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Pizza, perception and profits — on the importance of first impressions

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One of my clients, Raj, is an extremely successful banker.

While in graduate school, Raj helped defray expenses by delivering pizzas. However, he wasn’t your typical pizza deliveryman.

At an early age, Raj knew the importance of tangibles and image. Raj requested and received from his employer extra shirts and hats with the company’s logo.

His strategy was simple: He knew if he looked sharp and presentable, people would likely be more willing to invite him into their home, instead of making him stand outside on the stoop in the cold or rain.

He also knew he likely would receive larger tips and repeat sales.

Raj was right on both accounts.

He even had business cards printed. And guess what happened? Customers would order pizzas and request only Raj deliver them!

Daily, decision-makers are bombarded by countless external stimuli: from travel, work, advertising, the media and your competitors. Many times, these external factors and buying influencers are analyzed quickly. Buyers make snap judgments and then are off and running, ready to attack the next crisis.

Therefore, you want to make sure every judgment made about your products, services, company, communication — and especially you — is positive and favorable.

My friend and communications specialist Lynn Pearl says, “You only have five seconds when you enter a room to make a positive impression. A confident manner characterized by a strong stride, a friendly smile, good posture and a genuine sense of energy commands respect.”

Studies have even shown a firm handshake, good eye contact or simply remembering names are critical business-growth skills.

It might not be fair, but like it or not, you’re always being judged by your prospects and customers. Be sure their judgments are in your favor.

First impressions really do matter!

Jeff Blackman is an Illinois-based speaker, author, success coach, broadcaster and lawyer. Email him at

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