How to choose the right uniform solution for your organization
Given the importance of uniforms in the workplace, is it better to rent them or buy them? The answer is — there are advantages to both.
Uniforms are the unsung heroes of the workplace. They give team members a sense of pride and unity. They contribute to a polished, professional appearance for the organization as a whole. And they can even help protect employees against potentially life-threatening hazards.
To determine the right uniform solution for your organization, you’ll need to consider your budget, how you plan to handle laundering your uniforms, how much variety and customization you need, your uniform replacement procedures, and the amount of space you have on-site.
There are financial advantages associated with both renting and buying uniforms. The best approach for your organization depends on your short-term and long-term budgets, as well as how long you expect your uniforms to last.
The advantage of renting uniforms is that there is no upfront investment required. You can quickly outfit your entire team and pay as you go. Rental programs are designed based on an organization’s specific needs, and the infrastructure of the program is critical to its success. Different factors that are considered when renting include the types of garments needed, number of wearers, strength of employee retention, frequency of new hires and size of your budget.
On the other hand, purchasing uniforms can sometimes be more cost-effective in the long term. If your organization has strong employee retention, and the type of work performed does not cause excessive damage to clothing, the uniforms you buy will likely last long enough that the total amount you invest to purchase them would be less than the total amount you’d spend on rentals over the same time period.
If you believe your organization would benefit from the long-term cost-efficiency of purchasing uniforms, keep in mind that higher-quality uniforms are typically more expensive upfront, but they also offer you a chance to have a more customized look than you can with rental options. When you purchase uniforms, you can have them embroidered any way you want and choose any style and brand you like.
Also, remember that it is important to ensure any uniforms you purchase are cared for properly. Uniforms that are handled roughly, repaired poorly or laundered incorrectly will not last as long — and if the uniforms are worn as personal protective equipment (PPE), their ability to properly protect wearers may even be compromised.
With the importance of proper uniform care in mind, another key consideration when deciding whether to rent or buy is how you plan to launder the uniforms. Will you handle laundry on-site? Will you send your uniforms to an industrial laundry?
If you choose to rent uniforms from an industrial laundry like Mission Linen Supply, the laundry provider will routinely pick up the soiled uniforms, thoroughly clean them according to the manufacturer’s directions and deliver them back to your organization on time. This provides added convenience and helps ensure your uniforms retain their quality and appearance over time.
However, there are situations where it is more cost-effective and practical to purchase uniforms and then handle laundry internally. For example, this might be the case in a small organization where uniforms are unlikely to become heavily soiled..
If you would prefer to buy uniforms but still want the benefits of working with a laundry services provider, keep in mind that many industrial laundries also offer pickup, cleaning and delivery services for products you own.
Other factors to evaluate include how much variety you want in your product selection and whether you need to be able to customize your uniforms.
Buying your uniforms gives you the flexibility to choose from a much broader selection as well as add custom details such as company logos, employee names and beyond. Buying uniforms also makes it easier for employees to order their own apparel as needed. For example, Mission Linen Supply offers online ordering platforms that allow workplaces to select pre-approved products and set allowances for designated employees. These customized online stores help to streamline the ordering process and empower employees and/or department leaders to manage their own uniform needs.
Product Selection and Customization
That said, if you’re looking for a simple way to get quality uniforms, and you don’t have any specific needs that standard uniform styles won’t address, a rental program might be the perfect fit.
Wear, Tear and Replacement Procedures
Do the employees at your organization perform tasks that could cause unexpected rips, worn spots or other damage to their uniforms? And, if an employee goes without a uniform for a few days, would it impact their safety and/or the organization’s success?
If rented items become worn down or damaged, a rental provider can usually repair or replace the products quickly, making rental programs ideal for organizations where uniforms may be damaged on the job and downtime without them would be detrimental. However, you may prefer to buy uniforms if employees’ workwear is unlikely to incur sudden damage.
If you decide buying is the right fit for you but an employee does suddenly need a new uniform, customized e-commerce solutions associated with employee apparel programs allow your team to purchase and receive uniforms in a timely manner. With these types of solutions, an individualized web store is created just for your organization. The online ordering process is quick and straightforward, and a readily accessible supply of the uniforms you need is part of the program.
For many organizations, it is a good idea to have extra uniforms ready. That way, if you hire a new employee or need to replace a damaged uniform, you’ll be prepared. For this reason, the amount of storage space you have on-site may also influence whether you’d be better off renting or buying uniforms.
Having extra uniforms on hand can be challenging because you may not always know what size you’ll need — and the proper fit matters, especially when it comes to image or safety. For organizations with limited space, either option may be beneficial because the rental provider handles storage for you and a purchase program leverages just in time inventory so you can outfit employees in a timely manner.
When it comes to renting or buying uniforms, there really is no one-size-fits-all answer. It is important to carefully consider both options to ensure the solution you choose meets all of your business and safety needs.
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About John Ross, President and CEO of Mission Linen Supply
John Ross is the president and CEO of Mission Linen Supply, a single-source provider of rental and direct-sale uniforms, linens, and other essentials for industrial businesses, laboratories, health care and hospitality organizations, and beyond. With more than 20 years of experience in uniform program implementation and workplace health and safety, John’s expertise and leadership help ensure the success of each uniform program Mission develops.