Make Sure You Are Presenting a Professional Image
What is Professionalism in Your Small Business?
In today’s episode: We discuss having a professional image and how that might change based off your business and its location. But we also discuss, how somethings are pretty universally unprofessional.
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Episode 90: Make Sure You Are Presenting a Professional Image
Welcome back to the Local Small Business Coach Podcast. I am your coach, Tammy Adams.
Today we are going to take a look at professionalism in your small business
So, the other day I went into this establishment just outside of town. Now, this place had 3 employees working. The first one was sitting on the counter swinging their legs and hitting the cabinets with their feet, the second one had their hat on backwards and apron half down and the final one must have had a fight with some food as they were covered in some dark goo.
I think it is obvious that I wasn’t expecting too much out of this visit. I was amazed and transported back to when I was purchasing my ice cream shop. You see, it had been open for a few years prior to me buying it, and the owner lived an hour away and rarely showed up. Before I agreed to purchase the business, I would stop by the store to watch the employees and how they interacted with the customers. What I saw, helped me to realize that none of these employees represented the values or image that I wanted for my store. And I would be looking at possibly replacing them all due to their lack of professionalism.
I also got to thinking about how through the years, I never quite lived up to some of the expectations that others felt that I should when it came to how I dressed or the shoes I wore or whatever expectation someone had on me and my position. You see, I have never been one to get all gussied up for work. I worked in a hardware store for gosh sakes.
Flash forward to my past few years as a real estate agent. Some folks feel we need to be in suits and ties and dresses with heels. Drive some fancy car and present some image someone has identified as the professional look of agent. Well, these folks don’t know me. I’m just a regular gal who drives a 2001 Ford 150. My style, fits my community.
So how on earth, on one hand am I condemning these kids in the stores for their lack of professionalism, yet justifying my own personal choices for what I feel is professional?
It all comes down to what is “professional”. Is it professional to have your employees wear short shorts and tank tops? If you work at Hooters maybe, but not when serving children. Is it professional to show up in overalls with dirt all over them? Depends if you are digging a trench or cleaning someone’s carpets.
The challenge is, everyone will have an opinion on what you should “look like”, what they feel is professional. While there are some universal no nos, like pants hanging off your butt (except you plumbers, we have all accepted a little butt crack…lol…I’m kidding, I just couldn’t help making the joke).
Let’s take selling real estate in Arizona, you see agents all the time showing homes in shorts and polo shirts. While this might be acceptable when selling in 115 degree heat or maybe some ocean front property, it probably is not acceptable in New York or other big cities where the standard are suits and ties. What is professional, can vary by area.
WHAT ABOUT WHAT YOU DRIVE?
By the way, professional is more than how we dress. If you show up on any job site with those offensive stickers on your car, or what did I see the other day? Oh yea, let’s just say it was part of a male anatomy swinging from the tailgate. Nothing bothers me, but I must say, I was shocked that these were on a business truck. Yep, stickers on the doors saying what his business was and this offensive body part banging on the hitch. All I could say was.. wow.
I would never tell anyone what type of car to drive, but I do recommend that what ever you do at least keep is at least PG 13.
WATCH WHAT YOU SAY
Another area of professionalism is how we communicate. It is unprofessional to talk down to people or yell and snap at them. Have you ever been in a brick and mortar and just heard the manager treating their employees or customers so rude that you couldn’t believe their unprofessionalism?
One area that a lot of folks are guilty of, is the language they use, specifically the foul language. For years, I’ve said that my mom taught me to swear and those early days of home depot, perfected it. I can cuss with the best of them, but I choose not to. I have a great story as to what cleaned up my act early in my career . Let me share.
WHY I STOPPED CUSSING
Here I was, a young assistant manager and I’m in a staff meeting with our store manager and 4 other assistants. The store manager was 7 months pregnant at the time with twins. Here she was smoking (yes, smoking, can you believe it?) and every other word out of her mouth was F this and F that. Now, this woman was one of the smartest women I knew and taught me so much about business, but sitting there watching her at this moment, all I could think about was how ignorant she seemed. How unprofessional she was. In that moment, I made up my mind that I would stop swearing as I never wanted someone to look at me and think the same thing. A few years later we adopted our respect policy that cracked down on the swearing and I was already a leap years ahead of my fellow store managers since I rarely swore.
HOW ABOUT YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS?
So how about you and your business? What is professional in your world? One thing we can all agree on is, you probably shouldn’t be cussing in front of your customers or clients, but I would also challenge you to take a snap shot on how you present yourself and your vehicle. Remember, it can fit your community style but it still should be tasteful and appropriate. You never know what your clients believe in or have as hot topics, so stay away from t-shirts that might offend someone. Yes, you are entitled to your opinion, but so are your clients.
I always say, no matter what you think of someone’s opinions or beliefs, their money is all green and you need to make sure that you are able to reach out to your entire community. You can’t afford to miss out on sales.
And for those of you with employees, you need to make sure that your team in uniform if you have them. Make sure they start their day with clean aprons and clothes. Yes, they might get dirty as the shift progresses but they should start off a mess. Plus, swing by unexpectedly, make sure they aren’t sitting on those counters, apron half-mast, hat backwards and using inappropriate language or behavior.
Sometimes it is hard to see it in ourselves and in our business. So, keep an eye out when you use other businesses. How would you rate their professionalism? When you find the bad ones, look in the mirror and ask yourself if you might be portraying the same image. Maybe not intentionally, but unknowingly.
And as we wrap up this episode I want you to know, that I realize being a local small business owner can be a lonely gig at times. But you don’t have to do it alone. Just know, I’m always here for you.
By the way, If you like what we are taking about, then make sure to subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss an episode, if you love the podcast and what we are talking about, then please leave a 5 star review so other local small business owners know this is a podcast that they can’t miss.
Meanwhile, I wish you the best in your business and remember: Great Customer Service, coupled with Great business practices will set you on the path to Great Profits!
Bye for now…..
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