You've decided that you're on-board with the benefits of buying a staff uniform and you're ready to get the ball rolling. However, you're on a bit a tight budget and you want to make sure that you're making the right decision for the business long-term.
After all, your uniform implementation has to show a return on investment to be worth the effort.
So, with that in mind, which is the best option when it comes to a new uniform - renting or buying?
We've put together a break down of the pros and cons of each and come to a final conclusion on which is most beneficial for a business.
1. Rental Contract or Ownership
Uniform Rental Contracts
Typically when you sign up to a uniform rental service, you'll be subject to signing a contract that locks your business into using the rental company for a year or more. If you're a well established business this might not be too much of an issue, but it's important to consider that things can change quickly. While a one-year contract might seem fine now, if you find six months down the track the uniform no longer meets your budget or requirements, you're trapped in an ongoing costs.
The other aspect to consider, is that contract pricing is usually subject to change and likely to increase. Remember to read your contract thoroughly and make sure there aren't any hidden costs or penalties (or even clauses that aren't beneficial) before signing.
The main benefit of uniform ownership is that you have full control of your uniform inventory, and your company owns the garments entirely. You are not liable to oblige by a contract and the garments are yours to decide how to maintain them. For a lot of business owners this is preferable - there a no loopholes to look out for, no contractual obligations to uphold, and no other company to answer to if something does happen to your uniforms.
we think in terms of contracts, having full ownership of your uniform is the better option for most business models.
2. Uniform Maintenance
Rental Company Laundry
When renting a company uniform, usually it is a requirement of the rental company that they maintain the uniform on your behalf (at a cost). In some ways, this is a great option as employees often appreciate a professionally cleaned uniform taken care of for them and you can rest assured that the over all presentation of your uniform will be maintained.
The downside to using a rental company who takes care of uniform maintenance for you, is that you have to adhere to their schedule that you've agreed to contractually, and there a often extra costs associated with particularly unclean uniforms or a late return of uniforms for regular maintenance. You can imagine how expensive this can get for companies that work in outdoor industries with unpredictable hours and a lot of wear and tear.
Owned Uniform Maintenance
If you buy a uniform for your company, yourself and your employees become responsible for the upkeep of your garments. This can seem like quite a large and costly responsibility, but depending on the industry that you work in, can sometimes actually be less expensive.
For example, in a smaller organisation or an industry where uniforms are less likely to become soiled, it may actually prove easier and more cost effective for employees to either wash their uniforms themselves, or alternatively, outsource your uniform laundry on a less regular basis for maintenance and upkeep.
If you own a larger company in an industry where uniforms undergo a lot of wear and tear -keep in mind that many industrial laundries also offer pickup, cleaning and delivery services for products you own, so it may actually prove more beneficial to take ownership of this process yourself.
We think for some businesses uniform rental maintenance might be the easier option, but more often than not, setting up your own uniform maintenance routine will prove to be more cost efficient and in some cases, a better service.
3. Creative Control
Uniform Rental Branding Options
When investing in a uniform for your company, it's no secret that one of the biggest consideration is brand image and reputation. A huge aspect of that maintaining a good reputation is uniform design.
When renting a uniform, one of the biggest limitations you'll face is your options for branding and design. Usually, you'll be asked to pick from stock standard designs, materials and colours.
Sometimes there are options to personalise your rented uniform, such as a branded logo, but there are often fees associated with this level of customisation.
Designing Your Own Uniform
One of the biggest advantages of owning your own uniform (especially if you're designing a custom uniform from scratch) is that you have full creative control. Colours, logos, materials and branding are all an inherent part of the uniform design process and you're not going to be charged through the roof for a level of customisation you couldn't achieve elsewhere.
As your uniform design is a key element of whether or not your brand image sticks in the minds of your customers and whether or not your staff make a good first impression, in terms of ROI, having a higher level of customisation is always a better option.
the clear winner in terms of creative control is owning your own uniform. You make the design decisions, and it comes at a reasonable cost.
Uniform Rental Logistics
A challenge that a lot of small businesses have is where to store their uniforms, and how quickly they can get uniforms ready for new staff with individual sizing requirements.
If you're a small business with not a lot of floor space and have quite a high employee turnover, a rental company may be able to help you adapt to changes and spatial challenges. The only downside to this level of flexibility is that it comes at a cost, which could be equally problematic for a small business.
Uniform Ownership Logistics
If you're a large corporation with an equally large uniform inventory, you're going to need somewhere safe and dry to store all of the uniforms that are not currently in use. You're also going to have to have a plan in place for resourcing new employees with varying uniform requirements.
The good news is, a good uniform supplier will be able to help you to procure extra uniforms when you need them and in a quick and timely manner. Plus, you'll have a better overview of how much exactly looking after a uniform is costing you, and wont be paying premiums for storage, replacement, or new orders.
logistically, we think that this depends entirely on the size of your business, the uniform procurer you're working with and your ability to adapt to changing situations. If you have a low staff turnover and you're a larger business, buying a uniform is the better option.
5. Cost of Renting vs. Buying a Uniform
Often the biggest factor when it comes to deciding on whether to rent or buy a uniform is cost. One of the biggest benefits to renting a uniform is that there is no (or a very minimal) upfront cost. As you pay on a monthly or annual basis, there is no real upfront investment in capital. If you're short on cashflow, this could be a good option - just remember that you'll have to make up for the lack of initial investment in payments throughout that year.
At first on paper, rental uniforms appear to be quite cost efficient - but usually this is eventually outweighed by hidden costs in contracts. For example, often there are extra costs that add up, including set-up charges for new employees, size change and logo fees, 20 to 30 percent more charged for sizes above XL as well as late fees and uniform soiled/damaged fees.
Uniform Purchase Costs
With a full uniform purchase for a company, there is an immediate upfront cost - but the good news is that once you have paid this, the cost is very little throughout the rest of the year. You also have full control over the quality of your uniform and maintenance - which means you have the potential to extend the life-cycle of your uniform.
Your design charges are included in your quote, so you have a full oversight of exactly how much your uniform implementation is going to cost you without any hidden costs.
Essentially; if your organisation 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 - making purchasing a uniform the more cost effective approach.
Our advice is consider your type of business and your uniform requirements, and create an honest cost break down (including hidden fees) when making your decision. However, in most cases in the long term, buying a uniform upfront is the more cost efficient option.
Want to investigate your options further?
We'd be more than happy to tell you about our services and provide an obligation free quote to help you make a decision - simply get in touch with our friendly team below.