Want to get an advantage on the competition in business? It may be time to consider a corporate apparel program.
Technology has become a great equalizer in business. The right system can level the playing field for companies, removing weaknesses and bringing parity in even highly competitive markets. Social media and the web has made it hard, if not impossible, to hide the “next big thing” in business. This means a new product or service may be an advantage or differentiator for a single product cycle or less.
Smart businesses need to find effective alternatives they can leverage for a business advantage. That’s where corporate apparel can help.
The Advantages of a Corporate Apparel Program
Your employees are the front line of your business. They are critical for building your brand with every customer interaction. A strong corporate apparel program, designed around a professional image that synergizes with your brand, sets every customer interaction up for success.
Building a brand and promoting your business to customers aren’t the only advantages a corporate apparel program can offer. The apparel program promotes employee engagement. Employee engagement has a positive impact on almost every business metric – from productivity, to profit, to customer satisfaction.
The Cost of a Corporate Apparel Program
Despite the benefits, many businesses struggle to implement an effective apparel program. Selecting a uniform and putting together guidelines and a dress code for employees becomes an afterthought, rather than a strategic decision.
Not only that, the company underestimates the cost and work involved in setting up the program. Initial estimates don’t cover many of the additional hard and soft costs that accompany corporate apparel, leading to sticker shock during program roll out.
Let’s take a look at some of the costs you can expect with an in-house corporate apparel program:
The Hard Costs in Corporate Apparel
While it is a construction term, hard costs also apply to an apparel program. Hard costs are the tangible assets you need for the program like the apparel itself, but there are other hard costs that can quietly increase your expense:
- Apparel: Purchasing smaller orders, or working with new vendors or suppliers, can lead to higher apparel costs. Quality is another issue that needs to be considered when looking at cost. Poor quality apparel can lead to frequent purchases or apparel that negatively impacts your brand.
- Embroidery: The logo and branding on the apparel is an additional cost. Depending on how you handle the embroidery, you may be facing additional shipping costs or higher product costs due to machine set up. Quality can also impact your embroidery, with poor stitching leading to recurring costs or a negative impression on customers.
- Warehousing and Storage: To reduce costs, many businesses will place larger orders and store the additional apparel for future use. This will increase your costs, and force employees into stocking and packaging work. Outdated or damaged apparel can also increase costs or lead to lost or unusable products. Some businesses may purchase 2 to 3 shirts for every one that is used.
The Soft Costs in Corporate Apparel
Soft costs are more difficult to track, but can quickly accumulate when managing your own apparel program. Soft costs are expenses that aren’t direct or tangible, but are necessary to the project or program:
- Management: Most businesses will assign responsibility for the program to a person or team. Their time and effort to managing the program should be a factor in evaluating the cost. Setting up the program requires significant time and effort. Often the ongoing tasks for maintaining the program are much higher than expected, pulling time away from other work.
- Shipping: Some might consider this a hard cost, but there are soft costs to shipping. Consider packing the apparel, managing the shipping, tracking orders, and rush shipping products when a problem occurs. These are a significant source of soft costs, and getting these right are critical to the success of the program.
- Overhead: Consider how much time each employee will need to individually manage their apparel. That could be ordering a new shirt, or learning how the program works. Also look at other tasks like creating a build book, bidding out apparel to reduce costs, and just answering questions or employees or communicating policy changes.
When considering an in-house apparel program, it is important to consider all the costs. Just looking at shipping, apparel and embroidery costs can leave you with a flawed cost estimate, and a nasty surprise once you begin rolling out the program.
Outsourced Corporate Apparel Programs
An effective apparel program implemented and launched correctly can be a powerful tool for building trust with customers and prospects, increasing employee engagement, and building your brand.
This is why many businesses are turning to outsourced suppliers for managing and implementing the apparel program. These suppliers not only bring the infrastructure and resources necessary to run the program, but also the best practices that can ensure success. With everything in place before the program begins, you can launch faster with fewer problems and a significantly lower cost.
Much of the cost savings from a supplier providing an apparel program come from shared resources. The supplier knows how to manage the program, has the warehousing you need, as well as the industry contacts to get you the highest quality apparel at the lowest possible price. They can better manage the program from top to bottom, providing additional efficiencies that an in-house program may never realize.
Contact GO2 Partners today for more information on our Corporate Apparel program, and how it can provide cost savings for you.