Dress nice, play fair

You are what you wear, and believe it or not, each estate agency has its own dress code which employees adhere to; if not, expect a polite one-to-one – or, as I like to call it, ‘the fireside chat’.

Most folks are wary of estate agents and I have noticed a growing trend of buyers and clients looking online and dealing with the agents over the phone and via email. But it’s not just the clothes that divide opinion.

At Horton and Garton, you will find a local and experienced team who are professional and personable. Oh, and I can confidently say that we are definitely smarter dressers than the competitors.

When I first started out, I owned a chalky pinstripe double-breasted suit. Thankfully, there are no pictures of me about 15 years ago!

Forgive me, as this is the first time that I have owned up to my double-breasted fashion faux pas, but I hope it explains why I make sure that all of my staff are smartly dressed in suits and shoes – but ties are not required.

Dress plays a bigger part in the high street chains. Can you guess the estate agent that does not allow their staff to wear a coloured shirt from Monday to Friday?

Years ago, I distinctly remember a new recruit coming into the office wearing a brown suit, paisley tie and striped shirt. The sight caused my assistant manager to call a halt to the meeting, open his desk drawer and pull out a yellow card to caution the young man in question.

Later in the week, he issued another yellow for the pairing of brown shoes and a blue suit. I believe it was his football socks that got him the booking.

When I first started at a local agency my director told me that shiny shoes sells houses. Well, if this was still the model for the employees of that company they need to buy more boot polish.

Looking the part may be one thing, however, there is much more to the job than the visual and I believe the day of the sharp suit, the pinstripes, braces and gold watch died a death about the sametime JR disappeared from Dallas.

One of my previous employees was not in favour of the buttondown collared shirt. Another chap would administer aftershave before every viewing no matter how many times I told him it didn’t make a difference. As for the ladies, no matter how many times I reiterrated short skirts and low-cut tops would not sell properties, I still found a few betting on this approach.

For me, if the agent can do the job well and interact with clients on a professional and personable level, dress and appearance become less important.

Saying this, first impressions count and while it’s awfully British, most of us can’t help but to judge a book by its cover.