Hairdresser talking on the phone distracted from the haircut while man screams (Credit: ShotPrime Studio/Shutterstock)

NEW YORK — Three-quarters of Americans are still searching for “the one” — but they’re not talking about the loves of their lives. Instead, most people are still tragically searching for that one person they entrust their hair to! That’s right, it turns out many Americans no longer have a trusted hairdresser or barber, while others are struggling to find plenty of other go-to service providers.

A survey of 2,000 U.S. adults revealed that when it comes to finding a go-to, perfect-match service provider, less than one in five have found a reliable auto repair shop (19%), veterinarian (16%), therapist (13%), or nail tech/salon (11%). Moreover, less than one in 10 have found their dream realtor (7%), chiropractor (7%), or contractor (7%).

Over the last five years, Americans have visited three different personal care providers, three health care providers, and three different home maintenance experts and still, 29% have yet to find their perfect match in any of these categories.

In order to find their perfect match, the average American prefers to read five reviews per provider and places more weight on the positive than the negative ones (34% vs. 15%). The poll also found that people will spend 15 minutes browsing social media pages before they commit to a provider. Taking things a step further, 18% won’t support a business that doesn’t have an online presence.

Conducted by Talker Research on behalf of Birdeye, researchers discovered that the vetting doesn’t stop there — if a business has less than a 3-star rating, the average respondent won’t bother reading the reviews and will automatically pass on them. Once they select a provider, it takes seven visits before they consider themselves a “regular” and an average of eight visits to completely trust that business.

One star review for bad business
If a business has less than a 3-star rating, the average respondent won’t bother reading the reviews and will automatically pass on them. (Photo by Billion Photos on Shutterstock)

However, once that trust is built, it’s a hard bond to break as the average respondent would be willing to travel for almost 30 minutes if they moved or their go-to shop relocated. This may be because three in five (61%) are more loyal to the actual person providing the service than to the brand or company providing it (25%). One-quarter of Americans even believe that it’s equally as difficult to “break up” with their go-to service provider than a partner, and 13% go so far as to say it’s easier to let go of a partner.

“In today’s economic climate, consumers are scrutinizing their spending more carefully,” says Dave Lehman, president of Birdeye, in a statement. “Our study indicates that for local businesses to flourish and remain competitive, they must maintain a strong online reputation, be active on social media, and deliver top-notch customer experiences.”

If Americans are not satisfied with someone’s service, the most popular course of action is asking them to fix it or make it right (37%), followed by bringing it up directly with the person who provided the service (36%). Even so, respondents are more likely to avoid using them again or find another provider (34%) than they are to give them another chance (23%) or to leave a negative review on social media (10%) or Google (9%). However, almost two-thirds (64%) are likely to leave a positive online review after a good experience.

At the end of the day, more than half of Americans (55%) are more likely to give a small, locally owned business more chances than a big box chain (20%) if their service doesn’t live up to their expectations. In that same vein, 54% expect a higher caliber of service from small businesses.

“Consumers often turn to local businesses when searching for ‘the one’ because they expect to receive elevated, more personalized experiences,” says Lehman. “To deliver upon this promise, local businesses of all sizes need the right tools and resources, which is where a reputation and customer experience management platform can help by enhancing online presence and customer engagement.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population Americans was commissioned by Birdeye between March 29 and April 4, 2024. It was conducted by market research company Talker Research, whose team members adhere to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) Code of Professional Ethics and Practices. Researchers are also members of the Market Research Society and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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