Client Meetings: Your Home or Public Spaces? The Smackdown

The recent article 24 Tips to Rock Your Client Consultations sparked a lot of discussion about the pros and cons to meeting with clients in your home versus meeting clients in public spaces, so this is a follow up piece. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of each option so you can decide the best route to go. I've done both, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes you don’t have a choice, and circumstances force the decision for you. Roll with it. It's all boils down to your attitude anyway.

 Home Studio Pros

  • When you have appointment no-shows, at least you're still home!
  • Tax write-offs! Any space in your home that is 100% dedicated to business is eligible for a tax write-off.
  • No commute.
  • No overhead costs of a rented space.
  • You control the environment: the temperature, the wall art, the noise level.
  • Your artwork up on the walls.
  • You can add lots of warmth and cozy touches-soft music, candles, wine. 

Home Studio Cons

  • You have to keep the entire path from door to meeting space totally spotless.
  • Family has to be virtually silent, go into hiding or leave the house during consultations.
  • A key part of your home (like a living room or dining room) gets taken over by your business. Over time, this becomes harder and harder to live with, and family may resent it.
  • When you have a scheduling mishap (um, like totally forgetting to put an evening consultation on the calendar) you might accidently open the door in your pjs to find clients expecting a consultation. I guess this is only a con if it actually happens (I don’t want to talk about it!).
  • When the client is rudely 45 minutes late, you can't just leave.
  • Pets can be a…challenge. Not only for clients with allergies, but it can be very distracting to have a dog barking like a maniac through your (entire) presentation.

If meeting in your home is not an option, what should you do? First off, think of it as an advantage to the client and keep that attitude in your mind. A photographer's confidence (or lack thereof) can be our own worst enemy, so don't think about the negatives. Focus on the positives.

Outside Meeting Location Pros

  • Can meet at locations convenient to the client.
  • Takes the formality edge off the meeting, and sets a more friendly, casual vibe. This can help make everyone more comfortable and less “business meeting” and more “friendly chat.”
  • Can keep your home space private. This will mean a lot to you, especially if you have gone the home meeting route for a couple years. (Trust me, hiding family gets old after a while).
  • If the client is a no-show, you can leave. You aren’t trapped there waiting for them to show up at their convenience, like you kind of are in a home. What are you going to do, not answer the door?
  • The price is right! No extra overhead other than those coffees you'll be buying for clients.

Outside Meeting Location Cons

  • You don’t have a dedicated spot, so you need to arrive early in order to secure a table and set yourself up.
  • If you are a worrier type, you may feel uncomfortable with the lack of control. Practice and prepare until you are comfortable.
  • You can't permanently display wall portraits or have a large slideshow presentation, so a nice laptop, Ipad or tablet is going to be the way to go.
  • You can't always use your own music for slideshows.
  • There is added time for driving and set up.

There you have it. From experience, I can tell you that you can make either option work, it's about your commitment and your attitude. I've heard from photographers that could not accept how you could book clients or be professional when meeting in a café. Well, I guess those photographers can't make it work. They need to control their environment and have their own meeting space in order to feel professional. But it all boils down to attitude and confidence. You set the tone. If you show confidence and ease, you will put your clients at ease. My last job? $19,000. Met the client in a hotel lobby. It's all in your attitude.

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