Uniforms: PLAYING DRESS-UPS

Uniforms can say a lot about your business, so make sure you show customers more than a nasty old shirt!

Drop into a Flight Centre shop and you’ll see staff turned out in natty uniforms. Drop into the company’s head office and you’ll see the same uniforms. Even in the finance or legal departments, the same clothing will greet you. 

Why does everyone wear the same uniform? The company’s General Manager of Property and Procurement, Rhonda McSweeney, says uniforms are a stamp of a company culture, branding and professionalism, as well as employee satisfaction and egalitarianism. 

“No-one is any different, we’re all equal, and that goes for the office fit-outs too – we all occupy 10 square metres. Even our founder and Managing Director Skroo Turner. But the uniforms are the most tangible aspect of the egalitarian culture. It helps convey professionalism.” 

McSweeney says the uniform also helps to reinforce the company’s brand. “Our brand is well known and trusted. World brand consultancy Interbrand has ranked Flight Centre’s brand recognition as 14th best in Australia”, just behind Myer and Australia Post. “When you think of our brand equity and recognition, you cannot equate a tangible dollar value to uniforms. Ditto turnover and revenue – it would only be anecdotal and our Managing Director would cringe in anyone tried to quantify that. But we’ve had the uniform since inception and it’s not just our brand, it’s our culture. The GFC presented a challenge – it was a time of cost constraints, but not once did the subject of uniforms come up when we were looking to trim costs.” 

Another brand that relies on uniforms is the Jim’s Group, which importantly lacks any retail presence and therefore relies on uniforms to show off its brand.

"The majority of Jim's customers are females and uniforms convey a sense of security."

“Uniforms are absolutely crucial to success and incredibly important, especially for women customers, due to the security [identity] aspect,” founder Jim Penman told MY Business. 

“The majority of Jim’s customers are females, due to nature of services – domestic, gardening and cleaning. So we are very aware of those issues.” 

“The mere fact of wearing a presentable uniform, especially one with our logo, has a big impact. Our survey suggested that merely wearing a uniform adds around 15 percent to the price that can be quoted.” 

Another franchise where uniforms matter is Domino’s Pizza, whose Chief Operating Officer Andrew Rennie spent time in the military and therefore believes: “No matter what the uniform, there is a sense of pride, and what it stands for. In the military, a uniform is part of your kit and has to be treated with respect. It also links the organisation; it shows everyone is in the same team.” 

“At Domino’s, we find wearing a uniform is a large return on investment as it creates a greater brand presence. Employees have a sense of pride when wearing the uniform and it enables Domino’s to set a unified standard of dress nationally and internationally across our group.” 

For Domino’s a uniform conveys important messages to customers. “Colours don’t affect customers too much,” Rennie says. “What is important is cleanliness and hygiene. Black is a good practical colour for food, better than Khaki. Caps control stray hair and pizza makers wear hairnets for extra hygiene. And for safety reasons drivers wear reflective piping.” 

Overall, Rennie says a uniform “conveys pride in what we do for our customers. It would be very costly to change our colours; People connect to the brand and you’d have to re-educate consumers. The additional branding a uniform creates far outweighs the minimal outlay.” 

Source: My Business Magazine, March 2011. Note - the companies mentioned in this article are not an endorsement of EmbroidMe or the work that EmbroidMe stores produce.

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