26 Oct CLIENTS IN YOUR HOME-BASED BUSINESS?
Bringing clients into your home-based business offers lots of challenges. While it is certainly convenient, it requires much thought as to how you handle the logistics of keeping you and your home safe and professional at the same time. Being in someone’s home creates the feeling of familiarity and casualness. This brings down your defenses and causes you to be less alert as to their behavior.
There are so many stories of how clients, when visiting a home-based business, wander off into other areas of the house, relaxing on the couch and reaching for a snack or an item on a credenza that they admire. One woman I heard of found a man taking a nap her bed; she hadn’t noticed when he left and just assumed he just walked out. A friend of mine had a difference of opinion when her client helped herself to the fruit on the kitchen counter and opened her refrigerator looking for something to drink. People often take liberties where none are offered. They do things that they would not do if they were in an office building or a shop. It is, therefore, up to you to set definite boundaries as to what is acceptable and what is not.
The ideal, of course, would be a separate entrance into the office work space, but this is a luxury most people don’t have, including me. Therefore, the path they take from your front door to your office must be clearly defined. It should be clutter free and well lit. In my house, I keep all the doors to the other rooms shut so they only thing they see is the living room, which they walk past, and then down the hall into the office. Should they need to use the facilities, I escort them to the bathroom door. I wait outside so I can escort them back to the office. When I offer water or soft drink, I ask them to wait in the office until I return with the refreshments. Clients bringing in their own food because the just didn’t have time to eat lunch, is not acceptable.
In your office, you will need to determine where they sit and/or set up their laptop or samples or whatever it is they bring with them. This should be prepared before their visit. Clear off the chair they will sit on and set it where you want them to be in relationship to where you sit. Remove files and other paperwork you are working on from their sight; people are curious and they will try to sneak a peek as to what you are doing with other clients and with your own projects, plans and financials. Be ready for your appointment with that client by having their file on your desk, so you don’t have to search for it and waste time and effort. Turn off the phone and dedicate yourself to your client’s needs.
Be dressed professionally. You don’t have to wear high heels or a suit. Be comfortable and clean but leave the sweats and tee shirt in the closet. Maintain the image that you mean business and that you provide the best service and/or product there is in your field.
Clients visiting with their children should be discouraged. They get bored and nosy; they can be disruptive and not able to sit still. Not all parents find this annoying – “they are kids!” is their attitude totaling disrespecting you and your home. You will then find yourself trying to keep them occupied to avoid interruptions and interference and that is not your job. Your own kids should not assigned to baby sit their kids either.
It is indeed a challenge to maintain a warm and caring relationship with your clients; balancing this with protecting yourself and your property needs careful planning. You run a professional business. The fact that your business is in your home should make no difference as to how you operate your business.
By putting all these steps in place you will announce to your clients that you LOVE WHAT YOU DO AND LIVE THE LIFE YOU LOVE!
The Home-Based Business Expert