the state or quality of conforming to conventionally accepted standards of behavior or morals.
"he always behaved with the utmost propriety"
This may just sound like another way to say “professionalism” but this is a completely different aspect of professionalism than pricing or punctuality. This is where we get into dress codes, comportment, and other things typically found in the employee handbook.
In my opinion, propriety is one of the most controversial aspects of professionalism because it is the most visible. Clothes are tangible. Pricing strategies are not.
Propriety touches a lot of nerves because it's a matter of fitting into social norms and avoiding taboos. In a way some of us are already violating social norms just by doing what we do. In the immortal words of my co-worker April, massage therapists are in the business of “touching naked people for money.” Certainly taboo and a “reason” to be shamed by society. This is why we get to be the butt of “happy endings” jokes (a subject for another time - society’s fear of the naked form is a blog post in itself.
How do taboo breakers like massage therapists and acupuncturists break enough norms to successfully do what we do and remain authentic without driving everyone away?
Get over the idea of attracting everyone - Your job as a practitioner and a business person is to repel as many people (if not more) than you attract. You will never be the best practitioner for everyone and you shouldn’t be. If you try, every treatment will look the same and you’ll have more people leaving your office disappointed than fulfilled.
Being a massage therapist repels people who don’t like being touched. Being a massage therapist who prefers to work skin to skin repels people uncomfortable with undressing. That’s ok. Being an acupuncturist repels people who are afraid of needles, don’t think herbs work or hundreds of other things. That’s ok too! We probably couldn’t have helped each other anyway.
There is a practitioner out there for everyone. The people who you repel will find the person who fits them better.
Dress code consistency matters - In my own practice I wear floor length skirts or jeans with a solid colored shirt. Unless the AC is out, I don’t bare my shoulders. And I don’t wear makeup to work. This is the way I’ve chosen to present myself - hippie and laid back. At the spa, the only things I do differently are 1) not wearing jeans and 2) never baring my shoulders because that is their dress code.
Dress code can communicate two things - your attitude about the practice and your membership in a team. If you’re on your own it’s just the former. If it’s the latter, it becomes vital every member of the team adheres to the dress code or it looks weird. Need to wear a polo? Everybody wears the polo. Requiring khaki pants? Everybody wears khaki pants.
If one group doesn’t have to adhere to the dress code the general public will either judge them as more important than the team (generally management in retail settings vs the average employee) or as not part of the team. This is more common in small business settings. If three-quarters of the clinic staff is dressed in a uniform and one person is not, the outlier is going to be mistaken for a patient at least half the time.