Client asking for a meeting at their premises

How normal is this these days

Didn't find your answer?

Back in the day I'd have a few face to face meetings but things have moved on and mostly these are done on a call or via zoom or questions are settled via email.

Face to face meetings that do happen are always at my office, but I have one client (of 200+) who wants me to go to them.

I would be grateful for tips on how I approach this?

Replies (55)

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the sea otter
By memyself-eye
22nd Mar 2024 11:03

errr...just turn up.

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Replying to memyself-eye:
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By bettybobbymeggie
22nd Mar 2024 20:08

In thirty years I've never been a "yes"-person. In my 50s now and eyeing retirement so not about to start.

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By Bacc
22nd Mar 2024 11:18

I still see clients at their premises, actually prefer to see them in their own environment, usually the clients prefer it too.

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By Roland195
22nd Mar 2024 11:23

Not sure why you seem to think this is unusual?

Have a wee trip out & get an extra smiley face on your AML documentation for having confirmed a visit to the client premises.

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stonks
By WinterDragon
22nd Mar 2024 11:24

Isn't most of the fun getting to meet client's dogs?

If I'm asked to do bookkeeping training then I almost always prefer it to be in person, it's just easier to point at the screen and find the relevant bits of paperwork in their office rather than sit on a teams meeting waiting for them to dig out their digital secure key to get into their bank and download a statement they have printed in front of them.

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Replying to WinterDragon:
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By Tom+Cross
22nd Mar 2024 11:27

"Isn't most of the fun getting to meet client's dogs?"

Absolutely essential. I believe it's one of my due diligence features for my AML report.

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Replying to WinterDragon:
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By AdamJones82
22nd Mar 2024 12:02

Not the one I go to, the little sh*t jumps up and scratches my legs every time. Would love to rugby kick the oversized yapping rat

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Replying to AdamJones82:
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By David Ex
22nd Mar 2024 12:29

AdamJones82 wrote:

Not the one I go to, the little sh*t jumps up and scratches my legs every time. Would love to rugby kick the oversized yapping rat

The client or the dog??

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Replying to David Ex:
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By Rgab1947
26th Mar 2024 11:24

May be both? LOL

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By Tom+Cross
22nd Mar 2024 11:25

What's your beef, with the location of the proposed meeting? If distance is an issue, explain that there are additional charges.
Whilst I have some understanding of your reluctance to meet the client, at their premises, in the great scheme of things, they are your 'customer' and surely have some influence on what they would like to see from their accountant. It's surely just another instruction.
Only last week, I travelled 160 miles, to meet a client and their Solicitors. Well off my usual patch but well within my comfort zone.

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DougScott
By Dougscott
22nd Mar 2024 11:45

In the old days you always went to the clients premises but as you say a lot less common now. I would of course make sure they understand that you have to charge travelling time.

Of course I assume you know the client and they are kosher and not a potential risk to you personally.

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By Yossarian
22nd Mar 2024 12:37

Just don't do what a former boss of mine did; misunderstand where the client wants to meet, and set off to their premises as the client was heading to our office. The client arrived in our reception just as the partner phoned to say he was at the client's premises but couldn't find him anywhere... No idea whose fault it actually was but they both blamed each other.

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Routemaster image
By tom123
22nd Mar 2024 12:40

I would have thought, in this increasingly online world, you might relish the opportunity to get out and about once in a while?

Maybe that's just me..

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Intercity
By Mr Hankey
22nd Mar 2024 12:41

I work from home and don't want people coming to my house, so meetings are always at their house/ business premises. It's always just been the norm for me.

One think I do dislike though is if they're smokers. Even if they don't smoke in front of me, I'll come away away and my clothes will stink. Urgh!

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Replying to Mr Hankey:
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By DKB-Sheffield
22nd Mar 2024 13:35

Same as (operate from home so meetings at client premises/ homes).

I once made a mistake when holding a meeting at home. 10 minutes before the meeting, I used my last 'Yorkshire' teabag! Alas, I 'broke into' a Christmas hamper and found a lovely box of Chatsworth tea and Chatsworth biscuits (not quite Fortnums, but pretty high-end in these parts). Client still (10 years on) tries to negotiate a 10% discount on account of my lavish lifestyle! I now visit them... and make sure I take my own teabags).

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Replying to DKB-Sheffield:
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By kim.shaw-and-co.com
22nd Mar 2024 20:02

DKB-Sheffield wrote:

I now visit them... and make sure I take my own teabags).

How very "Yorkshire" of you !

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Replying to DKB-Sheffield:
RLI
By lionofludesch
23rd Mar 2024 07:47

Over my 30odd year career in self-employment, there were probably about three clients who I never visited either at their home or at work.

I love a day out.

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the sea otter
By memyself-eye
22nd Mar 2024 12:57

I used to have a lot of clients in the pub trade. Visiting them at their premises wasn't a hardship as 'trade samples' were often on offer.

Of course, these days I have to pay.

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By JD
22nd Mar 2024 12:59

I would go as far as saying that it is not possible to advise a client correctly or cover off AML due diligence unless you have visited the client's business.

Having seen the set up and the they way they work, worts and all, your understanding of them as clients, what they need from you, and your ability to provide them with relevant information will improve no-end.

Put your timesheet down and invest in them, and it will pay dividends in the long run.

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Johny Fartpants Picture
By johnny fartpants
22nd Mar 2024 13:21

Initial meeting at the client's address is still the norm for me. In fact I much prefer to have my initial meeting at my client's premises. It makes the AML and client on-boarding easier for one thing.

After that, my preference would be online meetings or meetings at my premises. I must admit I am a bit "old-school" in my methods though!!

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By Hometing
22nd Mar 2024 13:41

Depends on their circumstances but there is a good argument that visiting their premises will improve your understanding of their business

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By JCresswellTax
22nd Mar 2024 14:09

Are you anxious or something? Surely you would just go?

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By bettybobbymeggie
22nd Mar 2024 14:36

I should have said - they've been a client for 8 years and I've been to their premises a few times so no issue for AML, etc.

Why do I have to travel to their premises when they can just as easily come to me.

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Replying to bettybobbymeggie:
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By Bobbo
22nd Mar 2024 15:37

bettybobbymeggie wrote:

Why do I have to travel to their premises when they can just as easily come to me.

Because they pay you money to do work for them??!??!?!?!?!?!!

From their perspective, why should they travel to your premises when you can just as easily go to them?

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Replying to Bobbo:
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By bettybobbymeggie
22nd Mar 2024 15:57

Bobbo wrote:
From their perspective, why should they travel to your premises when you can just as easily go to them?

Because they want the meeting and it has to be face to face apparently. If I wanted the meeting that shifts the power dynamic but I'm buggered if I'll travel out to a client just because they are too lazy to come to me.

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Replying to bettybobbymeggie:
the sea otter
By memyself-eye
22nd Mar 2024 18:25

dear betty bozo if you can't be ars*d there are many who can.

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Replying to memyself-eye:
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By bettybobbymeggie
22nd Mar 2024 18:49

Bozo is mean, but I clearly value my time more than the many.

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Replying to bettybobbymeggie:
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By Bobbo
22nd Mar 2024 19:29

bettybobbymeggie wrote:

Bozo is mean, but I clearly value my time more than the many.

In that case, contact your client and tell them you think you going to their premises is a waste of your time and you will only have the meeting at your offices or virtually/by telephone. Then let us know what the client says.

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Replying to Bobbo:
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By bettybobbymeggie
22nd Mar 2024 20:20

Hopefully I can be a bit more diplomatic but yes that's the general plan.

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Replying to bettybobbymeggie:
RLI
By lionofludesch
23rd Mar 2024 07:51

bettybobbymeggie wrote:

Bobbo wrote: From their perspective, why should they travel to your premises when you can just as easily go to them?

Because they want the meeting and it has to be face to face apparently. If I wanted the meeting that shifts the power dynamic but I'm buggered if I'll travel out to a client just because they are too lazy to come to me.

Are you not billing them for your travel time or summat? I'm not really grasping why you're so vehemently opposed.

Thanks (3)
Replying to bettybobbymeggie:
Johny Fartpants Picture
By johnny fartpants
22nd Mar 2024 15:39

I suppose you could tell them you've been done for drunk driving so it would be easier to have the meeting online / at your offices???

I think I would just turn up and build the additional time into my billing. Certainly beats my first suggestion! ;-)

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By SteveHa
22nd Mar 2024 14:44

Compromise. Meet them in the pub (I've done that before, and once I got a tax job offer after the interview was in a pub).

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Replying to SteveHa:
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By DKB-Sheffield
22nd Mar 2024 15:44

Steve... are you the same bloke down the pub who advised my client to... [Fill in the gaps]...?

[Only joking!]

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Replying to DKB-Sheffield:
RLI
By lionofludesch
23rd Mar 2024 07:52

I think we've established the identity of MDTP.

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By kim.shaw-and-co.com
22nd Mar 2024 20:07

As long as they don't expect you to cover the travel time costs out of your fees it's neither here nor there really ? They need to understand that you can't necessarily perform chargeable work whilst travelling so if they want to cover your opportunity costs that's fine. If they want face-to-face after negotiating a fixed fee with a discount build in, the answer's likely to be "jog on" !

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Replying to kim.shaw-and-co.com:
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By bettybobbymeggie
22nd Mar 2024 20:19

It's not about the time/money I'm losing but about the power a client has (or think they have) over me. I hate the idea that I have a phone with 200+ numbers in it and at any point any one of them can call me and demand a meeting at their premises and I just have to trot along like a lap-dog. I think I am within my right to question the need for any meeting if I think it can be done more efficiently via email/phone/zoom. If any of my clients think they can unilaterally override this right then yes indeed they can jog-on.

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Replying to bettybobbymeggie:
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By kim.shaw-and-co.com
22nd Mar 2024 20:59

bettybobbymeggie wrote:

It's not about the time/money I'm losing but about the power a client has (or think they have) over me. I hate the idea that I have a phone with 200+ numbers in it and at any point any one of them can call me and demand a meeting at their premises and I just have to trot along like a lap-dog. I think I am within my right to question the need for any meeting if I think it can be done more efficiently via email/phone/zoom. If any of my clients think they can unilaterally override this right then yes indeed they can jog-on.

I think this is more about managing expectations - you can offer them some dates you are available for a face-to-face that are far into the future or indicate you can fit them in to a zoom /teams earlier if they prefer.

You may get your message across through signalling more effectively that way ? It may be that the client doesn't want to lose their own work hours travelling to see you and if so, it's important you don't turn it into some sort of power play as to whose time is more important.

Your time has a price tag to it and if they want a face to face then in the end that is their choice - provided they pay, and book their slot in far enough ahead for you to accommodate the extra travel time being allocated to them, given you can back-to-back zoom and teams all day long. That way there is a genuine valid reason behind your reaction and not something likely misplaced about client preferences.

Some people are simply just not comfortable having online meetings, and they no doubt (as entrepreneurs) have lives that are as busy as your own !

Thanks (4)
Replying to bettybobbymeggie:
Sandman
By Mr Sandman
23rd Mar 2024 09:53

I absolutely agree with bettybobby. The same not only applies to demands for meetings, where we trot along like lapdogs, but also to emails. Clients arrogantly believe they can send an email requesting instant answers on anything. A master servant relationship. I find emails have changed accountancy from being an enjoyable career to a very stressful occupation.

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Replying to bettybobbymeggie:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
25th Mar 2024 13:35

Sorry, I see it as he who pays the piper calls the tune.

I have a provisional meeting on the 2nd, lots of legal docs to sign, I want a solicitor in attendance as both witness and to ensure we execute them all correctly. He (likely he, one of the legal team) will travel through to Edinburgh, attend our offices, do the necessary, we will likely pay £xxx for his attendance. Yes we could all travel to Glasgow and save money, but that is not the point, we are giving the firm circa £60,000 in fees for the overall exercise (this is just stage one) and if they are a non attending firm there are plenty of others who will attend for future transactions etc we do . (And being a property group our annual legal fees tend to be minimum £20k each year)

Most people attend when requested, my father visited his clients, I visited most of mine when in practice, it is a service industry and that means provide a service.

Of course if you are happy to lose clients stick to your guns.

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By Matrix
22nd Mar 2024 21:15

As professionals, and not the gutter press, we should know better than speculating about other people’s lives.

One of my clients wants to meet face to face next week and I know him well enough to know it isn't something trivial.

As a trusted adviser, use this as an opportunity and if you don’t want this to be a regular occurrence, then manage expectations regarding your time/fees. But it could be something serious that can only be discussed face to face.

Thanks (4)
Replying to Matrix:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
23rd Mar 2024 12:21

Matrix wrote:

But it could be something serious that can only be discussed face to face.

I thought that as I read down this thread, but you beat me to the punch Matrix.

Dennis Price, in the guise of Louis Mazzini, summed up both his (and the OP's) trepidation in Kind Hearts and Coronets:

"A day or so later, I received a letter from Lionel. He requested an interview with me at his house on a matter of some delicacy. I was somewhat perturbed, for nine times out of ten, what is referred to as a matter of some delicacy is, in point of fact, one of extreme indelicacy."

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By Tomazaan
26th Mar 2024 17:01

Probably my favourite film. Sheer brilliance.

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DougScott
By Dougscott
23rd Mar 2024 11:32

Send out a new engagement letter setting out appropriately high charges for travelling time and mileage in your posh car, then at least you will enjoy raking it in if your client has the impertinence to invite you to visit their premises.

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By Paul Crowley
24th Mar 2024 01:13

I still do quite a few meetings at my office, but far less than pre Covid
Hardly ever meet at client.
But if client wanted a meeting then OK, but the extra time would need to be addressed.

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By Open all hours
25th Mar 2024 12:39

You can learn a lot from seeing clients in their natural environment.

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Replying to Open all hours:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
26th Mar 2024 11:27

Bit like Gorillas in the Mist.

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Replying to DJKL:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
26th Mar 2024 11:51

The Isle of Skye?

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
26th Mar 2024 16:48

You went out with a girl from the Isles, then.

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Replying to DJKL:
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By kim.shaw-and-co.com
27th Mar 2024 03:04

DJKL wrote:

Bit like Gorillas in the Mist.

LOL.

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By [email protected]
26th Mar 2024 12:22

God forbid. They'll be expecting you to do the Tax comps next

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