One of the phrases that used to terrify me as a freelancer was when a client would say (either by phone or email), “We must meet, and we will come to you”. Meeting a customer for any reason is fine, I am happy to visit their offices as long as they are paying for my time. It’s the prospect of them coming to me which strikes fear.
I have a nice home office – it’s where I work and do my stuff. But at the same time, it’s really a techy work place, and the thought of doing business meetings in my house – well, just does not feel right. This is especially true when meeting prospects – leading them past my living room and upstairs, past my bedroom into my home office – well it just does not seem…. professional.
If you have the same fear, and you are forced to meet them somewhere other than their offices, here is a list of possible good meeting room locations….
There are regus offices all over the world, and offices in most major towns and cities in the UK, USA and the rest of Europe. Meeting rooms can be rented by the hour, day or week. Whilst slightly pricey (a meeting room for 3 or 4 people will cost around £175 for a day), it does give a professional image, they supply all services from the internet, greeting, teas and even lunches. The only big downside of Regus is that once they have your details, they will spam you to death with future offers. Regular users of regus offices get big discounts, and they run membership schemes that for a fairly large chunk of cash per year, will allow you to use available offices around the country whenever needed at no extra cost (as long as they are available).
Almost all hotels (not cheap and cheerful travel lodges) will provide great meeting rooms for business meetings, from 2 person rooms, through to rooms for 100 people. If you want to save money, less formal meetings can also be held in hotel lobbies for the price of a few rounds of tea and coffee – however this can sometimes be a noisy environment. The advantage of using a hotel is that they are normally located at easy to find locations (main road junctions) whilst Regus can be tucked away in hard to find locations.
As with hotels, most golf clubs have formal meeting rooms available for hire at generally good rates. The advantage of meeting at a golf club is that it can make you look like ‘one of the boys (or girls)’ and will be set in a nice location with great views.
For those wanting meetings on the cheap, meeting in starbucks (or any of the other fast coffee houses) is an option. However, this is now widely used as a cheap meeting and work environment, so can be crowded and noisy, and can be awkward when you arrive to find all the tables are gone – so you need a backup plan.
Google – Meeting Rooms
To compete with Regus, most towns and cities will have a large number of small private meeting rooms for hire – just google “Meeting Room” with your postal code or town to find the best solutions.
When talking about a meeting location with a customer or prospect, I am generally completely honest with the person and say something like “You are more than welcome to visit my home office, but it is a working environment rather than a meeting place. I suggest we meet at (pick you location) if that’s Ok with you”. It’s never been a problem so far.