HVACR workers usually wear some type of uniform. Many contractors find that the practical advantages of having workers in uniform make a well-planned uniform program a wise investment.

Beyond the obvious benefits that come from knowing that workers will be dressed safely and professionally, with no wear and tear of their own clothing, a uniform program offers a contractor a method of enhancing and reinforcing the company’s marketing activities.

From a public perception standpoint, the benefits of the HVACR industry’s widespread use of uniforms are validated by consumer research. Customers’ perceptions of workers often are enhanced by a first impression that includes a uniform, according to recent research sponsored by the Uniform and Textile Service Association (UTSA) and conducted by J.D. Power and Associates.

Keep in mind that virtually everyone who sees one of your employees is a potential customer. When customers, customers’ neighbors, and the general public see your employees, their uniforms can help project a positive image for your business. If your company already has a uniform program in place, building it into a powerful marketing tool often can be accomplished relatively quickly and inexpensively.

Marketing And Uniform Design

Many uniform rental companies provide assistance that goes beyond simply providing new uniforms, picking up dirty uniforms, washing them, and delivering clean ones.

These companies also can help ensure that your uniforms are ideal from a functional standpoint, based on the jobs for which they will be worn.

Uniform rental companies can also help you select styles, fabrics, and colors that convey the image and messages you want to communicate to anyone who sees your workers.

The UTSA is an international trade organization representing uniform rental firms. UTSA recommendations include:

  • Design on the basis of safety and functionality concerns first. Textile service providers have up-to-date knowledge of the latest textile developments and technologies and how they will perform under various conditions. For example, new fabrics that wick away sweat and moisture may be ideal for workers in certain jobs.

    Also, if your policy is to have workers’ uniforms meet the National Fire Protection Association 70E voluntary standard, and job tasks place your workers in a category that requires fire-retardant uniform fabrics, textile service providers can help you select fire-retardant fabrics that will ensure maximum functionality on the job.

  • If your company has a professionally designed logo and color scheme, use it on all uniforms to help build your business’s brand awareness. A full uniform program includes the use of alternative textiles and uniform designs, with common color themes and logos. It can be planned for workers in widely different occupations within one company.

    For example, a receptionist sitting in a cool office may need a heavy fabric or long sleeves; a technician who does strenuous physical work all day may need a lightweight fabric.

  • Maintaining a clean appearance should be a strong consideration. A clean image involves more than the absence of dirt or stains. Use (or avoidance) of specific colors, and use of fabrics that minimize wrinkling, also contribute to how uniforms will look after several hours on the job.

    For example, very dark colors show dust as easily as very light colors show dirt. A textile service company can help you identify the impact of each job activity on clothing and plan accordingly, so that all of your workers can look professional and be comfortable while doing their jobs.

  • Remember, proper fit and state of repair also impact the appearance of uniforms. When you rent your uniforms instead of purchasing them, uniform rental professionals expertly measure and fit each employee. Professional garment replacement and mending (staples of a rental agreement) help ensure that your employees’ uniforms are maintained in an appropriate manner.

  • Your business logo or design emblem also can be used on uniforms. Placement of such emblems can impact the functionality of uniforms worn on some jobs, so you’ll need to consider the placement of the emblem in relation to the physical demands of each job. For example, workers in some specialties may be prone to ripping sleeve patches with embroidered emblems.

    When your company’s uniforms provide comfort and convenience for employees, and work effectively to market your business and lay the groundwork for good customer relations, you are getting the greatest possible benefit from your investment.

    Dolbeare is with the UTSA. She can be contacted at Dolbeare@utsa.com. Visit www.uniforminfo.com to learn more or to find a UTSA member by location.

    Sidebar: Consumers Prefer Uniforms

    Customer perceptions often are enhanced by a first impression that includes a uniform, according to recent research sponsored by the Uniform and Textile Service Association (UTSA) and conducted by J.D. Power and Associates.

    The study found that overall, more than 60 percent of consumers, individuals as well as business buyers, prefer to use a service where the employees are in uniforms. In the category of household services, 71.4 percent of consumers responding to the survey said they would prefer to see workers in uniform. More than 60 percent said that the right uniform would increase the likelihood of them purchasing that service.

    The business-to-business section of the study asked specifically about preferred attire for workers in the HVAC field. Of commercial customers responding, 74 percent said they definitely or probably would use the service where employees were in uniform. (The HVACR and food service industries tied for the highest percentage of responses favoring uniforms.)

    Publication date: 01/27/2003