Boost your image

What can help your company make a memorable first impression, give your customers an added sense of security and motivate your employees to take greater pride in what they do? Work wear.

More than 32 million U.S. employees wear company clothing to work each day. And the majority of these employees work for small businesses. By helping provide a consistent, polished and professional image for employees, work wear offers the small business an important “competitive edge.”

Making a great impression

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This may be just a saying, but nowhere is it more applicable than in business situations. By outfitting your employees in company clothing, your small business can make a big impression. In addition to enhancing your competitive credibility, work apparel can be customized with employee names and company logos, providing you with the ability to promote customer identification while communicating a personable, friendly attitude. In the home-service sector, providing your service staff with work wear can reassure your customers that they've hired a true professional to do the job.

Here's something else to consider: A recent study published by the Journal of Marketing Services indicates that “uniformed” employees are perceived by customers as being more “legitimate” and highly qualified. In addition, the study suggests that employees who wear company clothing are naturally motivated to take greater pride in their company and show greater pride in their work.

Concerned about costs? Keep in mind that the employee uniforms don't have to be elaborate. A poplin shirt, embroidered polo or screen-printed T-shirt can look polished, professional — especially when combined with a matching cap or pair of stylish pleated work pants.

Uniforms as a management strategy

Work wear can also be offered to employees as a fringe benefit. Employers who have implemented this idea have found that they often have an edge over their competition when it comes to recruiting and retaining the best employees. Employees perceive being supplied with company clothing as an appealing “perk.”

Other companies use clothing incentives as a substitute for taxable wages — a compensation strategy that can lead to measurable savings in payroll (FICA) taxes. And for most small businesses, the purchase of employee clothing is completely tax-deductible.

How to choose?

  1. Think of your purchase as an investment, not an expense. A polished, professional image, after all, just might translate into more satisfied, loyal customers and, in the long run, bigger and better sales! With this in mind, make sure that the work wear you buy is durable. Invest in clothing that will hold up — even under the most extreme circumstances — and still provide your employees with a great look and long-lasting wear.

  2. Don't settle for a limited selection of colors, sizes or styles. One size does not fit all! Look for a reputable and well-established company that will offer you a wide variety of looks as well as extended sizes to choose from.

  3. Consider how the clothing you buy will be worn and used. Make sure that your selections are appropriate for and designed to fit your employees' needs. In addition to appearance, think comfort, function and protection.

    • Applicators. If your crew includes employees who apply pesticides and other chemicals, they may need long-sleeved shirts and long pants as part of their required personal protective equipment. Keep this in mind when you're selecting clothing for your company — even if it means selecting one style of clothes for some employees and another style for others.

    • Equipment technicians. Due to the solvents, grease and oil they are exposed to, these employees may need different types of clothing than an applicator or equipment operator. Equipment technicians tend to place higher value on uniforms as a perk because of the wear and tear such uniforms endure.

    • All outdoor workers. Comfort is an especially important consideration for outdoor workers. Heat can be oppressive without clothing that “breathes,” so be sure to consider this factor when choosing work wear. Depending on the type of policy you carry, your insurance company may also require that employees wear long pants when working with chemicals or equipment.

  4. Make sure that you won't get stuck with company clothing you're not completely happy with. Look for a company that offers a 100-percent-satisfaction guarantee — even on personalized items. If you don't have a company logo or would like to update your existing one, make sure you find a work-wear supplier who can create a custom design just for you.

Finally, purchase your company's work wear from a company that specializes in servicing smaller businesses. Otherwise, you might end up paying higher prices on lower-quantity orders.

Keith Grabow is the vice president of marketing for NEBS. For more information on NEBS, call 888-228-6327 or visit them online at

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