The Business Lunch

by Jill Bremer, AICI CIP

More business in America is conducted over restaurant tables than in offices. We take clients to breakfast, lunch, tea, cocktails and dinner to discuss business and strengthen relationships. Prospective employees are often evaluated over a meal, as are current employees in line for a promotion. Your social etiquette skills can often be a determining factor in your success with clients and superiors. What follows are some tips for planning and executing the perfect business lunch.

First of all, develop relationships with a few nice restaurants. Get acquainted with the manager, maitre’d and servers. You’ll receive great service and have special requests honored.

INVITATION – When you invite someone to lunch, make it clear you will be the host, that you will be paying. Suggest several different restaurants and let the guest choose. Always make reservations (you should only be taking guests to restaurants that accept reservations). On the day of your lunch, call your guest in the morning to confirm the place and time.

ARRIVAL – Arrive ten minutes ahead of your reservation and ask to have your table and server pointed out to you now. If possible, take your server aside and explain that the bill should come to you at the end of the meal. Or let them input your credit card information now.

Wait for your guest in the lobby, and let them precede you as you walk to the table. They should be seated first and in the best seat.

ORDERING – Since you dine regularly at this restaurant, you’ll be able to make recommendations to your guest. Be sure that you order something easy to eat so you can carry on a conversation. Don’t order anything too crunchy, messy or anything you have to eat with your hands. Choose simple knife-and-fork food.

DRINKING – When the server takes the drink order, ask your guest if they would like a cocktail and then follow their lead. If they order alcohol, you can too, but limit your drinks to one or two light ones. If they don’t drink, you shouldn’t.

BUSINESS – Wait until the meal is finished before initiating any serious talk of business. Documents only go on top of the table, briefcases never. Notebook computers are being seen more at restaurants. If you need one for your discussion, change seats to get closer to your guest. Turn your cell phone to “silent” or off completely.

© 2017 Jill Bremer All Rights Reserved

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