5 Step Process to Choosing a New Uniform
If you have face-to-face contact with most of your clients, then a uniform can be a highly valuable form of promotion and clear signal of professionalism.
Consciously or subconsciously, your clients will get a first, and on-going impression of the type of organisations they are dealing with from the appearance of your company’s uniforms.
Think of your uniforms a form of marketing, where your brand is being communicated to prospects and customers alike.
Each engagement with your business draws attention to the overall scope of your operations. This can have more impact than outbound marketing materials, as the visitors to your establishment are gaining real-life insights about your brand.
Follow these steps to ensure you make the correct decisions when dressing your staff.
1. Select your desired level of “Professional”
With professional at one end, and casual at the other – where do you want your business to lie compared to others in your industry?
As a general rule for polo shirts, non-professional businesses go to casual, and professional organisations go to formal. It also depends on where you want to sit in relationship to your competitors. If your business has many tradies, for example, perhaps your market edge can come from having been the best dressed tradies in town. This more than anything is how your customers and prospects will judge the job they are about to do.
If you are a medical centre, however, consider replacing the polo shirt for something more professional for counter staff, a tailored shirt for example, and a clinical tunic for your clinical staff.
These small changes lead to big differences in first impression. They also pave the way for consistency – it will be easier to maintain the look over time, adding more credibility to your brand image.
- Do you want your customers to feel the need to dress a certain way when visiting your location?
- Should your staff ever be dressed better (or worse) than your clients?
Both questions are ever-evolving notions that will need to be asked many times during the growth of your business. Knowing when to keep it casual with work uniforms, or when to step it up and “dress to impress,” gives you a unique advantage over your competitors.
You can gain a lot of perspective by analysing the way most of your customers and prospects dress when coming to your place of business.
Use these observations to answer these questions:
- Has their appearance changed over time (from their first visit)?
- Do they try to match the level of professionalism of your staff’s work uniforms?
- Are they able to easily identify senior staff and management?
Does your average client/prospect feel comfortable presenting their needs to any of the staff they encounter, or are they hesitant? (This can be a sign of under-dressed staff who appear to lack the knowledge or professionalism required.)
2. Do you need different variations on a style?
Do you want all staff wearing the same garments, or just the same colour/style? Are your uniforms top-to-bottom or top (shirt/polo) only?
Different body types may also require a slightly different type of uniform. Staff often like a choice of 2-3 styles of garment that look great together, so they can choose which garment suits them best from there.
Also consider designating different colours to different roles, departments, or seniority.
It’s best to select a few staff uniforms that are acceptable to your business and then leave the decision-making as to which styles to the individuals. Keep the colour variations limited, ensuring that at least 1 of the colours strongly match your company logo.
3. Functional standards and requirements
What are the legal and/or functional requirements of your uniforms.
Do you have to meet AUS/NZ standards? Let your supplier know at the beginning. Fire and flame-retardant factors, as well as UV resistance, are other elements to also consider at this point. If you are unsure, let your supplier consider this for you and make some recommendations.
Many companies also have policies on the ethical sourcing of products. Uniforms have certainly been a part of the ethical sourcing debates so make sure your supplier has a robust ethical sourcing and sustainability policy.
Comfortable staff uniforms lead to happy and productive workers so choosing the most appropriate material is crucial. Your supplier can help here.
- What are the advantages over cotton vs polyester?
- Do terms like ʺeasy careʺ and ʺmoisture wickingʺ mean anything?
- What does flexibility in the garment mean and how is this achieved?
- How often will this uniform be washed and how long will it last?
Uniform features have come a long way. Understand the differences and choose the material best for your requirements.
4. Branding vs Promotion
It is recommended that all uniforms at least have the company name or logo somewhere. What else might you need? What about the person’s name or position embroidered on the garment? Could you put your website address on the sleave or back of the uniform? How important could this be to you getting new customers?
Consider the likelihood of a potential client using this information to contact you. If there is a realistic possibility, then go for it. If not, then maybe something more subtle and stylish is best. Keeping to the essentials (the information prospects expect to see on uniforms, such as business name, logo or tagline) can give your business a professional appearance.
Colours and styles can also leave a lasting impression. If you consider the how the airline you fly with uses colours and styles for their cabin staff you will find that you instantly recognise this brand and this person as airline staff, without actually seeing a logo or brand name. Could you do something like this for your business?
5. Stay current
Buying a uniform is not a once-off decision. Keep your uniforms current, stylish and relevant.
There is nothing is more distasteful than interacting with a company whose uniforms are old, out-of-date and faded. Holes in the uniform are even worse.
As with any other marketing for your business, poor-quality elements easily blemish your company image. Subconsciously, customers will either be impressed or disappointed by the way your staff are presented. Even the best employee can have their capabilities overshadowed by poor appearance.
Branded corporate uniforms can be the difference between you landing the new customer or loosing the new customer, the difference between customer coming back or not coming back, and certainly the difference between you getting the referral and not getting the referral. Everyday your people are out there with your customers. Are you taking the greatest advantage you can of leveraging their skills and abilities and promoting your business at the same time?
For more information, you can download the eBook below or please contact us should you have any questions.
Devon Clothing supply business uniforms from simple corporate shirts through to complete custom workwear.