Every time you interact with a customer, your business is going for a job interview.

Think about it for a moment. The customer, or lead or prospect, wants something. It might be a product. It might be information. It might be a service. They are looking to see who can fill that need.

And your business wants the job!

Just as any career counselor will tell you to head into a job interview dressed for success, your business needs to dress for success for every encounter with a customer or a prospect.

Dress your business for success

How you dress for a job interview tells a potential employer a lot about who you are. No, that’s not quite right. It tells them a lot about who you see yourself as. And that, in turn, helps them decide if you would be a good fit in their organization – if they want to give you the job.

Your customers are no different than that employer. They look at very superficial things to decide whether you are the type of business they want to “hire”.

Why would a customer choose your business over another?

Consider a grocery shopper. He can buy food anywhere, so who cares which store he shops at. This is especially true if all he has on his shopping list are crackers, cereal and other name-brand packaged goods. After all, Shreddies at one store is exactly identical to Shreddies at another store. Yet, he might choose one store over another for any number of reasons.

He might choose the store he perceives to be the most convenient because of its location.

He might choose the store he feels has the lowest prices.

He might choose the store that makes him feel best (perhaps due to lighting, music, colors, etc.)

He might choose the store he perceives to be the cleanest.

He might choose the store that seems to give him the best customer service.

He might choose the store that seems to have the best quality food.

He might choose the store where he feels he is most likely to be able to find what he wants – the one that is best organized.

All this is perception. Of course, perception is based at least in part on reality. But your business can influence the customer’s perception by how it dresses.

So how would you dress your business for success? Obviously, that depends on your business. Consider the different types of businesses:

  • retail stores, such as grocery stores, hardware stores and pet shops
  • online stores, or eCommerce
  • factories that make things like plastic cups and ball bearings, or things like buses and cranes
  • consumer services, such as dental clinics or law offices
  • restaurants and bars
  • agricultural businesses, such as orchards and greenhouses

And there are many more types of businesses. While the “clothes” your business needs might vary from those of a different kind of business, there are some common factors you need to consider.

What do customers expect from my business?

In the grocery example above, we saw just a few reasons why someone might want to choose one store over another. Let’s look at cleanliness. Suppose your business also sees that cleanliness is critical to win over a large portion of your target market. How could you make it appear cleaner? Here are a few quick and easy ways.

  • Keep the floors washed.
  • Keep the bathrooms washed, and post a cleaning schedule.
  • Place hand cleansers at the entrances.
  • Post signs reading: “Please keep this place clean.”
  • In a grocery store, periodically spray the produce (this doesn’t make them cleaner, but it makes people perceive them as cleaner).
  • Make sure employees wear rubber gloves when handling any food.

Cleanliness might not be top of mind for most eCommerce stores, but it might be for some products. How do you dress your website up to make your operations appear clean?

  • Videos showing your production or distribution in an obviously clean facility.
  • When showing off your employees on your website, include janitorial staff in crisp, clean.
  • uniforms, and make sure that rubber gloves, face masks or other cleanliness attire are evident, if appropriate.
  • Explain the measures you take to prevent bacteria or contamination.
  • In your websites artwork, place a stamp reading “Certified clean!”
  • In the bio of your CEO, call her a self-described germaphobe.

What else do customers expect from my business?

Go through this same process for all your customer expectations. You might not be able to be known as the cleanest, most organized, cheapest, highest quality, most convenient, happiest and best customer-serving company in your niche. You might have to settle for just one of those titles.

But if you can nail that one, you have the edge up on an important customer base. And if you can do a reasonably good job with all the others, there will be no reason for your key customer base to go elsewhere.

Even if somebody’s top concern is cleanliness, don’t forget that they also want the best price they can get. And they also want good customer service. And they also want so many other things. Fortunately, there are many outfits for your store, your website, your farm, your factory or wherever your business calls “home”.

How you dress up your business will determine how many people will give you the job, whether that is the job of serving them a meal or supplying their replacement windshield wipers.