Business Communication Help & Advice

Run a business? Invite a client to the office

You don’t know what it is that I know. Similarly, I don’t know what you know. Some of you might know some of things that I know, but not everything. And visa versa. For my clients, they look at me and see a different world of knowledge. And sometimes, that difference in knowledge can seem like a barrier…

“I really like the design. Well, we all do, really. But” and here it comes, “… we were wondering, can we have blue instead of the green? That’s not hard to do, is it?”

Well yes, actually! It’s going to take about a day and half in total.

And herein lies the moment of frustration, consternation, uncertainty and then doubt.

This is because the client sort of thinks they know enough about what you do to know that their seemingly minor change is going to be a trivial task to accomplish.

I mean, what’s hard about changing one colour for another? If you’re a designer, you’ve been here before.

If you’re just a designer, then yours isn’t to reason why.

If you’re a business owner and a designer like me, then ours is to reason why and to then have to explain to the client why their request is a non-trivial change, one with financial implications.

There’s a relatively easy solution to this problem. And it’s a solution that has many peripheral as well as direct benefits.

Go straight to the list of benefits right now →

Since I moved into my shiny new office at the beginning of the year, I’ve had a few clients over, all of which have been impressed with the new digs.

In the last week, I’ve had two clients over to go through work with them.

The first client I had around is looking to a total overhaul of their website. We’re at the design stage and we we’re both keen to avoid the game of email tennis, where I send ideas over their way and try to figure out what they do like based on what it is that they don’t like.

This is hugely unproductive and major cause of mission creep and projects running way over their deadlines.

So on one Friday morning, I had Steve over and we blitzed the design phase.

I ran some colour proofs off, I emailed the draft final designs over to his office and he left a really happy guy.

The second client I had around is looking to develop a website for one of their various other businesses. We decided to opt for the Joomla! CMS (Content Management System) to drive their website.

Simone & I worked on refining the design first. Then in the afternoon, we worked on fixing some rendering bugs associated with Microsoft’s hideous Internet Explorer web browser. And finally, I showed her how to use Joomla! to add content to the website.

It was a very long day for both of us, but we got a lot of work done that simply couldn’t have been sorted out over the telephone, or by email.

The many benefits of client visits

  • If you plan your time and your activities clearly, then you and you client will have a really productive day.
  • Your client will learn more about what it is that you do and understand how long certain tasks can take. Additionally, armed with this knowledge, there’s a good chance that your clients will plan projects more accurately.
  • The client will meet the rest of your team, putting faces to what were previously just names.
  • You get a chance to showcase some of the other projects that you’re working on, and how smoothly and efficiently they’ve gone when planned efficiently.
  • You can showcase other projects, which gives you a great chance to up-sell some of the other services you offer.
  • The two of you will get a chance to talk about stuff other than work. So there’s genuine opportunities to socialize. Maybe take them out for lunch?
  • If you have a good, clean working environment, you’ll give out a greater sense of professionalism about what is that you do for them and others.
  • If you get calls from other clients, don’t deflect them. Apologize to your client and then use that other client call to demonstrate your rapport with your client base.

With both clients, they left with a new appreciation for what it is that I do for them.

Gone are any notions that I’m sat around faffing around with their work, not working as fast as I could.

They saw first hand just how changing a colour can leave you feeling blue and looking sickly green…

About the author

Wayne Smallman is the man behind Octane Interactive, a web design, web applications development and internet marketing agency. Octane has been around since 1999 and is based in Yorkshire, England.

Wayne has been in the new media industry working as a web designer & developer since the mid nineties and also provides a consultation service to businesses looking to make the most of their web presence.

He’s a passionate believer in the power of technology to better the lives of everyone and his passion and drive are hallmarks of his attitude to doing business.

Wayne is also the author of a series of web-related articles for businesses and individuals wanting to know more about the web and how the web can help them be more productive and work smarter, not harder.

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

3 replies on “Run a business? Invite a client to the office”

[…] our success can be skewed somewhat. So some education is in order, and here’s your chance to bring your clients up to speed with what your job entails by inviting them to the office. Let them sit with you and learn first hand the time it takes to turn Widget A from blue to […]

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