydney Bass Lester, personal stylist + creator of The Founders Club - the ONLY monthly, online business training for personal stylists.

Today I’m bringing you a hard hitting topic that maybe you’ve thought about, but you’re just not sure how to fix.

  • Have you ever noticed that you’ll work with a client on cleaning out a closet, but they don’t opt to learn how to create multiple outfits from what they own?

  • Or you’ll go shopping with them, only to discover that what they already own is GREAT they just don’t know how to work with it?

  • Maybe the caliber of client you work with isn’t quite where you want it to be?

  • Or you just aren’t seeing that REPEAT business like you know you should be?  

If so, chances are you are using a la carte or one off services in your businesses - and they are KILLING it!

A la carte services services are the traditional way that styling schools teach students how to create and deliver services - what this looks like is that stylists will offer 4-6 (I’ve seen as many as 15!) services on their website for clients to choose from - and a client can choose to do 1 or 3 and start anywhere they want.

This was how I was taught and how I operated in my business - until I realized there had to be a better way (shout to my coach Shannon who helped me figure this out!).

You see - what was happening is that clients were popping in to do one services, and never coming back. Or they would do one service, and opt to “save money” by tackling the next step on their own - and then never doing it or never getting the good result they wanted if they had just continued to work with me. I was leaving them hanging and doing my clients a DISSERVICE by offering a la carte services.

So here’s why I hate a la carte services and why you should eliminate them from your biz ASAP:

  1. They overwhelm the customer with too many options and no clear process or where to start.

  2. They put the client, not YOU, in charge of the styling process.

  3. They leave the client, and you, frustrated with a styling job that ends up half done.

  4. They don’t set you up for repeat business - aka, more money.

  5. They don’t allow you to attract the caliber of client you want to be working with.

Don’t believe me? Let me share a story from my own business about how a client went rogue on my process and how that did NOT work out.

This client reached out and I informed her of my service process and package. She stated that she didn’t need me to clean out her closet because she had already done that, but that she could use outfits and shopping. At the time, I really just wanted that money (first mistake #1!) so I agreed. I’m sure you can only imagine what happened when we got there - we were supposed to be creating outfits - I usually create anywhere from 15-25 outfits in a session. We got around 10 because we had to spend most of the time CLEANING OUT her closet - it was full of things she didn’t like, didn’t wear, that needed to go. Needless to say - this was a major fail, but it perfectly illustrates a few things:

  1. The client’s don’t know what they need - you do.

  2. Your process works for a REASON and is in a certain order for a reason.

  3. You need to be large and in charge when it comes to creating your processes - and sticking with it. YOU are the stylist - YOU Are the ones with experience and know how of what works and what doesn’t. If a client doesn’t want to go through the process, they they aren’t the client for you.

So what should you do instead? Create something I call “client-centered services”!

Within The Founders Club, my monthly, online business coaching program for personal stylists, I walk my students through an exercise that gets them thinking about approaching their services from a PROCESS standpoint and not a one offs.

What this means is that you ask yourself a series of Qs: If you could create the most ideal, most perfect service to address a client’s style needs from start to finish: what does that look like?

  • where does it start?

  • what are the next steps?

  • How long are those steps?

  • how long is the entire process?

This is also where it gets super fun AND lets you continue to carve out your OWN super specific services based on your ideal client and your niche - allowing you to STAND OUT in a crowded market.

Honestly - who really wants to offer services that are a carbon copy of someone else??

Here’s a tip - changes are, your client centered services probably already exist within your a la carte service options, but you’ll have to do some work to combine the services, eliminate any overlap and refine your steps and processes.

Why do client centered services work better than a la carte services?

  1. Allows you to provide the BEST style services to your clients by following a tried + true process

  2. Increases the caliber of client you work with

  3. Let’s you streamline your admin processes and saves you time + ups your professional game

  4. Increases your bottom line. I went from making $300 on a closet cleanse to $1-$2k on a signature service. In one transaction. That kind of money is life changing for a small business owner.

Your action items:

  • Take a look at your current services - and even if you already offer package services - how can you make them even more client centered?

  • Are you currently offering a la carte? How can you get rid of those?


  1. Badass Your Brand by Pia Silva

  2. The Founders Club - Biz Bootcamp - membership opens in September - get on the wait list below!

  3. The Digest - free e-newsletter for personal stylists

Connect with Sydney below for more style + biz tips: