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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

What's Your Dress Code?

Posted on July 10, 2013 at 12:30 AM

“Dress for the job you want.” – Your High School Guidance Counselor

“Dress for the clients you want.” – Me

Sometimes it seems like many members of our industry have co-opted the title “installer” as a license to wear any manner of “edgy” clothing. I remember walking the halls of my first CEDIA and I was shocked at how many people were wearing shorts and T-shirts with wild slogans/graphics and showing off tons of tattoos and piercings. Now, I certainly get the desire to show off your own personal expression, and if that’s your thing, great. But there is a time and a place for dressing like that and a once-a-year gathering of manufacturers and your peers is probably not it.

Also, if you think that it makes you look professional in any way, I’m afraid you’re wrong.

To me, frankly, it shows a lack of respect.

I was watching an episode of Tanked on Animal Planet over the weekend. The show caught my interest because it was A) a blessed break from the episodes of “Too Cute” and “My Cat From Hell” my daughter likes to watch and B) they were making an aquarium for Neil Patrick Harris (NPH) and The Magic Castle in Hollywood.

If you’ve never heard of Tanked, it follows the two principals of Acrylic Tank Manufacturing (ATM), “the world leader in custom aquarium manufacturing” out of Las Vegas. These guys create fabulous fish tanks for a variety of clientele, with capacities from 50 to over 50,000 gallons.

So, the two principals of ATM show up to meet with NPH -- someone who is pretty well known for suiting-up -- at The Magic Castle and this is the dialog. The ATM guys are dressed in a company Polo shirts with shorts and tennis shoes.

NPH (talking into phone): “Yeah they said they’d be here a little while ago.”

ATM: “Neil Patrick Harris is waiting for us? Yeah, he’s waiting for us because we’re late.”

NPH: “Welcome to the world-famous magic castle here in Hollywood, home of the academy of magical arts, of which I, Neil Patrick Harris, am the president. I don’t get to say that very often. I want to take you guys inside and talk about what you might be able to do for the club. (Pausing to look at the outfit the two ATM guys are wearing.) You didn’t get the…? I sent an email to you guys about the… There’s a dress code here. It’s jackets and ties for gentleman, and dresses for ladies, but I’m assuming you’re going to go with the suit and tie.”

ATM: “Aren’t you in charge here?”

NPH: “Yeah, I’m the president of The Castle, actually.”

ATM: “Can’t you pull some strings Mr. President?”

NPH: “If you were wearing, like say, pants and a dress shirt we could probably provide you with a tie, maybe a jacket, but this is hilariously wrong. Look at you, your shoes glow in the dark. Did you guys just come from like working out?”

ATM: “Sort of… Working.”

NPH: “How can we do the consultation with you dressed like you just ran a 10k?”

NPH (into phone): “Yeah they came. Ay, yi yi, No, not even a jacket. They came in f---ing cargo shorts. Welcome to my life.”

So, likely this encounter was played up to effect, and we likely rarely work in places that have an actual dress code (short of steel toed boots and a hardhat) but there are also lessons to be learned here. No doubt ATM was a lock for this job, but still, appearances are important. And a first time client meet is the only chance that you get to make that all-important first impression. ATM’s reputation preceded them, but still, they showed up for an important meeting dressed “hilariously wrong.”

This topic was touched on tangentially several months ago by Todd Puma in his blog, “Are You Old Enough to Run a Custom Install Business?

But I cover it head-on here...

Categories: July 2013, CTA, Rants