What do you wear to meet a new client?

March 2008

What do you wear to meet a new client? (Dressy? Casual? Jacket? Tie? Golf Shirt? Come-as-You-Are?)

Dress pants and shoes with a button-down shirt that may or may not have an embroidered logo (ours or one of our vendors/manufacturers). Used to be that I wore a tie all of the time. We try to dress professionally without making folks think we must be expensive before they get a chance to know us.—Dennis D. Gehman, CR, CLC, CKBR, President, Gehman Custom Remodeling, Harleysville, PA

Nice jeans or slacks, golf shirt or tasteful Aloha shirt, even in Nevada.—Bob Dean, Wallboard Systems Nevada (& Hawai’i), Henderson, NV Definitely jacket and tie, if a guy; if a gal, a business suit of either jacket and skirt or jacket and slacks. You can’t go wrong—there’s always casual time later. First impressions are very important.—Eileen Facilla, Office Manager, Johnson Barnes & Finch Inc., Lakeside, CA

Just show up on time!—Mike Kellogg, Member Executive Construction, LLC, Oak Grove, MO

When in doubt wear a sport coat and tie, especially in an office environment. Hopefully one has enough time to get background information about this person they have never met. I always have a better first impression of a salesman or representative if they wear a tie. It shows respect. Meeting for the first time at a job site is a little bit trickier, especially if it’s muddy. None the less at least wearing a tie can also help show authority, intelligence and confidence to others.—Rick Ziska, President, The Myron Cornish Company, Columbus, OH

I always dress very nicely as it is a reflection of the work we do. I find contractors who dress sloppy usually do very sloppy, second-rate work. If you can’t take pride in your personal appearance, what does that say about pride of workmanship? A new client would be crazy to consider a slob for his or her project.—Vincent G. Barnwell Jr., Principal, A&V LLC Design-Build, Hamilton Square, NJ

Usually I wear "come as you are,” which could be construed as proper golf attire, khaki pants and company logo polo shirt with black dress shoes. If I think that the meeting will be on a job site, I will wear work boots. If I am going to meet with an architect or an owner, I will wear a suit coat and tie. You only get one opportunity to make a good first impression.—Jeff Muller, Vice President, M&O Exterior Applicators, Inc. {www.moapplicators.com}, Frederick, MD

You can never be overdressed to meet a new client, but you can certainly be underdressed. It will take a little homework, but find out their office dress code and exceed it slightly.—Tom Roward, Estimator, Mader Construction Co., Inc., Elma, NY

Casual ... but not blue jeans ... clean boots or other appropriate shoes. It seems many get the shirt right, but not many realize that blue jeans are for teenagers, as are tennis shoes. Many will spare no expense on a nice truck but refuse to invest in the appropriate shoes. Dress like a clown, and to the world you are a clown.—Anonymous

Depends on the situation, but most of the time I wear jeans and a sweatshirt.—Dave Mertz, Drywall, Plaster and Other Interiors, Quarryville, PA

At least a jacket. A tie and jacket would be best.—Michael Kennedy, Vice President, Simpson Commercial Contracting, Inc., Birmingham, AL

All the above, depending on what type of client you are meeting with. Is this company going to bring you multiple jobs and great leads? Go casual/golf shirt. Someone calls you for a one shot deal? Stop by on the way home from work all plastered up and show how hard you’re working.—Wayne Dickinson, Dickinson Drywall, West Bridgewater, MA

I am a contractor, and so I dress like one. Dress shirt, Dickies or jeans or some type of stylish work pant, hard boots for the job site. I think it helps my clients respect my knowledge of the work more. You wouldn’t leave your truck to be fixed with a guy dressed in Armani, would you?—Anonymous

Slacks and dress shirt are appropriate attire in most cases, but dress for success when presenting to an audience or meeting with a potentially large client.—Mark Gilchrist, President, American Firestop Solutions, Inc., Waukee, IA

I believe that in our industry, most clients understand that we aren’t expected to be dressy. As for myself, when I have an appointment to meet a client, I will show up semi-casual—a company golf shirt or jacket with a pair of nice jeans. It’s important to look presentable but not overdressed; it gives me the feeling that the client can be comfortable enough around me and that I mean business.—Jesse Jaime, GM, Climate Control Insulation, Inc., Mansfield, TX