Holding client meetings when running a home business
Nothing says unprofessional quite like a sink full of plates or
the sounds of arguing children. Can you really hold successful
client meetings when your office is also your home? This guide
outlines the best and worst places to have meetings when running a home-based
When you can, avoid holding meetings at home. Though views are
changing, it's not uncommon for potential customers to view home
business owners as 'not successful enough' to own office space.
Obviously this is not the case, as there are a number of benefits
to starting your business from home. But this opinion can still
negatively affect your company, so think twice before inviting
clients to your house
The ideal solution for most meetings is not to host at all, and
offer to go to your client. Make sure, however, the travel costs
don't outweigh the benefits of this choice. Would a conversation on
the phone suffice?
Meetings at your home should be reserved for people you know
well. Set up a designated space for your discussion, containing a
comfortable place to talk, in a well lit, un-cluttered room. Ensure
the location is quiet and you won't be distracted: consider holding
the meeting when children are at school, and anyone else is at
Meeting clients outside the home
Fortunately, there are a multitude of alternative locations
available to you. These range from those that don't cost a penny,
to the downright expensive, meaning you can choose what works best
for your client, and your budget. Good places to hold business
- Libraries - A library may not seem the most
obvious place to have a meeting: almost all of us have been shushed
by a librarian at some point in our lives. But many libraries have
private (sound-proof) rooms, which can be reserved and used for
free. The British
Library Business & IP Centre has a designated networking
area where you can hold your meetings. If you're on a tight budget
this can be the perfect choice.
- A coffee shop - Because almost all coffee shops
are equipped with wifi, all you need to bring with you are your
laptop and phone. They tend to get busy, however, and the
professional atmosphere can be lost if you're constantly having to
repeat yourself to be heard, or can't find anywhere to sit. Plan
ahead and pick somewhere you've checked has plenty of space at the
time you'll be meeting. Coffee shops are better for informal
catch-ups rather than full-scale meetings.
- Restaurants - Buying someone lunch can be a great
way to impress, but it can also prove expensive, and send out the
message that you've got money to burn. However, it is worth it for
important clients. Noise could prove to be an issue, however, which
is why it's again important to plan ahead.
- Rent office space - Renting an office meeting room
for the whole day or by the hour gives the benefit of privacy.
Clients will also appreciate you've gone to the trouble of booking
a serious, professional space to talk. Prices for renting meeting
rooms start from around £35 per person for half of the day. Regus are key providers of office space, so be
sure to visit their site. Meetingvenues also offer a number of spaces for
a variety of prices.
- Hotel conference room - A meeting in a hotel
conference room can also create a professional atmosphere. You can
choose from a variety of places, with one to suit almost any
budget. Renting a meeting room in a Premier Inn, will cost around £50, which
includes tea and coffee. If you've got the capitol, though,
consider somewhere like Rydges Kensington Hotel in London, which
charges £200 to rent one of their rooms for the day, a price which
also includes refreshments.
To find hotel meeting rooms in your area, visit meetingsbroker.com, a great site because they
almost always have someone ready to help via instant messenger.
- A business club - Alongside providing great
working environments, joining a business club gives you the ability
to bring clients there for meetings. The staff will assist you in
any way they can, and being a member gives your company a
professional image. The membership costs of these clubs vary. One
Alfred Place, a prestigious business club in London has
annual membership price tag of £1,500. Adam Street members club,
alternatively, offer a place to work in the day and party at night
for an annual membership price of £495 or less depending on where
you live. Membership to London's Soho
House costs around £600 per year, whereas the Hospital Club ask for £550 or less
annually depending on your location. Manchester's St James'
club provides a great place to both work and meet
clients, but the only way to find prices is to apply for
They can be expensive to join, but a business club is also a
great place to make contacts, so if you can afford it, they're
worth the price.
Bad places to meet clients
- Pubs - First meetings, or those of particular importance,
should never be held in a pub. It looks unprofessional, and can
become stressful if anyone drinks too much. Pubs can be used for
informal chats, but nothing more.
- A fast food restaurant - Not only will the smells and noise be
distracting, but the location gives out a distinct message: "I have
- Your bedroom - If your 'office' is also your bedroom, don't
bring clients there. It will make people feel uncomfortable,
especially if one or more of you have to resort to sitting on the
The golden rule
How you use the information in this guide all revolves around
your knowledge of the client. Where are they going to be happiest?
Ask them if they'd prefer a chat over lunch, or a cup of coffee.
It's also up to you to decide which location will be appropriate
for which type of meeting you're having. Is it an informal catch
up, a sales pitch, a talk about collaboration, or a meeting to
discuss existing business? Choosing the right location for
different types of meeting is key to success.
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