Earn Trust, Build Confidence With a Handshake

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By Ted Ings, Executive Director

The Handshake Isn’t Dead: Why Your Dealership Should Practice It

With mile-long contracts and lawyers on the payroll, it may be hard to believe the handshake holds much relevance anymore. But it does. Even in today’s business world, the age-old custom is significant for building trust and fostering relationships.

Why a handshake is so important

A lot of traditions come and go, but the timeless handshake remains. The gesture is used not only as a greeting but to finalize business transactions and promote good will. In many instances, a handshake is also a physical representation of “giving your word”.

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Fred Beans, the owner of a major auto dealer group based in Doylestown, Bucks County, PA, understands the importance of a handshake and is a great proponent. His employees use the gesture when interacting with customers. The approach has been fundamental in building Fred’s network: 14 southeastern Pennsylvania dealerships supplying 19 vehicle brands.

These are the primary reasons a handshake is so important to Fred and many other industry leaders.

1. It conveys trust

To Fred Beans, a handshake is more than just an expression or body language. It signifies his way of doing business based on trust and integrity.

And that’s the primary reason a handshake is so important – it signifies trust. A firm grasp indicates honesty and instills faith.

2. It makes connections

After receiving a firm handshake from someone, you automatically feel like you’ve made a connection. The physical contact makes things personal, while also conveying friendship and good intent.

3. It creates a strong first impression

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Who would you rather do business with? Someone who greets you directly with a confident handshake, or someone who won’t look you in the eye? Applying a firm grip while making visual contact is an excellent way to make a strong first impression.

4. It implies confidence

A firm handshake is fundamental in business and negotiation because it conveys confidence. Conversely, a limp grasp, or worse yet, no physical contact at all, is often taken as weakness or disinterest.


Neither are desirable traits for the business world, so it’s essential to employ a firm handshake every time.

5. It’s the right thing to do

A handshake is a common courtesy that shows respect, much like holding the door for a stranger. If your mother raised you right, and you practice good etiquette, don’t forget to shake hands during your next business interaction.

Perfect your handshake and use it often

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A handshake is a fundamental business tradition. But not just any handshake will do. To communicate the right message, the grasp should be firm (but not too firm) and the transaction seamless. This is how it’s done.

1. Be ready

Ensure you don’t have anything in your right hand, and that it’s ready for a shake. Take your left hand out of your pocket and stand up straight to demonstrate confident body language.

2. Extend your hand

Make appropriate eye contact (critical) and extend your hand with the thumb up. Do not have your palm facing up or down.

3. Make a connection

Diagonally slide your hand into the other persons until the palms are together.

4. Perform the shake

Squeeze the other person’s hand firmly but not too tight. Then, shake their hand up and down twice. Make sure this is done with your elbow and not your wrist.

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5. Release

To signify respect, let go of the other person’s hand only after they have released yours.

Encourage handshakes at your dealership

The handshake is an undeniably important soft skill. Fred Bean’s dealerships are just one example where the time-honored tradition has made a huge difference.


Encourage your employees to engage in a handshake whenever appropriate. This seeming insignificant practice is an easy way to improve your store’s reputation. Others will perceive you and your team as more trustworthy and confident. Plus, since many businesses no longer value the handshake, using it will help separate your dealership from the competition.

Most importantly, a handshake is the respectful, right thing to do. Don’t forget it next time you engage in a business interaction.