The time has come for all faded jeans to pass. For all torn tee shirts to seek the shortest path to the rag barrel. The time has come for UNIFORMS!
What work does your company do? Irrigation and sprinkler installation, landscape contractor, lawn maintenance, interiorscape plant care, nursery and growing grounds, waterscape, landscape design? These all have one common element, our customers and how they view us.
Many of you have probably noticed the increasing frequency with which you see your competitor and his employees wearing some sort of uniform. Whether they are wearing a green tee shirt and jeans or work shirt with company name, employee name, logo and matching cap and pants, it all boils down to making you look like a businessman who doesn't really care about the quality of his work.
It's all a matter of image and perceptions, both by your customers, present and potential, and employees. Landscapers and gardeners who wear uniforms generally get a higher dollar per hour labor rate from their customers than than those who don't wear uniforms or they get more work and sign more contracts than their competitors. This alone should be reason enough to convince you to start wearing some sort of uniform.
Uniforms do a variety of things all related to image. They tell your customer that you are professional, reliable, consistent, and organized. That you have a high sense of self esteem. That you care, because if you care about yourself you'll care about them. That you can be trusted, because you or your employees don't look like burglars. People who look like they know what they are doing are treated with respect. Uniforms separate you from your competition. They become an important sales tool as part of the concept of "first impressions".
Uniforms also contribute to your employees sense of pride, of belonging to "the team". It reduces their clothing expenses, thus a uniform becomes a pay raise! Some contractors even have slight variations in the uniforms of the various crews working at large residential communities or their landscaping and maintenance departments to promote a healthy sense of competition.
Other considerations are that many government agencies require contractor employees be readily identifiable when working on public or government property. With increasing frequency homeowner associations and property management companies are requiring uniforms.
What uniform is right for you? Before you can answer that question there are a few things you need to know. Uniforms come in a variety of forms. You can choose from tee shirts, work shirts (long and short sleeve), pants, shorts, caps, jackets, windbreakers, coveralls, vests, belts, socks, shoes, and gloves. The quality of the material is also important. Are you going to provide a summer as well as winter uniform? Remember, the "weight" of the fabric of shirts and pants can vary. Is the company name -going to be silk screened on or are you going to use patches? Each employee should have a clean shirt for each day they work. Can your employees be counted on to launder your uniforms properly? Many companies that make uniforms have mens and womens styles, but not all.
Most landscapers and gardeners who wear uniforms or provide them to their employees choose tee shirts with the company logo silk screened on the back. This is the least expensive of your options, especially if you have a high rate of turnover or lots of seasonal work. The short sleeved work shirt with company name, logo and employee name is the preferred option. A well made work shirt can last for years especially if its laundered properly and isn't abused.
Making the Uniform Work
To make your uniform do what its supposed to do you should devise a dress code. A dress code is an understanding between you and your employees as to what you expect them to look like while on the job. For example, on hot days your employees should not be allowed to remove their shirts. Half naked gardeners running around a condominium community do not make a good impression. That uniform shirt draped on- a shrub or tied around a lawn mower handle does you no good. Besides, its actually cooler to wear a shirt. Sweat accumulates on the shirt instead of evaporating completely away thus keeping the skin cooler longer. When using power equipment while mowing, edging, using a weed whip or any other equipment they should wear pants. No caps unless they are the company cap. Hair should be clean and neat. Long hair should be tied back. Beards should be trimmed neatly. No smoking except on breaks and lunch. As you can see there are many considerations that should go into a "dress code".
Whether you work in the garden, do grounds maintenance, irrigation repair or lawn care you need to compete effectively in the marketplace. Uniforms will enhance your business and are for everyone in every aspect of the Green Industry.
Uniforms and a combined dress code will add professionalism to your business. It will bring you more clients, create a better work atmosphere, and help you to make more profits. And that's why we are in business. __________________________________________
About the Author:
Jack Stone is a Contributing Editor for ProGardenBiz Magazine, an online magazine for professional gardeners and landscape contractors. Visit ProGardenBiz to find out how you can get a free subscription, start-up guidance, business ideas and inspiration at http://www.progardenbiz.com. __________________________________________
You have permission to publish this article electronically or in print, free of charge, as long as the bylines and active URL are included. A courtesy copy of your publication or location of link would be appreciated.
Jack Stone is a Contributing Editor for ProGardenBiz Magazine, an online magazine for professional gardeners and landscape contractors. Visit ProGardenBiz to find out how you can get a free subscription, start-up guidance, business ideas and inspiration at http://www.progardenbiz.com.