Business Etiquette Series, Part 4

Hello, all! I hope you’re still as excited about the Business Etiquette Series as I am!

Today’s topic is over what to wear in a business world. In general, the business world is still fairly classic and conservative as opposed to other sectors. Part of this draws from what we learned in Part 3 of this series – consistency. Not changing how you dress in a drastic way from day-to-day (or coming in with radical hair changes) lends to a sense of consistency.

Does this mean that you can’t show off your personal style? Absolutely  not. However, always ask yourself: Do you want people to notice your clothes or do you want people to notice you? As an employee of a company, you are the living, breathing brand for said company. It’s reasonable that employers have expectations for you to look professional. But what does looking professional mean? Let’s go over a few tips today!

  • Be neatly groomed. What does this mean? You should be clean, and your clothes should fit. This does not mean that you’re expected to wear make up or jewelry daily. It does mean that your dress pants shouldn’t be so tight that they “pull.” It also means not coming into work with wet hair. Trust me when I say you won’t be taken seriously.
  • Choose timeless styles over fads. In addition to saving money in the end, you also won’t have to constantly prove to others that you know what you’re talking about. Whether it’s right or wrong, if you appear timeless in your style, there is an inherent sense of reliability that comes with that. Again, in the business world, the average person tends to be a little more conservative. It’s fine to enjoy risks in your attire outside of work. If you’re an investment banker, though, you don’t want to give the impression to your customers that you are risky with their money.
  • Avoid capris when possible. I live in Texas. I know hot. I also know, though, that capris, even dress capris, aren’t work appropriate. I always encourage my students in cotillion to dress for the job two or three levels about their current one.
  • Men, facial hair should be neatly trimmed. While even 10 years ago facial hair was fairly taboo, it’s becoming more acceptable. What’s not acceptable, though, is wild, crazy facial hair.
  • Ladies, if you wear make up, also keep it neat.
  • Choose a style that suits your taste and body. I enjoy dresses. They’re loose, cool in the summer and flow away from my hips. In fact, I wear dresses on a daily basis during the work week. This in no way suggests dresses are for everyone. You know your body and taste best. By choosing something that works for you, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for style.

That’s it! I hope you enjoyed today’s post. Please feel free to add anything in the comments!

Business Etiquette Series, Part 3

Welcome back, readers! I hope you’re enjoying this series as much as I am. I’ve had a lot of feedback from business owners, so today I really want to focus on Business Owner Etiquette. This is just as much for employees of businesses, though, so even if you don’t own a business, keep reading!

The most important part of business etiquette is consistency. The reason Starbuck’s and other chains do so well is that people know they can go there and get the same thing in Dallas as they can in Chicago. Even if you’re a one-location operation, make sure your customers know they will get what they expect. This extends so far beyond food, though.

Keep your hours consistent. The number one complaint I get about small businesses is that customers say they never really know when they’re open. If you have “ish” following a number that is intended to indicate when you’re open, I highly recommend you lose the “ish.” It isn’t cute. It’s confusing. If someone takes the time to drive to your place of business, and you’re not there when they expect you to be there, they likely will find an alternative.

Particularly with small businesses, the profit margin is small. However, sending home employees at 2pm when you’re scheduled to stay open until 4pm because things are slower than you’d like will lose you future business.

Staying on the path of consistency, make sure what you offer remains consistent. Especially as a parent, it’s very frustrating when I order something for my child expecting, say, a sandwich, fruit and chips (because that’s what I’ve received before when I ordered the same thing), and you bring only a sandwich and chips. If you bring something extra, make sure you state it’s extra. Otherwise, it becomes expected.

It takes time for people to adapt to change. Don’t be too quick to pull the trigger when trying out new hours or menu items. Make sure you advertise it well before simply deciding that change doesn’t work. People don’t know what they don’t know.

Keep in mind that your employees are your living, breathing brand. Choose them wisely. Employees should be willing to help and engaging with the customers.

No matter what type of business you run, if you rely on customers, you are in the service industry. Treating your customers with respect and dignity will always give you an edge on your competition.

 

Business Etiquette Series, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of our Business Etiquette series! I’m already so grateful for the feedback I received after Part 1. Each time I receive an email or comment, it reinforces the fact that there truly are so many of you interested in etiquette!

Today’s topic is over Interview Etiquette.

What you say and do during an interview has just as much impact, if not more, than your qualifications. Call if unfair if you like. I’m just here to help you get ahead. 😉

As an employee of a company, you are their living, breathing brand. Every company wants to make sure it’s represented well, so it makes sense they care how you present yourself. Do you carry yourself with confidence? Or are you overly confident and think you can do no wrong? Finding that balance is key.

When you have the opportunity to interview with a company, keep in mind that those few, precious minutes will be what the company is basing its decision on. Maximize those minutes by preparing and knowing what to do.

A few key points to keep in mind:

  • Have a general idea of what the company does overall. Feel comfortable asking specifics about the job you’re considering
  • Show up 5-10 minutes before an interview. You don’t want to rush in right on time or late, but you also don’t want to be a burden on the company by showing up half an hour ahead of time.
  • Don’t bring in any beverage or chewing gum with you. A small bottle of water is acceptable if it’s needed, but you should leave your latte in the car.
  • Dress professionally. Even if this job is one that requires scrubs or a uniform, wear professional dress. We’re going to cover this topic in the near future in depth, but, essentially, wear something you can move in (not too tight) but that is something you’d see in a bank or professional office. Make sure your clothes fit and are not sloppy.
  • Take the time to iron your clothes.
  • This is not the time for fun hair colors or crazy makeup. Always ask yourself, “Do I want them to notice my (insert anything in here…hair, clothes, etc.) or do I want them to notice me?” During an interview you always want them to notice you.
  • Give a firm handshake while looking the person in the eye.
  • Use a title, such as Mr. or Mrs., until told otherwise.
  • Bring a hardcopy of your updated resume to the interview.
  • Sit up straight with your legs/feet close together.
  • To the best of your ability, remove “um” and “like” from your vocabulary. Filler language can make you seem nervous and unprepared.
  • Thank them for their time and the opportunity to interview.

Is there anything you’d like to add to this list? I’d love to hear your suggestions! Also, don’t forget to check out the first post in this series here!

Business Etiquette Series, Part 1

I rarely do series posts here because I tend to get a little scatterbrained. However, I really want to emphasize business etiquette, particularly as it’s the time of year the school year is winding down and many college graduates are job hunting.

Etiquette is particularly important in the business world, which is a fairly conservative environment. I hope this series will be of benefit to you! As always, please let me know if you have specific questions you’d like answered, and I’ll make sure I respond.

Just like in any other area of etiquette, understanding what is expected of you will help put you ahead in the game. I hope this series helps you grow more confident in your job/job hunting!

To begin, let’s start with a few basic business do’s and don’t’s.

Do:

(1) Offer a firm handshake accompanied by eye contact when greeting someone
(2) Dress appropriately for your job (we’ll cover more of this later)
(3) Treat the person in person with you with priority over email or the telephone
(4) Show up 5-10 minutes early for an interview or meeting
(5) Keep your resume up-to-date

Don’t:

(1) Use casual nicknames, such as sweetie, in a professional environment
(2) Carbon copy (CC) someone onto an email response without the prior consent
(3) Use your phone during meetings or business luncheons
(4) Use the title of Doctor socially unless you are a medical doctor
(5) Chew gum while with customers or during an interview

 

Do you have anything you’d like to add to the list?

 

Small Business Expectations

I am a huge supporter of buying local. I enjoy farmer’s markets. I love local restaurants and shops. I feel at home in local coffee shops buying local honey. Recently a local business reached out and asked if I have any guidance for them, as they had seen a decline in sales over the past several months.As a supporter of all things local, quirks, such as pricing inconsistencies when an employee forgets a promotion or a longer wait time for food, rarely bother me. I will tell you, though, I’m in the minority. As a small business, consistency is key. So, here a few tips for setting expectations for yourself and your customers. Afterall, etiquette is about fulfilling expectations. 😉

  1. Be cautious in issuing change. If your new hours aren’t attracting new business, is it because you haven’t promoted the hours or given it enough time to catch on? Most customers don’t come to your place of business even weekly, so it may take a few months of consistently applying the change to see any difference. Also, the easiest way to lose a customer is to close down early or open up late. If a customer can’t depend on you, they’ll depend on someone else.
  2. Be consistent with food and money. The food, of course, only applies to restaurants, but money applies to all businesses. Customers expect a business to be up front with the cost of something. If you have a promotion for 10% off on Tuesdays, make sure your employees know to apply that. Similarly, the customer will have an expectation on portion size and quality. Meet those expectations.
  3. Remove “no problem” from your vocabulary. Every time a person walks into your place of business, you’re given an opportunity to either gain a customer or retain a customer. Positive responses go a long way, which is why Chick-fil-a is so known for their response of “my pleasure.” Read more about the problem with no problem here.
  4. Don’t overextend yourself. Do what you love and are passionate about. Slowly add to what you offer instead of doing it all at once. Etiquette by Emily started as a blog in 2015. In 2017 I added cotillion, and this year I’m now adding debutanate. I had to find what worked for my family and myself. This also has allowed me to not have to go back on anything I’ve started.

I hope you gained a little information from this post. If you have other suggestions you’d like to share, please comment here or email etiquettebyemily@gmail.com. As always, thank you for reading!