Your employees are the front line of your business. They are your one opportunity to make a positive first impression on a new customer.
Which is why so many businesses are taking the time and effort to set-up and implement a corporate apparel program.
Today, many successful companies are leveraging corporate apparel for business gain. Corporate Apparel is critical for building and communicating your business brand. It is a key element in increasing employee engagement, provides the foundation of the customer experience, and can be a tremendous value to marketing and promotions.
In this article, we’ll look at the key features of a successful corporate apparel program, and what you need to consider as you consider and plan your own program.
5 Steps for a Successful Corporate Apparel Program
A corporate apparel program is much more than just buying uniforms.
Many companies underestimate the requirements and resources necessary to set up and execute a corporate apparel program. The employees tasked with managing the program quickly become overwhelmed as they try to solve the inevitable problems and issues. Over time, the program collapses or becomes an empty shell as employees just try to get by, doing the minimum to meet the business requirements. The company ends up missing out on all the benefits – never seeing the return they expect.
To overcome problems, there are a few key issues a business needs to navigate during planning.
The Right Apparel
This may seem like a given, but many businesses struggle with sub-standard or poor-quality apparel.
For example, a poorly made clasp in a kitchen can be a fire hazard, or a shirt that fades can lead to a brand that feels old, shabby, and (well…) faded. A shirt with seams that rip can leave you constantly wasting money and buying new uniforms.
Take the time to do your research and test your uniforms when selecting apparel. See how the apparel holds up under typical use. Spend a little extra to buy high-quality apparel that will hold up over time, or consult with a supplier that has the experience and relationships to find high-quality, reasonably priced apparel. After all, this is your brand and your business.
The Right Supply Chain Partner
You need to consider your supplier as more than a vendor. For your corporate apparel program, you need a partner.
Ask the supplier how quickly they can turn around orders, and if they have a back-up sources for the apparel. If there is a flood in a factory or a problem with a shipment, do they have a plan for keeping your employees supplied with apparel?
You also need a supplier looking out for your interests. Are they working to get you the best price possible? Are they staying ahead of industry trends, styles and materials? Your supplier should be your trusted source for apparel information. Your relationship should exist beyond apparel shipments, invoices and billing. Rely on your supplier to make the program as successful as possible.
An Efficient Shipping and Delivery Process
The cost of your apparel program will quickly skyrocket if you don’t have an efficient shipping and delivery process. If your distributor is on one side of the country and your business on the other, you’ll be paying extra for every shipment, and over time that can leave you with costly and unexpected bills.
Talk to your supplier about your needs and requirements and their shipping and delivery program. It may be that you need the flexibility of an on-demand apparel program, where you can purchase and ship smaller orders as needed but with a slightly higher cost. A program that orders higher quantities of apparel that is warehoused and released by the vendor will keep costs low and still meet your needs.
Having options as you set up the program will increase the efficiency and help you manage costs.
An Efficient Ordering Process
How are you going to order the apparel? Who will be in charge of communicating with the vendor?
Often, managing the program can be very time consuming and labor intensive. Even phone orders can take time from more important tasks. Taking the time to set up an efficient and effective ordering process takes pressure off your employees so they can focus on more important tasks.
Often, an online portal and an ecommerce system will automate many tasks and save you time and money in the long run. Then decide if the ordering will be managed by one person or one team, or the individual employees. Take a moment to review ordering and make sure it works for you and your team.
Control and Visibility
Last, but not least, program control and visibility is critical.
To manage costs, you need to understand the costs. You need up-to-date reports. You need to know that apparel is being delivered on time and it is being used. You can make your program more efficient by providing greater control over orders, but you also need limits and restrictions on what and how apparel is ordered. What cost controls do you have in place?
With corporate apparel, control and visibility are critical to success and the longevity of the program.
The Next Steps to Launching a Corporate Apparel Program
An apparel program is much more than just ordering uniforms.
It works on many different levels across different areas of your business. A successful corporate apparel program needs to synchronize each of those levels to maximize your business benefit for the program.
While many companies elect to manage the program alone, this requires building the processes and setting up the infrastructure. It also means assigning time and resources to manage it.
Instead, many businesses choose to work with a partner, like GO2, to implement and manage their apparel program. GO2 has the experience, infrastructure and resources in place to quickly launch the program so you can start benefiting rapidly. By sharing resources and utilizing existing relationships, you can reduce costs and keep expenses low. In addition, employees that would normally be assigned to manage the program can be assigned to more important, and more profitable work.
To learn more, or see how you can start leveraging a corporate apparel program for your business, contact GO2 Partners to speak with our apparel program team.