Painting Strategies: Uniforms and Marketing
Attire Can Help Sell Your Services
by Jim Zahrt
You have a big listing in the Yellow Pages and you're about to take out ads in the newsletters of the local neighborhood associations. You think you've got all the bases covered toward building your business. But is there any area you're overlooking? How about a group of walking billboards already on the payroll? That's right — I'm talking about your employees.
You can't miss seeing painters during warm weather. They're everywhere: Painting the surfaces of office buildings, eating lunch at fast food restaurants, filling the tank at the convenience store, or working at development sites amidst the new homes. They're easy to spot in their painters' whites, but in most cases the contractor they work for may as well be invisible.
That's because, even when they have a truck with a logo parked nearby or a large sign posted in front of the job site, the public often has no idea who these painters are working for. And that's what makes a well-designed uniform so important.
Virtually everyone who sees your painters is a potential customer. And for that potential customer to become an actual, paying customer, they need to be able to connect those painters to your business. When employees are wearing uniforms that identify and brand your business in a distinctive way, the uniforms can help project a positive image for your business and reinforce every other element of your marketing program.
Uniform rental companies provide assistance to customers that goes beyond simply providing new uniforms, picking up dirty uniforms, washing them, and delivering clean ones. These companies also help ensure that your uniforms are ideal from a functional standpoint, based on the jobs for which they will be worn. They help you select styles, fabrics, and colors that convey the image and messages that you want to communicate to everyone who sees your workers. The Uniform and Textile Service Association (UTSA) is an international trade organization representing these firms.
Many painters take pride in wearing their whites, which is a traditional look for the trade. Whites, of course, also have a practical side: When working with white paint, stains are less likely to show. When the inevitable stains occur from colors, strong bleach cleaners can be used, which would not be the case with colored coveralls.
Shirts in a properly prepared ensemble can be given some protection from paint-staining. Golf shirts or short-sleeved button-downs in colors used in your company's logo can be paired with white coveralls in order to add a point of distinction to your painters' uniforms. A uniform service provider can suggest shirt fabrics that have stronger color retention under harsh laundering than that offered by more traditional cotton and cotton blends. Other options include new performance fabrics that wick away sweat and moisture, and thus are ideal for workers in active jobs in harsh conditions.
Alternatively, shirts with your company's logo can be used to help identify your business to everyone who sees your painters. A logo may be silk-screened or embroidered. A logo placed between the shoulders on the back of the shirt may be less likely to stain and will have better visibility than one at the front of the shoulder.
Whatever your placement, the best logo is one that is distinctive and easy to recognize. If you have not done so, invest in a professionally designed logo with a unique color scheme and graphic elements that can set your business apart in the minds of prospective customers. People will remember your company name if they associate it with graphics conveying a splash of paint in an offbeat color, a wipe stained with varying colors, or some other element that is not used by every other contractor in town. Tell the designer that one use of the logo will be placement on painters' uniforms, so they can consider that factor when developing the logo.
Don't forget to top off your uniform ensemble with caps, jackets and other elements that reflect the uniform color scheme and incorporate logos or other graphic elements.
Regardless of the direction that you decide to go with uniform design, remember that proper fit and state of repair impact the appearance of uniforms — and their effectiveness as marketing tools. Ripped cargo pockets, loosened coverall straps, missing buttons and other maintenance lapses are not just uncomfortable and distracting for painters; they also look unprofessional and chase away potential customers. When you rent your uniforms instead of purchasing them, uniform rental professionals expertly measure and fit each of your employees. Professional garment replacement and mending, staples of a rental contract, will ensure that your painters' uniforms are maintained appropriately and make an impression of professionalism on everyone who sees them.
A textile industry specialist can help select fabrics and plan your uniform design to ensure both correct functionality and desirable visual image and effectiveness. Visit www.uniforminfo.com to learn more or to find a UTSA member by location.
Jim Zahrt is director of marketing at the Uniform Textile and Service Association. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.