They say (who ever they are) don’t judge a book by its cover. I say hog wash. The cover is a great start. Some of the best sellers I have read recently have the most interesting covers. In an airport bookstore, where all the books are neatly displayed, (Merchandising. we will come back to this in a moment) Made to Stick, Free, and Freakonimics are books that grabbed me by their covers. Because the pages in-between the covers were so full of content, I recommend them to you.

Is your cover bringing you customers? Is the content good enough to solicit recommendations? In case you don’t see the metaphor developing here, your cover is your store, your trucks, your uniforms and your logo.

You expect to pay more at Saks Fifth Avenue then you do at Walmart. You also expect better service. Never under estimate the power of a clean image. 1-800-GOT-JUNK has built an empire by removing people’s unwanted stuff. They send two guys in clean uniforms out to your home to load up you junk and haul it off for you. They have replaced the old faded red Sanford & Son truck with a new beautiful blue and green truck that I challenge you to find dirty. They do $120 million a year.

Do your stores, trucks and people look professional? I was recently at a company that has great looking trucks and uniformed employees, well at least from a distance. Up close, the employee uniforms are dingy, wrinkly and nearly transparent they have worn so thin. When I ask why this was, they blamed it on the uniform service. I was disappointed in that answer. It is the standards of the management that allowed it and it is the standards of the management that will fix it.

At the beginning of this article, I mentioned “Merchandising” this is a must. Display your image so that it is appealing to a potential customer. Example, picture a nice juicy steak cooked just the way you like it. It’s so tender your fork glides through it like a knife through warm butter. You know your breath will be taken away as soon as it hits your mouth. Are you salivating? Good. Now picture that same steak after your dog dragged it to the floor of his dog house. Covered in dirt and hair, the glisten and aroma are gone. I feel the disappointment too. So why do you continue to accept dirty trucks and wrinkled uniforms? Don’t tell me it is to cut costs.

In good times and bad it is always smart to look for ways to increase profits. Two of the first areas to get attacked are labor and uniforms. The other is marketing but I am going to assume all of you know better than that.

When cuts are made for the sake of profits, management often allows floors to go un-mopped, trucks to go unwashed and uniforms to go un-pressed. Quick decisions on cuts rarely lead to long-term success. There is always fat to cut, but ask anyone who has dropped weight from diet alone how long it took for them to gain it all back. But with a person who has dropped weight from a combination of diet and exercise, you can ask “You used to be fat? The difference is a change in effectiveness in processing calories.

Keeping your stores and trucks clean will not cost you more in labor. Your people will still find a way to get home at a decent hour each night.

Your uniform company can help with your image but not if you beat all of their profit out of them. Treat them fair and they will treat you fair. If they don’t their competitor will. Your image and the way you project it is just the first step towards market dominance.

Don’t let junk haulers be more professional then you.

Have a beautiful cover and merchandise it well because sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.