I'm planning on writing a short (hopefully) blog post on this topic and thought I'd get a discussion going here.
What are your sentiments regarding meeting with:
A - Prospective clients and,
B - Current clients
My personal opinion is that meetings are a waste of time 95% of the time, in my industry anyway.
My reasons for this are many:
1. An average meeting takes up to 2 hours of my time sitting in the meeting. It takes, on average, 1 hour in the car to get to the meeting place. So before you even realise it, that's 3 hours of my day gone. I bill out to clients at a minimum of R400, so that's potentially R1200 down the drain to meet with a person that may or may not become a client. Double if my partner attends the meeting too. (Assuming we're meeting a prospective client)
2. Prospective clients are often just surveying the field and don't really know what they want. When meeting such a person, the odds of us converting him/her into a client are usually very low.
3. I find that I am subjected to age bias if somebody meets me before we do the work. Sounds silly, but it happens a lot and it's very different to the reaction once you've done the work already and the client learns your age then.
4. I'm going to ask the person to compile a written brief anyway. The entire team has input on any particular project and I like to clear different aspects with different people before I accept any projects. As developing a website is usually a lengthy sort of process, it's important that we have a written document as reference.
5. I don't believe there's anything that can be said in a meeting that can't be said electronically. If I'm consulting on SEO etc then that's another story, but even then Skype is often just as appropriate.
6. We are generally booked up 1-2 months in advance by clients who are well prepared and know what they want. People who love to hold copious meetings are more often than not not very organised or sure of what they want.
While I understand it's necessary for meetings in many professions (electricians, aircon installers etc) I feel that if you're running an online business, your dealings should be primarily online.
I've had a client ask me to drive to Umhlanga (40 mins drive) to ask me literally 2 questions that could have been asked via the telephone. Meeting lasted a grand total of 5 minutes. When I'm deciding whether to take on a project or not, that sort of thing tends to tip the scales in the direction of not.
Interestingly enough, a long established and reasonably large name in the SA web design industry refuses meetings right from the outset and clearly states this on their website. Not only that, they don't provide a phone number and insist on email communication.
While this is something I would personally LOVE to do, I'm not sure that I would, even if only in the interest of great customer service.
Would really love to hear your thoughts on the matter. If you were me, would you stop having meetings? Would you stop taking phone calls? (Can also be a major disruption to your work flow)
Are you somebody who prefers meetings? Why?