In my early years, I once went to a client's home and after that experience said "never again." Their television had a green tint to it that skewed my demo. There were other family members talking loudly in another room and a child running around the house. It was a total distraction, and I didn't get the business anyway.
When a client comes to my studio, I control the environment. I set the mood and the ambience, and can make sure the setting is free of anything that might distract from the business at hand or give the client a negative impression of me. When a bride makes an appointment, I make sure to confirm the appointment with her 24 hours in advance. I always ask for a cell phone number. If she's more than 10 minutes late and I haven't heard from her, I will call her. Sometimes a bride cancels at the last minute, but at least I'm home.
If you don't feel comfortable having a client come to your home (for whatever reason), then go ahead and meet them at Starbucks, but at least make it a Starbucks close to your home. I value my time and you should value yours, too. As I tell my clients who don't live nearby, just come and see me once, then we can do everything else through phone and email if you prefer. Thanks to the internet and having streaming video on my website, I often get business from out-of-town brides whom I sometimes don‘t meet until the wedding day.
When working from your home, every day can be casual day unless you are meeting with clients. I'm sure I'm not the only one booking jobs while wearing lounge pants and a t-shirt. I do, however, really dress up when meeting with clients. My clients' first impression of me must be that I will blend in nicely at their expensive event.
When giving directions to your home, take clients the easiest way as opposed to the fastest way. You don't want a frazzled client showing up because she got lost. Keep in mind that when clients come to your home, the first impression starts at the kerb. Make sure that your mailbox has your address on it in easy-to-read, reflective letters. Better still, hang a decorative flag outside and let your clients know to look for it. You may want to tell your clients where to park. If you live in a cold climate, make sure that your driveway and all walkways have been shoveled of snow and are free of ice. For evening appointments, make sure your outside lights are bright. Even if your studio is in your basement, have the rooms in front of your house lit up so it looks welcoming. Ideally, you will see your clients pull up to your house and will greet them at the door even before they ring the bell. Be the first to say, for example, "Hi, I'm Kris—welcome and come on in!"
Keep the inside of your home neat and get rid of unnecessary clutter. If you have pets, put them where they can‘t be seen or heard. In fact, if you have pets, it's not a bad idea to let your clients know that ahead of time. People who have animal allergies will need to know what they might encounter in your home in advance; if those allergies are severe, you may have no choice but to meet them elsewhere. With some pets (or if you are a smoker), your house may have a certain smell which you may not even notice but can put off potential clients. Regardless, light some scented candles around your home, or better still, bake some chocolate chip cookies (the bake 'n' break kind is the easiest) just before your clients arrive.
Make sure that you vacuum where you clients will sit if you have pets that shed. On days that I have evening appointments, I make sure that I don't cook anything that leaves odors, or I make it a fast-food night. If you only have time to clean one room in your home before a client comes over, make sure you clean the bathroom properly (just in case). Give a quick spray of scented deodorizer. To a client, nothing is more unappealing than using a stranger's dirty bathroom!
Even though clients won't say it, they will appreciate it if they can see that you have gone to the trouble to clean up your home. By the same token, a dirty and cluttered home is an instant turnoff. You may lose the sale before you even open your mouth.
So you can see that there is additional work involved when working from home, but for me, it sure beats the alternative. Besides, who doesn't like living in a nice, clean home anyway?
Kris Malandruccolo, an EventDV 25 all-star, is the receipient of multiple video and writing awards. The only videographer to earn the title of Master Wedding Vendor through the Association of bridal consultants, she is a past president of the Illinois Videographers Association and chair of the WEVA Public Relations Committee.