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Ryan McFadden of Revival Renovations told me about the “Tea and Cookies Meeting” a while ago. Most business these days can be done by email and phone. In the renovation business you need to see the space, get measurements and make some choices. Then nothing happens for 4-8 weeks as things are built, cut, and prepared.

During this quiet time, he makes a point of having a brief face-to-face meeting with the client where he updates them on the status of the project, and there’s usually tea and cookies.

He told me that these meetings make the clients comfortable during the otherwise awkward “quiet period” of a project when lots of things are happening behind the scenes, but their renovation doesn’t look like anything is happening. It’s because of these meetings that he gets so many recommendations and word of mouth has grown around his business.

At NorthIQ, we know that we can work anywhere, and we can work for anyone. Geography, timezones, and borders are no problem for us. If a company fits our criteria of being an organization we want to work with, we can make it happen.

This has proven great for us, we have a massive market, and we can specialize in our own niche, creating opportunities that close better than anything a company is currently doing. We have clients in the United States, Canada, and with our sister company Manage Comics, we have shops all over North America, Europe, and Australia.

We handle projects through a bunch of tools including Basecamp, meeting software like Zoom and Join.me, and even good old fashioned email. Most of the time these are great, but every now and then we like to meet face-to-face with our clients.

The Tea and Cookies meeting is huge for us, we will come in with an agenda to discuss the things we’ve done, but we also like to look at what we can do in the future. It does a few things for us, puts a face to the name, helps build a bond, and allows us insight into things we might not have know about before.

During these meetings we’ll talk about what the client wants to do with the business, and we listen for interesting things they aspire to. Maybe there’s a new market they want to enter, or a different type of customer they want to attract. It’s amazing how much work you can get done quickly in a face-to-face meeting.

We will often make quick sketches, or bounce out iterations of a plan quickly in these meetings. An hour long face-to-face can get as much done as several multi-hour phone meetings can accomplish.

There are so many different reasons for this, but I think one of the biggest is the non-verbal cues that you can only pick up on if you’re in a room with someone. You can see people around the table nodding in agreement, or resisting something, and in the end the entire team ends up on the same page.

Sometimes travel to our clients can require herculean efforts of trains, planes, and automobiles, but we get so much value out of the face to face interactions that we consider “Tea and Cookies” a valuable part of our arsenal of tools.

Brian Garside has been building websites for two decades and has worked on some of the largest websites in Canadian media. He focuses on creating good user experiences and building websites that make their owners money. Brian is certified in blogging and content marketing from Shaw Academy.