Saturday, February 23, 2008

Marketing Through Uniforms

By Everett Abrams

When making decisions about uniforms this line of the Profit and Loss statement usually reflects a very low number or even a zero. This is a mistake for your business. Uniforms can be a very effective form of advertising that often is overlooked. When decisions are made to cut back on expenses this is one item that contractors often cut. When planning a budget or business plan this line item should be given very careful consideration. Uniforms can be a great marketing tool that boosts your bottom line.

Uniforms should always have your company logo on them. This is part of the branding of your company and builds brand recognition. Most decision makers will also include a phone number as well. One thing to consider is to list services, a tag line, or company slogan on the back of the uniform. This does not only apply to shirts but also company sweatshirts that employees often wear. These items should be listed so that potential customers can easily read them. You should view these as walking billboards on the backs of a mini sales force.

Your employees often stop for coffee in the morning, go out for lunch during the day, and stop to pick up something on the way home at night potentially being exposed to many potential customers. How often have you stopped in a store and struck up a conversation with someone? Have you ever noticed a contractor or serviceman in a uniform and asked some questions or asked for a business card? Uniforms that list your company services can start up a conversation that would otherwise never happen.

This leads to other considerations to be prepared for though. Your employees should be properly trained on how to handle these situations. It is important to recognize that not everyone is a great or even good sales person. This does not mean that they are not great employees. In these situations they should be armed with company business cards and instructed to ask the potential customer to call the office for more details or to have any questions answered. Hiring practices are a completely different topic but, this is the perfect reason why you should hire "nice" people. You can not train "nice" and if your employees are nice and friendly it will make a difference in customer service and the "selling" of your brand. When these potential customers interact with your employees they potentially become the "first impression" of your company.

Uniforms also add a look of professionalism that speaks volumes to your customers and more so your customers neighbors! Your neighbors will notice a professional company in uniforms over the company that has their favorite rock band t-shirts on. If you are a landscaper and the neighbor needs to hire a company to care for their property they may certainly ask the neighbor about their company that is doing a great job and always arrives in uniform and looking professional. The other item to consider is how your employees feel about the company they work for. They are much more likely to be more productive and be proud of the company they work for in professional looking uniforms.

Do not forget to address the negatives though. For all the exposure that your employees and their uniforms have it can work against you. You should address with your employees that it is important to not cause a negative image for your company. They should certainly NEVER wear their uniforms to their favorite drinking hole. Alcohol affects everyone differently and you don't want your uniforms involved in potentially bad situations. Employees should always be cognizant of any actions that will reflect negatively on the company when wearing uniforms. It is important to address these situations before an incident occurs.

Now you can see why an often overlooked line on our budgets can be so important to our bottom line and increasing company profits. Investing in company uniforms now seems like an expense that your company can not afford to do without.

Everett Abrams is on the Executive Board of Directors of the Power Washers of North America (PWNA) as President-Elect, Instuctor for the Wood Cerification Class of the PWNA, and co-author of the "Exterior Wood Restoration" manual that is used to teach professionals across the country. Everett also participates on the Joint Coatings Committee of the Forest Products Laboratory. Everett Abrams is also President of Deck Restoration Plus, a franchise company that specializes in wood restoration.

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