Inviting a client out to a business meal is a great way to network and get to know the people you serve. As Journal of Accountancy points out, it can also provide a perfect opportunity to check in on their business goals and figure out where they currently stand. To make the most of an opening to sit down with your client face-to-face, you’ll want to carefully plan the excursion to maximize your time together. Follow the tips outlined below to set your lunch meeting up for success.
Define Your Why
Establish an objective for your lunch meeting. Are you simply trying to get to know your client and thank them for their business? Are there specific issues you’d like to discuss or updates you need to give? Invite your customer to a meal by letting them know the purpose for the meeting up front. This will incentivize them to accept your invitation, and ensures that you both go into the time you’ve blocked off on the same page about what needs to be accomplished.
Make It Convenient
Making your lunch date convenient for your client is a must. This entails catering to your client’s schedule, respecting their preferred mode of communication, and choosing a location that is easy for them to get to from their place of business. You’ll also want to make sure that the restaurant will be able to accommodate any dietary restrictions your client may have.
Figure Out All the Details
Make things as easy as possible for your client by sending them a calendar invite with the time, location, and parking options available at your restaurant of choice. You may also want to include a brief agenda or list of topics to discuss on your outing. Lastly, when the meal is over, make sure to take care of the bill!
Make a Point of Connecting with Your Client
While you do have an objective for your meeting, you don’t want to come off as overly formal or transactional. Make a point to connect with your client on a human level. Show interest in the things they choose to bring up during your time together, whether that’s their family, hobbies, upcoming vacation, or business goals. Being a good listener, establishing eye contact, and engaging in meaningful conversation helps your client feel at ease with you and will help develop your professional relationship.
Mind Your Manners
From wearing proper attire to not talking with your mouth full, minding your manners is important when meeting with clients over lunch. Observing proper etiquette ensures that you will appear professional while you are dining. Above all, make sure you turn your phone off and give your customer your full attention to show them that they are your priority. After all, they took time out of their day to meet with you!
Send a Thank You
The day after your meal together, make sure to send your client a note or email thanking them for meeting with you and summarizing what you discussed as it pertains to their business. Showing that you value and respect their time sets you up for successful lunch dates in the future!