Entertaining Clients Dos and Don’ts
Any successful businessperson knows that business deals are like friendships; they are often forged over drinks, dinner and shared experiences. Not only is spending a little money on your clients a great way to earn their business, it’s tax smart too; you can write off up to 50 percent of your entertainment expenses. Developing and managing client relationships is vital to your business, and here are a few tips and tricks for showing your clients a good time.
A Sea of Potential
For many, the idea of chartering a boat to entertain a client seems absurd, but if you can hire a catamaran for one day and gain eight new clients, suddenly the costs start to make sense. Chartering a boat is an excellent way to impress a client. Sites like Boat Bookings make it easy to find a boat of any size in your area, and it may be surprising at how inexpensive it can be to charter a vessel with crew if you shop around.
Fun and Games
Inviting a client to see a concert, play or sporting event is often a great way to show you know your client’s interests on a more personal level. Taking a client to an event doesn’t have to break the bank, either; simply order tickets online through a ticket vendor like Telecharge. Be careful not to choose something that’s going to make talking business impossible, even if it’s a show you think your client would like. For example, a heavy metal show might not be the right venue to discuss a paper sale.
A Real Meal
Taking a client out to dinner doesn’t have to be about impressing them with the best restaurant in town. A good way to create a memorable experience is to take your client to a restaurant where you personally know the owner. Seeing you interact with the owners of another business can send a strong message about your personality to a client. A place where you know the owner is also more likely to go out of their way to show you and your client a good time.
It can be easy to forget while you are having a good time that you need to balance that recreation with responsibility and business acumen. For example, if you plan to have cocktails with a client, be sure to offer food at healthy intervals throughout the evening and have a back up plan if it turns out your client is prone to indulge. The last thing you want is an evening with a client that ends with them embarrassing or hurting themselves. At best, they’ll have a negative association that will make further dealings more difficult, and at worst, they may never speak to you again.
Remember that the goal of entertaining clients is to stay in business with them, not to drink them under the table. If you spend too much or too lavishly, it may seem like you overcharge for your services or products, so show some restraint. You want to entertain, not overwhelm.
Whether you are selling a business or selling something else, entertaining your clients well is a vital skill.