So a few years back I was paying for my paint when my friend and colleague Mike walked in.
And that's when it hit me.
At the time I was busy and had a closing rate of about 1/3 of my estimates. But taking one look at my friend, I realized that if I was a customer, I would hire Mike, not me. Why?...
Three things stood out as different. But maybe they were not that obvious before that moment.
Mike and I had approximately the same amount of experience. We were close in age. We are both honest and conscientious. We both work hard and turn out high quality work. Neither of us smoke or swear. In fact, we were happy to send work each other's way from time to time because we knew our standards were similar and the client would receive a comparable price and service.
But if I was the customer, I would hire Mike for sure.
That morning I was working on an exterior job so I was wearing painting clothes that were quite messy, as it was a dirty job. I also showered when I got home, so in the mornings I would throw on a baseball hat to go with my dirty painters whites. And I also hate shaving, so that morning I wasn't clean shaven.
Mike on the other hand was dressed clean and neat as usual. No facial hair and no ball cap. He looked professional. His packaging was superior to mine, by far. And I realized the difference from a customer's perspective that morning.
How we dress also affects us, how we feel. Having a shower in the morning and dressing clean gives me a little boost in confidence and self respect. So not only do we look better, we also project a better countenance. These subtle differences can make a big difference.
Once we both got to work, those differences may not be that important. But when you are selling, interacting with suppliers, banking and out in the community running errands, it is important to look like a professional business person. Leave the dirty painting clothes for the job site. Keeping your work vehicle clean is also a good way to keep your packaging and branding crisp.
A young painter I interviewed a few years back remarked that for him the biggest variable to growing his business was when he changed how he dressed.
So I now change a few more times per day. It helps me define my roles in my business and keeps me feeling and looking better when I am off the job site but still representing my business. I usually try to schedule estimates for Monday or Friday afternoons when several admin tasks can be batched together. Or at the very least I fit them into the beginning or end of the day. No more going to estimates in my dirty work clothes and stinky boots!
How we dress as business owners matters. Painting is a very dirty business - we roll around in dust, overspray, paint splatter, mould, dirt, etc. Leave the painting clothes for the worksite and have some clean professional clothes for doing business in the community. Consider using gloves to keep your hands cleaner. Keep some mints and a clean change of clothes in the truck. A change of mindset and a little bit of effort can pay off in higher sales and higher profits! Start by looking in the mirror and asking yourself: 'Would I hire me?'