When you own a small business and one of your clients flies in from out of town, you might feel responsible or their entertainment as long as they are in the area. There are a number of ways that you can provide client entertainment that allows both of you to have a good time, but if you want your time together to bolster a strong working relationship, keep these things in mind.
Respect Your Budget
This client might be able to give your business a great deal of work, so, of course, you want to make sure that they have a great time when they visit. This eagerness to please might result in spending far too much money in an effort to impress them. Your reasoning might be that the client can bring in a lot of money for you, but sooner or later you might find yourself being extravagant for each client and you will be the one left "holding the bag" as the saying goes. Show your client a good time, but respect your budget and resist the urge to bypass it.
Give Your Client Choices
In your own personal life, you know what it's like to have to go somewhere you don't want to go or to go out when you'd rather stay home. You may be so excited about the client entertainment you've planned that you haven't taken the chance to find out if they even enjoy the activities you've got planned. For example, you might have gotten tickets to the hottest musical in town, but they really don't like theater. To avoid problems, talk to clients before they arrive and offer them a few possibilities for their time in town. For instance, they could choose the musical, a ball game or a private dinner in your home.
After their trip, your client really might want to just be alone and get some rest. Check with them about an hour or so before you're to meet and allow them to back out gracefully if they choose.
Don't Get Carried Away
If you are out for cocktails with your client before another event, it is easy to be relaxed and have a few drinks. However, it is critical that you don't go overboard; your client may be friendly, but remember that they are your client and you hope to do business with them. It is not appropriate to behave as freely as you might with your own personal friends. You are representing your business at all times, so remain professional whenever possible.
Use the advice above to help you manage client entertainment in a way that preserves your business relationship while allowing you to enjoy yourselves. Be sure to seek feedback about your time together so that you can more effectively manage your time with the next client who meets with you.