As an attorney, I regularly participate in entertaining prospective and current clients from around the globe. My most recent assignment came during a conference in Chicago. I had three days and a pile of diverse people to visit. After grouping each individual into four major categories, I got to work. Here’s where I went.
1. The International Client – Often times an international client is visiting not only Chicago, but the U.S. for the first time. For that reason, an experience along with dinner is in order. The Signature Room located on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building fits the bill perfectly. By calling ahead with a private reservation, a three course meal (soup/salad, choice of entrée and dessert) for $68 a plate can be secured and the line skipped. Once inside, the Chicago skyline is visible from nearly every table. Following dinner, I suggest going down one floor to the John Hancock observatory where clients can take photos of the Chicago skyline. In just four short hours, clients had an experience worth writing home about cementing the relationship.
2. The Exotic Client – Chicago is a city known for its diverse neighborhoods and hidden gems. So, show the exotic client one of the best. Gage. Located on Michigan Avenue in a building constructed in the 1800s, this tavern/dining hall has an exotic menu that includes bone marrow, elk ribs and venison burgers. As if that’s not enough, they have a large beer and wine selection to suit everyone’s taste. The dining area is quiet enough to talk, but busy enough to avoid any feelings of stuffiness. Thus, clients tend to relax, making conversation flow easily. When dinner is over, you can close the deal over dessert at the Corner Bakery up the street.
3. The Sophisticated Client – As a general rule, I avoid chain restaurants, but if your prospective client is sophisticated, Shula’s in the Sheraton on North Waters street is the place to be. With a traditional atmosphere, your client will be able to select a steak (or in my case a live lobster) off of the meat truck that the waiter brings by to take your order with. On a weekday, most people in the restaurant are professionals attending one of the many conferences routinely held at the Sheraton creating a business like atmosphere. As a bonus, the hotel has valet parking, a cab line and concierge service right out front to accommodate your prospect’s every need. Finally, and most importantly, Shula’s provides top notch service at a reasonable price demonstrating your competence and good judgment. Two key traits any savvy business person will expect to see.
4. The Casual Client- Let’s face it. Not everyone is comfortable in a restaurant with a dress code. If you want to succeed in business, give the client what they want! If that’s pizza and beer go to the Original Gino’s East Pizzeria on Wells street. This restaurant is credited with creating deep dish pizza, a Chicago classic that runs about $25. The 45 minutes it takes to make the pizza provides ample time to split an appetizer and talk business in a casual setting. Due to the size of these pizzas, the prospective client will have plenty of leftovers to munch on while considering any proposal.