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A New Year’s business resolution to party more with clients

The entertaining of clients might have developed a bad rep, but Simon Whitehead believes it important enough to make a key business resolution for 2017.
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As we make all our business resolution picks and cut back on the excesses of the festive period, parties and client entertainment are probably the furthest thing from most people’s minds.

Yet at HRC Law, it is our resolution this year to party more with our clients. The phrase “corporate hospitality” brings a mix of emotions, conjuring various images from golf days to black tie bashes and everything in between.

I’ve seen businesses with a “put it on the company card” policy, in which key players believe a client will be dazzled by a round of drinks in a glitzy bar and a somewhat old school attitude. Of course, relationships run deeper than mingling over a cocktail or OJ, but I do strongly believe that my team and clients need to be given a forum in which to develop business relationships away from the desk. Above all else, our style is to be approachable to our clients and contacts – face-to-face events are the very best way to achieve this.

Four years ago I set up HRC Law determined that as a business we would be built on relationships and would work with clients who valued our work and support. It surprised me how much the years of investing in business relationships has helped our growth and success: from the team we have built, to the clients we are working with and the referrers who promote us in the business community. Those relationships have taken time to develop over the years but have proved invaluable as the business started and then grew.

As we hang up our party wear in the back of the wardrobe post-Christmas, we should be sure to not hang up the desire to meet with our clients and contacts in a more informal environment for another year. It’s fair to say that in previous years some of our client entertainment has been ad hoc. This year, we have already been planning our strategy to put together a programme of events with something for everyone.

The business of law is often an unnerving experience for clients. It can be overwhelming and it is our role to ensure everything is as comfortable as possible. Step one towards this, and our business resolution, is in ensuring our clients are comfortable with us as people and as a business.

We host events throughout the year and try to think about what our clients actually like to do with their time.  Recently we treated some of our clients to champagne and a manicure at a local spa. This assisted relationship building, but more than that; it was a way to say thank you. It’s our plan to concentrate on treating clients to something that they genuinely enjoy, demonstrating the personal touch we offer throughout our business and supporting the relationships that have made this startup such a success.

In this respect, there is no one size fits all model. Just as I wouldn’t take an elderly relative to the same function that I would a friend, each time we host we try to ensure it is something that each client will either enjoy, benefit from or, ideally, both. Where we can make mutually beneficial introductions via a bespoke event, we try to do so.

It’s also about bringing people into our environment so they can see us in our natural habitat – as it were. It also allows clients to see how well our own team bonds and works together. We have recently relocated to a larger office space so we threw our Christmas party in the office to show people the space. Within the new premises, we have created a designated client space so that clients can hot desk here when they are in central Manchester, inviting them to make themselves at home in our office.

Our aim is to have long relationship with happy clients who also benefit from meeting each other. The added bonus of this business resolution is that happy clients tell others.

This article is part of a wider campaign called Founders Diaries, a section of Real Business that brings together 20 inspiring business builders to share their stories. Bringing together companies from a wide variety of sectors and geographies, each columnist produces a diary entry each month. Visit the Founders Diaries section to find out more.

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About Author

Simon Whitehead

Simon Whitehead is an employment law specialist with a background in large and boutique laws firms. He advises business and individual clients on employment law issues. HRC Law was founded by Whitehead and he has channelled his way of working into the ethos of the firm meaning that expertise does not come at the cost of commercial thinking and practicality.

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