This is the 19th of a series of newsletters published on Business Management and Management Skills. Not all topics will apply to your business, but each section will be beneficial to establish company goals and objectives. By reading and studying these newsletter articles, you’re taking the first step in achieving your goals.

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Your appearance and your actions should convey an impression of prosperity and success. Developing and managing an image creates an air of confidence that will encourage people to do business with you. Your individual reputation along with that of your company are critical factors in the success of your business. Cultivate a reputation for honesty, fairness and quality products with your customers. A reputation of customer satisfaction can be used to your advantage in establishing a good reputation in the business community.

First impressions are lasting ones. The first contact someone may have with your company is with the person answering the phone. Is he or she polite and cooperative? Do they try to sell your company and its services? It’s preferable to have one trained person answer the phone, rather than whoever is available. If you can afford it, hire someone to answer phones, handle reception, and do clerical work in the office. Pay specific attention to the selection of this employee, as they are the first point of human contact customers many times have with your firm. That makes the job and the person who does that job very important.

Be sure that everyone in the office knows the way you wish the phone to be answered. Establish a written procedure. The phone should be answered with the person identifying the company name, the name of the individual answering the call, and a phrase such as “how may I help you?” Use closing comments like “thank you for calling,” and “I’ll get back to you soon.” It has been found that if the person speaking smiles while giving his or her message, that smile will come across the phone lines. He or she should also speak clearly and give the caller the time needed to state their reason for calling so that the call may be transferred to the correct person the first time, not after two or three attempts.

Encourage all of your employees to maintain a professional image even under adverse conditions. When you deal with the public, sometimes things can become a bit unpleasant. Tell employees how to respond, and what to do when enough is enough. Make sure that your people know that no one has a right to treat others with disrespect.

Do your business cards, letterheads and service trucks instill an impression of quality, professionalism and success? Where advantageous, consider securing the services of a professional image coach for your employees to aid in making a good impression, just as you yourself should do in all of your public contacts.

Developing a strong positive image can be aided with mental exercises. There is a theory called “self-fulfilling prophecy.” When an individual anticipates performance of a certain caliber, it’s likely that they will perform according to those expectations regardless of their skill. If an individual has minimal skills and a less than confident self-perception, and if they don’t increase their positive self-perception as the skill level grows, chances are their performance will not be improved. Walk the walk and talk the talk - and, so you see, so shall you be!

Building your own self-image as well as that of your employees will dramatically improve the image the public has of your entire organization. It’s worth the effort to concentrate on this area of development. Remember - first you build; then you must maintain. The task is never finished.

Mike Holt’s Comment: This newsletter article was extracted from Mike Holt’s Business Management and Management Skills’ Workbook. Watch for our next newsletter, and as always, we invite your comments and feedback. Send us your real-life experiences. We value your opinions and participation. Please respond to Barbara at And… be sure to visit Mike Holt’s Website at

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