Henry Albert, a Team Run Smart Pro, wears a tie to work to display a professional appearance.

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.

Comments (18)

Kaitlin Cathey

Kaitlin works at ATBS with the sales team. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, from Thomas Edison State College in NJ. She was born in Colorado, but has also lived in Maryland and Illinois. Her favorite things to do are running, reading, and creative writing.

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As an Independent with my own customers, the number one concern is being on time. We usually arrive a few hours early so that we are rested and clean in appearance prior to being unloaded. Clean clothes with red eyes is not appealing!

December 31, 2012 3:13:34 AM

The way a person takes care of their outward appearance most generaly is a reflection whats is going on in their mind.

December 13, 2012 12:29:24 PM

Lance you can send Henry Albert a private message on his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/henry.albert.129?fref=ts

December 05, 2012 17:25:18 PM

Albert contact me, need to ask you a few questions concerning epu and batteries. Thanks, Lance Roberts

December 05, 2012 11:48:23 AM

Other than personal hygiene one of my big pet peeves is a driver being rude when it's not necessary. One example right off the top of my head is a driving walking into the truck stop and start raking the cashier over the coals and cussing her because the register went down or something that is completely out of her control. Totally unprofessional and uncalled for!

December 02, 2012 8:30:55 AM

I just read a really good article in HDT about companies and professional appearances and how the companies need to work on their image. It was a refreshing change to see how carriers need to also work with the public to improve our industry.

November 30, 2012 6:20:52 AM

It all comes down to what kind a message does our industry want to project to the public.

November 30, 2012 4:50:32 AM

Excellent topic that never seems to get enough attention.Alot of blame should rest on the carriers. In my 30+ years I've only pulled for 2 companies that didn't have some sort of appearence code/requirements, and they where bottomfeeder outfits. Needless to say I moved on quickly.If you want to make professional money; look and act professional. Loose the flip-flops, silk baggy drooping shorts and the dirty sleeve-less shirts. After all, "Presentation is everthing".

November 29, 2012 21:18:39 PM

I used to wear a simple tee-shirt, jeans and shoes, often work boots. But after following Henry Alberts' blog, I have changed to polo/golf shirts, good looking blue jeans and plain black sneakers... I still can't talk myself into wearing a necktie though. Thanks for the inspiration and being a role model, Henry.

November 29, 2012 12:12:58 PM

This is not only important for your customers but also works well if you are chosen for the dreaded random roadside inspection. Law enforcement tend to notice and take you more seriosly as well when you are neat and professional in both appearance and mannerisms.

November 29, 2012 8:43:50 AM

I think the results speak for themselves, look at some of the largest trucking companies in the US (UPS, FedEx, Conway, Averitt, Old Dominion, ABF) All of these companies wear a uniform of some sort, some nicer than others. I dress nice, I tend to stick to rugged clothes though because of my tendency to be up and down on the trailer, and on my knees several times throughout the day doing some various task. However, I witnessed a driver just within the last week who was wearing what I would call "business casual". Maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all.

November 27, 2012 17:16:40 PM

This is a important subject . I adressed this when running as flatbed operator. The results were amazing. Here is a link to a blog I wrote on this very subject . https://www.teamrunsmart.com/the-pros/henry-albert/august-2012/old-school

November 27, 2012 16:58:16 PM

Great Article! We not only represent the company we are leased to, we represent our fellow truck drivers. When we are driving down the interstates and a child looks up into our truck they see a professional business person whose business is driving a truck. When we drive onto a customers lot the truck is clean, we are clean, and we speak as competent professionals.

November 27, 2012 16:36:39 PM

I think this is an important idea that does not get discussed enough. Thanks for putting this together on Team Run Smart, Kaitlin.

November 27, 2012 15:25:39 PM

Personally, I take this issue very seriously. These days, it is more commonplace to walk into a shipper or receiver's office to check in and see other drivers in flip-flop shower shoes and sweats. As the face of the company I am contracted to, I feel not only the responsibility to represent myself as a respectable owner-operator, but also as a dependable face of a very large national carrier. Grooming and personal appearance have gone by the wayside, but I feel they should be at the forefront of personal "codes of conduct". As for clean trucks, no more should have to be said than all drivers should show a little "pride in their ride!"

November 27, 2012 14:43:01 PM

Great article Kaitlin!
I agree completely. With my industry the look of the truck can actually keep you working longer or possibly get you sent home. Your appearance and your trucks appearance make all the difference.

November 27, 2012 14:28:14 PM

Great article Kaitlin!
I agree completely. With my industry the look of the truck can actually keep you working longer or possibly get you sent home. Your appearance and your trucks appearance make all the difference.

November 27, 2012 14:24:27 PM

Glad to be a first responder to such a good article. It is a well established that California looks to truck appearance as a good indicator of regulatory compliance. A dirty truck with a dash full of clutter can indicate deeper problems. A clean truck sets an attitude for success.

November 27, 2012 13:47:38 PM