A big company approaches you and shows interest in your small business’ services and compliments you on previous work, your heart starts to beat a little faster and you’re picturing yourself in the driver’s seat of a Bentley heading back home to your mansion, to join your gorgeous other half in the hot tub… Wow, hold on a second! The excitement of getting recognized by a big firm can send your brain into overdrive and your typically rational mind starts to wander.
This huge company which has approached you is located 100 miles away and they’re calling the shots, you can cover the travel expenses if you live off tinned baked beans for the rest of the month but the opportunity is far too valuable to pass up; so what now?
This is the problem many small business owners are faced with; big companies view your services to be at attractive prices, and approach you to arrange a meeting. So how exactly can you afford the travel expenses without declaring bankruptcy? Here are a few things to consider before deciding whether to take the plunge or pass up on the opportunity.
Pre-meeting Skype Call
Before rushing half-way across the country to meet with the directors, arrange a Skype call to provide them with more information about your company and discuss exactly what it is they’re looking for from your services.
Make sure you tell them exactly how many people are currently employed in your organization; this could be a deal breaker as if they consider you to be too small you’re unlikely to break them down no matter what you offer them. At the end of the call, ask them if there’s anything they’d particularly like to know about your company before paying you for your services. It may also be wise to produce a guide/brochure on your company to provide a little insight.
Be realistic too, if their expectations of you are too high and you know it then, refrain from trying to sell them what you can’t deliver. You could end up being in dispute with a huge organization and legal expenses are never cheap…
Don’t be a Push Over
Many small business owners find it hard to stand up to industry giants and end up agreeing to everything on their terms. Whilst you want to come across as flexible, don’t bow down to everything they ask, especially if you can’t really afford to or it’s too inconvenient for you. Showing a little authority can also prevent them from pushing you around or doing ‘freebies’ for them to keep them happy.
If you’ve got another client meeting in the diary don’t reschedule, remember where your priorities lie. Losing an existing client is more damaging than failing to seal a new contract.
Reducing the Travel Costs
If the Skype interview goes well and you decide to make the journey in an attempt to get the contract, you’ll want to keep travel expenses to a minimum.
Firstly, decide which employees you really need with you. Even though you may not have the largest number of employees, do you really need to take the whole team? Think about what each employee’s strengths are and how they can benefit your meeting, take the most valuable and varied employees with you and leave the rest to hold the fort whilst you’re away.
Use your correspondents within your industry to find discounts. For example, if you’re a digital marketing agency working on hotel chain’s website why not ask if they are willing to give you a discount if you book with them? It could be just the saving you need to make the trip more feasible.
Booking in advance for travel is another great way to make savings. Often you can find discounts on train tickets if you buy them in advance, as is usually the case with flights. Also, consider travelling a little later in the morning; on-peak train fares can be more than double the price of an advanced or off-peak fare so research your options before booking too hastily.
You don’t have to pass up on valuable opportunities due to travel expenses, planning thoroughly rather than packing an overnight blog and boarding the next train can make the trip possible. Just make sure you don’t forget to plan your pitch!