Figuring out where to host consultations can be a challenge for most wedding and portrait photographers who operate out of a home office. It’s easy to find yourself relying on the convenience of America’s every-other-corner caffeine distribution center, Starbucks, or a similar chain coffeehouse. And while saying you should "never" meet there might be a little drastic, client courtship in cafes isn't the best idea and is actually pretty avoidable. Here are five reasons to ditch your Starbucks meet-up for something a little more creative.
It's legitimately noisy. Having a meeting in a crowded coffee shop is about one rung below dinner conversation at a Green Day concert. It’s hard to discuss the subtleties of your photography business amongst the hissing of steam, the stomping of boots, and the 30 other hushed conversations happening around you. There's a reason all those medical students have their headphones on.
Some parts of your business are best discussed with confidentiality, and that simply can’t happen at Starbucks. It might seem paranoid, but talking money and legalities surrounded by strangers never feels quite right and some couples might have questions for you about handling personal family situations that they might not want to share with everyone else there. Even without your own office space, there are better alternatives that don’t have community tables and tight quarters.
Despite your best intentions and the earnest practicality of it, some people may pass judgment on being asked to meet there. Sure, lots of photographers close deals in Starbucks day in and day out, but that doesn’t mean it’s a plus to you credibility. Neutral is the best one can hope their potential client’s opinion is about discussing business next to frantic studying, blind dates, and job interviews.
It’s the not the most comfortable place to meet. Getting to know a new couple, looking at the books you offer, or discussing the concerns of a new client can be made a lot easier when everyone can relax. The aforementioned noise, close proximity to conversing strangers, and lack of comfortable seating aren’t helping you any in the Zen department.
5.) So Many Other Options
Finally, you have so many other options. Why not show your clients how well you know the area and give them a sense of the community by inviting them to a locally-owned business? A small tea shop or alternative coffee shop can be a great option, or even an outdoor cafe, microbrewery (still loud), or ice cream parlor to help set a more creative, collaborative, and local tone for your meeting. For a more private space, consider renting a meeting room in the library or community center.
In an ideal world, having the budget set aside for your own meeting place would be a top priority. It’s the best option to avoid all the public-space issues mentioned above, but it’s not financially possible for some photographers and others may not see the point if they can run a fully-functioning businesses while avoiding the overhead of an office.
If either is the case for you, consider exploring your options for a meeting place that might help you avoid some of the hassle and present a more complete picture about you and your photography. If you work from home, where do meet your clients?