Editor's Blog

Dressing for Dollars

April 18, 2010
Deadhead t-shirt, muddy work boots, a local sports team baseball cap, beat up blue jeans, a plaid hunting jacket and sporting a 3-day scruff. Am I talking about the Techs I encounter? Nope.

Deadhead t-shirt, muddy work boots, a local sports team baseball cap, beat up blue jeans, a plaid hunting jacket and sporting a 3-day scruff.

Am I talking about the Techs I encounter? Unfortunately in this case, I’m talking about some of the owners whom I meet for the first time when I come to do my one-to-one.

One time when I took on a new client in the great Northwest, I walked into the shop and encountered this guy who was dressed so poorly and sporting a stubbly growth for a beard, I was tempted to ask where his boss was. Glad I didn’t because this guy was the owner….yikes!

The first item on our agenda became the need to dress better. And here’s why I made it Item #1: The way you dress and the way your staff dresses affects their self-esteem, and more importantly, the way the customers perceive them. The net effect is when you don’t dress like a professional you don’t get paid like a professional.

This owner was obstinate at first about how he wants to be perceived as being one of the guys. I told him that you’re not one of the guys and you shouldn’t try to be. You’re the leader and you must dress at least one level higher than the techs at your shop or maybe even two levels. The reason is whatever level you dress at they’ll be one level lower. So, if you lower the bar, they’ll lower it even more.

How do I know that? At my own shop, the guys couldn’t keep themselves or their uniforms clean. That’s why I lowered my standards and got darker uniforms. They proved to me they could still be messy. That’s when I decided to go the other way and set the example by dressing for success and raising their personal appearance and dress standards.

The shocking thing is when they saw the change in me and that I wasn’t backing down on them either they got on board. We began to raise our standards well beyond just how we dressed. We took more care of the customer’s property and we took more care to stay neat and clean-looking all day whether that meant wearing overalls or keeping a fresh uniform in the truck. From this one good change, many good changes followed.

More sales and more compliments

Here’s the great end to the story about the contractor in the Northwest. He spoke with just two of my clients who had dressed at the same poor level when I arrived at their shop, but got serious about their need to change and to set the right example. They convinced him to listen to me. The next time I was back to work on the manuals he was clean shaven, dressed in a button down logo shirt, khaki pressed pants, shined black shoes and leather jacket with a company logo embroidered on it.

He was busting at the seams to share what had happened since he raised his and his team’s dress standards. He said, “My guys told me they were wondering when I’d get dressed like a professional and not a sloppy tech.” It didn’t stop there he continued, “A week after I changed the way I looked to how you see me today, a customer I had worked for a year ago came into the shop and asked me if I knew where the owner was! I told him it was me and he was floored.”

The end of the story is when I did Sales Power! for him and his Techs, they had already transformed from shabby-looking to wearing clean pinstripe uniform shirts, dark pressed pants and shined shoes. The following week after training the guys set record sales and the good news is they continue to get better.

Look in the mirror and then raise your own personal appearance and dress standards and put some money in your pocket!


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