Business Dress Code For Men

Business dress code, Smart Casual, Business Casual, Dress down. We are often requested to dress to a certain dress code at work but it's not always clearly defined and can leave us somewhat confused. So let's unravel the one dress code that gives us the biggest headache!

As an Image Consultant, I am frequently asked for advice on the Business Casual dress code. Many men are comfortable in the formal (Business Dress) dress code where it is clear that a suit, shirt & tie are required. Similarly, a charity dress down day provides them with no real challenges as all the boundaries have been removed for that day.

However, when it comes to Business Casual, so many find it challenging to put this look together. I can tell you that Business Casual means less formal than Business Dress yet must still be appropriate for the business environment. It does not mean untidy or scruffy or casual.

So here are some tips on how to achieve an acceptable Business Casual look;

Ensure your clothes are complimentary for your colouring and your build. They must also be current and appropriate for your working environment. Adhering to all of these rules will help you become a well dressed man.

You must be well groomed. Clean shaven with a neat and tidy haircut is essential. Your finger nails must be of a reasonable length and clean. (maybe sounds crazy but you'd be surprised at the how many men have dirty finger nails!)

Maintenance of your clothes is highly important. If you don't like using an iron on your shirts, use a Dry Cleaning service on them instead. You must ensure you change your clothes and shoes daily as they need to be freshened and rested.

Make sure you are pleasant to be around; good personal hygiene is paramount.

So let's put this into practice; here are some tips on how to create acceptable Business Casual outfits;

- you can do away with the formal suit and opt for a smart jacket and trousers
- a soft collared shirt is acceptable and a tie is optional
- a suit teamed with a smart t-shirt or polo shirt is acceptable
- alternatively, a smart shirt and tie with trousers and no jacket is also acceptable for Business Casual
- you must always wear smart shoes, trainer style footwear and sandals are not acceptable

So now you have all the rules and best tips for achieving your Business Casual look. If you would like to find out more, visit your local Style & Image Consultant.

A Home Based Cake Decorating Business - Customer Service - Part 3

A lot of business procedure is just good manners and plain common sense, but it can be very easy to overlook these basics if you do not carefully consider them as an important part of your business planning right from the start. The personal nature of the service you are providing with your cake decorating business makes it extremely important that you take great care over this part of your enterprise.

Be Punctual Punctuality is important in all areas of life, not just business. If you arrive late for a meeting or appointment, you are disrespecting the other person's time and telling them that you don't care enough about them to arrive when you say you will. Being on time is easy, but being late is an easy way to offend and annoy people. In a business like cake decorating where it is important to engender confidence in your clients that you can deliver what you promise, punctuality is fundamental, and it is one of the first things people will judge you on. Remember that for your first consultation with a prospective client you do not have the finished cake to show them - they have to trust that you are able to deliver it at the agreed time. This is an enormous amount of trust to ask a stranger for, so prove that you are trustworthy by always being on time (or slightly early).

Be specific Don't say "sometime on Wednesday". Say "10 o"clock on Wednesday morning", and stick to it. Don't just promise someone a spectacular cake, tell them exactly what will be on it to make it spectacular. If you are using sugar roses, specify the colour, the size etc. If you appear too casual when making arrangements with a client, it will lead to the assumption that you are also fairly casual about the whole transaction. This will not inspire confidence in a potential client, and it won't inspire them to contract you.

Avoid mistakes before they happen Everyone makes mistakes, it is expected occasionally and they can be forgiven, but it is how you respond to them that people will remember. Timely and efficient response to problems is what counts. Of course, you cannot keep making the same mistake - if you do, you might as well have not bothered fixing it in the first place. This is true in most situations, but - to put it bluntly - there simply is no room for mistakes in the cake decorating business. A retail operation can afford to make the occasional mistake when they are selling a large number of mass produced items - they can replace faulty goods immediately from off the shelf -* but you can't do this. This is a business dealing with one off products designed to individual requirements. It is labour intensive and takes several days to create the product. If it is discovered faulty on the wedding day, or at the birthday party, it cannot be fixed with an immediate replacement.

So - practise your skills. Schedule your working time so that you do not have to rush, and so you have time to make repairs if necessary. Take extreme care with everything you do, especially when it comes to the delivery and installation of your cake.

Have a policy in place to deal with complaints and problems. You need to know your position in advance, for instance if a problem can be repaired or replaced, or if it may require a partial or full refund. At what point do you stand your ground and not fix a problem? Are you available to fix a cake damaged by a drunken dancer at the wedding? This is not a hypothetical situation - just check out You Tube to see how many wedding cakes are damaged carelessly -but you need to be clear in your own mind before these situations arise. (The answer to this one is yes you should be - but be careful not to admit liability, and also to be clear that you will repair to the best of your abilities, but you cannot work miracles). People will especially appreciate you responding to emergencies that are not of your making. This is part of good customer service, even if it is a little inconvenient for you.

All the points covered in this article are just a natural part of the transaction - things you should do anyway. In part 4 of this series, I shall look at the concept of 'going the extra mile' for your clients, as a vital part of good business practice.

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