The Value Meal

CFO Survey Shows It Pays to Take Your Client to Lunch

MENLO PARK, Calif., Dec. 28 -- Breaking bread with key contacts is good business, according to a recent survey of chief financial officers (CFOs). More than a third (36 percent) of executives surveyed said their most successful business meeting outside the office was conducted over a meal.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources, the world's premier provider of senior-level accounting and finance professionals on a project and interim basis. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

CFOs were asked, "Other than in the office, what was the location of your most successful business meeting ever?" Their responses*:

Restaurant 36%
Trade show or conference 25%
Sporting event 4%
Golf course 3%
In a car 1%
On a trip/plane 1%
Nowhere else, only in office 24%
Other/don't know/refused 4%

*Total does not equal 100% due to rounding

"A well-chosen restaurant can offer a neutral, more relaxed environment than the office, often with fewer distractions," said Paul McDonald, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. "Sharing a meal with clients or colleagues puts all parties more at ease and helps to establish rapport."

 McDonald offers the following tips to ensure a successful business meeting outside the office:

  • Choose the right location. If you're planning on a restaurant, select one that is quiet, easy-to-find and provides excellent food and service. Make sure the menu has enough variety to accommodate anyone with dietary restrictions.
  • Arrive early. Plan on getting to the meeting before your guests so you can select a comfortable spot and be there to greet them.
  • Stay on schedule. While you want to postpone talking shop until after you've ordered, don't let the meal go on too long if your client has told you he or she has limited time to meet. On the other hand, if things are going well, avoid rushing to get your bill.
  • Give them your undivided attention. Never take cell phone calls or check e-mail at the table. As the host, it's your job to make sure the meeting is productive and on topic.
  • Practice good manners. Always treat the restaurant or facility staff with courtesy and respect.

About the Survey
The national study was developed by Robert Half Management Resources. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on more than 1,400 telephone interviews with CFOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees. For the study to be statistically representative and ensure that companies from all segments are represented, the sample was stratified by geographic region and number of employees. The results were then weighted to reflect the proper proportion of employees within each region.

About Robert Half Management Resources
Robert Half Management Resources is the premier provider of senior-level accounting and finance professionals to supplement companies' project and interim staffing needs. The company has more than 145 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at www.roberthalfmr.com.

 


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