Liquid Lunches: When Drinking with Clients is Part of the Job

Sometimes, the course of our work includes client meetings. And, sometimes these meetings include alcoholic drinks. These are sometimes colloquially known as “liquid lunches.” because t is sometimes thought that only liquid gets consumed at these events. Despite the slang, liquid lunches only, are not actually recommended. Whether you’re meeting a client for lunch, taking them out for drinks after work, or hosting at your workplace, always be sure to pair your libations with some light food!

There are benefits to meeting clients over drinks, such as:

  • Meeting at a place outside of the office creates neutrality
  • A relaxed atmosphere might relieve tense discussions, negotiations, or deals
  • Treating the client to a drink or meal may help demonstrate the level of service your company is willing to deliver
  • Taking the client out sends the message that they are valued
  • Meeting outside of the office reduces workplace distractions or interruptions

But, what are the are the health and safety implications of lunch meetings that includes drinks, or meeting for drinks after work?

A meeting outside of work is still work. You are acting as a representative of your organization; therefore, it is essential that you conduct yourself accordingly. It is also important for employers to note that they are liable for employees who partake in one or two drinks over lunch or at an after-work function.

Nine Rules for Drinking with Clients

When it comes to meeting a client for drinks, follow these rules to ensure that you and your clients get all of the benefits of a liquid lunch.

1. Be up front about the expectation: If you are meeting a client for drinks, be sure that they understand that the meeting will be at a bar, and alcohol may be consumed. That way, if they don’t drink or they’re uncomfortable, they have time to suggest an alternative.

2. Let the client choose the place: If the client says they don’t care, choose a place that you know will serve a full menu, along with cocktails. Be sure that you choose a spot that is fully accessible so that all clients can enjoy the venue.

3. Know your limit, then stay below it: Knowing your limit is key, but this is a business affair. You shouldn’t come anywhere near approaching your limit. Don’t set out to test the limit.

4. Order a cocktail or a beer – not a shot: Again, the idea here is business lunch, not getting wasted on shots.

5. Err on the side of caution: This is a work event. It’s important to put your best foot forward on all respects, including being responsible and planning ahead. Regardless of how much you drink, plan a safe way home – even if you think you’d be okay to drive. It protects the organization and it’s responsible.

6. Be a polite conversationalist: Ensure that the bar or restaurant isn’t too loud for a good conversation. Opt for a table instead of sitting at the bar, so that you can face you client. This is especially important if there are more than two of you meeting, and it’s a better accommodation for clients with vision or hearing impairments.

7. Stick to business: Keep the conversation to the business at hand. Don’t let alcohol do the talking.

8. Don’t be afraid to shut it down if it’s out of hand: If the meeting gets derailed because one or both of you enjoyed one too many, shut it down. Suggest you try again when you’ve both cleared your heads, perhaps in a coffee shop or diner.

9. Don’t let your client drive drunk – ever: If you meet a client who has one too many over lunch and ends up tipsier than planned, do the right thing: ensure that they do not get behind the wheel.

For many occupations, taking the client out for a couple of beverages is a part of the job. When duty calls, ensure that you always come out classy by recognizing limits, keeping it business, and being responsible.

Don’t let going for drinks with clients pose a problem. If you’re concerned this could become an issue at your organization, please contact us.