• Stop being a LURKER - join our dealer community and get involved. Sign up and start a conversation.

Uniform/Dress Code

BDeVries

Green Pea
Jan 5, 2016
7
3
First Name
Brittany
The president of our company wants uniforms. We have always had just company shirts for techs and hats. Otherwise it is business casual and then those that attend shows have company shirts they wear. Everyone on the team does have two company polos also. The company has always paid 100% for the company shirts. What the boss wants isn't necessary all cookie cutter, everyone wearing the same exact thing. He just wants us all to look more professional and "higher end".

I have never put something like this together so I am winging it. With the company never having a "strict" dress code, now putting one in place and always paying 100% for everything before, half the staff is apprehensive and I don't think making them pay for a portion of the new uniforms would go over well at all. We want this to go over well. Of course with Covid going on and affecting families, it doesn't feel right to force this cost on employees. For the techs, I am looking to just go the uniform rental route and make that easy. For everyone else, the company would buy shirts and they can find bottoms, which what they wear now will work just fine. With this being a requirement to wear these shirts, our thought is the dealership should pay for it but put a cap that you can only order X amount of shirts per year that the company will pay for. Dress pants/slacks will be at employees own cost. We want this program to go over well. I have tried to explain it won't be so bad and have even asked what their preferences are in shirts/tops. Some have even sent me ideas which luckily, fell in line with what I was looking into for the team. I am looking to do just nice polos, button downs, vest, cardigans which is what basically the style of everyone now. Plus the techs at least will need a jacket. We are a team of about 25 people.

Here are some of my questions...
  • I am curious for those dealers that have a uniform program, how do you have it set up? Employee pay versus company paid?
  • Do you have it so they can only order a set dollar amount each year or is it a set number of shirts/tops? What about jackets for the whole team?
  • Any guidance on since some are apprehensive of the new dress code going into effect and the company has always paid for the shirts, how we could gently approach it the have employee pay a portion? Maybe the company covers everything initially and starting 2021, employee pays a portion?
    • Have techs pay the laundry fee for their uniform rental and the company would pay the service charge. And maybe charge the other employees half on their shirts/jacket/vests/cardigans ordered?
I appreciate any guidance and learning what programs other dealerships have in place!
 
Learn more about DrivenData

Tallcool1

Boss
Mar 17, 2014
352
211
First Name
Clint
This is a good question, and something that I have tackled many times.

The problem with uniforms for NON Techs is that they end up looking like crap. The owner wants a professional look which is great. However, the professional look doesn't come from the clothing, it comes from the care of the clothing. If you 50/50 the dress shirts, and Ricky Wrinkle shows up in his non pressed uniform, it looks worse than just having him wear whatever he is wearing now.

This is what we did:

Dealer paid 100% of the cost of the uniforms. We negotiated a dry cleaning rate (based upon volume) with a local business. The employee paid for the cleaning service via payroll deduct. We found a supplier such as Lands End, and got a pretty good discount based upon volume.

With the Technicians, you are renting the uniforms (generally speaking). The technicians pay for the cleaning cost via payroll deduct. Technicians typically don't mind because it is cheaper than buying clothes and they really don't want to do all of the greasy laundry anyway.

I know this is not what your employer is wanting to do. I am just offering the end solution that we found to actually work.
 
  • 1
Reactions: BDeVries

BDeVries

Green Pea
Jan 5, 2016
7
3
First Name
Brittany
This is a good question, and something that I have tackled many times.

The problem with uniforms for NON Techs is that they end up looking like crap. The owner wants a professional look which is great. However, the professional look doesn't come from the clothing, it comes from the care of the clothing. If you 50/50 the dress shirts, and Ricky Wrinkle shows up in his non pressed uniform, it looks worse than just having him wear whatever he is wearing now.

This is what we did:

Dealer paid 100% of the cost of the uniforms. We negotiated a dry cleaning rate (based upon volume) with a local business. The employee paid for the cleaning service via payroll deduct. We found a supplier such as Lands End, and got a pretty good discount based upon volume.

With the Technicians, you are renting the uniforms (generally speaking). The technicians pay for the cleaning cost via payroll deduct. Technicians typically don't mind because it is cheaper than buying clothes and they really don't want to do all of the greasy laundry anyway.

I know this is not what your employer is wanting to do. I am just offering the end solution that we found to actually work.
Thank you so much for your feedback! I am open for options and love hearing what works and didn't work for others. I contemplated renting uniforms for the office too but they just look so uncomfortable. I never thought of just buying and using a dry cleaning company. For quality and durability, I was thinking to get a higher end material that hopefully holds up nice and washes well.

For the uniforms that aren't rented, do you guys do a certain dollar amount or specific number of shirts that they can get each year to help replace shirts that get worn out?
 

Tallcool1

Boss
Mar 17, 2014
352
211
First Name
Clint
Thank you so much for your feedback! I am open for options and love hearing what works and didn't work for others. I contemplated renting uniforms for the office too but they just look so uncomfortable. I never thought of just buying and using a dry cleaning company. For quality and durability, I was thinking to get a higher end material that hopefully holds up nice and washes well.

For the uniforms that aren't rented, do you guys do a certain dollar amount or specific number of shirts that they can get each year to help replace shirts that get worn out?

Your dry cleaning turn around time is going to determine the number of uniforms that are needed. We had a 2 day turn around, so we supplied each person with 6. 2 at the dry cleaner, 3 in the closet, and 1 on their back. We actually had a large closet at the dealership and many of the employees never even took their shirts home. They changed when they walked in, and changed before they left work.
 

Alex Snyder

President Skroob
May 1, 2006
2,952
1,639
First Name
Alex
We went through a few flavors over the years, but at the end of the day the employee's appearance really came down to one of two things:

1) they cared about it
2) the managers forced a standard

Polos
A catalog of polo shirts were available to be purchased by sales staff and 2 were given to new employees. Subsequent purchases were "co-op'd." Most sales staff bought extras and things looked good for a few months. With washing (even dry cleaning) colored shirts faded and our woven logo frayed.

Rented Uniforms
Technicians have had the option to purchase or rent theirs all along and most go for it. We tried the rental and dry clean approach in sales, but the quality of the materials wasn't for everyone. I couldn't stand it and refused to wear any of the shirts in Virginia Beach summers - didn't breathe.

Dress Code
This has been the main-stay option over the years. It requires managers to enforce, but so did all the others. From time to time HR issues arise, but that's always going to happen because nobody is perfect.

The difference between our Hyundai store's appearance and BMW store's appearance absolutely rested on the backs of the managers. BMW managers were buying custom suits and taking extreme pride in how stylish they could be. The entire sales team strove to a higher appearance standard. Hyundai management, for example, was a little less caring and it showed. A massive investment has been made in Hyundai and I believe this has changed. I simply state this as an example.

Business is always about people. Put the right people in the right seats and your business will succeed.
 

craigh

Super Moderator
May 19, 2011
1,696
1,136
First Name
Craig
We utilize a local screening / embroidery for our sales polos. I'm sure you have a local business like - https://www.bjscustomcreations.com/ Some of these business have a "business portal" for employees to access and order with special pricing.
This is what our family dealer did. Everyone found the polo or shirt that fit them well and the company logo was just embroidered or screened onto the shirts.
That way everyone gets to pick something comfortable, but the branding is still intact.
They didn't restrict color, etc so people still had some personality, but their name and logo were on every shirt.
 
  • 1
Reactions: Jeff Kershner

BDeVries

Green Pea
Jan 5, 2016
7
3
First Name
Brittany
We went through a few flavors over the years, but at the end of the day the employee's appearance really came down to one of two things:

1) they cared about it
2) the managers forced a standard

Polos
A catalog of polo shirts were available to be purchased by sales staff and 2 were given to new employees. Subsequent purchases were "co-op'd." Most sales staff bought extras and things looked good for a few months. With washing (even dry cleaning) colored shirts faded and our woven logo frayed.

Rented Uniforms
Technicians have had the option to purchase or rent theirs all along and most go for it. We tried the rental and dry clean approach in sales, but the quality of the materials wasn't for everyone. I couldn't stand it and refused to wear any of the shirts in Virginia Beach summers - didn't breathe.

Dress Code
This has been the main-stay option over the years. It requires managers to enforce, but so did all the others. From time to time HR issues arise, but that's always going to happen because nobody is perfect.

The difference between our Hyundai store's appearance and BMW store's appearance absolutely rested on the backs of the managers. BMW managers were buying custom suits and taking extreme pride in how stylish they could be. The entire sales team strove to a higher appearance standard. Hyundai management, for example, was a little less caring and it showed. A massive investment has been made in Hyundai and I believe this has changed. I simply state this as an example.

Business is always about people. Put the right people in the right seats and your business will succeed.
Thank you so much for the insight to what worked for you guys! I really appreciate it. I love your example! The boss said they used to wear suits and ties back when they were a car dealership (selling Chevrolet, Cadillac, and Mazdas) and immediately switched when a customer came in and said they look unapproachable in suits. It was a big wake up call for him. He has high standards and image is important to him. I am glad a balance was found to make customers feel more welcome and comfortable in our location.
 

BDeVries

Green Pea
Jan 5, 2016
7
3
First Name
Brittany
Have you considered a service like Cintas? https://www.cintas.com/ for your techs?

We utilize a local screening / embroidery for our sales polos. I'm sure you have a local business like - https://www.bjscustomcreations.com/ Some of these business have a "business portal" for employees to access and order with special pricing.
Yes, Cintas options are perfect for us! That is who I am looking to go threw for renting uniforms for the techs. I contacted a local clothing/embroidery shop also for options for our office personnel. They have a lot so that was great to see! I picked out a few tops that cater to the different styles of everyone in the office. I just need to find time get into the business to make sure quality wise, they are what we are looking for. I should definitely check into if they have a portal. That is a great idea! Thanks!
 
  • 1
Reactions: Jeff Kershner