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February 2015

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Dress Code: 5 Ways To Immediately Improve Your Business

Written by , Posted in Business, CSR, Sustainability

Lockers at work to fulfill dress code.

Dress Code: 5 Ways To Immediately Improve Your Business.

In my last post I discussed how your social media platform may not be communicating what you wish your clients to see. What else could you be telling them without even knowing it?

You know those glances that people are giving you? They look down their noses like you smell of something only a dog would treasure. You may have even done it yourself, glancing at the new cashier at the grocery store and quickly dismissing her as irrelevant because she had fluorescent socks on. But, who in their right mind would wear bright orange socks anyway? Even on laundry day I’d shy away from them.

Because of the schema that I’ve discussed before (here), people are going to make assumptions about your business by what your people are wearing. The question you have to ask yourself is whether you want to take advantage of that assumption.

5 reasons why you need a dress code.

1. Legitimacy

Would you buy a suit from a kid who didn’t own one? Would you take a man seriously if he tried to sell you a car while wearing track pants? Whether it’s a suit or coveralls, depending on the service you’re selling, your dress code will give you a level of legitimacy. A banker looks more studious, a mechanical technician more knowledgeable. Looking the part will take advantage of the human condition to fill in the blanks. Customers will assume you know what you’re talking about simply by your dress code.

2. Authority

You know the feeling you get when you walk into a church or bank.? The vaulted ceilings go on forever and the architecture is worthy of a tourist bus stop. That daunting feeling can be further propagated by the attire your employees wear. Customers can be made to feel like they are being graced by royalty when they sit down with an advisor in a suit. That element of the dress code will put them in a position to accept your advice without pushback. Granted one could take advantage of that element, but that we’ll look at in our next post on body language.

3. Who’s in charge?

Have you ever been in a store asked someone for help only to find out that the person didn’t work there? Well, that was embarrassing. And then you become gun-shy to ask anyone else for fear of being labelled the weirdo.

A uniform tells your customers who is available to speak to them and anyone can tell you that communication is the key to the sale’s conversion. A comfortable customer won’t run from the store because they didn’t feel welcome.

It doesn’t just work for clients though. Do you know the code on a construction project? How do you know who is the boss? It’s all in the hat. The colour of the hardhat dictates someone’s job.

4. Consistency

Five technicians walk into a bar… Wait no… Five technicians work for you and two of them come to work dressed like they’ve been at a party all night, another two have sandals and the last one keeps forgetting the saying “no shirt, no shoes, no service.” Now if they were all wearing the same thing no one can say they get special treatment. No one can flaunt the rules. You show up… You get dressed… You show a united front to all your customers and your employees.

5. Buy in.

It’s a funny thing a contract. When I was working at the bank I bought over 10 suits and who knows how many shirts and ties. They were mine and now when I don’t work there I can do with the clothing as I wish. On the other hand, were I working as a technician for a garage who supplied the clothing, I would likely have saved thousands of dollars. That’s a pretty good raise not having to shell out that cash. As an added bonus you sign your employees up for a contract saying, “You work for two years and if you leave voluntarily you have to pay out the clothing contract.” Instant loyalty program. They don’t pay up front and they don’t want to pay so they have one more reason to stick around.

Now here’s the thing. For all of these reasons, the first time you wear a suit or three hundred dollar shoes to a farm or manufacturing plant, be prepared to get them wrecked and for the opportunity to dry up. You have to know your customers and whether it’s in your shop or theirs, make sure your dress code works appropriately. I can tell you there are certain demographics that won’t even talk to you if you’re dress code is either too rich or too poor.

Matching your dress code to your both the service you are selling AND your customer base is the fastest way to make a client comfortable. You wouldn’t choose a Hawaiian t-shirt for your bank staff just as you wouldn’t use Armani suits for your technicians. Think hard on what you want to say with your dress code, because a lot of science has gone into finding out what goes into it; colour, thread count, type of shirt, type of pant, how big of a logo, whether there is something other than a logo, and on and on and on.

A dress code doesn’t have to be expensive either. You can find companies like GK with decent rates who will pick up and drop off once a week. Not only will your business appear more sustainable, it will become so. You will have a better conversion of browsers to client and you will find your clients more engaged as well as your employees.

Do you have a good dress code story? Have any suggestions for a dress code? Have your say.