I’m sure you’ve heard it said that first impressions are the most important. People make immediate judgments about a person’s ability, knowledge, attention to detail, etc, based entirely on their appearance. Rarely do people forget their first impressions of someone, so you should always make sure that yours was a good one. This is especially true for truck drivers. It may not be something you have considered, but truck drivers are the face of their business, so first impressions are important.
As Truckers, you are out on the road most of the time and it’s easy to get caught up in running as many loads as possible and concentrating on making money. But even when you are on out the road, you encounter numerous people every day. Therefore, you need to be thinking about the impression that you are conveying because it will affect how people view your business. According to Mike Card, the chairmen of American Trucking Associations, Truckers do not always “garner the respect [they] deserve from the news media, the general public and our political leaders. The image of our drivers and our companies needs a makeover.”(www.transporttopics.com) Truckers have a difficult and sometime treacherous job that deserves a certain level of respect.
Truck drivers need to start looking at their professional appearance as a component of running their business successfully and gaining the respect of their customers and peers. Here is a list of some of the most important aspects of having a professional appearance that will help your business be more successful:
- Personal Appearance. Personal appearance and hygiene are probably the most obvious aspects of your professional appearance. Since you are the face of your business, you want to make sure you come across as experienced and reliable. No matter how good you are at your job, people are not inclined to take you seriously if you do not look like a professional. Although I’m not suggesting you wear a suit to drive your truck around, it is important that you are wearing clean clothes with minimal holes, stains, etc. Also, you should make sure that you maintain an acceptable hygiene level, i.e. brushing hair and teeth, showering on a regular basis, and washing your face. All these things add to your professional appearance and make it easier for people to respect you and value your business.
- Truck Appearance. The appearance of your truck is another important part of how people perceive your business. It should be cleaned inside and out, on a regular basis, as well as regular maintenance. A clean truck is both for safety and so your truck does not look or sound like it’s falling apart. You want to inspire confidence in your customers.
- Business Practices. Business practices are an equally important part of a professional exterior. Every aspect of your business that your customers are privy to should look professional. Your voicemail greeting should have the name of your business, your name, and an assurance that you will return the call as soon as you are able to do so. Your email address should also be professional. You do not want an email address that is derogatory, silly, or sports related. It’s a good idea to have the name of your business as your email address, but it’s not necessary.
- Mannerisms. One final part of your professional appearance are your mannerisms. As an owner-operator, it is important to be on time, knowledgeable, and polite. When you look like you know what you are doing, your customers will be more likely to do business with you again. Also, you never know when you will be talking to potential customers and you never want to burn any bridges.
The main principle here is perception matters. It’s important to pay attention to your appearance and professional etiquette. People with talent, skill, ability, and knowledge may not be taken seriously if he or she is un-groomed, disheveled, or rude. By presenting a confidence-inspiring image you will make it easier for people to take you seriously. Most importantly, you always want to maintain a respectful and professional attitude in your business dealings. Taking a little extra time every day to enhance your professional appearance can go a long ways towards making your business more successful and can give your business a competitive advantage over other owner-operators.