|Customer Confrontation Meeting. My place or yours?|
Scenario: Small website (<$5000). Delivered very quickly. Site looks great.
Client has been somewhat contentious throughout. Slow to respond to requests for information but quick to criticize. Last straw was an email about "Why aren't we #1" kind of thing. (Side note. This client is also an acquaintance. Not a friend, but someone I know from my local church. He's also, in short, an ass)
i called a meeting with him and his partner with the intention of layout out a finalist list of expectations so I can get him to sigb off on the punch list and get this thing closed once and for all.
My email suggested a date, him, and his partner, at Starbucks.
He responded with an Outlook invite showing his office (which is in the basement of his home). I responded with a "tentative" and put a note "lets meet at Starbucks" (as per my original meeting overture)
He responded "I would prefer we meet at my office. Let me know if this is a problem"
This is CLEARLY a power play. This will be a confrontational meeting and I know enough to make any confrontational type of meeting on neutral ground.
My intent is to respond and say yes, I do have a problem with your office. I called the meeting, we'll meet at starbucks"
Otherwise, I can just say hell with it, he's not going to intimidate me one way or the other, his office is fine.
It seems like the client's priority is to continue to establish his dominance. From my experience there are 2 ways to approach this:
1) Go in and see who can be the biggest alpha male, or
2) Go in, suck it up, and just get things done.
Number 1 probably won't get the results you want (or at least not amicably). Number 2 should allow you to get what you want (close the project and move on).
Give up the battle for the meeting space and focus on the goals you really want to achieve.
If you want to play a subtle mind game, show up to the meeting at his "office" with a cup of Starbucks coffee. Tell him you'd wanted to meet at Starbucks because you really needed your coffee fix. :)
You are right. Cooler heads always prevail, and that will be me. I will bring my cup of Starbucks and drink it down.
Make an agenda of points you want to discuss. Do not send it ahead of time, bring copies.
Make it "your" meeting - tell them off the bat that you have x minutes to discuss the points and then cover anything they may have that hasn't been talked about already. You set the pace and guide them through the conversation.
Do about 100 pushups and take some nitric oxide to get ya all pumped up so u look like one bad a--.:)
Just kidding wonder why he is so intent on the basement of his home. I really don't like the idea of having a heated meeting at anybody's home.
I would kindly explain your not comfortable coming there and prefer to meet in a public place.
If he refuses then wirte him off until he decides to make contact with you.
I agree and disagree with caribguy.
An agenda is essential to almost any meeting. however, I would distribute it in advance. Anything off topic gets pushed till after all of the agenda items are covered.
As far as the meeting place, that depends a lot on exactly what type of person this guy is. If he is a borderline Psycho who plans to rant and rave, then his basement will be a BAD move. (see if body armor is legal in your state).
I've found starbucks to be a pretty good place to meet. There is usually enough privacy to be able to conduct business discreetly.
You didn't mention it, but I hope that you at least got some progress payments. I like to structure things so that I get a payment at each sign off point. Some people get really anal as you reach the end of the project and start looking for any excuse not to pay. A progress payment is proof of sorts that they were satisfied at each point of the project. It also helps limit your potential for loss.
I'm not sure what I would do if I went to a client's place and they started getting belligernet. I would probably end the meeting and tell them we'll try again when they are a bit calmer.
If you distribute the agenda in advance, it will wake up your customer to want to include points of his own. Not so great in a confrontational meeting. The OP called the meeting, he should set the agenda. Anything else can wait until the end (if there is any time left).
Neutral ground is better, and I don't like the idea of you being alone there vs the customer and his partner.
Let us know how it went!
In legal terms, say at first chance in his office that you do not authorize the recording of the meeting by video, audio or any other means without your written consent.