Dress to Impress: What Message is Your Dealership Staff Sending?

employee dress

30 years ago, it seemed that everybody wore a suit and tie to work. While suit and tie may be overkill for most industries by today’s standard, there should still be a sense of pride and professionalism in the way we dress. 

Many employers, especially in the tech industry, are leaning toward t-shirt, jeans, and sandals over the traditional attire. Dress codes at companies like Google, Facebook and Apple have garnered attention (and envy) from the rest of us who still might need to wear something less comfortable to work every day.

employee dressCompanies stand behind these relaxed dress codes based on research showing that employees feel more creative and perform better when not encumbered by stuffy dress clothes. While this may work for techies who hide behind a computer all day, how does it work in the retail environment with salespeople who deal with customers?  

Employee Dress and Appearance Sends a Message about Your Brand

Employees are the face of any dealership. Employees are actually an integral part of branding strategy, although this correlation is often overlooked. Employee dress can either help or hurt the image of the dealership.

Employee dress code should solidify branding efforts. It should make it easy for customers to identify dealership employees, and it should set the stage for impeccable customer service. A dress code that is too relaxed can send the wrong message, but a dress code that is too “dressy” can send the wrong message as well. 

Employee dress should be fairly consistent across all employees in a given department. That is to say, it should be “uniform,” and should match the dealership’s overall branding strategy. This doesn’t mean you cannot dress for success, but be careful not to draw negative attention. 

Dress How Customers Would Expect You to Dress

employee dressWe’ve all seen the salesman in the $1000 suit amid other salesmen in polo shirts. This guy will probably impress a few people and will definitely garner a lot of attention, but he might be sending the wrong message to most customers.  

Unless… This style of dress probably works well if he sells luxury cars in the middle of the financial district of a large city where the primary customers are bankers, attorneys, and executives. 

However, if he works in a rural dealership where the primary customers are ranchers and farmers, it is reasonable to assume that customers would be turned off by a fancy suit. They would be more impressed by nice jeans and a button-up plaid shirt.

Another aspect of appearance to consider is that of piercings, tattoos, and hairstyles. These body alterations were frowned on (if not outright banned) in the past. However, in a dealership where the primary customer base may have a lot of body modifications, they might be impressed if you do as well. 


There is a fine line between dressing for success and maintaining an appropriate brand image for your dealership. The trick is to find a dress style that helps you perform your best, while at the same time meeting customer expectations, and blending in with the brand image of your dealership.