Looking to Branch Out
As a small business, typical concerns revolve around how to reduce expenditure and retain existing business. So the idea of apportioning an amount of outgoings towards corporate hospitality rarely sees too much light of day, with the general preference being to batten the hatches and hold on tight to whatever you’ve got.
Yet what’s true for major corporations is true for the sole trader and small business, also: relationships count. Developing and nurturing good personal relationships is essential to gaining trust, contracts and long-lasting business.
Furthermore, while it’s healthy to consider hospitality as a shrewd investment rather than a begrudged expense, you don’t actually have to spend that much in order to show a potential client or partner who you are and what you care about.
So forget about your executive boxes, put the champagne on ice, and instead spend according to your means – only not to the detriment of a solid and purposeful investment in client/partner relations.
Here are 3 simple ways that you can invest in corporate hospitality without breaking the bank:
1. Go local, keep it intimate
Especially when your guest is from out of town or abroad, don’t be tempted to go big and glitzy. Apart from name restaurants and bars being that much more expensive, a small, friendly place says much more about you and where you’re from than a generic choice for an evening out. Plus you might find there are fewer distractions and you’ll be able to talk more freely and intimately in a smaller location.
But just because you’re going local doesn’t mean that quality should suffer – good quality food is universally appreciated, just as poor quality is universally disparaged. So effort is still required. A low-key restaurant should: be clean and reliable; offer excellent, albeit simple, service; and have a great atmosphere – but not a rowdy one.
2. Think traditional
Also, think of what’s special about your local area. Maybe go for a lunch, cream tea and scones in Devon, or handmade chocolates, patisserie and confectionery in Nottinghamshire. Or it could mean trying something as honest and simple as some good old-fashioned fish and chips – combined with an attractive, authentic pub and what may seem mundane to you could in fact be fascinating and authentic to a Japanese or American guest. It would also give you the chance to show off some of the engaging and dynamic local history.
Equally, if your business is in an area with a strong foreign-origin community, use that as an opportunity to explore an exciting cultural heritage. That could mean a shisha and falafel in the heart of London, perhaps a chicken korma in Brick Lane, an aloo gosht in Bradford, some smoked Polish sausages in Slough, or maybe a lamb kofte down London’s Green Lanes.
Likewise, a small parting gift should be traditional or local, also. So think artisanal food produce, or products made from locally sourced materials. In fact, a local farmer’s market or similar kind of event where there is a good atmosphere, with plenty of things to look at and try, is also a perfectly reasonable activity as long as it is backed up with a good, interesting place to follow on – such as cool independent coffee shop – where you’ll be able to talk shop.
Rather than focusing on getting the deal sealed, spending time with a business associate or client should be an opportunity to be engaged and engaging, find out about your common interests, and gently develop a bond that allows for an enduring business relationship in the future.
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