The subject of safety in our clients’ homes often comes up on coaching calls with other chefs–mainly female chefs. Some of you have possibly never thought about this, but for others it is often a concern. I know that I have felt uneasy at times going to a client’s home in an unfamiliar neighborhood. This does not mean the area is run down or questionable, but there is just a weird vibe or something that is just not right. You know that little voice?
Since we tend to serve a more high-end clientele, we usually feel safe, but it’s always a good idea to ere on the side of caution. Here are some things you can do for your safety whether you are cooking in a client’s home or delivering a meal you made from your commercial kitchen:
- Do your research ahead of time. Google this person and see what you can find out about them. Do they own the company they say they own? There is usually a long list of various articles or places to find people on the web if you look. I typically do this anyway if I am meeting a client at their place of business so I can know more about what they do so they know I care.
- Read their Facebook profile and find who they really are and not just the voice on the other end of the phone. Sometimes the person you speak to on the phone or even know personally is a very different person on Facebook. Who they are on Facebook is who they are by the way.
- Take a friend, spouse or significant other with you to wait in the car when you arrive. The potential client will see the person that you brought with you waiting for you outside in the car. If you can’t take someone with you then have him or her on your phone and keep your phone in your pocket with a live line going.
- Survey the neighborhood when you arrive. Does it look like they can afford your services? Are the houses and yards maintained?
- Depending upon the laws in your state, I know some chefs that will conceal and carry as well.
- Always tell a spouse, significant other, etc. the address of where you will be going and the name of the person you are going to see. Even when all of these cautions are met, sometimes when you arrive for an event things occur that make you uncomfortable and go against your better business judgment.
Let me share a story. I interviewed a sweet couple once for a dinner party for the two of them. We decided on the menu, the time to arrive, etc. When I arrived at the home, the maid greeted me. Nothing unusual there. I brought everything into the kitchen and started unloading. The husband walked in and asked if I would mind wearing an “outfit” they had picked out for me as part of the evening’s entertainment. I politely said, “No, thank you.” I told him that my chef’s uniform with a coat was the only thing that I would be wearing. I gathered my stuff and left.
I have other stories as well, but those are for another time. With all of that being said, listen to your internal voice and simply do not take the client if you are uncomfortable. There will be another great client that will not cause concern.