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So What’s the Deal with the Fedora?

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I've been asked that. A few times.

I've been advised it's better to lose the fedora

It's kinda become part of my branding. Part of my identity.

But no one wears these things any more. It's been out of style. For decades. It's not hip. It's not common. It is completely passe'.

Which is exactly why I wear the Fedora.

Maybe I should model the fedora instead of using this stock image. but I'm not the modelling kinda guy.
Maybe I should model the fedora instead of using this stock image. but I'm not the modelling kinda guy.

I don't care if I'm in style

However, I do care what my style says.

And this is why I wear the Fedora. And sometimes the bow tie, but I have to admit there's a comfort thing with the bow tie. That said, it's rare for me to do a delivery without wearing the Fedora. It's all about business.

Seriously, I think the Fedora helps me make more money. I really believe that. It might not be a LOT of money, but it's definitely more money.

The impact of the Fedora

There are a few ways that I think the Fedora is a good choice for me. It more or less boils down to what it says and what it does.

I know. I can already hear you saying it, my friend. You're thinking, “it says you're way out of style.”

You might be right. But I don't care. My goal isn't to be in style. My goal is to make a profit.

It communicates that I care

I'm sure you've seen other couriers waiting to pick up the food and have thought, I sure don't want them touching my food.

I know it's a free country. It's a free profession as well, considering we are independent contractors. We have the right to look however we want. That doesn't mean that it makes good business sense to do it. And it sure doesn't mean that restaurant owners or customers have to feel comfortable with how you look.

If you stood two couriers in front of me, where one was clean and tidy and well dressed and the other was a complete slob, and you told me to guess which one has been stealing the customer's food, who do you think I'm going to pick? Most people are going to guess it's the slob. Whether they are right or not doesn't matter. The bottom line is, if you look like you don't care, it's very easy for people to draw the impression that you don't care about what you're doing.

And if you look like you don't care, that makes a lot of people nervous. It makes the restaurant owner nervous, because you're representing them when you deliver THEIR food to the customer. It makes the customer nervous because they don't know what may have happened to their food during transit. Whether either one of them are reading you correctly doesn't matter. They're still nervous.

I can look like I care without the fedora. And the thing is, the Fedora is part of the bigger picture – it's all of how I dress and how I look that matters. But that stupid hat is an extra touch, a sort of exclamation point that says I'm intentional about what I'm doing. That kind of thing makes a difference.

It makes me stand out

Here's where the fedora does its job for me.

Maybe it's precisely that it IS so out of style. Maybe it's that it IS dated.

I know a lot of it is exactly that NO ONE ELSE IS WALKING AROUND LOOKING LIKE THIS.

I already stand out, I'm sure. I'm 6'5 and not exactly skinny. But now you add this hat that's just different enough, just unusual enough, and it catches attention.

And that gets me remembered. In what we're doing, being memorable is a good thing if it's in a good way.

I know, some of you are thinking outdated is never a good way. I'm sure there are some people who will laugh, who will comment to themselves that it's not a good look. But the thing is, it's not an incredibly BAD look. It's just different. It's different in a way that some still think is a good look. And that's the thing: When you stand out in a non-negative way, it can be a good thing in what we do.

Okay, but how does this make money for me?

See, it's precisely because it stand out, and precisely that people know I care about what I'm doing, that I'm able to make extra money.

Those things alone don't do a thing. It's the impact that those things has which helps me earn more.

It makes more money by increasing tips.

If you're delivering Grubhub or Doordash, the impact on tips is minimal. But I do think there are times where it can make a difference. With Uber Eats and Postmates where there is more flexibility for the customer to tip after the fact, I believe it makes a tremendous difference.

The impact of caring about what I do.

You're waiting for the food. The driver pulls up in a clean vehicle. They get out, and they are clean and look nice. They get the food out of the back of the car, kept in an insulated bag. You know that because it's sealed up and kept out of reach that the food probably hasn't been tampered with. You know that the driver gives a damn about what they are doing, and that means they give a damn about your food.

And then you see that something extra. It's that additional touch. For me, it's the Fedora. It's an exclamation point that says, I'm intentional about what I'm doing.

You think that doesn't make a difference in the tips that are being given out?

The impact of standing out.

There's one big problem when you can choose to tip after the fact, especially on apps like Postmates and Uber Eats. People aren't in a tipping mindset when they get the food. They've been waiting and anticipating the food, and when you get there all they are thinking about is, I'm hungry!!! It's just not natural to go into the app and send off a tip right away.

This is one reason that tipping has been worse on those two platforms than on Doordash and Grubhub where you customarily place your tip later. Now that has changed in the past year with Uber Eats, now that they default to a tipping option when you place the order.

But the thing is, when someone gets the reminder several minutes, several hours, or even several days later that says hey, do you want to tip your driver? Wait, which order was that? Who was the driver? Was that the one where they were rude? Ohhhhh, that's that guy with the goofy hat. When there is something that stands out in a positive way, it can remind them of the positive experience. This can make a difference when they go to tip you on Postmates or Uber Eats, and it can make a difference when they go to rate you on Doordash.

It makes more money by getting mein and out of restaurants faster.

There are a lot of restaurants where there are customers and couriers all competing for the attention of the restaurant staff. Some places are a madhouse. I really believe that my presentation – my appearance accented by the Fedora – helps me cut through that clutter and confusion more quickly.

And here's the thing: The faster you get done, the more money you make. In fact I've found that the most important measure of how much I will earn in a certain time is how quickly the deliveries were completed. I've had days where I made more money when the average pay was about $7 than on days where the average pay was well over $10, and it's all because I got a lot more deliveries done in the same time frame. One of the best things you can do to make more money is cut down on the time spent at the restaurants picking up food.

The impact of caring what I do.

Let's face it: restaurant owners by and large are nervous about third party delivery. Some won't go that route because they lose control of the experience. One of their biggest concerns has to do with some of the people that are delivering.

That's absolutely their right. Brand makes a huge difference for the success of many restaurants. Part of that brand is the experience. They don't like that they cannot control the experience when it comes to the people presenting their food to their customers.

I know that when I walk in dressed well, looking like I give a damn, and carrying a higher quality delivery bag, that they're going to feel comfortable with turning their food over to me. It gets me a ton of compliments from restaurant staff. I treat them well. I can guarantee they are far more likely to help me get out the door than someone with an attitude and who looks like a trainwreck.

The impact of standing out

I know people at restaurants remember me. And this is where the Fedora is huge. It stands out like a sore thumb. And when this guy has been in and out a number of times and you see that Fedora, it doesn't take long until that Fedora is all they need to see.

The thing is, it gets me remembered.

I think the key is, it's a combination of standing out AND obviously caring what I'm doing. When I've been friendly and patient and pleasant before, and on top of that, there's that stupid fedora. The thing is, when I'm creating a positive experience when I walk into a restaurant, they don't see the fedora as being stupid or out of date. It's that point of memory. I'm the guy with the fedora.

And when this guy walks in with a red shirt and a fedora, they know why I'm there. There's no wading through the customers. It's “Hey, who are you picking up for today?” I know I've seen other couriers get frustrated because they've been in line or waiting and can't get anyone's attention and the moment I walk in they're taking care of me.

It's all part of the big picture. None of it works without the rest. If my attitude sucks or I look terrible or I don't have the bag with me, the Fedora doesn't mean anything. But when I have the appearance and attitude and the whole picture and I do it consistently, it's the Fedora that's the reminder that oh, it's that guy.

It makes more money by putting me in a money making mindset.

Have you ever noticed that how you look makes a difference in how you do things?

I think during this pandemic, people are discovering this more and more. When people are working from home or studying from home, it's easy to not care about what you look like. It doesn't matter, no one will see you, just get the work done.

I'm finding though that even when working on this website, I seem to get more done after I've showered and dressed. There's just something about that feeling, that how you look often makes more difference to you than it does to anyone else. When working in telecom I felt like I was accomplishing more when I dressed up than when I was casual. And I think the same thing can matter when doing delivery.

If I'm thinking that how I look doesn't matter, that eventually translates into feeling like how I act doesn't matter either. But when I'm putting on my ‘uniform' and I don that fedora, there's something that trips inside that says, I mean business. I'm on a mission. When I've got that attitude, I feel like I make more money. But more to the point, when I have that attitude, I feel like staying out there. You don't make any money when you go home. Wearing that goofy hat makes a difference in how I feel, and how I feel makes a difference in what I earn.

That doesn't mean YOU need a fedora

But maybe it doesn't hurt?

It's not that it's the fedora itself. I think it's more about what the fedora represents.

I mentioned this just a bit ago, it's all part of a bigger picture. For me, I feel like it's part of my brand. My brand includes my attitude, my overall appearance, and my carrying the tools that help me do the things I agreed to do with excellence.

You can do all this without the Fedora. But the reason that it's such a big thing to me is that for me, it's what I found to be an excellent exclamation point to the whole picture.

I think a lot of it is, I try to conduct myself in a way that stands out. I try to create and maintain a total picture that sets me apart. It's the look, it's the attitude, it's the taking what I do seriously. The thing is, both the customers AND the restaurants see the food as theirs. For the restaurant, it's their creation and part of their brand. For the customers, it's what they're about to eat. It makes a ton of difference to both when they see someone who cares about what is theirs. It's the total picture that I'm presenting that communicates all that.

The fedora is just the exclamation point.

Do you have an exclamation point? What do you use to stand out, get attention, and communicate that what you are doing matters?

Could this help someone else? Please share it.

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