Proper Etiquette for Business Lunches
By Christy Lamagna, CMP, CMM, CTSM
Do you either invite others or get invited to business lunches? Have you ever thought about the etiquette behind hosting or being hosted? If not, check out these tips to help make your lunch meetings more appetizing for you and your companion.
Always make a reservation. It doesn’t matter how slow the restaurant may be. It demonstrates a level of professionalism and attention to detail.
Put the reservation in the guests’ name. It’s a nice way to validate them and allows them to be seated if they arrive before you do. It also prevents you from fumbling for the reservation name if your assistant booked it under that name instead.
Arrive early. It’s unacceptable to keep your guest waiting.
When you pay the check, make sure to do so in such a way that the total is concealed. Or better yet, leave your card at the hostess stand and eliminate a step.
Always send a follow up within 24 hours of the lunch. It’s important to stay top of mind and the extra effort goes a long way while only taking a moment of your time.
Choose a location that has easy access. If your guest is driving, suggest a convenient parking area. If you know parking is expensive, offer to walk with your guest back to their car and cover the tab.
Ask about food allergies and preferences before choosing a location. Not everyone enjoys the same food you do.
Decide in advance if this is a drinking or non-drinking meal and set the tone by ordering first.
Order something easy to eat. No one looks good chewing.
Unless you know the person well, don’t ask to sample what they ordered. Save that practice until you are with friends and family.
Bonus tip: If you want to impress your guest and give the impression you eat at that establishment often, talk to the maître’d, and ask to have your server know your name and ‘welcome you back.’ You can even tell them your drink of choice and have them ask if you want, ‘your usual.’ Tip whoever helps make this happen as, under the right circumstances, it can make a valuable impression.
For the Guest:
Arrive on time. Late is never in fashion.
Don’t order alcohol if your host doesn’t.
Order what you would if you were paying the tab. Don’t develop a hankering for lobster because someone else is picking up the check.
While your guest is likely interested in you/your business, do your homework on the host and the organization they represent. The conversation should flow both ways.
Don’t talk with your mouth full. (Mom is always right.)
Send a thank you note after the meal.
If you can review the menu in advance, do so. It speeds up the process and allows you to be aware of any potential food allergy issues in advance.
If you do have a food allergy issue or concern, call the restaurant in advance and speak to the hostess so it isn’t a distraction when you get there.
Put the phone away. Undivided attention should be the first thing on the menu.
Consider the circumstance before asking to have any uneaten food boxed to go. Sometimes it’s appropriate, others it’s not.
Bonus tip: Learn the server’s name and compliment the service. It’s the polite thing to do and shows you pay attention to detail and respect other people’s work.