Running a business from home can provide awesome flexibility, however; meeting clients and maintaining a professional image can present a challenge. Follow these few simple steps to look great without giving the impression that you’re trying to be something you’re not:
1. Be honest. Working from a home office is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, when clients ask why you don’t have a storefront, simply say “We have definitely considered it, but made the decision that a drastic increase in prices to accommodate the overhead is not in the best interest of our customers.”
2. Be consistent. If you don’t invite customers to your home, then don’t cross that boundary. Customers sometimes want to meet after hours or on weekends. While you must remain flexible as a start up business, teaching your customers that your boundaries are loose can lead to scary things – such as a mad customer showing up at your back door during dinner with your children. If you do allow customers to meet you at home, it’s a good idea to establish office hours so that you can have some time to yourself or with family. If a customer shows up after hours, consider what they want to do. If they want to talk about a project, set up an appointment to meet first thing in the morning. If the customer wants to pay you, take the money and keep a receipt book by the door so you can scratch off a receipt, thank the customer, and go back to your home time.
3. Find a great spot. For customers who do want to meet, choose a spot to use as a meeting place. Great spots are typically coffee shops that offer Wi Fi and a fairly quiet atmosphere that’s suitable for talking. Choose where you sit carefully – make sure that your customer is facing a wall to avoid distractions, pick a table close to an outlet just in case you need to charge your phone or laptop, and ensure you are in a good location to see your customer when she/he arrives.
4. Bring the coffee. The most convenient spot for your customer to meet may be on a job site or in his office. Offer to meet in his office and you bring the coffee. This is a thoughtful gesture and creates a little excitement as the customer looks forward to your visit. Make sure to ask what he likes to drink when you make the appointment, so there aren’t any slip ups at the last minute if you can’t reach him from the coffee shop ordering line.