Being with it and modern is very difficult these days. There are those who tell me it is old-fashioned to wear a tie and jacket on even semi- formal occasions.

But why can I not wear what I consider correct? To me, it is just a mark of respect to my host to attend a dinner at a good hotel or restaurant being what I consider properly dressed.

The same goes for business and board meetings, unless it is made clear to me that it is informal. That does not mean I wish to enforce my standards on others. They can ’let it all hang out’ if they so wish.

dress to impress

Yet research in America on the topic of dress has turned up some surprising results. A salesman wearing a navy blue suit, blue tie, and black shoes will always sell more than a salesman in a beige suit and brown shoes. Apparently, dark blue clothing suggests gravitas, responsibility and trustworthiness. While you may question whether this is correct, I know that, if I were a salesman, I’d play safe and wear blue.

Way back in the 1950s, I knew a salesman who was earning £20,000 a year, when most were earning £1,000 a year. His attention to detail was amazing. He told me, for example, that he hated wearing a hat, but always carried one in his hand with his briefcase, as there were still a few buyers of the old school who liked to see a salesman with a hat. His view was that having a hat offended no one, so, logically, why offend the few who liked to see the old pre-war standards maintained.

We should put the same effort into the details of our business - for example, does the shop front need painting and are the sills cleaned every day? How often do we see some trivial chip on a cabinet, dirty glass or a slight tear in the upholstery on a seat in the coffee shop? Are the shop uniforms bright and modern? I have still seen the old brown and white check and mop hats on staff, which was dated even 10 years ago.

Often, price tickets are looking worn and soiled, but surely there is no excuse; the cost of replacement is so low, that it’s more a case of familiarity breeding contempt. We often say the devil is in the detail and that holds very true in our own businesses.

don’t procrastinate

There are those who procrastinate and, while this may have a good side as it leaves you something to do tomorrow, it will not help your bottom line. I did get an invitation to a convention for procrastinators, but they could not decide upon a date for the meeting! So I try never to put off asking my MD, Neville, to do whatever needs doing.

I think we would all agree that we have to spend more time on marketing our products. With the great improvement in colour printers and computer software, there is no excuse for not having good colourful labels, posters, price ticketing and so on. n