Lunchtime’s Best For Deal Success

By Jerry Akerman – The Miami Herald – 04/05/2001 – 12:00am


There may be fewer martinis, but the business lunch hasn’t lost favor with executives anxious to cut a deal.

At least that’s the report from a survey commissioned by Robert Half International, the employment agency. About 1,400 chief financial officers from small, medium and large companies were queried.

The question was: Other than the office, what was the location of your most successful business meeting ever?

Forty-nine percent said a restaurant, 9 percent said a golf course, and 7 percent said a trade show or conference.

Quizzed about their favored locales for cutting a business deal, some executives said a meal goes far toward building relationships — but the office is where work gets done.

I find typically that things go much less productively in a restaurant setting, said Jeffrey Saunders, president of the family company that owns the Lenox Hotel in Boston.

His preferred locale for crunching numbers and doing deals: Behind a closed door in a meeting room with coffee and soft drinks, and maybe cookies if it’s during the afternoon.

George Naddaff, the entrepreneur who first spotted Boston Chicken as a franchising candidate, says office settings provide the time for both sides to explore details.

Lunches, he said, are too hit-and-run.

While dinners aren’t Naddaff’s choice for doing business, either, he favors them over lunches for developing personal rapport. I like to go to a place where you can have a drink, he said, and most guys don’t like to drink at lunch.

PERKS LURE WORKERS

What does it take to make Fortune Magazine’s list of ‘America’s 100 Best Companies to Work For?’

In a word? Perks to entice ‘the best and brightest’ to come to work for a company — and to stay.

Just to mention a few: on-site day care (offered by 26 companies), concierge services (29), domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples (47), and fully paid sabbaticals (31).

IN THE CARDS

What do you do when someone hands you a business card?

“The biggest mistake you can make when you receive someone’s business card is to glance at it and slide it into a pocket,” says Sue Fox in the just-published book, Business Etiquette for Dummies (Dummies Press, $19.95).

They recommend spending a few seconds reading the card thoroughly — perhaps repeating the person’s name aloud if you are not sure about the pronunciation. Saying aloud the job title that is printed on the card can be a useful conversational tool because you might then follow up by asking about the duties associated with that job.

Finally, Fox says, express your gratitude for being given this information.

First Published in 2000

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