Small businesses are often put into an awkward position when it comes to uniforms. Fewer employees should lead to a lower overall cost but, unfortunately, some of the major employment uniform manufacturers offer better deals on bulk orders and charge more for smaller purchases. Some of the biggest manufacturers won’t even talk to small businesses due to stringent minimum order policies.
Small boutique printers are rarely any better. High prices, long lead times, and small selections serve as major downsides – and with a clientele that primarily seeks novelty t-shirts and band gear, these boutiques often lack experience fulfilling professional needs. How can small business owners cope? Is there a budget-friendly middle ground? This short how-to guide will provide a few ways to save money on uniforms without sacrificing on quality or value.
Balancing Quality and Cost
Your overall cost will be determined by the quality of the following features: materials, graphic design, and uniform cut/style. Do not try to pursue the best of all three or you will surely pay too much. Instead, think about the role the uniform and emphasize/deemphasize certain qualities when necessary.
Do not be afraid to order separate (but similar) uniforms based on the various employee positions and their duties. The following three scenarios will explain how careful choices and compromise can lead to valuable savings.
1. Emphasis on Durability
Quality materials are absolutely necessary for uniforms that are often exposed to food, dirt, or heavy wear. The ability to wash and reuse these uniforms more make up the difference in price. Are graphics necessary? Save money on uniforms for behind-the-scenes employees by opting out of graphics and redirecting those savings toward even better quality.
2. Emphasis on Professionalism
Employees that deal primarily with customers need to look professional. You do not need exceptionally durable materials, but you do need to invest in a uniform with a nice cut/style. Any graphics do need to be nice and recognizable, but save the majority of your graphics budget for situations that call for the “walking billboard” uniform detailed below.
3. Emphasis on Marketing
Sometimes uniforms are necessary for dealing with the public, and you can put that public exposure to good use through clever marketing. Go with a lightweight shirt to save money on materials, and invest in eye-catching color or design instead. A reasonable style will help your business look professional, but don’t blow your entire budget on a uniform that will see a lot of travel or wear.
Searching for Deep Discounts
Check out online resources like CustomizedGirl for custom t-shirts, aprons, and other deeply discounted customized uniform-worthy attire. Online resources are great because they offer a greater selection and can expedite printing when necessary, and you can find the prices upfront instead quote-by-quote. Many online printers also offer newsletters to advertise their best deals so that you can withhold your order until the most cost-effective opportunity crops up.
Order your replacements and extras upfront. By adding a few rounds of replacements to your initial order, you will be able to take advantage of what may be a significant group discount. First-time buyers can often secure additional discounts – so make that first purchase a worthwhile one. Keep in constant contact with your supplier to ensure good deals on future orders. Treat your uniform supplier like any other important business contact.
Uniforms are a useful way to help your business stand out, and sometimes they are the only way to ensure customer trust and satisfaction. Uniforms are an important investment but they do not have to overburden your budget. Get creative and contact your local chamber of commerce for ideas and connections.