Making a great first impression at retail
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of an article from Convenience Store Decisions magazine.
I was in a client store recently and saw a familiar, middle-aged cashier behind the counter that recently began paying a little extra attention to her work appearance. Dressed in the normal company uniform, she had her hair and nails done professionally and spent a little extra time on her makeup. It was a noticeable difference.
I told her she was raising the bar on the company uniform and she was quick to inform me that she had attended a jewelry party earlier in the day and had not had time to change. But she also confided that she had received many compliments from her regular customers and it was obvious, from the way she carried herself, that she was riding a wave of self-confidence on that sunny Atlanta afternoon.
A few days later I was back in the store and the difference in her presence and demeanor was absolutely striking. She had removed the makeup and jewelry and reverted back to the everyday cashier I had remembered. Gone was her confident demeanor. Despite the compliments and praise that came with putting her best foot forward, she lacked the drive and commitment to sustain change. I noticed and, more importantly, the customers noticed.
I must admit, after witnessing the positive change in her appearance and attitude after the jewelry party, I wondered why someone wouldn’t take the extra steps to sustain such good feelings.
While you might not agree with these thoughts, it is important that you know how management sometimes thinks. We put on a show for the customers. Actors always look their best on screen and the convenience store is our theater.
In his 1970s book, Dress for Success, author John Molloy made three key points that apply to the retail industry:
- People who dress well are treated with respect. Given the choice between a well-dressed applicant and one in sloppy attire, an employer will choose the better dressed one.
- Dressing above the level of the job you hold presents and portrays you as a valuable commodity to management, even one the company is fortunate to have.
- Dressing for success presents your true potential and gives you a definite competitive edge when decisions have to be made.
For convenience stores, presenting yourself to your customers with pride. Acting like a professional is not just for those looking for their next step up the ladder, but also for those who strive to be better.
What’s the right and wrong way for store managers to handle associate appearance issues? When is the line crossed between managing and mentoring versus offending and overstepping bounds?