Working in the service industry, it is important for you to be professional when dealing with clients. That not only means looking clean and put together but also refers to how you communicate and manage your time. The classic line of “we’ll be there between 10AM and 4PM” may work in some industries but do customers really like waiting around all day? And what if the service person arrives with dirty clothes, disheveled hair, isn’t knowledgeable about the work, and uses more slang than real words? Would you take them seriously?
We are here to help you be professional with tips on making a good impression.
Your clothing should be appropriate for the work you are doing. Are you going into a home to make an estimate? Will you be painting or doing any physical labor? Your clothes and shoes should be comfortable, clean, and free of holes. Uniforms or business branded shirts are always helpful but when in doubt, dress conservatively; nothing too trendy, too tight, or too revealing.
Be On Time and Prepared
Arrive to appointments on time and ready to work. No matter how you feel, you need to show interest and enthusiasm. Make sure to have all your supplies and equipment ready to go. Act business-like at all time both on-site and in the office. If you are in a client’s home, be mindful and respectful of their things. No smoking, eating or drinking on the job.
To be professional you want to act friendly but not be over-familiar with your clients. You don’t want to be super serious and all business, especially when meeting a client for the first time. A little chit-chat can make them feel comfortable but learn the difference between “chit-chat” and “chatty.” Have all of your “paperwork” in order, even if you are using a tablet, smartphone or laptop. Whatever you show your client needs to be neat, and understandable. Double check numbers and spelling. Always thank your client at the end of an appointment, especially if it leads to further business.
Good Communication is key to a successful business. Speak clearly without mumbling. When you are with a client, put your phone away and look them in the eye, giving them your full attention. Actively listen to your clients and rephrase to let them know you hear them. Eliminate distractions such as eating, chewing gum and music (even soft music). And never underestimate the value of a good handshake!
Turn off your phone when meeting with a client. Period. Checking your phone for any reason sends a message that they are not important. In social venues, turning your ringer to vibrate is a good option as long as it doesn’t disturb others. If you need to answer a call in a social venue, excuse yourself to a more secluded area. Both parties will appreciate the effort. While you need to be selective on answering your phone in social settings, you do not want to ignore phone calls. Business calls should be answered within 24 hours. Check your voicemail regularly. There is nothing more unprofessional and frustrating for a client than trying to get in touch with you and your “voicemail box is full.”
Just like phone calls, business emails need to be answered timely. Generally speaking, within 48 hours is best; even a simple acknowledgment that you will get back to your client with more details. Design a professional signature in your email program that includes your logo, name, contact info, website, etc. You want to use business-like salutations and avoid starting a professional email with “Hi” or “Dear.” Instead use the client’s name alone or with “Hello.” Close an email with “All the best”, “Cheers,” or “Sincerely,” and avoid using “Love,” acronyms such as “TTYL” (“Talk to You Later”), and any emoticon. Email is not the same as texting so be sure to use full words and sentences and always proofread and check spelling before sending. It is a good habit to only check and respond to emails at specific times during the day instead of dropping everything to read the latest email when it comes in. You may find it helps with your overall productivity. Email has become a powerful tool in growing your business and PEP can help by automating the process. Check out one of our earlier posts for more information on the benefits of email campaigns.
Be sure to keep your personal and your business social media accounts and/or profiles separate (LinkedIn is one of the few exceptions). Most importantly, and I cannot stress this enough, do not post anything on any of your social media pages that you don’t want to have follow you forever. An increasing number of business owners are scanning social media before offering a job to a potential new hire and the same goes for a client looking to utilize your services. The same selectiveness should be applied to your comments on other people’s posts and websites as well. Posts on your business social media pages should be professional, with relevant content, and free from offensive language. If using social media to market your business, be sure to post regularly and be responsive. Answer people’s questions and respond to their comments, even just by acknowledging with a “like.” For more information on using Social Media as a marketing tool, check out one of our earlier posts.
There may seem to be a lot of rules when it comes time to be professional and to make a good impression but believe me, it’s worth the effort. When in doubt, just be on your best behavior! The more professional you present yourself, the happier your clients will be and more likely to give you return business or recommend you to others for new business… either way, everyone wins!