Dress British, Think Yiddish
Long ago, about half a century (honest), I was given those four words as the secret to success in business. The same sage advice applies equally to both sexes; to all races and, well, to everyone. A very compact and easy to remember slogan – its simplicity hides a multiplicity of actions that you should consider. It’s time for me to delve into those four simple words.
Dress British – it does not mean that you need to purchase a wardrobe from the UK. The words acknowledge that the British are well renown for dressing impeccably. Clothes make the (wo)man. You do not need an expensive wardrobe to look like the professional you are. You do need immaculately clean and wrinkle free attire. Are you a fugitive from the barber shop? Is there something about your appearance that, at a glance, is highly memorable? When I was in the corporate environment we often had “dress down” days on Friday. However, management would remind us that “dress down” is not to be confused with “dress clown”.
I’m not going to insult you with a litany of the obvious. I also take offense when receiving a signing assignment that asks me to check if my finger nails are clean. But there are subtleties that are worth mentioning, especially if you aspire to dress British. Your attire should be subdued and somewhat bland, the borrower should be paying attention to what you are saying; not what you are wearing. Your professional “uniform” should be changed out of the moment you return home; replaced by “home attire”. True, you will change clothes often; here is a little tip on how to handle that. My work pants have two cell phone cases on the belt, wallet and billfold in the back pockets, business cards and tiny notary stamp in front left pocket, and my current promotional item in my front right pocket. I just hang the pants “loaded” rather than unloading the items. Thus, the pants are ready loaded to put on and I don’t have to look for items.
Think Yiddish – no you are not being asked by http://kenneth-a-edelstein.com to learn a new language. At the risk of offending some of my Jewish readers; the words translate to “keep an eye on the money”. You are working to make a Profit. Not just to receive revenue. Doing a lowball job that, after your expenses nets “chump change” is not working for Profit. Know your expenses and set a realistic fee for your professional skills, time and efforts. I used the term “nets”, it implies that you actually receive payment. Run your business as a business. The accumulation of toxic accounts receivables is to be actively avoided. Carry a “duds” list of firms that must PayPal (or similar) prior to printing – and within 15 minutes of their call to you. Strictly limit their “I’ll have to get back to you” to protect your calendar. If you later discover their last check was issued when Hoover was President contact them. Send them a screen shot of the bad reviews you found online; with the choice of immediate payment or you must relinquish the assignment. It’s valid to reply to “you took it you must do it” with “I took it prior to learning about your terrible reputation”. Unpleasant yes, but worse is dunning for your cash and being stiffed.
Some other types of assignments should prepay. The objective is to eliminate risk. A prime example is an assignment at a hospital. Make it clear that the payment received is for best efforts within the bounds of legality. If the patient is unconscious or not available; the fee was earned because you made the trip. Nobody, repeat nobody, else is looking out for your “bottom line”. It’s up to you to be wary of situations that might not proceed smoothly – shift the “risk” to your client; but make the rules very clear prior to accepting any money.
Thus, the ancient advice given to me of “Dress British, Think Yiddish” has served me well for a very long time. Few are the long drives only to find nobody home; as they found a cheaper notary and did not bother to call me. It’s interesting how diligent folks become about having government issued photo ID available when they prepaid for my visit. Again, it’s vital that you communicate the “rules of engagement” to your client. Neither giving nor receiving “surprises” makes for a smooth transaction, pleasant to all.