People assume that your public image matches the product or service you’re offering. How else could they gauge your quality if they don’t know you? The visible image should reflect the invisible. If you have a cheap or unprofessional image, the public will assume your product is likewise cheap and unprofessional. That’s not a good scenario if you’re trying to sell high quality.

Here are some of the ways your professional business is accidentally screaming, “I’m cheap!” despite your protestations to the contrary:

Let’s talk business cards. You have none. Or you have none with you— even at a professional conference. Or they’re free with another company’s ad stamped on the back of your card. With professionally designed business cards so easy and inexpensive to procure, there is no valid reason (other than cheapness) to not have a card that properly announces your high-quality services or products.

Your business has no permanent website. Free social media platforms are used, not as an adjunct, but as an exclusive mechanism to reach the public. Exclusively using free platforms suggests that you do not have the money or staff to host a website. A website lends stability and solidity to an otherwise intangible quality of luxury.

You mix personal and business issues on one social media account. The accounts are free but you can’t even be bothered to establish separate personal and business accounts? Reading about your children’s scholastic or athletic achievements, or your political opinions, or watching clips of your cute pets interspersed with testimonials about your awesome products do not reflect a luxury image but an amateurish one.

Using a free email account for your luxury business says you don’t think your business is worth investing in a professional email and domain name: says cheap, cheap, cheap.

You don’t invest in a dedicated phone line for your business. I’ve phoned so-called professionals only to have the spouse or kids answer the phone who then scream for the “professional” to come to the phone. Ouch.

Likewise, you don’t bother installing voicemail or even an answering machine. Let the phone ring and ring because nothing says professional and high quality like not being able to afford voicemail.

You don’t hire employees for your storefront business—just put up the closed sign when you have to run errands in the middle of your posted store hours. Or hire apathetic employees simply because they’ll work more cheaply than more qualified people. Don’t think your customers won’t judge disinterested or nonexistent staff as a measure of your quality.

You don’t have a dedicated office in your home if you’re a home-based business. Home offices work well for many types of businesses—I’ve used one for more than twenty five years. But having a dedicated, self-contained office in your home is crucial. Your customers don’t want your family answering the phone; they don’t want to hear the TV in the background or dinner dishes getting washed, or your teenagers arguing with each other.

The point is your public image should be congruent with the reality of your product or services. You can’t sell quality if your image screams cheap and inferior. If there’s a disconnect, people will believe what they see, not what you tell them.

What do your practices tell your prospective customers about the quality of your services?