We all have very little time in which to make a first impression with those we meet. Psychology studies confirm that within 30 seconds your personal and business images (the 'looks' you convey to the world) have made a lasting impression. The customer has decided whether they like you, whether they trust you and whether they will do business with you. But while this is very little time, you and your staff have the ability to manage the impression people get of you and your business so it's always a positive one.
One of the main ways of managing first impressions in business is by wearing appropriate work wear. While most of us know what work wear isn't appropriate, it takes some thought and planning to determine what is appropriate for your business and then to encourage your staff to wear it. It's all about the impression you want to convey.
Well dressed and groomed staff give the impression of order, efficiency, attention to detail and professionalism. Poorly dressed staff can give the opposite impression. It's important to think about what impact your work wear choices and those of your employees are having on your business image and on your clients' impression of your business ? and see whether it's time to change.
It is essential that the image you convey is consistent with your business brand, mission and service standards. Once you've decided on your direction, formalise it into a business dress code or policy (template dress codes are available). When drafting and introducing such a document:
1. Identify the issues the dress code needs to address. These should be consistent with your overall business image, brand and philosophy.
2. Review your customer service policy and identify the type of work wear that expresses that standard.
3. Involve your staff in the process. Ask them to identify what contributes to a professional image consistent with your business image, brand and philosophy.
4. Speak to your accountant about the taxation requirements and deductions concerning mandatory uniforms and investigate the relevant award provisions.
5. Time the introduction of the dress code to coincide with other major changes in direction or policy or with the re-branding of stationery or services. Certain times of year will be better than others for introducing dress requirements. For example, employees' finances right before Christmas might not accommodate any extra purchases.
6. Allow sufficient time for staff to get used to the dress code and to put it into action. For example, you might choose to give staff two to three months to begin adhering to the new dress code.
7. Review the cost of providing work wear to staff against the potential cost of poor business image.
8. Be a role model. Employers need to set the standard in appropriate work wear.
9. Reward good behaviour and compliment staff on good work wear choices.
10. Enforce your dress code and other company policies. Your reputation, business image and professionalism are worth it.
Jump the Q®, Brisbane's only dedicated Professional Image Consulting and Finishing School, provides advice and resources to businesses to help them tailor their business image. Please click here for a free information kit or call on 1300 655 755.
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