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View Full Version : How you look is how you cook - Geekism #1


The Lighting Geek
07-18-2008, 08:47 PM
I know most of us are feeling the slow down and making adjustments. One point I believe in, is summed up in a phrase I used to use while training cooks many years ago. 'How you look is how you cook'. Something to remember is that potential clients are making judgements about you, your employees, and most importantly, your business based upon how you look.

If you were sitting in a restaurant and watched the cook walk by, if he/she were unkept, oily hair, and wearing wrinkled clothes, you might get up and leave. If they were neatly dressed, clean and tidy, you would expect good things to come out of the kitchen. Our businesses are no different. Skills and experience may not be the first thing you client thinks about if you or your employees are not projecting the right image.

As an example, I make it a point to keep my truck and trailer very clean. I will wash them a couple times a week if necessary. I always wear a uniform no matter what I am doing while representing my company. I insist that anyone who works for me shave daily, hair neat, and neat uniforms at all times. The message is 'We will treat your home and project as well as we treat our selves.' Take a minute and think about how you would see your company from the outside in. Some are doing this and they will tell you it matters. To the people I wish to work for, it definitely matters.

klkanders
07-19-2008, 12:46 AM
Good info Tommy!
My first jobs as a teenager were in the restaurant business. Anyone remember Sambos? :) It bothers me today when I see servers run their hand thru hair or across their runny noses and then go pick up plates of food to deliver. Ya I still watch what goes on .........hard habit to break.
I also like to keep my truck clean, tools in order (not scattered all over the property), and wear something with company logo.

How's this title for an upcoming installment of Geekism? " If your gonna walk the walk you'd better talk the talk!

The Lighting Geek
07-19-2008, 01:01 AM
Anyone remember Sambos? :)

I used to wait tables, cook and manage a Sambo's back in the day. Complete with the panels above the counter that told the story of little Sambo and the tiger.

klkanders
07-19-2008, 01:31 AM
I used to wait tables, cook and manage a Sambo's back in the day. Complete with the panels above the counter that told the story of little Sambo and the tiger.

Thats the one! Ahh those were the days.......workin 3-11 shifts after a day at school. Makin money to put gas in my 66 Mustang fastback.......
Thanks for the memories Tommy! Still got one of those cook hats or neckershiefs? I might! :laugh:

Keith

Lite4
07-19-2008, 02:01 AM
Right on point as usual Tommy.

The Lighting Geek
07-19-2008, 02:29 AM
Still got one of those cook hats or neckershiefs? I might! :laugh:Keith

no but I still have my cook's knife we were each given when you started. White plastic handle.

I had a 12 second Pinto Wagon, lowered, ground effects, that was a hoot! I beat a few v8s with it...ahhhh...those were the days

Lite4
07-19-2008, 02:48 AM
Ahhh Yes. The pintos. I remember those days. Just don't get rearended in one of those babies or Kablamee.

David Gretzmier
07-20-2008, 09:46 PM
I agree how you look is extremely important in this business. I try to always look and smell great for bids, but then the install is a different story. within 15 minutes on a jobsite, the sweat and dirt starts. It seems a shame to mud up and trash uniforms. and looking at the geek's uniforms, I can't imagine wearing black in may-september. jean shorts or khaki shorts are the only way I can handle 85 degrees plus.

Christmas lights is a little cleaner work, so the shirts we use are all logo'd, red. all the guys wear khaki or jean shorts til it is cooler, then switch to jeans. and logo'd jackets.

Chris J
07-20-2008, 10:32 PM
Clean, mean and full of sheen!
Check it out! http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=188169

The Lighting Geek
07-20-2008, 10:40 PM
I must clarify what our uniforms are. We wear shorts and short sleeve shirts during the day. The tactical equivalent to kakis. The shirts resemble the ones from Columbia with the vent across the back. Shorts and shirts are made of cotton and are cool, in more ways than one :p The Geek Gear goes on when we are out at night adjusting or during a demo. The picture you see of us was taken in the winter, long pants and long sleeves.

NightScenes
07-22-2008, 04:26 PM
We wear the same type of shirts (fishing shirts) with our logo on them and clean jeans or shorts. I wear the same type of shirt but different color with shorts. I have been told numerous times how professional the crew looks and acts. We also clean our vehicles at least once a week and detail once a month. I have an account at the local full service car wash for our vehicles.

JoeyD
07-23-2008, 01:25 PM
Perception is reality! Nate always says it and sometimes it rubs guys the wrong way but you dont want to pull up to a potentially large lighting project looking like you just crawled out of a ditch. Keep your vehicles clean, your armpits smelling good, and your shirts stain free. It is ok for the cutomer to think and know that you are succesfull. This will help you in establishing why your system costs more than a regular landscapers.

Now obviously if you do work everyday on the job then it is impossible to always look like you just stepped out of the shower and but when you go for your first meeting, your first proposal, you should always present yourself as if you are the best company around to do buisness with.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
07-23-2008, 05:20 PM
I have some observations on this topic...

1: Clients like a hands on owner. I can't tell you the number of times I have been congratulated for actually working on the site. Clients tell me all the time that they initially meet with one person who sells them, only to find different people installing and maintaining the system and that this leaves them with a bad feeling. They know our systems are technical in nature and want the re-assurance that the guy who sold them understands the product inside and out.

2: Clients understand that our work is in the dirt. I try really hard to clean up well before an initial meeting. Fresh clothes, hat, the works. However, most of my clients do see me in the midst of an installation, after crawling under a deck, kneeling in the forest, etc etc. Often times they want to introduce me to friends and family on the site. I used to feel so embarassed about my appearance, but not any more. Again, the clients are refreshed that the guy who designs and sells is also the guy who installs and maintains. There is a certain amount of "quaintness" that goes along with being soiled when working on these properties. It all goes back to being hands on.

I think you can tell where I am going here... just a different viewing angle.

JoeyD
07-23-2008, 05:23 PM
I agree 100% with you James..... I was stressing more of the first meetings apearance. But you are absolutly correct, I think a homeowner wants to see you slightly dirty working along side your crew after you sell them on the big dollar lighting system....

Lite4
07-23-2008, 06:50 PM
I can't help but get dirty. I am like a dirt magnet.

punt66
07-23-2008, 09:08 PM
I know most of us are feeling the slow down and making adjustments. One point I believe in, is summed up in a phrase I used to use while training cooks many years ago. 'How you look is how you cook'. Something to remember is that potential clients are making judgements about you, your employees, and most importantly, your business based upon how you look.

If you were sitting in a restaurant and watched the cook walk by, if he/she were unkept, oily hair, and wearing wrinkled clothes, you might get up and leave. If they were neatly dressed, clean and tidy, you would expect good things to come out of the kitchen. Our businesses are no different. Skills and experience may not be the first thing you client thinks about if you or your employees are not projecting the right image.

As an example, I make it a point to keep my truck and trailer very clean. I will wash them a couple times a week if necessary. I always wear a uniform no matter what I am doing while representing my company. I insist that anyone who works for me shave daily, hair neat, and neat uniforms at all times. The message is 'We will treat your home and project as well as we treat our selves.' Take a minute and think about how you would see your company from the outside in. Some are doing this and they will tell you it matters. To the people I wish to work for, it definitely matters.

Not exactly a fair comparison. A chef is supposed to be clean, a landscaper is supposed to be dirty. If a painter comes to my house all dressed clean i would wonder why. If he came covered in paint then i know he is a worker. Image i have found is important but i think in a different way than you think. The image should match the job description and not just spotless clothes.

David Gretzmier
07-23-2008, 10:42 PM
I have to admit, If I want to hire a painter, and a guy in a polo or button up shirt shows up, I'm a little leery. I like a guy with a somewhat clean painters outfit. but not filthy or stinky. go figure. I remember guys coming to give me a bid for gutters. the most expensive guy had the nicest clothes and the best literature, and had samples. He'd never hung a single gutter. the cheapest guy obviously installed hundreds of feet a day. who would you hire?

But I think of heating and cooling guys, electricians, security system installers, Audio/video installers, guys I kind of like to be grouped with, and they do tend to have uniforms and dress the part. If I want to charge what they charge, I and my employees need to look as good or better than them.

Lite4
07-23-2008, 11:37 PM
Its all about dressing appropriately for your trade.

The Lighting Geek
07-24-2008, 01:57 AM
Not exactly a fair comparison. A chef is supposed to be clean, a landscaper is supposed to be dirty. If a painter comes to my house all dressed clean i would wonder why. If he came covered in paint then i know he is a worker. Image i have found is important but i think in a different way than you think. The image should match the job description and not just spotless clothes.

It fits perfectly. The point was that there is an expectation that you will see a clean and neat cook. What is the expectation that your clients have of a lighting professional? I never said you had to be spotless, but neat. Just matching the expectation of the client. It might be different depending on where in the country you live, or the demographic you wish to attract. If being a little dirty meets the clients expectation of a lighting professional, great. I believe many people make decisions about imaging a company based upon what they think the client wants instead of what the client wants. Just like people who price there services by what they can afford vs. what the market will bear. Like Tim said, it just needs to fit the trade.

punt66
07-24-2008, 06:06 AM
It fits perfectly. The point was that there is an expectation that you will see a clean and neat cook. What is the expectation that your clients have of a lighting professional? I never said you had to be spotless, but neat. Just matching the expectation of the client. It might be different depending on where in the country you live, or the demographic you wish to attract. If being a little dirty meets the clients expectation of a lighting professional, great. I believe many people make decisions about imaging a company based upon what they think the client wants instead of what the client wants. Just like people who price there services by what they can afford vs. what the market will bear. Like Tim said, it just needs to fit the trade.


Well my truck is an 07, my trailer 06, my mower 05. I wear harley davidson t shirts and old dirty jean shirts everyday. I have 62 weekly customers and turn down work daily. People dont care what you look like when you have an established business and your customers are raving about your work. In my last house i needed to install a new furnace. I called 3 company's foe estimates. Two of them sent clean salesman with the brochures and fancy talk. The third showed up smelling like fuel and dirty. He wouldnt even come into the house to get to the basement because he was dirty. Guess who got the job? Install went perfect. Just my .02

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
07-24-2008, 06:20 AM
Actually that might have been worth 0.10 cents, you put it perfectly. It all comes back to that hands on factor that people seem to connect with. The spotless, 'dressed for sucess', shiny car, white toothed salesman can sometimes come up short when compared to the 'real tradesman'.

Is image everything? No, I don't think so... not everything. Results, commitment, integrity and passion seem to be the forerunners of image, at least around here.

Have a great day.

AJ Lawnscapes
07-24-2008, 07:11 AM
I've gotten more business with a dirty shirt than I have with a clean one.

The people know you're out working it when you show up. If you come to their house like a dressed up salesman, well, we all know salesmen don't know jack about what they are selling.

Chris J
07-24-2008, 07:33 AM
You guys are killing me with this nonsense. It is NOT ok to show up for a first meeting dirty. If you're not willing to put on clean clothes and freshen up before arriving at a first meeting, then that tells me that you are just plain lazy. How hard is it to keep a fresh change in the truck? Zig Ziglar says that you should dress no more, or no less than the company you're in. You don't need to have on a suit and tie, but you don't want to have on shabby, dirty clothes either. You are kidding yourselves if you think your doing the right thing with your methods. You may be getting SOME business, but you aren't even close to reaching your potential. In the end, it comes down to how high you want to fly. Stay with the dirty clothes and you will, at most, maintain a decent income. Dress for success, and reach for the stars!

poiuy qwerty
07-24-2008, 09:06 AM
I think customers understand what we do. Landscaping, Lighting, Drainage, Irrigation, etc all include digging, sweating, dirt, filth & everything else we all encounter every day. If you have the kind of company where you can stay out of the filth and be a salesman than god bless, but most of us and down in it everyday burning the candle at both ends. The customer will respect the hard work you put in. If someone will not give me a job because of what I am wearing over the quality of our work.......than so be it we are back logged 4 weeks and we don’t need someone like that.

TXNSLighting
07-24-2008, 10:12 AM
Well my truck is an 07, my trailer 06, my mower 05. I wear harley davidson t shirts and old dirty jean shirts everyday. I have 62 weekly customers and turn down work daily. People dont care what you look like when you have an established business and your customers are raving about your work. In my last house i needed to install a new furnace. I called 3 company's foe estimates. Two of them sent clean salesman with the brochures and fancy talk. The third showed up smelling like fuel and dirty. He wouldnt even come into the house to get to the basement because he was dirty. Guess who got the job? Install went perfect. Just my .02

Your average customers is probably only worth 30-40/yr. they dont care what you look like cuz you cut grass for a living! i know i used to be there! Thank god not anymore.

Majority of Our customers are worth well over 150k. hmmm, dont come in here thinkin you know everything. your comparing apples to oranges.

Chris J
07-24-2008, 11:43 AM
Have you ever thought about expansion? Sounds to me that it would be in your best interest, as the ground shaking businessman that you are, to hire some people to handle the extreme work load that is coming your way. Why are you just letting new business pass you by? And by the way, if your pulling down that kind of money and all you can afford is a 300k house your doing something wrong my friend. Once you get some managerial skills, hire a few workers and free up some of your time, I would suggest you read a few good books. Not trying to be nasty. Just offering some advice/suggestions.

punt66
07-24-2008, 04:11 PM
Have you ever thought about expansion? Sounds to me that it would be in your best interest, as the ground shaking businessman that you are, to hire some people to handle the extreme work load that is coming your way. Why are you just letting new business pass you by? And by the way, if your pulling down that kind of money and all you can afford is a 300k house your doing something wrong my friend. Once you get some managerial skills, hire a few workers and free up some of your time, I would suggest you read a few good books. Not trying to be nasty. Just offering some advice/suggestions.

Yes i have thought of expansion and decided against it for several reasons. 1. i have enough stress in my life with the business and the fact i have been fighting brain cancer for just over three years. I can afford a more expensive house but dont need one. Its 2400 sq foot colonial on 1.5 acres. Instead, I, my wife and my daughter travel and play with muscle cars and harleys. I have been around the world 5 times and have visited 13 countries. Managerial skills? The reason i am in landscaping is because i had to give up my construction business which had 4 crews running different jobs daily. 3 shovels, 2 backhoes, 1 dozer, 3 skids, 2 tri-axles, and 2 single axles. I pulled over 1100 underground oil tanks a year and installed over 15 miles of sewer main and many hook ups in the 11 years i was in business. I went to landscaping when the doc told me to slow down. I have enough to retire at the ripe old age of 35 and yet im still humping it everyday. But thanks for the advice.

NightScenes
07-25-2008, 09:15 AM
I still believe that our clients like to see professionals (that look like professionals) on the job. I also believe that our clientèle want to meet with a professional lighting designer that looks like a professional lighting designer and not like he just came out of a ditch. I show up for all of my initial consultations in a clean vehicle and clean, neat cloths and present myself as someone that knows this industry inside and out. Our trucks and trailer are always clean as well.

Just my .02