Las Vegas, NV
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Because of current economic challenges, businesses everywhere are seeing their benefits being cut. Say "Goodbye" to luxurious executive retreats, weekly golf outings, and lavish client dinners. As CFO's everywhere take a big bite out of their budgets, is there any money left for modest business lunches? As management seeks to trim the fat, is enjoying a steak with your client too much to ask for? Or have things gone too far?
Robin Jay, a business relationship expert agrees that six-figure retreats complete with massages, headline entertainment, and lavish banquets have seen better days. "Companies still need to find ways to build deep, trusting client relationships and breaking bread is one of the most effective ways to share ideas and get to know someone better. Executives will just have to get more creative as budgets dry up," says Jay. "There is nothing you can do over a power lunch that you can't also do over breakfast – at half the price"
Jay should know. Her award-winning book, "The Art of the Business Lunch: Building Relationships Between 12 and 2" (Career Press) has been sold in twelve languages, including Russian, Italian, and Korean. Seems everyone wants to know her secrets for doing business at the table.
Jay hosted more than 3,000 client lunches during her career in advertising and saw her sales increase by more than 2,000%. It wasn't long before her clients started calling her "The Queen of the Business Lunch" Today, she is a motivational speaker, sharing the importance of building solid business relationships wherever she goes. Breaking bread with clients is the best way to build relationships. Jay says, "People open up when they are in a more relaxed setting like a restaurant. Socializing with clients will break down barriers and help you to find common ground more easily than office meetings"
Jay shares, "Small business owners, entrepreneurs, and account executives still need to engage prospects and show appreciation for their long-term clients. They just need to work harder now to find new, more affordable ways to accomplish these goals. I've stopped by my client's offices with everything from fresh-baked bread, cheese, and gourmet salamis to ice cream – and in my hometown of Las Vegas, where it's 110 degrees in the summertime, showing up with ice cream in the summer is not just a big treat, it's also a feat…one that will be remembered"
So, in a struggling economy, should client lunches be eliminated, cast off like yesterday's newspaper? "Absolutely not," warns Jay. "This is an incredibly important time to show your clients and prospects how valuable they are to you, how much you appreciate their business, and how far out of your way you're willing to go to make them happy. And the best part of this economy is that as so many of your competitors are tightening their belts, they are actually paving the way for you to distinguish yourself by stepping up"
If your budget has been cut and your expense account barely covers the cost of a tank of gas, how can you continue to make your clients feel SPECIAL? Jay says, "It's really not that hard, although it might involve getting up a little earlier; but then, it's the early bird that catches the worm!"
Jay explains, "One of the best ways to show your clients you care and NOT look like you're pinching pennies is by taking them to BREAKFAST instead of lunch. Even in NYC, where a bagel and coffee can set you back $20.00, breakfast is still going to be a bargain, especially when compared to a business lunch done right at a restaurant that caters to business diners and high-end corporate clients!"
The only down side, says Jay, is that breakfast doesn't afford the same leisurely pace as a typical business lunch. But it's going to allow you to BREAK BREAD with your clients…and, according to Jay, something magical happens when you break bread with another human being. Walls come down and business relationships are formed. Jay says, "Don't let the economy take a bite out of your business dining. When the economy rebounds, your clients will appreciate you even more for having been there during tougher times"