Meeting Clients at a Location Other than your Office

One of the great benefits of incorporating technology into your practice is that you can practice anywhere. For many people, this means that they have foregone the expense of an office and are working only from home. Chuck Newton recently posted about Where to Meet Clients When You Work from Home.

Chuck makes several suggestions for locations to meet. Some of these suggestions are common, such as your home, the library, and the client’s home or place of business. Chuck makes several other suggestions that I hadn’t considered such as:

Meet at the clubhouse. Many apartments, HOAs and communities have what many refer to as “clubhouses” for their communities.  I know of a couple of lawyers than have houses in these communities.  They reserve small rooms at these clubhouses to meet with clients, to schedule depositions, and the like.

Meet at the local credit union. A few credit unions want to provide services to members.  They also have meeting space they let other use.  They may not care for you much if you practice bankruptcy law, but otherwise I have met a few who make arrangements with their local credit unions to use a small space to meet with potential clients.  You might have to have an account there, but what is wrong with with having access to low interest loans by being a member of a credit union.

Meet at a real estate broker’s office. I heard from an attorney that figured out that many of these 100% real estate brokerages partially finance their operations by leasing office space to real estate agents.  Many Realtor really work at home or from their cars, but want a place to meet with potential clients.  So, these real estate brokerages provide a bank of computers, beverages, printers, copies and the like that a Realtor can use while on site and meeting rooms in which to meet, even if the Realtor does not rent an office suite.  These so-called “desk fees” often run as low as $90 a month.  The lawyer persuaded a couple of these real estate offices on either side of a large metro area to allow him the same deal.  His pitch was that it would probably be beneficial for their agents to have more immediate access to an attorney when he was around.  So for less than a couple hundred dollars a month he has all of the meeting space he needed.  Many of these offices have hundreds of Realtor that use these facilities from time to time.  That can be a built in source for referrals in and of itself, even if you do not directly practice real estate.

Meet at the community center. Many towns have community centers, mainly for more elderly people to meet, eat and have group activities.  They have spare offices and space.  Look into it.  This might be especially good if you practice elder care.

Chuck actually suggests 20 different locations for meeting places. You should click through and see all of his suggestions.

One of my favorite suggestions was:

Meet at a fast food restaurant. This is probably more challenging for most of us than meeting at a coffee shop.  Maybe it just is not as casual as a coffee house.  But, I knew an attorney that practices in the area of will contest along the entire eastern side of Texas.  He would almost always travel to meet his clients.  He figured that every small town had a McDonald’s, and he liked McDonald’s. First, he could find a booth after breakfast or lunch time that was reasonably quiet.  McDonald’s are generally clean and well maintained.  He could buy his client’s a beverage of their choice.  Many families brought their children and they could play when the parents and attorney talked.  I thought at one point that this is just not professional looking enough.  But, it almost always worked.  His standard retainer was $10,000.00.  I personally saw him walk away from these meetings with $10,000.00 checks a number of times, and this was the first time he had met the clients.

After reviewing these suggestions, I realized that they apply to those of us who still have our traditional offices. I have a suburban practice that requires me to practice law in a multi-county area. My office is conveniently located for me. However, that does not mean that it is conveniently located for my clients.

I often travel to other courthouses and while there or on the trip to or from, I may be in a convienent location to meet with my clients. This sounds like a great way to build client relations if you can schedule a client meeting close to them when you will be in the area anyway. Obviously, your schedule as well as a need for a meeting will not always matach up. However, this may be an idea to keep in mind.