From the March 2004 issue of Entrepreneur

The staff at Ditto Document Services Inc. delivers its printing jobs to law firms throughout Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania. With about 50 to 60 round-trip visits to client firms each day, company principal Steve Shriber, 38, and his partner and brother, Ken Shriber, 36, realized they were missing an important branding opportunity.

"We realized that uniforms with our logo would be like a walking advertisement in front of our customers about 100 times a day," says Steve. Their collared shirt and khaki pants get-ups have been so popular with employees that they rolled out a new uniform last fall.

Rick Segel, author of Retail Business Kit for Dummies (John Wiley & Sons), says uniforms are a good idea but insists retailers shouldn't go for a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, he says to:

  • Create your uniform in alignment with your business type and attitude, whether it's young and hip or straight-laced and conservative.
  • Make it functional for your employees.
  • Get input from your staff about what type of clothing is best for their jobs. For instance, smocks are great for a ceramics shop but probably won't work for a sporting goods store, he says.
  • Take seasons into consideration.
  • Will you need to change with the weather?
  • Pick super-cool uniforms, which may turn into revenue streams.
  • Says Segel, "If it's interesting enough, people will want to buy it."

Segel says it's best to provide uniforms for your staff. However, some companies still require employees to purchase their own.