How to Hold Meetings at Starbucks
The Best Meeting Space a Cup of Coffee Can Buy
If you are an entrepreneur or a small business owner it may be necessary to meet with clients on a regular basis. However, if you run a home-based business you may not want to hold your meeting in your living room or dining room. This is especially try if you are a stay-at-home-parent who manages a business in-between home schooling your children. This is where Starbucks comes to the rescue.
As an independent producer and a filmmaker (writer/director) my office space is where ever my Windows Phone 8 can pick up a Wifi signal. This could be in my car, in the parking lot at the NBC Universal Studios, or while walking the aisles in my local grocery store. Unfortunately, these places don't make it easy to hold a meeting with real live human being. What I and millions of others have learned is to simply map out a list of Starbucks coffee houses and hold our meetings there.
Starbucks coffeehouses can be the quintessential meeting spot for hipsters, suits, blue collar workers, college kids and business people. Most Starbucks locations come with ample seating for two, handicapped seating and room for parties of four or more to gather. While tables and chairs are furniture staples you'll find plush sofas and armchairs in some coffee houses, too. If you arrive at a convenient time you can bring your Macbook, Netbook or iPad, find an empty wall-jack and work until your heart is content.
The din in most Starbucks is tolerable. Most people tend to keep their conversations within their group and respect others' need for quiet. This usually makes it easy to speak with and listen to whomever you are meeting. Of course, every now and then you'll encounter a loud-talking cell phone user. If this happens for a prolonged time it's best to just find another seat.
As a director I've held auditions in Starbucks several times. The first time I met with a voiceover actor at a Starbucks in the marina. It was summertime and I sat outside. He road his motorcycle right up to the entrance, parked, and we chatted for three hours. Even with commuter traffic nearby we were still able hear each other well. When rush hour traffic died down it was even more quiet. The second time I met with a blonde actress whom I later hired for a role in my film Broken Hearts Club. We sat together and read lines from a break-up scene. It felt awkward at first because a nearby patron actually thought we were breaking up!
Another plus to holding your meeting at Starbucks is that they are everywhere. You can pick a spot convenient to both you and the person you're meeting just by visiting the Find A Location link on the Starbucks website.
Starbucks may be famous for coffee but they have a full menu of other complements. Every store has juice, bottled water, sandwiches, and salad. If you have a sweet tooth you'll find lots of bakery goods. Starbucks even has hot breakfast sandwiches.
Two other very important details for a successful meeting are: 1) a bathroom and 2) WiFi. Without these two items your meeting might crash and burn. It's a necessity to have a bathroom nearby if you're going to be drinking coffee all day. Most bathrooms are clean and tidy.
The Cheaper Alternative
When I made my movie in 2007 I arrange time to spent four hours with my actors. We met in the lobby restaurant of a hotel. I picked a spot local to all my actors because I live in a more suburban area. While there I ordered coffee, appetizers, and a cocktail. Over the course of four hours many people stopped by and we talked over a cocktail or coffee. It cost $100 plus a 15% tip.
I did the same thing at Starbucks, ordered coffee, a couple of patries and some hot chocolate. The evening cost under $25. It's easy to reduce the expense even further by bringing your own bottle water, and ordering brewed coffee instead of the fancy espresso dessert drinks
I learned an important thing about Starbucks when I was in New York. Space comes at a premium, and in New York City (Manhattan) many Starbucks coffeehouses do not have much room for seating. I discovered this when I planned two meetings with filmmakers in the city, arrived at Starbucks and there was no place to sit. If you're not sure about seating simple call ahead and find out for sure.
10 things to do before you hold a meeting at Starbucks
I've created a checklist of things you should do before you decide to hold a meeting at Starbucks. Following these suggestions should help make your transition from home office to Starbucks office an easy one!
- Follow Starbucks on Facebook and Twitter to get notified of special events, free drink giveaways and promotions.
- Use Find a Store on Starbucks.com to select the most convenient Starbucks location.
- Call the store to make sure it has ample seating.
- Recharge your cell phone and computer (laptop, Kindle or iPad) the night before.
- Plan to arrive 15-20 minutes early so you can order coffee, get the best seat in the house and immediately connect to Wifi.
- Pick a table near an electrical wall outlet.
- To save money, order tea or brewed coffee (I prefer Komodo Dragon or Sumatra) instead of the fancy espresso drinks.
- Bring your Starbucks card or make sure it's reloaded before you arrive.
- Download the Starbucks iPhone App - or the Droid™ App
- Remember, you're in a coffeehouse. Have fun. Drink coffee!