Many companies these days seem to think that they are giving their office staff some kind of a benefit by letting them dress any way they want. Business casual has become casual and casual has become downright scruffy. What happens when Mr. Big walks into your company and your people are dressed in a way that doesn’t telegraph customer service and professionalism? Before you can say anything, your new client has made a judgment about you, your company, your service, and your product based on how the first person he met was dressed. Now, un-ring that bell! It seems old-fashioned and unpopular to enforce a dress code, but before you write the whole idea off, consider the following:
- Are you influenced by the way your retailers, vendors, and people trying to sell you something are dressed? How would you like it if your pilot wore jeans, your attorney wore a tee shirt, your doctor wore a sweat shirt? Would you be more likely to chose a service or product presented by a crisp and sharp dressing representative? Why give the advantage to a competitor who gets the “first yes” just because of the way she dressed?
- Is your staff influenced by the way other staff members are dressed? When your staff looks around at their fellow staff members, does the dress they see convey expectations for productive and time-sensitive action, or is it a message that is laid back and disorderly?
- Are your sales people influenced by the way your office staff is dressed when they visit? Most sales people have to dress at least business casual or better to gain the respect of their clients. Their success pays everybody’s salary – everybody’s! What kind of message do they get when they visit the office? Do they think “hey, these guys are with me!” or do your sales people think that they are somehow separated from your office staff?
- Are your vendors influenced by the way your people are dressed when they visit your offices? Your vendors can provide valuable information about the market, your competition, discounts, how to buy to be the most cost efficient, and advise you about overstocks that you can pick up cheap. Do they want to waste that valuable information on what appears to be a laid-back company? Do they want to save it for a company that looks like they mean business and will expand and give him more business?
- Is there less likelihood of problems between the genders when they are dressed to a certain standard? When men and woman are in business dress they tend to view one another as professionals, on the same team, playing by the same rules, and with the same business goals. They know they appear as capable go-getters and are proud of it.
When we had Barefoot Cellars, everybody thought, because of our beach and care-free California lifestyle theme, that we would be wearing go-aheads, shorts, and T-shirts in the office. They just naturally expected a laid back staff with surf boards out in the lobby. In fact we all wore business suits!
Customer service is Job One. Once your people start to get bonused on the profitability of your company, they’ll want to do everything they can to give your company the edge. They’ll want to dress for success. The way you dress in business reflects your respect for the impressions you and your staff give to your customers, vendors, sales people, bankers, and each other.