Looking The Part


There’s an expression that has stuck with me for a while now: “The way you dress indicates the respect you have for other people.”

It stuck with me partly because it’s not an expression I’d already heard a thousand times, like, “The early bird gets the worm.” It also stuck with me because, when you start to unpack it, there’s a lot of truth to the saying.

One of my old clients had a full-length mirror in the office for their B2B sales team. There was a sign above it that said, “Are you prepared to see your clients today?” The mirror implied the obvious: You should ensure that you look professional (from head to toe) before seeing clients.

When it comes to appearing professional, there’s more than one way to achieve it. Aside from being neat and tidy, you should also wear the right clothes for the job. That means wearing what’s appropriate for your workday as well as presenting yourself to others as well as you can. How your team dresses either inspires confidence in your clients, or it does the opposite. That’s why companies have uniforms as a standardization of how each team member presents themselves.

Consider your installers and technicians. It’s absolutely the case that, regardless of their skills and capabilities, their appearance will either enhance your clients’ confidence in your company or give them doubts. Installing means contending with dust, dirt and drill shavings on hot summer days. It also means working in crawlspaces and lots of sweat. Even so, showing up in the morning at the project showered, groomed and in clean work clothes is the best start.

When picking workwear for your team, choose work clothes that are rugged and stay looking sharp. It’s not a plug, but here in Canada, Mark’s (formerly Mark’s Work Wearhouse) caters clothing lines suited to installers and technicians. You want toughness, comfort and longevity. It may take some trial and error to land on a brand you prefer. Always ensure that your team members have backup shirts and pants handy for when they’re ruined or soiled on the job site.

Safety footwear is straightforward since you can’t be on a job site without them. I’m grateful there are a lot more options for safety footwear than just work boots now. Slip-on safety shoes that look like dress shoes are a remarkable innovation. I love slip-on shoes. Think about how often you have to remove your outdoor footwear when entering people’s homes. I can’t tell you how much I love being able to slip into or out of footwear at the front door, especially when carrying boxes or equipment.

I never tire of telling this story: I was once on a job in an unfinished structure. It was so cold that we had to pack it in after half a day because we had exceeded the temperature ratings on the Cat5 cable. The cable was fracturing as it rolled off the spool. It was the most miserable on-the-job experience I’ve ever had.

If you live in a climate comparable to Siberia like me, work must be done in cold conditions six months of the year. Invest in suitable cold-weather wear. In cold conditions, your best friend is a pair of convertible mitts that can peel back, leaving your fingertips exposed for delicate work. The gloves can be snapped back to keep your fingers warm between tasks. If those mittens have pockets for chemical warming packs, even better.

If you asked me to define the professional appearance in the context of AV pros, I’d say it means both looking like you’re up to the task and being well-equipped for it.