I remember watching catch me if you can and the famous shot of Leonardo DiCaprio walking through the airport pretending to be a pilot surrounded by impeccably turned out, glamorous stewardesses. Just a film?
It was based on the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr who through fraudulent activities managed to live a life for many years that most of us can only dream of. The stunning stewardesses that he walked through the airport with were based on the Pan Am team. Being one of their stewardesses was the job that every little girl wanted and the women that every hot blooded male wanted to date. Becoming a Pan Am stewardess was incredibly difficult, they only took the best and once employed they had to be very dedicated and committed in order to keep the job.
From being regularly tested on their technical and service skills to the daily inspections before leaving for a flight, they were constantly under scrutiny and expected to deliver. They had to ensure their shoes were high, nails long, clothes, hair and make-up immaculate and this included being weighed, if they were over the desired range they were warned to lose it or be sacked,
If you wanted to work for and be an ambassador for the best airline in the world at the time there was a price to pay.
I can already hear the cries of disapproval; being weighed, inspected and wearing high shoes, full make up are just sexist and wrong. If their technical skills were good enough then that should have been fine. Whether you like it or not this is the real world and your image and impact matter. It comes with the territory. No one forced them to take the job, they could have worked for nobody and such and such in nowhere and no doubt put on a few pounds and go to work with their hair in a scrunchy in flat shoes, bare faced and feel very very comfortable.
We all want to work for the best don’t we? I work with many service providers and clients in corporate services. The reception roles from Canary Wharf to Mayfair are highly coveted especially for high profile companies. Choosing to work for those firms along with the organisations that provide their services, mean that you must provide the level excellence expected. They are after all not just receptionists but ambassadors for the business and often the first point of contact. To be able to say you work for such “prestigious organisations” is the modern day equivalent of being part of the 60’s elite and most glamorous in that field.
However, it comes at a price; look the part, feel the part, be the part. Why would we want to dilute the reputation of these roles by not being our best. We can choose to wear flat shoes but they should be smart, patent black loafers for example, trousers and jackets should fit and lastly hair and make-up used to enhance our features not make us look like we are about to go clubbing. Even if you are technically perfect at your role, we are all hard wired to look at those in front of us and make a judgement on their ability within 30 seconds. First impressions count.
These days first impressions include a uniform standard, though not being weighed! and having a genuine and authentic smile, giving a warm welcome and ensuring visiting clients and guests receive an outstanding impression of not just the receptionist themselves but the companies they represent.
Let’s not dilute the importance of the role of the receptionist by arguing over dress codes and shoe heel height. Let’s make an incredible first impression which will be reinforced by our outstanding organisational, technical and customer service skills.
First impressions count what impact do you make?