If you own an automotive repair business, you might be considering whether or not to provide uniforms to your team. Mike Anderson believes that all automotive businesses  should invest in uniforms to convey a sense of professionalism. Anderson is the founder of Collision Advice , a consulting business that specializes in helping collision shops with various aspects of their business operations. He has also owned two successful collision shops of his own.
He said in a phone interview with Small Business Trends, “Every consumer has a moment of truth where they form a first impression of a business. And if someone can’t determine who does and doesn’t work at the business, that can lead to a negative experience. So it’s absolutely necessary that you have that degree of professionalism.”
Greg Marchand, a business consultant  for the automotive repair industry, agrees. He stresses the importance of starting out with uniforms from the very beginning, so you don’t run into any HR issues when you change policies down the line.
Tips on Selecting a Uniform Vendor
Both recently discussed some important tips for businesses looking to source uniforms in phone interviews with Small Business Trends. Here are some of the top insights.
Choose Whether to Buy or Rent
Once you’ve decided that you do want to invest in uniforms for your automotive business, you have a couple of main options. You can purchase uniforms and entrust your employees to take them home and care for them. Or you can work with a company that rents uniforms and washes and maintains them for you. Each option has its own pros and cons, so you have to consider what route makes the most sense for your particular team.
Find Out Exactly What’s Included with Each Vendor
Comparing prices is obviously a big part of finding the best uniform options. However, some vendors offer more uniforms than others, some offer extras like shorts or seasonal options, and some might even include jackets or other extras.
Anderson says, “Some uniform packages will have 11 uniforms included while others will have 13. So just make sure you’re comparing apples to apples when you’re looking at prices.”
Keep It Consistent
Even if you choose to rent uniforms for your maintenance staff, you can purchase some extras like polos for your office staff, jackets, or other branded items. Just make sure that whatever you choose fits with the branding of your business and looks consistent across the board.
Marchand says, “I’m a big fan of branding – therefore I believe that only one color shirt should be used. Consistency is the key to branding. Technicians can be offered a choice, or mix, of long and short sleeve along with a company work jacket, and work pants. The front counter should at least be provided shirts in long or short sleeve, and light jackets if employees tend to wear their own during the day.”
Remember Name Tags
Many uniforms for maintenance workers will include embroidered monograms or nametags. But if they don’t, make sure you invest in some name tags to help your customers feel comfortable when talking to staff. Anderson also recommends purchasing some name tags for your office staff if their shirts or uniforms don’t include them. And make sure you have them wear those name tags on the right side so when they shake hands with a new customer, the tag is easy to read.
Maintain Uniform Policies
Right when you’re getting started with your business and offering uniforms, make sure your team knows what is expected of them in regards to those uniforms. Have them sign a policy stating that they will return uniforms to you upon their departure or that they need to leave rented uniforms at your shop for cleaning or other maintenance rather than leaving them at home and potentially running out of clean options. Like any other business, communication is key, so just make it very clear what you want from them in order to maintain a professional and consistent appearance for your team.
Photo via Shutterstock