8 Tips for Making Your Client Dinner a Success
Taking clients out to dinner is par for the course in the world of business. In fact, some of the best deals are often made through the breaking of bread and sharing of fine wine.
Regardless of the food and drink you want to share with your client, you can make your next dinner with this person a success by planning ahead and keeping some basic business tips in mind. These guidelines can help you garner a deal to your advantage and also give your client the best impression of you.
Choose a Date that is Good for Your Client
You may be busy every day of the week, but have the weekend free. Even so, your client’s calendar may be just the opposite of yours. When you want the dinner to go off without a hitch, it is essential that you find time in your busy schedule and choose a date that is convenient for this person rather than you.
In fact, you should consider that this dinner is more of a favor to you than the client. Just as you expect to be served and respected when you shop at a store or visit a restaurant, so should you cater to your client and choose a convenient date according to his or her schedule, especially since you are the one who wants or needs this person’s business.
Select a Restaurant You Know
Rather than trying to impress this person by choosing a hot and trendy new eatery in town, you should go for the comfort factor and select a place you know well. Indeed, when you arrange for the dinner to take place at a restaurant that you have been to before, you will feel more relaxed and confident because you know the menu, the wait staff, and the layout of the place.
Knowing the restaurant well can also work out to your advantage if your client has never been to this location before. You can confidently make suggestions about the menu or introduce this person to the wait staff to help your client feel more at ease and comfortable as well.
Break the Ice with Small Talk
If this is a first meeting between you two or it has been some time since you last met, you should break the awkwardness by making small talk. Commenting on the weather, a recent sports game, or the traffic outside will give you both a topic that you can navigate with ease and use as a segue into more serious business discussion later during the dinner.
Breaking the ice also can help the client appreciate your efforts to make the dinner a success. If you hem and haw and struggle for words, this person may think that you do not want to be there and that you do not care about his or her business.
Go for a Big Impression
In fact, you can show your client that you do in fact want to meet and are even eagerly awaiting his or her arrival by sending a limousine to pick up this person at the hotel or airport. Rather than let your client navigate busy traffic or wait for a taxi at the hotel, you can send a limo and make a big impression on this person.
A limousine exudes comfort and class and puts you in a very favorable light when this person arrives to dinner. Your client will genuinely appreciate the effort you put into making him or her feel at ease prior to the meeting.
Your Best Table Manners
You should make an effort to be on your best behavior at your client dinner. Using your best table manners, pacing your dinner to meet that of your client’s, and avoiding embarrassing behaviors like burping, hiccuping, slurping, and putting your elbows on the table should be avoided.
At the same time, you should not be so uptight that you make your client nervous. You should relax, enjoy your dinner, but be mindful to your etiquette to make yourself look as professional and interesting as possible.
Pay the Bill Out of the Client’s Sight
Paying the bill in full view of your client is a huge faux pas. Rather than put this person on the spot, you should arrange to pay the bill beforehand or slip the waiter your credit card to use for the bill after your dinner is finished.
You could excuse yourself to use the restroom and stop at the waiter’s station to sign the check without the client seeing you. Some restaurants also let you run a tab and send you the bill the next day at your office. These options let you avoid making the client uneasy and embarrassed about you spending money on the dinner.
You can also avoid putting your client in an awkward position by following up a day or two after the dinner. You should let this person know that you enjoyed the company and that you also appreciated the business deal that you worked on together.
This courtesy will make the client more willing to do business with you in the future. It could also help you garner good references with that person if needed in the future.
Impressing a client over dinner is an established tradition in the business world. You can make your next dinner a success by remembering these tips before meeting with your client.