By Darnyelle A. Jervey, CEO of Incredible One Enterprisesp

Most service-based business owners dread the day they realize that the clients they are working with have come to the end of their engagement. If you’ve not been paying attention, that is. Sadly, so many fall into this vicious cycle of working with clients, ending engagements and then going out to find more clients. This is the wrong way to build a solid, thriving and holistically successful business.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way if you create a systematic approach to attracting and retaining your clients.

You can also avoid the quandary of suddenly being without clients by making sure you are always marketing and looking for your next client. Even if you don’t have the capacity to serve them now, actively marketing your business will create a rather nice low hanging fruit list for you. Once you start your list, create an approach to stay top of mind with them so that when you have space to accommodate their needs, you’re positioned to get them as a client.

Building clients for life is a skill - one that if you’re not careful, you won’t master. Here are three tips to help you get started:

1. Solve one problem at a time.

If you try to do too much with a client, you’ll likely not offer them a complete solution. Instead of trying to do it all, work together to identify the most important problem to tackle first. Doing so will help them to get complete resolution in that one area and it will help you to get an amazing success story for the problem you solved. Use that very first session to create an action plan and ensure that you tell your client the role you will play in each step of that action plan.

2. Seed next steps consistently.

At least once per month when engaging with your client, seed that when you’re finished working on X, your next step will be to work on Y together. If you do this consistently, you’ll be planting the seed that they need to continue working with you to get the next phase of the solution they are seeking. Then, as they notice that they are experiencing the breakthrough they’ve been seeking, they will come to expect that you’ll continue to the next phase together.

3. Schedule a separate next engagement conversation.

As you near the conclusion of your current engagement, schedule a separate conversation with your client to discuss the next set of work you’re going to do together. Assume that it’s happening. This level of confidence along with the plan of what you’ll be doing together next is sure to keep your client engaged in working with you.