Written by Ari Greenbaum, co-founder of conXpros
You only have 7 seconds to make a first impression. As a home improvement or home services professional, you must make every second count. Often this first impression will determine if you win or lose the job. Before diving into the details of how you should present yourself to win in these valuable first 7 seconds, let us analyze some other professions and real-life scenarios we all have experience with.
Going to a new doctor:
You enter the office of a new doctor or specialist for the first time. The waiting room is small and lacking décor or the standard selection of periodicals. There is no receptionist, just a clipboard with a sign-in sheet. The doctor comes to greet you in an outfit better suited for the golf course and nothing specific to indicate that he is a doctor.
You enter the office of a new doctor or specialist for the first time. The waiting room is meticulously decorated and has a variety of periodicals available. The receptionist greets you with a warm smile and hello. The doctor comes to greet you in a white lab coat with a stethoscope around the neck.
Which one are you going to feel confident in their diagnosis and care?
Meeting an accountant:
You meet a new accountant for an initial consult. The office is basic & dull with cheap furniture. The accountant is wearing jeans, a tee shirt, and sneakers.
You meet a new accountant for an initial consult. The office is sheik & modern with noticeably expensive furniture. The accountant is wearing a tailored suit with monogramed shirt sleeve cuffs bearing their initials, and recently polished shoes.
Who are you going to trust with financial advice?
These may seem like silly examples, and I would agree that the extremes I detailed are a bit silly. However, I believe the point has been made. As a young child on a family ski vacation in Vail, CO, my mother taught me the valuable lesson: do not judge a book by it’s cover. We were waiting in line for ice cream when a man walked by the line coming outside of the store. She asked me if I knew who that was. I had no idea. The guy looked closer to homeless than the regular people walking around Vail, wearing worn out jeans & a rugged coat. She proceeded to share that that was Clint Eastwood! I did not believe her until I noticed someone a block away run up to him for an autograph. She used that moment to teach me that valuable life lesson. I have realized the truth in this concept throughout my life. Some of the wealthiest and most successful people I know present themselves as simple and plain folks. Of course, the reverse is true as well & many people make certain that others take notice of them and their flair. Although the concept of “do not judge a book by it’s cover” is true and valuable, it DOES NOT APPLY TO MAKING THE RIGHT FIRST IMPRESSION WITH A POTENTIAL CLIENT!!!
As a home improvement or home services company, you are being judged by your “cover”. The potential client is sizing you up in the first 7 seconds. They are subconsciously making judgements that will determine their willingness to do business with you. They are determining if you are a professional, trustworthy, reliable, organized, meticulous, as well as other influencing judgements. There is nothing you can do to stop this normal human process from happening. However, there is TONS you should be doing to ensure that when these judgements are made, you are being judged favorably and in a way that encourage doing business with you and your company.
Fortunately, there are a huge amount of options available to you that will help shape that first impression. To accomplish the benefits I am describing, this WILL require an investment. I am confident that you will see big returns in the near and long term. You must create the image that will present you (or your rep) as the type of company that has their s#%t together. This begins with the clothes on your back. Are you wearing a company branded shirt (and hat if you wear them)? Is your vehicle either wrapped or decaled with your company logo and branding? Do you greet the homeowner with a distinct, non-generic business card to hand them? Are you well groomed and wearing clean clothes? Do you have a neutral or pleasant scent? Do you make eye-contact and walk with your head held high? These are all the areas that those 7 second judgements are being based upon. Some of this list do not require that financial investment, rather just an investment of time and care. We are all capable of wearing clean clothes, have reasonable grooming, making sure we smell pleasant, and using positive body language. All that these require, is your conscience attention and awareness to achieve success. The financial investment comes into play when you are purchasing the branded “uniform” and vehicle dressings. There are many options of companies that offer these services. Of course, you can identify the right one on your own or from a referral from a friend. I have no personal connection or financial gain with the referral I am about to provide, but I have had the privilege of meeting the owner of COX Printers. They are a fantastic option to consider. What stood out to me is the story that the owner, Todd Pifher shared with me about one of his clients. He is a home improvement pro and had the vision of a wrapped truck, but a budget that would not support it. Todd suggested that there were other alternatives and talked him into a less expensive but 100% professional branding of his truck. It came out fantastic and there was enough in the budget to do the same for a second vehicle. That is the type of integrity and do the right thing for the client approach that I love and respect. I am confident that he can & will do the same for you. They are also capable of any printing need (business cards, mailers, door hangers, giveaways, etc.) Whether you choose COX Printers or a different option, the key is taking the steps to ensure that within those first 7 seconds, you are set up for success.
It is a rhetorical question, but if you were the homeowner and you were left to choose between the professional, put together, confident, reliable, trustworthy option and the one that puts off the opposite image, who would you likely hire for your home improvement or home services project? It is no different than the doctor or accountant scenarios above. Your prospective client WILL size you up and make a decision about you that will determine if they do business with you in those first few seconds. Put yourself in the big leagues and increase the results from the opportunities you already have. The window of opportunity to make a positive and lasting impression is ridiculously small. However, the rewards of making those 7 second count is immeasurably large. It is good to desire success and improved results, but it is great for those that move from desire to action. Take the steps to win more deals in the first 7 seconds. Equip, train, and hold your team accountable to being awesome and separating yourselves from the competition. You will benefit from those efforts. Get out there and make a positive and lasting impression.