Should Your Shop Invest in Uniforms? Here are 5 Steps To Take!

Should Your Shop Invest in Uniforms? Here are 5 Steps To Take!

If you are an auto repair shop owner, you may have already considering purchasing uniforms for your team. After all, there is nothing quite like the classic mechanic look that everybody seems to expect when they take their car to the shop. For branding and marketing purposes, most experts strongly encourage that shops invest in uniforms in order to convey the level of professionalism that a customer expects.

The “uniformity” in what is being worn by the workers creates an unspoken trust in the operation. It gives off the irrefutable impression that the shop “has their stuff together.”

Think about a uniform as a major part of a customer’s first impression. When they walk in your front door, their eyes will make the necessary initial judgements to decide if they will trust you with their vehicle. While the smile, character, and warmth of the team member will take precedence, his or her overall look will add an extra layer of buyer confidence.

Proper uniforms also draw a clear line between mechanics and everyone else. This is important for when a customer enters the shop and has a quick technical question to ask someone that can help. She will feel uncomfortable and hesitate to ask the question openly if she is unsure she is asking someone that is actually working on the cars.

If you haven’t yet opened your shop, you might want to consider starting out with uniforms. Of all the startup expenses and investments you can make, this often overlooked visual element should move closer to the top of the list before opening day of business. This also makes it easier for you as the owner. You’ll only have to write one set of policies and the expectations will be laid out for your entire team right at the outset.

But how does one maximize the value of the uniforms being ordered? We have listed out some of the steps to take to help make that decision easier on you.

Step 1: Finding a Vendor

The first decision to make answers all of your questions at once. You’ll ultimately want a trusted partner that knows the apparel/uniform industry so that they can walk you through the process. They’ll inform you on costs, fabrics, colors, and other best practices that make sense for the manufacturing process.

Once that relationship is forged, you’ll want to determine whether or not you’re buying or renting the uniforms. Furthermore, you’ll want to decide if your business is buying and providing these outfits or if you will ask your team members to buy their own uniforms. We’ve seen both routes taken, but we do know that the former is much preferred by the team (for obvious reasons).

If you decide to work with a company that rents uniforms, they will wash and maintain them for you. This makes it an interesting proposal if you feel this will work better for your already busy team of technicians.

As with anything, each option has its own pros and cons. It’s up to you to consider which will make most sense based on cost and feasibility.

Step 2: Name Tags are Everything

The classic mechanic uniform for maintenance workers call for embroidered monograms or name tags. There is a marketing opportunity here more than anything. You can get creative and make the name tag stand out, give it a pop of color, or use nicknames that could serve as “conversation starters” with customers.

Even if you aren’t able to make the leap to full-on uniforms when you get started, it’s worthwhile to purchase individual name tags so that your entire team can be identified by your customers. Customers feel more comfortable knowing who they are talking to. It humanizes the exchange on both sides.

Step 3: Consistency is Key

If you really want to do it big, you could order a few different varieties of uniforms for your team. This includes, but is not limited to, polos, sweaters, jackets, or other accessories that your employees would love. Just be sure that whatever you choose to go with matches the branding of your business and looks consistent with everything else.

When it comes to variety, you may want to purchase the aforementioned polos and t-shirts for your other staff. Employees such as cashiers or desk workers may not want a heavier mechanic shirt (nor would it make sense for them to be wearing that). When you’re able to order these types of uniforms, it makes the overall brand look more polished by segmenting workers by their profession – while maintaining the consistency that is so critical in the process.

Step 4: Figure Out What’s Included

Just like any other startup expense, you’re going to want to compare all of your pricing options. When you do so, find out if you can negotiate some extra accessories or style varieties in order to get vendors to win your business. The more that you can get included for the price, the lower the cost is overall.

Shop owners have noticed that some uniform packages will have 10 uniforms included while others will have 12. So just make sure you’re comparing apples to apples when you’re looking at total prices per order.

Step 5: Establish a Dresscode

As you get started with your repair shop, make sure your team knows what is expected of them in regards to dress code. Providing them with nice uniforms simply isn’t enough. Have them sign a policy stating that they will return uniforms to you upon their departure; or that they will need to leave all rented uniforms at the shop for cleaning when necessary.
Whatever the policies end up being, be sure to communicate them clearly and sternly. Stress the importance that these uniforms should be treated as another team member. If your team can take care of what they wear, they’ll take care of themselves. The residual effect of that is that your entire team will take of your customers – with the utmost professionalism and a smile.

PartsMarket wishes you the best of luck with your shop!

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