We get this question a lot more often than you might imagine. Some business owners will come to us knowing exactly what they need, but others are still on the fence whether they need uniforms.
It can seem like an unnecessary expense and staff might prefer to wear whatever makes them comfortable.
There is some merit to not giving your staff uniforms, but there are lots of other circumstances where uniforms are a good business decision.
We’ll look at a few businesses where uniforms might or might not be a good idea.
Restaurants – Many mom and pop restaurants don’t require their staff to wear uniforms, but you’ll see uniforms at most chain restaurants. We think that uniforms are a good idea for food service, for both the front and the back of the house.
In the front of the house, the staff should always look like they work there, instead of being someone who’s just hanging out. For the back of house, you’re able to make sure that the tops that everyone wears meet health code. You can also look for materials that are less likely to catch on fire or melt than what people might wear from their home wardrobes.
Uniforms for both the front and back of house make your restaurant look more professional.
Retail – A small, high-end boutique probably doesn’t want to put their people in uniforms, but most other retail businesses will look better in uniforms.
There are a couple of big box retailers that let everyone wear whatever they want as long as the shirt is red or blue, depending on the store. The problem is that it becomes difficult to know if someone works there or if they’re just someone who put on the wrong color t-shirt this morning.
There’s even a bookstore that lets anyone wear whatever they want. That’s great because it allows for individuality, but not everyone is comfortable being served by someone in oversized pants and strange punk rock t-shirts.
Outdoor businesses – Any business in which your staff is out where people can see them should have everyone in company t-shirts. If it’s a construction firm or a lawn care business, they don’t need collared polo shirts, but a nice t-shirt with your information on the front and back turns them into a walking billboard.
You don’t need to get expensive with these shirts, but a good quality t-shirt should do the trick.
Office staff – This one place where you don’t need to spring for uniforms. These folks are inside, sitting at desks. They aren’t advertising anything for you and aren’t visible to the public.
The truth is that office staff will probably resent you putting them into uniforms.
Gas stations – Most gas stations and convenience stores require their staff to wear uniforms, this makes sure that the person behind the counter actually works there.
What type of uniform do I need?
Choosing the right shirt for your needs is matter of what impression you want to make and to whom.
As we said earlier, a polo shirt with a collar is going to look odd (and be very hot) for a construction crew or lawn care folks. They are great for outdoor service people and even for real estate agents who are good with looking a little less uptight. These shirts should have your business name and logo on the front. You can even include other information like the service that you offer. On the back, your business name and what you do, if it’s not already clear, and your phone number and website.
Any business that wants to have a more formal atmosphere, but not shirt and tie, should look at polo shirts with a logo or business embroidered on the breast. They should clean and classy.
If your business is casual, like a convenience store or a beachside restaurant, t-shirts should be great. You’ll want to make sure that the quality is high enough that the shirts aren’t see-through, even in bright light. These shirts will usually have the company name or logo on them. You usually don’t need to put any more about your business on them since the staff will only wear them at work in or around the building.
For any place that wants a shirt and tie atmosphere, you can get shirts that have the logo embroidered on the breast pocket. This will define the clothes as a uniform without looking too intrusive.
If your business is a tuxedo shirt and bowtie type of place, you’ll usually opt for a name tag instead of embroidering anything on the shirt. If the staff wears tuxedo jackets, you can have the breast pocket embroidered to denote a uniform.
Are there alternatives to shirts?
Yes, definitely. There are many alternative ways to market your business with apparel. You can provide your staff with hats or visors that they can wear that has a company logo or name on it. These are perfect for anyone working with food, since they need to restrict their hair anyway. They’re also good for someone who works outside in the sun.
You can get shorts that are embroidered. This works great for outdoor businesses, like golf courses or tennis clubs. The employees can choose a blouse that fits them, even if there are color restrictions. For tennis or golf coaches, this can be important since they want shirts that are comfortable and will let them move easily. Shorts, with a distinctive cut and the club’s logo or emblem on a leg, can be perfect for making sure your people stand out as they walk around.
How to make the right choice
The best way to know what’s best for your business is to consult with someone who can give you all your options. At Modern Graphics, we consult with our clients and make sure that they know what they need, what it will cost, and what it will look like. Most importantly, we work to get them the uniforms that will be best for their business’s atmosphere and style.