Entertain Clients – Retain Business
To entertain clients can seem like an unnecessary expense. In the early 2000’s, before the crash, it wasn’t unusual for expensive corporate boxes at sports events to be packed with clients, enjoying champagne on tap and the finest foods. And before this current crisis, things were heading that way again. But it doesn’t have to be this way. And a lot of clients don’t appreciate ostentatious entertainment. You can entertain your clients on a budget and still make a big difference to your bottom line.
Every business is a people business and commercial success is built on relationships. How your clients perceive you and the relationship you have with them is going to be paramount to success for both of you. So how do you entertain clients in an effective way, without breaking the bank? Here’s some important pointers…
You only get one crack at this one. How you are perceived early on will influence the ongoing perception the client has of you. Think about the impression you are going to make; are you dressed appropriately, do you arrive early or late, are you relaxed and in control or stressed? Plan on creating the right impression - it’s not going to just happen. The client needs to feel that he or she is being well looked-after; the point is that someone who can look after their clients well, can look after the business well and can be trusted. That’s an important impression to make if you want to build long-term relationships.
People do business with people they like. In any relationship, acknowledging the other party for the part they play is a healthy thing to do. Keeping business is a lot easier and more cost effective than bringing in new business. So periodically taking time out to touch base, both formally and informally, with clients and influencers will enhance relationships. It’s useful to try to get to know your clients’ interests and circumstances both inside and outside of work. Inside work, are they under pressure from the boss, are they short-staffed, are they planning on changing jobs? Outside of work, do they play golf, are they up all night with young children, do they love to travel? By understanding your client better, you are more likely to be able to help them out and to find common ground
Client entertainment gives you a chance to build on these deeper relationships and in this sense, it can be a pre-emptive move that will encourage longer-term, meaningful relationships that are commercially beneficial to both parties.
Stand out from the competition
Give to get. In a world that sometimes can seem too rushed with competitors fighting for your business, it’s refreshing to find one that gives back. No-one wants to feel they are just helping a supplier to meet their targets – even if that is the case! By entertaining a client, you are giving something away, with no guarantee of a payback. That demands a certain level of trust. Which is what you really want to promote in your relationships.
It not just for your clients – entertainment is also a great opportunity to acknowledge your employees. Depending on the size and type of event, sometimes you can mix client entertainment with staff entertainment. That’s ideal if it’s possible because it cements relationships across businesses. And by entertaining the team, you can help boost employee morale, productivity, staff retention and ultimately profitability. Employees are naturally an important part of the client relationship, so acknowledging them in the process is a smart move.
While you may aim to focus in on one particular client, some forms of entertainment also give you a great opportunity to network and meet other like-minded people, potentially leading to further business down the line or other professional opportunities through word of mouth. We all know that if you put yourself out there in business, things happen. And developing your network is a fantastic way to develop your brand.
Entertain Clients - Conclusion
Taking time out to entertain clients is going to be worth it. You are going against the crowd by developing and nurturing deeper business relationships. By making an effort to entertain clients, you are remembered for the right reasons. Of course the same thing can be said of a surprise present or commemorative gift. And while Tierney’s can't help organise your entertainment, we can of course help with some great ideas for corporate gifts. If you need any ideas in this context, please do contact us.