We’re so accustomed to our own office environments that we often overlook how visitors may have to adjust to them, says Rosemary Smyth, founder of Rosemary Smyth and Associates in Victoria.
For example, if you’re used to wearing a blazer to offset the cranked-up air conditioning, you might forget to warn a client to wear a jacket over light summer clothing when visiting your office.
Here are five etiquette tips to help you create a comfortable environment that is conducive to productive client meetings:
1. Limit distractions
Minimize disruptive noises, such as online videos or beeping cellphones, Smyth says. Turn off all electronics before your clients enter your office.
Smyth suggests closing the blinds to keep the focus on the conversation. If your office is downtown and your clients are visiting from the suburbs, they may not be as accustomed to busy urban life and inadvertently become distracted by the view from your window.
2. Clean off your desk
Many advisors simply apologize for the mess if their desk is covered in paperwork and other items, but your desk should be clear and tidy. It’s good to have an empty drawer where you can quickly stash documents temporarily, Smyth says.
Besides, you want to show your clients that you are organized and that you honour confidentiality, so it doesn’t make a good impression if you have important documents lying around.
3. Use a separate office
If possible, use a dedicated client meeting room or a boardroom instead of your personal office.
Such a space requires little more than a small table and chairs to be effective, Smyth says. Just make sure the room is comfortable and airy and is out of earshot of others in the office who may be busy typing or talking on the phone.
4. Prepare an agenda
When setting up a client meeting, prepare an agenda ahead of time and forward it to your client, so he or she will know which topics you will be focusing on, Smyth says.
If you don’t have time to send a written agenda in advance, at the very least start the meeting with a verbal agenda so clients understand what you will be talking about.
5. Provide note-taking supplies
It’s always good to have extra pens, paper, and even WIFI available so clients can take notes by hand or on their tablets or laptops.
If the meeting is long or the issues being covered are complex, supplement your clients’ notes by sending a follow-up summary immediately after the meeting so they have a compete record of what was discussed.