Monthly Archives: May 2013

Angie Bennett: A Lifelong Teacher

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Before Angie Bennett joined the Dardis team at the company’s inception, she was a high school teacher for 14 years, equipping students with the skills and knowledge they would need post-graduation. Now she nurtures her love for teaching and coaching students on real life skills through her role as Senior Instructor and Vice President of Sales for Dardis Communications, Inc., working for both Dardis Communications and Dardis Academy.

“I love arming students with skills that will give them that competitive edge, as well as strategies on communication and professional image,” Angie said.

Read on to learn more about this lifelong teacher.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?

Every day looks different, as I get the opportunity to meet, work with and coach a wide range of individuals. We get to witness high school and college students putting real life skills to use including communication skills, selling skills and managing time through our 10-week internship. Our Classroom to Career internship pushes students to put into practice things they are studying and learning to give them a competitive edge. The Dardis Sales Academy is the ultimate gateway in which students can strategically move from classroom to career. Employers want experience, and they want individuals with practical, hands-on skills. Dardis gives our student interns the competitive edge they need to be successful.

You also work as a recruiter for the Dardis Clothiers student reps. What do you usually look for in a good candidate?

Great candidates for the Dardis Academy are competitive, hardworking, high energy and positive. Individuals that are driven and understand the importance of real life experience are typically successful with Dardis.

What do you think sets Dardis Clothiers apart from other menswear stores?

Three core reasons – product, price and convenience. We have great fabrics, including non-iron dress shirts, trousers that fit great and tons of choices in neckwear. Our prices are unbelievable because we take out the middle person, design our own clothing and make it in bulk. On average our clients save 40 percent! Convenience is huge, as we have student reps that travel right to your door, and then we ship everything directly to you. You never have to go to the mall or a store again to purchase business casual or business attire.

Do you have a favorite customer story or experience?

One specific story that sticks out to me is a man that was referred to me by his wife. His wife said she wanted him to feel more confident and to feel positive about his look. We met and discussed colors, fit and gaps in his wardrobe. We put together an order, and a few days later after he received his clothing, I got an email from his wife. She said that seeing her husband confident and feeling good meant the world to her. She also mentioned that her husband has completely sworn off traditional shopping forever and was calling his friends telling them his personal shopping experience.

What would you say to someone who is interested in shopping with Dardis Clothiers for the first time?

You will be pleasantly surprised as to how much fun you will have, the quality of clothing you will receive and just how easy it is! My clients appreciate having a resource for their clothing needs and wants, and they love knowing that they can email or call me, and I will take care of it for them. We build a relationship with our clients and truly value them.

How to Make a Winning Impression in Seven Seconds

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We form an impression of someone within seven seconds of meeting. During that time, we gather a variety of verbal and non-verbal cues that bring us to a conclusion: likable or off-putting, professional or amateurish, confident or insecure, leader or follower.

At Dardis Communications, we teach you how to convey a leadership presence and reflect your best self, speaking as clearly as you think. This is not a predetermined skill set; it is eminently coachable. And it all begins in those first seven seconds, where a handful of small, seemingly simple measures make a big difference.

First, you must look the part. A leader looks presentable and must have a polished presence.  Our eyes scan all these details within a few seconds and we read into them.

Second, smile. A bright, genuine smile expresses a wonderful blend of confidence and appreciation, generating positive feelings that can form someone’s first impression of you.

Third, pair that smile with direct eye contact to establish a connection and convey honesty.

Fourth, offer a firm handshake. It’s easy to overlook the power of a handshake because we’ve done it a million times, but this indispensable step involves physical contact, reflects confidence and speaks its own greeting.

Would you like to learn more? We invite you to attend one of our public programs of Leadership Presentation & Image Skills. We’ll explore the crucial and interrelated roles of eye contact, body position, facial expressions, volume, pace, inflection and word choice. Whatever your skill level when it comes to communication and image, we’ll give you tools and techniques to help you reach the next level.  Register today: or call 515-208-0459.

Training future leaders through the Dardis Sales Academy

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Dardis Clothiers is not just about suits, dress shirts and ties. Dardis is in the business of building future leaders. Through Dardis Communications, we train corporate executives on presentation skills, professional image, sales skills and business writing. But the future of business lies in the students who participate in Dardis Sales Academy.

This student training and development program equips students with the practical skills and real-world experience that they’ll need to be successful post-high school or post-college.  Through a one-week training program followed by nine weeks of real-world internship experience, high school and college students gain life skills in independence, confidence, goal setting and self-motivation.

That’s where we come in. Dardis works to build character within young people, first within the Dardis Sales Academy and then our summer internship program. We have a unique platform in which students can run their own business, make great money, and at the same time, learn valuable life skills.

Through the Dardis Sales Academy, students evolve into highly trained professionals before they enter the sales field. From beginning to end, students are immersed in experiential learning. At the academy, students learn:

  • Presentation and communication skills
  • Selling and persuasion skills
  • Importance of professional image
  • Business skills like accounting and bookkeeping
  • Territory and time management
  • And more!

These skills are needed more than ever in our competitive job market. Thousands of students graduate each year with a college degree, but many students lack the necessary skills needed to be successful on the job. Surveys show that oral and written communication skills are the number one shortfall among college graduates, and students lack the professional image and the ability to sell themselves and their ideas effectively.

Dardis’ unique summer internship is an opportunity for students after attending the Dardis Sales Academy to jump-start their future careers by running their own business selling men’s apparel. Stay tuned to our blog for more information on this exciting internship program that brings Dardis product right to your front door!

Do you know someone who should apply for the Dardis Sales Academy? Learn more today.

Andy Hadden: Taking Dardis to the next level

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Andy Hadden may be new to Dardis Clothiers, but he has been a fan of the Dardis brand since long before he joined the company in October 2012. Andy is now tasked with growing Dardis Clothiers as a Territory Sales Manager and Classroom to Career Recruiter.

The majority of his time is spent on recruiting college and high school-age students that are in need of a challenging summer job that will jump off their resume post-graduation. The Classroom to Career program is poised to begin its second summer with interns, so read on to learn first-hand from Andy on why he is confident that Dardis is ready to take this program to the next level.

What do you look for when searching for a Dardis Clothiers student rep?
I try to think outside of the box when looking for Interns and student managers. First, I look for a person that wants to take the road less traveled, because they know that road will make them better in the end. Our company is in the business of building future leaders, and leaders know that to become a leader, you have to do something that will set you apart from everyone else.

Why is Dardis Clothiers committed to building the “Classroom to Career” program?
Year after year, surveys show that the ability to communicate effectively continues to be the number one shortfall for college graduates. Students graduate with technical or hard skills, but they lack the soft skills. Research shows that only 15 percent of one’s success in the workplace is determined by hard skills, while the remaining 85 percent of a person’s success depends on soft skills. Essentially, college graduates walk across the stage on graduation day with enough theory and course knowledge, but when they arrive on the job, they lack the desired communication skills, professional image and the ability to sell themselves and their ideas effectively.

Our program provides students with an opportunity to build skills, character and a powerful resume through the professional training they receive as well as the opportunity to run their own business. In today’s competitive marketplace, students need to be able to separate themselves from the pack with effective communication skills, as well as work experience. Our summer program provides both, and it gives employers the confidence they need when hiring our graduates.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?
It is always changing. Some days I am reaching out to find future student interns, and the next day I will be working with a customer to help him find just the right suit for his upcoming wedding.

What do you think sets Dardis Clothiers apart from other menswear stores?
Simple, we are not a store. We are an experience. We cater to our customers unlike any other menswear provider out there. We not only help you pick out the right outfit for a big speech but also help get the right wardrobe for that upcoming promotion you desire.

Do you have a favorite customer story/experience?
My favorite customer story was with a home inspector I hired in Iowa City. We were talking to him the day after the inspection, and at the end of the meeting, he told me that he needed a suit. Turns out that this hard-working home inspector by day is also on the board of directors for the Iowa American Legions by night! Goes to show that everyone needs a suit!

What would you say to someone who is interested in shopping with Dardis Clothiers for the first time?
Product, price, convenience. Our products are made from the best materials, from the best mills, priced below a retail store and sent right to your door, ultimately saving you time and money.

Give a Better Wedding Toast

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You sip your water, grab your champagne and take the microphone. The din in the room softens, and eyes turn to you.  Now what?

When you’re charged with making a toast, preparation is key, but often overlooked. Off-the-cuff seems to be the current style, and it almost always flops.

June is the most common month to marry, and chances are you’ll find yourself at a wedding soon. With brides and bouquets comes a barrage of speech-making, much of it poorly executed – the rambling host, the over-served best man, the father of the bride at a loss for words.

Unfortunately, these blunders extend beyond the ballroom. They also occur in professional settings of any size: an office party, corporate dinner or an evening entertaining clients.

Dardis Communications offers training in public speaking, including toasting, to transform any tongue-tied client into an effective elocutionist, but observing the following tips will put you well on your way to perfecting your toast this wedding season.

1)      Prepare. One of our public speaking experts on our team deejayed weddings during college. Now certified as a corporate etiquette and international protocol consultant, he draws on his experience for perfect examples of terrible toasts. The biggest mistake? Insufficient preparation. Notes jotted on a napkin between the wedding and reception do not count as planning ahead.  Your thoughts need a roadmap. Write a draft at least one week before the event to provide plenty of time to rehearse and tweak phrasing. Planning your speech in advance will not only produce a better speech, but it will help you relax and deliver your remarks with a natural cadence.

2)     Be confident. Preparation helps you properly view toasting as an opportunity, not a burden. It’s an easy way to make a great impression. Even if public speaking terrifies you, don’t start a speech with a line to lower audience expectations, such as “I had nightmares about this moment” or “I’m not very good at this,” even to draw a sympathetic laugh. To display fear at this moment detracts from your honorable efforts to prepare and overshadows your thoughtful words. Instead, make eye contact with your audience and the subject of your toast and use note cards to stay on track.

3)     Keep it short. A toast is not a Shakespearian soliloquy. A welcome toast can be two or three lines; a toast given by the best man or maid of honor need not exceed three minutes. Toasts for business events should be to the point. Time your speech when practicing.

4)     Stick to the plan. Consider the case of the well-prepared best man, armed with note cards. He stood from his seat, reached into his jacket and retrieved his speech. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “I’d like to share some words about my relationship with the bride and groom.” He paused to glance at his notes. “But you know what? I think I’ll just wing it.” He ditched the cards and proceeded to tell embarrassing stories that snowballed into a rambling mess. Whether he later realized it or not, he made a poor choice. Some may think extemporaneous speeches sound more natural or that winging it creates a more heart-felt presentation. Rarely is that reality. The well-chosen and well-rehearsed phrases of a prepared speech will always flow more smoothly than lines made up on the fly.

5)     Respect your honorees. At a wedding, toasting is an opportunity, entrusted to the speaker by the newlyweds, to publicly celebrate the event. It should not turn into an embarrassing story or string of inside jokes. This sort of speechmaking is prevalent in comedy films, but it’s only funny because it’s awkward. Toasts need not be humorous to be memorable, especially if that’s not your style, and a captive audience does not give you permission to test out a stand-up routine. Importantly, don’t rely on “liquid courage.” Moderate what you drink before your toast to ensure your composure and make sure there’s enough in your glass to raise at the end.

In sum: Be prepared, be brief and be seated. Honor the newlyweds or guests of honor and wish them good will, health and prosperity with poise, letting your words reflect the esteem with which you hold them. A well-prepared toast will go far in setting the stage for a successful event. Cheers!

Contact Dardis today to learn more. Contact Us