Dear Mr. Molloy:
My husband saw the handwriting on the wall long before any of his coworkers or I did and figured out that his company was going to lay off a number of workers including him. He started almost 3 years ago preparing for a second career in real estate. In fact he took a course and passed the real estate test and has been working part-time as a real estate agent for the last year and a half. He went from part-time to full-time six months ago and has been doing quite well selling houses mainly to high-tech people. While the blue-collar companies have been moving to Mexico and other places there has been a major influx of high-tech companies.
There was always some high tech in our town but recently it has exploded and now there are two high-tech workers for every blue-collar worker. My husband tells me originally they moved in because the old buildings that could be converted into offices were so cheap. While the blue-collar workers who were the backbone of this town are now moving out and losing their homes the city continues to grow.
At present he has a very limited wardrobe but since he went from being a floor manager in the factory to real estate he has been adding to it . At present he owns a navy blazer, two pair of gray wool slacks, a corduroy gray jacket, a camel sports coat, a gray sports jacket, a brown tweed jacket and a half a dozen pair of slacks that go with the jackets. In the summer he wore a medium light weight sports jacket with three pairs of lightweight slacks. Although he intends to continue to sell private homes, he thinks the real money is going to be made selling commercial real estate to both high-tech companies and traditional companies who are moving into town as our population increases. I’m wondering what he should wear to sell to such a diverse audience.
Name and address withheld
If he is going to be selling residential property he can use many of the items he already has in his wardrobe as long as he remembers that when people buy homes they don’t buy bricks and mortar they buy a perceived lifestyle. When they visit a house they don’t only look at the property but the furnishings and the people in the area. I worked for a real estate company years ago who insisted that their employees drive status cars; Mercedes, Cadillac’s, Lincoln’s etc. The reason they insisted on the status cars was they found if they had what they referred to as a motivated buyer when they parked status cars around a house it was more likely to sell. When they could they parked them in the driveways next to that house. The reason they did that is they read about a study I conducted in a real estate magazine which showed that status items in and around a house helps to sell that house.
He will have to expand his wardrobe depending on how much time is going to be spent selling traditional homes and commercial real estate. If he is going to spend his time 50-50 he will need at least four or five new outfits, I suggest he start by purchasing a medium weight beige suit with a tinge of gray, as well as a light gray suit, a lightweight navy blue sport jacket. We found when workers move from a blue-collar job into the white-collar world they continue to buy clothing in the same stores and price range as they always did. Unfortunately, often that doesn’t help them transition into a different world. If he is following the pattern which is common he will have to shop in better stores and pay at least 50% more for slacks, suits, sport jackets, dress shirts and ties. I also suggest he read this blog regularly so he gets a better idea of what the dress for success code has become.
If he’s going to be selling commercial real estate in your town he will have clients from several socio-economic and business backgrounds. Generally if you’re selling commercial real estate it is advantageous to dress like the people to whom you’re selling. One of the few exceptions to this is people selling high-priced items including real estate to high-tech people who dress casually. When he is selling to casually dress business people he cannot dress like a traditional banker he should dress in a manner that says that he is an expert. The majority of them expect experts in most traditional fields to wear upscale colors and patterns and dress just a bit more formally than they.
I’m sorry, I didn’t give you detailed advice you could easily follow because usually I do. I couldn’t do that because your question is too broad. Selling commercial real estate in your town your husband’s clients will come from companies with a wide variety of dress codes official or unofficial, so without specific information on specific clients I couldn’t be specific. However, we have extensive research showing if your husband can charm people he has a far better chance of selling real estate or anything else.
I’m going to run a class on how to make a good first impression for sales people who work for a high-tech company in a town approximately 70 miles from yours in about three weeks. If your husband and you can arrange to get that day off and drive to the location of my class, you can attend without being charged.. If you follow the class carefully and my instructions exactly in about 2 to 3 weeks both you and your husband will be able to charm everyone you meet. Since the most important factor in all sales is charming the buyer which will help you to convince him that you are competent, able and honest. Drop me a note if you wish to attend.
I’m sure with the collapse of American manufacturing a number of blue-collar workers are attempting to move into other fields. Our experiences with people who come from blue-collar backgrounds has shown us that often they have difficulty adapting not only their clothing but their mannerisms and speech patterns so that they fit into the white-collar world . Because I received so many letters from people on the subject I will dedicate at least a dozen blogs in the future dealing with problems in this area. Although I worked all my life after college in a white collar world when I researched “Dress for Success” I threw out most of my business wardrobe. I tell you this because we are all products of our backgrounds and not only does our dress, body language, facial expressions and manners impact our success and income they identify our backgrounds. One of the most common letters I receive is from people who have achieved economic success and bought into the best area only to find, they and sometimes their children do not fit in. Most have no idea how to overcome this problem and are miserable. I hope in the near future to help them and others who have similar problems.