As a business owner, you are always “on call”. It doesn’t matter if you are a small business owner, direct seller, professional – doctor, teacher, lawyer, accountant, engineer, etc – you are representing your business and your personal brand. Part of that personal brand is the FIRST IMPRESSION that you make on your potential customer/client. Overall, your first impression consists of appearance, behavior, and communication.
I’ll never forget my first embarrassing moment with first impressions. I was working at a fortune 100 company in California fresh out of college. We earned one day a month where we could “dress down” but dressing down years ago was not wearing a suit (so I came to learn)! I showed up at work in dress pants, a blouse and flats thinking I was pretty dressed up. I happened to be in the elevator with some managers / executives within the company when one woman looked right at me and asked, “Is this your dress down day?” It was NOT. I probably turned BEAT RED. I loved this job and didn’t want to lose it over my attire. I’ll never forget the conversation. She stated, “This is not part of our regular day dress code.” I responded, “I thought my outfit was professional.”. She finishes, “Flats are not professional. You need a jacket.” End of discussion. Elevator opened, thankfully. While I was embarrassed and annoyed at this woman’s comments, she helped me rethink the way I dressed. That conversation would never happen again.
Dress Codes are different, First Impressions are the same.
1. Know your environment. As a business owner, if your “esthetic” or “business philosophy” is to wear a t-shirt and shorts every day because you want to be comfortable, then that is your right. You make the rules in your environment. However, when you are trying to attract new customers / clients, you need to know your audience.
Example: Let’s say you own an IT business and are trying to get a contract for a local attorney’s office. Showing up in shorts and a t-shirt is not going to fly. You want to dress for THEIR ENVIRONMENT.
Example: Let’s say you are a direct seller and trying to attract more customers when you are out and about. Just yesterday, a friend told me about a direct seller offering to try her products. Later that week, my friend says to me, “why would I ever purchase clothing or accessories from her when she looks frumpy and disheveled every time I see her?”. Please don’t take this the wrong way. These are the facts. It’s human nature. We create a first impression of someone within 7 seconds. When you are polished and put together, you give your potential customer the impression that you are confident, knowledgeable, and trustworthy. Why would you buy any kind of product/service from someone that was disheveled? My thought process would lead me to believe that they are not going to continue with customer service, know their products, etc. While this may be far from the truth, IT IS ALL ABOUT THE FIRST IMPRESSION.
2. Wear a Jacket Adding a jacket to your outfit gives the impression that you are trustworthy. Is it any surprise that men have been wearing jackets in the business world for years? In today’s world, wearing a jacket with jeans, boots, and a blouse can be an amazing outfit. A long necklace or statement necklace complement the outfit; just CLICK HERE to get more necklace details!
3. Shoes! Please wear comfortable shoes. Three years ago, I went to a conference where the speaker was confident, smart, and sharp. However, she bragged about her name-brand shoes ($500/pair) yet she couldn’t walk in them and told us that!! I love fancy shoes but if you cannot walk in them, don’t buy them. Style should not hurt no matter what you learned as a little girl. Do you walk or take the metro/subway to work? If so, wear flats! Based on your foot, find the brand that is most comfortable for you such as Tieks, Me Too, or Coach. In today’s world, wearing a pair of cute sneakers with your dress on your commute to/from work is totally acceptable. I would recommended taking a pair of heels or dress shoes to change into at work. Don’t get stuck in an elevator with a human resources Captain like I did! Remember, a powerful first impression requires thought and includes appearance, branding, and communication.
4. Dress for the desired transaction amount. When meeting someone the first time, in half a second, contact is eye-to-body. Hence, they notice your clothes before your face. Many business owners cringe when they hear this because they don’t want to stray from their personality.
A few years ago, I had a young, intelligent client that insisted on wearing jeans, sneakers, and a t-shirt when meeting potential clients. She hired me because she was getting a lot of business appointments, but wasn’t closing any sales. She was selling a service ranging from $3000 – $15,000 (per month). While that may not seem like a lot of money to some people, for others it’s their entire life’s savings. These potential customers needed the whole package from this business owner. They needed her to convey trust and professionalism. She wasn’t conveying either. Why would they trust her with their money and time when she is showing up disheveled, unprofessional, and appearing like she doesn’t care.
This young business owner was sharp and knew her business inside out; however, she gave the impression to her customers that she wasn’t serious about her business. Of course, she was passionate about her business, creative, intelligent, and had a warm personality. With all of those fantastic traits, she couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t closing sales. Once she changed her attire to match her transaction amount, she closed sales.
Trustworthy, Confident, & Knowledgeable
As a business owner, you want your potential customer to take one look at you and know you are trustworthy, confident, and knowledgeable! If you struggle with what to wear when meeting new customers, check out the Style Uniform!
There is a way to show your personality through your wardrobe. If you struggle with this, please contact me HERE.