Dressing for Success

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There’s a clear connection between wardrobe and winning sales.

The clothes you’re wearing right now are as important to your career success as your cellphone. Bree Formantini claims that clothes are an essential tool to help people advance in their career. “Kicking up your look a notch can help you get there,” she says.

Formantini is Manager of Development with Nordstrom’s Trunk Club, a men’s and women’s personal styling service. She recently presented a webinar with DrivingSales on how clothes can be a secret sales weapon.

“There are hard facts that dressing for success leads to increased confidence, and increased confidence leads to increased sales and profitability,” said Formantini. “For example, studies show that 55% of people evolve their professional wardrobe when they want to get ahead. Dressing casually might help you fit in, but you should dress for the job you want, not just the job you have.”

On-the-job perks

She noted that there are a number of myths, such as the desire for a higher salary. “In a study by ICIMS, a recruitment company, 56% of employees would trade a salary increase for certain on-the-job perks,” says Formantini. “We know cash is king, but not everyone is just looking for money.”

A wardrobe allowance is a unique perk that can reinforce the importance of dressing well in the workplace, and benefit your brand. “Incentivizing and rewarding your team, as unique as it is useful, will benefit you in more ways than one,” she adds.

The rewards and incentives industry is huge, and in the U.S., the non-traditional rewards and incentives industry has exceeded $90 billion. “It’s not only important to provide a cash bonus, but also shows how companies, across a variety of industries, are working with these programs to engage their workforces, recognize hard work and great achievements.”

Another study from Yale University focused on how clothes impact performance. “The study showed that 60% of people have a ‘power outfit’ that boosts their confidence,” notes Formantini. “The report by Yale measured top sales numbers by extremely casual, neutral and business attire. Individuals in the casual category produced $680,000 worth of sales. Individuals in the neutral or business casual category produced $1.5 million in sales, while those in business attire, such as suits, sold a total of $2.1 million.”

$1.5 million deficit

This means there was almost a $1.5 million deficit between casual dress and those in business attire. “And those who stepped up their wardrobe just one level above casual clothes did almost double the sales,” Formantini explains. “It shows how clothes help people exude confidence, and confident people are high performers.”

It’s important to note the idea of the “power outfit.” “When considering your work wardrobe, it’s especially important to have a go-to look for a big day,” advises Formantini. “A power outfit is like a suit of armour that prepares you for, and protects you from, anything that comes your way during an important work day.”

A wardrobe allowance can help dealers recruit and retain top talent. Formantini says this is especially true when it comes to millennials and Gen X. “Over 92% of millennials and Gen X are more drawn to non-traditional benefits,” she says. “By 2020, millennials will comprise more than one of three adult Americans, and 70% of the workforce by 2025.”

Retaining rising stars

Other statistics show that 58% of millennials expect to leave their current job in three years or less. “Recruiting top talent is just one piece of this puzzle,” says Formantini. “Retaining rising stars starts with a new creative approach of how we do business, from the clothes on our back to HR policies.”

Many companies offer employees a gym membership to stress the importance of good health or provide break rooms with ping pong tables to promote friendly competition. Still others provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner through fully stocked on-site cafeterias. These non-traditional work perks are some of the ways in which businesses take the employee workday life cycle into consideration from end to end, to ensure employee happiness, improve work-life balance, and impact recruiting and retention efforts. But these come at a high cost.

There are ever-changing trends in the work environment, so it’s important to consider what will work when catering to a new wave of fresh talent. A report from Gallup showed that when companies select among the top 20% of talent, they realize a 10% increase in productivity, 20% increase in sales, and 30% increase in profitability. Additionally, those companies recruiting top talent experience 10% less turnover, and 25% fewer unscheduled absences.

Exceeded sales target

As far as the automotive space is concerned, Formantini says she has already experienced success. In one case study, a luxury auto dealer in the mid-west U.S. wanted to create a reward program that could drive employee behaviour change and improve performance across nine dealerships in the region. “They were in a morale slump and wanted to improve sales,” she explains. “They also wanted to increase revenue in certain areas, like pre-lot accessories.”

The program was set up to entice employees with high-end luxury experiential rewards. And the results? There were seven winners, who each won a $10,000 shopping spree as well as a trip to Chicago to meet with a top stylist. “The employer realized several benefits, and the team even exceeded their targeted sales,” Formantini adds. “Wearing custom suits, feeling great, even the customers noticed.”

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