Uniform procurement can be a tough challenge to undertake, especially if you have a large-scale business that has very specific industry requirements.
You're required to meet regulations, portray your brand image effectively, ensure both form and function for your staff - all while designing something that looks aesthetically pleasing.
So, how to achieve all of that in one fell swoop? It really comes down to the three fundamentals of uniform design and procurement: solution, evolution and revolution.
In this blog, we unpack exactly how to nail your business' uniform procurement the first time around.
1. Knowing what you need in a uniform solution
The very first thing to consider when beginning the process of uniform procurement, is exactly what you need from a uniform solution. This is what any uniform provider will ask you when you inquire about working with them, and the answer typically requires a lot of thought.
Here's what to consider.
- Is brand recognition a priority?
One major function of a uniform in business is brand recognition. Your uniform is your chance to express your company's brand and identity, without having to pay for marketing and media. Your people wear it every, single day, often in customer facing roles - so why not leverage the time they're wearing your gear for brand purposes.
In fact, a simple consistent colour of a work uniform can boost your brand recognition by 80% - so even the smallest uniform branding can go a long way.
If this is a priority in the overall function of your company's uniform, it's important to note this from the very beginning, so your provider can help you procure a uniform that serves this purpose.
- What are the industry regulations your uniform needs to meet?
If you work in a heavily regulated industry or one where there are a multitude of hazards, you'll know that it's not always just about getting your brand out there when it comes to a uniform - sometimes it's more about the safety and functionality of workwear.
It's important to also note that your customers have become subconsciously aware of your industry standards too. If they're accustomed to seeing people in your profession wearing a certain type of work wear, they'll question your proficiency if you're not.
If you need a uniform that meets safety regulations and the expectations of your customers, make sure to consider before taking your ideas for a solution to your provider.
- Who are your employees and what are their needs?
Finally, any business is comprised of a diverse range of people. This could mean a lot of things; ethnicity, body types, genders and religion, for example. Each of unique identities of the people that make up your company should inform the decisions that you make regarding their every day wear.
A uniform that can be warn comfortably by any and everyone is a good uniform - so make sure to reflect on your employees and their needs before beginning your new uniform design.
2. Evolving what you already have and know
If you're a well established business, it's likely that you'll already have a uniform design in place. Often when it comes to designing a new uniform, a great place to start is with what you already know.
Here's how we'd suggest beginning the evolution of your current uniform.
- Ask your staff
There's no one who will be able to provide comprehensive feedback on your current uniform quite like the people who wear it day in and day out. Begin be simply asking your staff what they think of their current uniform, and if there are any changes they'd make to the current design.
You might find that there are a few trends in the feedback to work from. Perhaps it's the general design, or perhaps it's the material used - whatever the feedback, take it on board as your staff have the most experience actually wearing their work wear, and will know the nuances.
There's a brilliant side effect that comes along with asking for your staff's feedback also - your staff will feel valued and included in the design process. This will do wonders for morale and when the new uniform finally arrives there'll be a lot less push-back and a smooth roll out.
- Review your current uniform performance
Depending on the scale of your business, you might already have uniform management software in place, that can inform you of how often your staff's uniforms are being replaced or require maintenance. Make sure to make good use of this information.
If your uniform turnover or wear and tear is quite notable, it's likely that the material you're using might not be quite right for the nature of work. Similarly, if a particular garment has a higher turnover than others, this should probably be a priority piece to redesign.
Make sure you're using all of the data you can to learn about your current uniform, and adapt appropriately when creating something new. The great news is, if you take all of these factors into account, you should have a better ROI for your uniforms - music to any businesses' ears.
- Consider how your business has evolved
As your business grows and scales, it's likely that it will change in the day-to-day tasks performs, number of staff, and perhaps even the necessity of focusing more on your brand as a priority.
This is the final thing we'd suggest considering in the evolution phase of redesigning your current uniform - how has your business evolved?
Perhaps your brand has grown to serve new markets or communities, and requires an entire brand refresh. Or maybe you have new roles within your company that perform very different tasks to other staff members, and a there's a call for a different type of uniform.
Whatever the reason, always consider how your company or brand has changed and adapt accordingly.
3. Partnering with a provider that understands your needs
The final piece of the puzzle to procuring the perfect business uniform is selecting the right partner to help you execute your uniform needs. Even the best idea in the world needs a team that's capable of executing it a high level, so putting some time into making sure you're working with the right company is key.
We'd suggest taking these things into consideration.
- Are you and your provider ethically aligned?
When aligning your business with a uniform provider, it's important to also look at the process on a macro level and ask some of the bigger questions. If you'd like to deep-dive into the specific questions, take a look at our blog: A question of ethics: 4 things to ask your uniform provider.
Generally speaking, it's important to be on the same page when it comes to ethics and sustainability. Does your supplier use sustainable textiles? Do they employ fair-trade labour? Are their uniforms recyclable?
If you value sustainability and ethics, you may not want to align your brand with a company that's inexpensive, but unethical.
- Do they have a solid portfolio of work?
Before selecting a provider, you want to be certain that they can do the job at hand. A brilliant way to figure this out, is by going through portfolios and testimonials of previous work, and seeing the outcomes of some of the designs they've rolled out.
If they've worked with a number of reputable brands, have demonstrated a high level of skill and innovation and designed uniforms for businesses similar to yours, you can probably bank that they're a safe bet.
Ready to begin your design?
Once you've gone through the three stages of uniform procurement, congratulations! You're ready to begin the design process.
Remember, if you're struggling at any stage of the process, feel free to book in a consultation with one of our team - they'll be more than happy to talk you through it!