It can be very difficult to entertain clients on a limited budget, particularly for the smaller companies that can’t afford to compete with the big guys. What is most important for the crucial business relationships is just that–relationship. Face time builds and maintains lasting relationships and no amount of extravagance can take the place of quality, caring conversation. Here are a few ideas…

Treat them to breakfast, which is more budget-friendly and eliminates the cost of alcohol. It also allows everyone to spend less time out of the workplace.

Schedule coffee. Without the distractions of trying to conduct a business conversation between bites, a power coffee allows you to get in front of prospects and clients to share your ideas, one-on-one. Your captive audience will remember you because you gave them your undivided attention. Even with today’s pricier coffee bars, quality time can cost under $20 to seal the deal. Just ensure there is a quiet place to talk.

Half price happy hours. You can save a barrel of money if you choose a classy place with a quiet corner that offers 1/2 price hors d’oeuvres and drink specials. Be sure to designate a set time, say 4:30-6:00 p.m., and order food items according to your budgetary allowance. If a time limit is not stated, munchies could turn into paying for dinner. Let them know time with them is very important, even though you don’t have the opportunity for an extended period. With busy schedules, they should appreciate the time considerations as well.

Maintain control. Offer a choice of two places (within your budget) and then let the client give his/her preference. If the client has free reign where to go, you may go over your budget. If wine is on the agenda, take control of the selection by seeking their preference of sweet to dry, possibly ordering a bottle of red and one of white, etc. Ask the server for suggestions and let your client help choose.

Get creative. See if you can incorporate any holiday events into the mix like a a wine tasting, event at a museum or tickets to a free Christmas concert.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rita Rocker is a national inspirational and educational speaker, communications and image specialist, and a career and virtual presentations coach with Transformation Academy, LLC.  She is the author of “A Guide to Marketing Yourself for Success”, and a contributing author to “The Unstoppable Woman’s Guide to Emotional Well Being -The Total Woman in Leadership and Success Guide for the Unstoppable Entrepreneur.” She has appeared on national television and radio talk shows on self-esteem and communication. A former Mrs. Nebraska and active in numerous professional organizations, Rita is on the Board of the Small Business Association of the Midlands and co-director of greater Omaha’s Affiliated Women International. Rita provides life and career-transforming programs to mature teens and adults. Contact Rita at