Many small business owners or consultants spend the majority of their time inside their own four walls, so it’s crucial to find time outside of the office where you can interact with other professionals.
Having lunch or dinner with a potential customer or client can be an easy way to strengthen relationships, boost business, and form mutually beneficial partnerships.
However, if you are new to the wining and dining game, it can be pretty daunting. Fortunately for you, this post will cover some expert tips to get the best results when taking your clients out for a meal.
Choose An Appropriate Setting
The first impression isn’t the most critical aspect of a meeting, but it sets the tone for the remainder. Therefore, you should carefully select the location and restaurant, considering what you want to achieve from the meeting and how you want to be perceived.
Obviously, you will need to choose something local. Still, if you are meeting with particularly important clients, you might want to consider pushing the boat out and selecting somewhere famous for its restaurants and scenery. There are a variety of possibilities, from choosing the best restaurants in Boca Raton, FL, after a game of golf, to a high-flying New York establishment to show potential clients you mean business. Whatever you choose should be memorable and help you secure new business relationships.
Ensure They Understand The Purpose Of The Meal
A meeting is an opportunity for a client to get to know you and your business better and also a chance for you to learn about your client’s needs and challenges. When you have a meeting with a client, you must tell them the reason for the meeting up front so they can prepare accordingly.
This will set expectations and allow them to choose if they want to attend or not. You risk wasting their time and losing your reputation by not keeping them informed of the purpose. You can keep it as light as you want when you invite them, but you should make them aware that the meal is to get to know one another in the hope of doing business together.
Set An Adequate Budget To Pay For The Entire Event
When you invite clients for a meal, it is vital to pay for the meal. Paying for a meal when you invite clients is essential because it shows that you value their time and because it shows that you are willing to take care of them.
As such, you should prepare a healthy budget in advance so that you can cover the entire meal from food to drinks and a decent tip for the waiter. You really don’t want to be caught short when meeting with existing clients or pursuing new business.
Let Them Know The Location In Advance
As soon as you have found a suitable venue, you should notify your clients of the location. By letting them know, you can avoid any misunderstandings and save time regarding travel. Moreover, it will allow your clients to voice any concerns they may have regarding the location, thereby giving you plenty of time to evaluate and book another place.
Don’t Just Focus On Business
When inviting customers out for a meal, it can be easy to fall into the trap of getting down to business right away. However, this is a huge mistake and could be off-putting for your guests. Instead, you should treat the meal as a chance to get to know each other and engage in conversation other than business. There is no doubt that you need to keep the conversation relatively light and steer clear of politics or religion, but the meal should ultimately be enjoyable for all.
Set Aside The Whole Day And Be Present In The Moment
Although the meeting might only be for one meal, you should ensure that you have freed up your entire day. Prior to the meal, you will need some time to prepare, and in most cases, you won’t know when it will end (unless your clients have specified a time they need to leave). Furthermore, you should aim to be completely present during the entire meeting, leaving your phone in your pocket and dedicating your full attention to your guests.
Don’t Forget To Follow Up The Next Day
Following up after a business lunch in some way is a small but important thing that makes a big difference. Perhaps you could thank them for the helpful information they gave you during lunch or simply say thanks for the riveting conversation.
One of the best things you can do for your clients is to take them out for lunch or dinner. It gives your clients a chance to talk about your business one on one, away from the distractions of work. It also allows you to know your clients better and helps them get to know you.