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ASK THE WIZARD
Our customers like to take advantage of the Wizard's 35 years
of experience in the apparel and uniform industry.
 
Questions are updated on a regular basis, so email the
Wizard at wizard@uniformwizard.com and ask your questions.


Question: What are the most important factors I should consider when designing a successful image apparel program for my company?  Erin S. Real Estate Management Portland, OR

Wizard Answer: There are 4 main questions to you should be asking. . .
 

1. IMAGE. What is the image you want to project to the public with your new image apparel program.
 

2. QUALITY. Are the garments you choose designed for daily wear. Are they made of long lasting fabrics and are the garments sewn in a way that they will hold up if worn every day.
 

3. CONTINUITY. Will these same styles, in the same fabrics and colors be available for at least 3 years. You want to be assured that if an employee damages a garment or you hire a new employee, that they receive exactly the same style and color.
 

4. AVAILABILITY. For the easiest program to administer, purchase a program from an in-stock supplier. Make sure that you are buying from a company that will ship in no more than 24 hours. If you choose to have garments custom made for a special need, then find out lead times for production, minimum quantities per order and any additional costs for custom designing a garment.
 

 

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Question: How do I find the right vendor to take care of all my uniform needs? M.M. Plumbing Supply Burlington, VT

Wizard Answer: Consider the following

1. How long have they been in business?
 

2. Do they specialize in the garments you need for our industry?
 

3. How accessible are they? When you need a question answered or need to place an order, do you get a quick response.
 

4. Do you want a huge company or a small to medium size company? Another words, do you want to be a small fish in a big sea or a big fish in a small pond.
 

5. Does the vendor have experience implementing a program similar to yours?
 

6. Do you want a vendor that only sells the specific items they manufacture or do you want a distributor who can put together a program from multi-manufacturers to offer you the most extensive choices of complementing garments.
 

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Question: I have a large service company with 102 locations spread out throughout the U.S. How do I make sure that I have all my locations wearing exactly the same garments? I want our customers to feel that no matter what location they are visiting, they will be getting the same quality service by knowledgable employees. Gene D. Auto Repair Chicago, IL

Wizard Answer: There have been surveys proving that the main reasons companies dress their employees in uniforms are to project a professional image, identify their employees and because most customers feel that an employee in uniform is more knowledgable. So, you are right on the mark for asking these questions. It is very important, not only for a single location, but especially for multi-location companies that the vendor they use must always ship the identical garments to each location. That means that you must order and the vendor must ship the same styles, in the same colors from the same manufacturer. There are several ways to insure that this will happen.

1. the vendor should create an order form listing the exact styles, colors, sizes and prices in your program,
 

2. if you program is large enough, you can ask the vendor to create a catalog of your garments, which you can distribute to each location, or
 

3. most vendors today can set up a place where your locations can go on the internet and order online. They should only have access to the garments you have chosen for your image and at your special prices.
 

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Question: We are re-branding our 8 hospitals and feel that we could use an image consultant to help us design and implement a new image apparel program for every employee in our hospitals. Is this something that your company can offer or can you recommend an image consultant to work with us? Lorie B. Healthcare, Hospital Reno, NV


Wizard Answer:
It is very astute of you to recognize the importance apparel plays when you are working on branding your hospital. I am sure you have hired a marketing firm to create your logos, marketing materials, etc., but do they know anything about uniforms or image apparel? My guess is that they don't have a clue. When creating a new image for a company, there are many factors to consider when choosing the apparel each department will be wearing that presents the image that upper management of the hospital needs to fit their branding efforts. There needs to be coorindation between departments and at the same time an identity for each department. That's where experience in this our industry comes in.

 

UniformWIZARD consults in 2 ways, depending on how extensive the project is. For simply recommending garments for each department, we do this as a service when you choose us to be your preferred vendor. If you want someone to come in and analyze the needs of each department, analyzes the colors that are soothing and work well in a hospital setting, do surveys of your employees and put together an entire plan for the hospital from admissions to maintenance, then we can work directly with you on a consultant basis or we can introduce you to one of the independent image consultants who know your industry and your specific needs.

 

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Question: I am working on a budget for uniforms in my company and I would like to know how long I should expect my uniform program to last before I have to replace it? Fran Retail Sales Houston, TX

 

Wizard Answer: This is not a simple question. There are various factors that effect the how long you can expect our image apparel program to last before replacing the apparel.

 

1.  How many garments each person receives. The more garments offered to each employee, the longer you can expect the program to last before needing to replace.

 

2.   The more often that the garments are cleaned, the longer the program will last before replacing. It is the dirt that accumulates in the fabric that causes the fabric to breakdown, so the more often the garments are cleaned, the less abrasion from the dirt in the fabric.

 

3.   Based on the surfaces of where the employee works, i.e. the more abrasive the area that the garments rub up against, the sooner the garments will wear out. One way to help keep the garments in service longer is to make sure that the employee's workplace is abrasion free.

 

4.   Proper Fit is important. If garments are too tight, specifically in the thighs for pants and forearms for blazers and shirts, the sooner the garments will wear.

 

5.   How each employee maintains their clothing. Some employees take pride in the garments they wear and others take poor care of their garments. In general, if you plan to re-issue the entire apparel program to each employee on a scheduled basis, you can expect our image apparel program to require replacing in between one to two years, based on the conditions listed above.

 

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Question: Should I rent or buy my uniforms? I own an electrical contracting company and have 60 trucks and over 115 electricians to outfit. I am renting now and it seems like at the end of the year I am spending a lot of money and the quality of the garments are only fair, at best. Stan Electrical Contractor Orlando, FL

 

Wizard Answer: You actually have 3 choices. . . Direct Purchase, Rental with cleaning or the third option, which is to Lease without the cleaning. Like the answers to lots of other questions, I like to look at the pros and cons.

DIRECT PURCHASE
Pros:
- One-time up front cost
- Large selection of options to choose
- Usually the best long term cost

 

Cons:
- One-time up front cost Employees clean uniforms at home or you hire a cleaning service (NOTE: if you hire an outside cleaning service, this is usually less expensive than Rental, as you only pay for the garments that are cleaned, not for a fixed weekly cost no matter how many garments you turn in for cleaning each week. Quite often, employees just clean their uniforms themselves and never turn their garments into the rental company, but you still pay for the full fixed amount each week. It is also common that the rental company makes you purchase the garments at the end of the contract). There are no contracts to sign

RENTAL with cleaning
Pros:
- Spread costs over a weekly basis
- Rental companies usually replace damaged garments at no cost to you.

 

Cons:
- You pay for the fixed weekly rental for each employee, no matter how many garments the rental company actually picks up each week. Quite often, employees just clean their uniforms themselves and never turn their garments into the rental company or they turn in less garments than contracted for, but you still pay for the full fixed amount each week. It is also common that the rental company makes you purchase the garments at the end of the contract. You must sign a length contract, that has a very short window to cancel contract or the contract is automatically renewed.

 

LEASING without cleaning

Pros:
- Spread costs over a monthly basis (great for cash flow)
- Large selection of options to choose
- Employees clean uniforms at home or you hire a cleaning service  
- You do not need to purchase garments at end of term of contract
- Repair or replacement of damaged garments at no cost to you

 

Cons:
- Leasing may be a little more costly than direct purchase over a years time, but much less expense than renting with cleaning.
- Contract to sign

I hope this information helps you to figure out the best method for your company.

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Question: What is the best way to determine what sizes I should be ordering for my employees? Jeff D. Security Philadelphia, PA

 

Wizard Answer: There are several options to determine what size you should be ordering.

 

1.  Just ask the person their size. NOT RECOMMENDED. Normally, people do not know their size or will tell you the size they would like to be.

 

2. Measure the person and then refer to a sizing chart to determine which size to order. You need a person to measure, as a person can not measure themselves accurately and secondly, each person measures slightly differently and the end results will be fair at best. This method is OK if method (3) a fit line is not available.

 

3. The best method is to use, what we call a fit-line. A fit-line is a run of sizes from the smallest size to the largest size. This way each person can actually try on each garment, and determine exactly which size best fits them.

 

Note that even using the fit-line method of sizing each individual, there will still be a small amount of exchanges that will be required after installing the program. You will find that some people loose or gain weight or simply decide after receiving their garments that they like looser or tighter fitting garments. Returning garments for a different size is no problem with the vendor you choose. Most vendors have a 30 day return policy for garments that are not damaged or altered and in the same condition as you received them.

 

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Question: I want my employees to more identifiable by our customer. I think I would like to order an embroidered shirt. What kind of shirt would you suggest? Jamie Food Distributor Santa Fe, NM

 

Wizard Answer: There are several types of shirts that work well for identified employees. I will list them in categories for you and explain why you might choose each type. They are listed from most casual to most dressy or professional.

 

1. Tee Shirts. This is the most basic and most casual type of shirt. It is often used when you have a limited budget and simply want to promote your name and don't need a real professional look.
 

 2. Polo Shirts (also called golf shirts or staff shirts). Polo shirts are very popular today because they are considered to present a professional, yet are still a casual shirt. If you have employees you company who function in a casual atmosphere, then a polo shirt may work perfect for you. Many of these styles are available in both men's and ladies' styles.

 

3. Twill or Poplin Shirts. These shirts have either a button down collar or a straight collar and a button front. Twill & Poplin shirts are also on the casual side, but present a more professional image. These shirts are available in both men's and ladies' coordinating styles.

 

4. Dress Shirts. These shirts are the most professional. They typically can be worn with a suit. The fabrics in this category are either Broadcloth, Oxford Cloth or Pinpoint. Whether you wear a dress shirt with or without a suit, they always present the most professional image.

 

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Question: I manage a themed hotel and would like to know your opinion concering buying custom-made uniforms vs. an in-stock program? Jose G. Hotel, Hospitality Las Vegas, NV

 

Wizard Answer: I'm a big fan of in-stock programs, but there are times when a stock program just doesn't offer what you need and custom is the only choice. Here are some of the Pros and Cons.

IN-STOCK
Pros:
- You place an order and it is shipped within 24 hours
- You are insured of continuity of styles, fabrics and colors

 

Cons:
- Your selection is limited

 

CUSTOM DESIGNS
Pros:
- You get exactly what you want to fit your special needs.
- Special designs, fabrics or colors

 

Cons:
- Will normally be more expensive.
- Additional costs for creating patterns for custom styles and fabrics.
- Cutting and sewing costs will be very high for small quantities, while larger quantities my enable you to be more cost effective.
- Minimum quantities will be required, depending on the style. After samples are approved, production time will be between 6-12 weeks, depending on whether fabric is available and how busy the sewing factory is at the time you place your order.

 

If you have a question for the Wizard, please write to wizard@uniformwizard.com .