6 Ideas for Entertaining Clients on a Budget


If you’re like most small business owners, you have to cut unnecessary spending wherever you can. And although there are many areas where you can cut back, entertaining your clients and business associates simply isn’t one of them. So how can you save money without sacrificing your client base? The key is to find creative ways to show your associates a good time without breaking the bank. Here are some innovative methods small business owners are using:

1. Save money on business meals by taking all business meetings at lunch. Clients are less likely to order alcohol during the afternoon and you won’t have to spend as much time away from other work responsibilities. If you must schedule dinner meetings, negotiate a set discount with a local restaurant in exchange for conducting all your business there.

2. Conduct a personal tour of your city for out-of-town clients. This is basically a free (except for the price of gas) activity that can serve as entertainment and education for clients who may be unfamiliar with the area and the impact your business has on the community.

3. Get to know your clients to make your entertainment choices count. Spend money only on activities that you are sure they are interested in and will enjoy. Although golf has become a standard entertainment activity in the business world, your client may abhor the sport. Inquire ahead of time to maximize your investment.

4. Instead of paying for that luxury box or season courtside seats at the local sporting arena, buy tickets on online auctions for only the most discerning clientele. Sites like StubHub offer significantly reduced prime seats for a number of sporting and other events. If you already have a season pass or box, you can also consider selling unused tickets or renting the box when you don’t need it.

5. Save money on golf outings by purchasing rounds in advance. Talk to your local course about buying in bulk if you often find yourself on the greens discussing business. If this is not possible, you might consider cutting back to nine holes from 18, or visiting the driving range instead of playing entire rounds of golf. You can also suggest that clients walk the course instead of renting golf carts, although this may not be a popular tactic.

6.  Entertain in groups. If you’re going to rent a yacht or close down an art gallery to entertain a client, why not combine the activity with a dozen or so potential or existing clients at once? Bring your best employees to the event to close deals and maximize your investment. Always have enough staff in attendance to ensure that you are paying your clients individual attention. Set up a private lounge area away from the party to discuss business details so that no client feels lost in the crowd. If you do this biannually, you can save money on dozens of individual outings throughout the year.

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