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I have a decent client base now, after many years of hard work however increasingly clients are saying they will come to meet me. This is a change from what I am used to where I would always go and visit clients. The problem is I work from home and for various reasons I do not want to start using my home as a client meeting area (there is no where suitable for starters).

  • How should I get around this, is it unprofessional to say can we meet at a nice quirky coffee shop?
  • If they insist (which I have had) should I cave in and say ok?
  • Is it right to say to clients quite simply: I do not wish to meet at my home for personal reasons?

Just for clarification, all of my clients know I work from home - I'm not hiding that, and clients are asking to meet me for a variety of reasons.

  • Do you know why they want to meet you at your home? It may be possible to satisfy them some other way if you know the specific reasons they are being insistent. Maybe they are afraid you are just brokering the work to someone else for example. – PhysicalEd Dec 4 '13 at 16:26
  • That is a fair point about the brokering... I shall have to dig deeper! – tim.baker Dec 4 '13 at 18:06
11

I, and other freelancers I know do a lot of meetings at coffee-shops. Also, I constantly see a part owner of a designer firm I know, who has a large office, also doing meetings in the same coffee shops.

In Canada it is also very difficult to get home insurance (if you give full disclosure) if clients come to your home, or even if they don't but you are incorporated & work at home. And, not giving full disclosure is kind of silly -- if you ever needed to make a major claim, they would have the grounds to deny it. So, if clients insist, tell them you are unable to meet clients at home because it would invalidate your home insurance. It is probably true, and you should find this out

In BC, Canada I was only able after much searching to find one company who would insure me: BCAA. I like to occasionally meet clients at my home office because I have pretty cool setup, and I also frequently pair program at my home office. But I would never do it if my insurance didn't explicitly cover it.

Another place to consider meetings are University spaces during the times they are less busy. Universities have lots of large, airy, spacious study spaces with power outlets and decent tables/chairs. On off-hours they are often nearly empty.

A freelancing colleague of mine who does not like to work at home rents an "enterprise" space. This is a very common thing for non-tech businesses -- it is a space divided into lots of tiny offices that you rent, with a shared meeting room, kitchen, mailing address and optional answering service. They are inexpensive. I believe he pays $400CAD / month for a space large enough for three people to work in (I work there sometimes too). Smaller spaces are available for as little as $300/month.

  • Do you mind telling me where I can find such enterprise space in BC? I think coffee shops is a great idea. – KJW Feb 7 '14 at 3:29
  • I don't live in Canada but I am interested about insurance you talk here. What would client coming to your house breach your home insurance? Is this anti-burglary insurance and people coming to your house increase risk of a house being robbed? – Peter MV Feb 11 '14 at 17:12
  • @KJW the one my colleague uses is www.enterprisecentre.ca – Michael Johnston Feb 11 '14 at 21:53
  • 2
    @PeterMV I believe the primary issue is liability. For some industries, insurance is available because industry organizations have set up groups. However at the time I was getting my insurance this was not available for software consulting / web application development. Some companies were willing to insure, but with huge premiums -- thousands/year. Since some enterprise clients will require you to be insured, this is a bit of a hassle. – Michael Johnston Feb 11 '14 at 21:57
  • Further to the point made by @MichaelJohnston - in the UK you would have to ensure you had some manner of public liability insurance in place to cover you if any clients came to your premises. – Dre Jan 17 '15 at 14:54
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It is perfectly acceptable to keep clients away from your home. I have been freelancing with local clients for 10 years and have never invited a client to my home. I offer to meet with them at:

  • Their offices
  • Coffee shops
  • Co-working spaces or other rent an office for a day locations

I've never had someone insist they should come to my office, but I'd simply say "that's not an option" and stick to my guns. No explanation is necessary, but if you prefer to have one you can try "My home office is not designed for client interactions" and leave it at that.

  • The most common place I've actually had meetings is over coffee in a nice area of my town center. Miles better than bringing them into an office filled with more tech than I care to admit. – Amelia Nov 26 '13 at 16:19
6

There are very good reasons to not meet in your home (at least in the US).

If a client were to meet in your home for business, then have some accident, like tripping and falling, homeowner's insurance may not cover the accident if the due to the fact it was a business transaction and not standard home use. I know, odd, but leave it to insurance companies to find a way not to pay out. So, if you don't have business insurance for your home, you may be up the creek should something completely unforeseen happen.

There's nothing wrong with coffee shops (free wi-fi). I use them quite often. However, they can get busy and distracting. Be sure to schedule meetings during off-peak hours. Nothing worse than a coffee shop around lunch time when you are trying to hold a conversation which contains critical work related content.

If it bothers you or your client you can often rent an office space for a day. We have "day offices" (sometimes called "office shares") here which can be rented for periods like 4 or 8 hours during a day for a small fee. I've found this to be the best option here if it's an important meeting where everyone needs to focus well and understand everything going on. It's professional, quiet, and free of distractions when needed.

Barring the above options, I think I'd look at other public places, a park in nice weather. The Library if you still have one around.

I've never had a client insist on meeting in my home, but I have turned away a few who simply wanted to "swing by".

2

More often than not, I will go to the client's office (I also work from home). If that does not work for them, getting a coffee usually works very well. The thing to remember is they really just want to meet the person building their site and get a sense of who they are face to face. Seeing where you work is usually never their main concern.

2

There are more options than the 3 you listed. Maybe your client doesn't want to meet at a coffee shop because he doesn't want to discuss business in a public place where everybody can hear every detail. You could rent a meeting room for a couple of hours at a co-working space.

  • +1 for privacy consideration – Fil Nov 3 at 16:12
0

You are providing your customers with a good service and good prices, but you don't have your own office to meet them. You work at home. Well, this is exactly why you can provide them with excellent prices, YOU DON'T HAVE OVERHEAD. Tell them, use your "non-office-reason" as your leverage. Is totally honest and true. Also, tell them that you are proud of being part of another 56 million successful self-employed Americans than do exactly the same thing.

  • 1
    How would you recommend they meet if not at the house? What alternatives do you suggest? – jmort253 Jul 29 '16 at 7:56

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