Several times each week, I post a question to the EntreArchitect™ Facebook Group and we have a discussion among the 500+ group members. This past week, I posed the question, “Formal? Casual? Or something in between? What do you wear when meeting with clients?”
We always have a big response and this question was no different. About 20 small firm architects posted their response and the answers were mixed, but certainly leaning toward the casual.
That was not a surprise to me. Small firm architects, many of whom are working solo from home offices, tend to dress for comfort over fashion. The longer we work from home, the more casual we become.
I am no different.
For about two decades I dressed in formal slacks, button down dress shirt and very often sported a jacket and tie. Since moving to a virtual studio business model, my clothing has shifted dramatically toward the casual. I’m still well-dressed, but the slacks have become fitted jeans and my ties are gathering dust on the rack. I still wear a jacket, but it too has become much less formal.
It’s Not About You
Whether you’re wearing jeans to meet clients or buttoning up a suit, there is no right answer… for you.
It’s not about you.
It’s about your business. The clothes we wear should be determined by what makes us the most money. What leads us to the most sales? What helps us garner more referrals from clients? The clothes we wear as architects are as important as the uniforms worn by police officers or the company issued attire of our favorite franchise employees.
The way we present ourselves is a chapter in the story of who we are. It’s a a significant part of our brand and our choice of clothing will add to our success or contribute to our failure.
So, how do we know what works best?
Three Piece Armani?
“If you could increase sales 10 percent by doing something as simple as wearing a blue suit, would you do it?”
That’s a question posed by Michael E. Gerber in his book, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. He proposes a six week test.
“For three weeks, wear a brown suit to work, a starched tan shirt, a brown tie (for men), and well-polished brown shoes. Make certain that all the elements of your suit are clean and well-pressed. For the following three weeks wear a navy blue suit, a good, starched white shirt, a tie with red in it (a pin or a scarf with red in it for women), and highly polished black shoes.”
Which combination do you think resulted in more sales?
Gerber continues, “The result will be dramatic: sales will go up during the second three-week period! Why? Because, as our clients have consistently discovered, blue suits outsell brown suits! And it doesn’t matter who’s in them.”
“Is it any wonder that McDonald’s, FedEx, Disney, Mrs. Field’s Cookies, and many more extraordinary companies spend so much time and money on determining how they look? It pays! And it pays consistently, over and over and over again.”
Now I am not suggesting that we all scrap our wardrobe for a closet full of three piece Armanis, but I ask you again, if you could increase sales 10 percent by doing something as simple as wearing a blue suit, would you do it?
Think about what you wear. Be intentional. Test what works. Set controls and quantify the impact of one style of clothing versus another.
Our story in the minds of our client is our brand. Everything we do, everything we say, as well as everything we wear, adds to the story we tell.
Question: If you could increase sales 10 percent by doing something as simple as wearing a blue suit, would you do it?
Photo Credit: Shutterstock / artjazz