Choose a suitable supplier
It is relatively easy to start a business selling corporate clothing. There are lots of suppliers to choose from, there are some excellent suppliers who go to amazing lengths to make sure the job is done correctly, however, there are also a large number who are just not up to the job!! How to find a good one??
The best way is still, referral.
*Ask to see work that the supplier has done…
*Visit the suppliers place of work.
*Ask for references and follow them up.
And ask about the following four points and how they will handle them.
Starting with key area number two.
Selection of suitable clothing
- Allow your supplier to take a consultative approach, they are clothing experts. Your supplier needs to fully understand your business and the wearers if they are to offer you clothing that is both desirable and fit for purpose.
- Include your wearers in the process, form a group to oversee the selection and implementation of the clothing programme. It doesn’t have to be a large group, you don’t have to go over the top with beaurocracy, but do Allow the group to keep all staff informed in a positive way.
- Manage, or at least, allow your supplier to manage the process. It is both expensive and pointless allowing “flights of fancy” to replace focus when deciding on the clothing collection. However, when designing or choosing a collection, remember that wearer choice is key to wearer contentment. Include a number of jacket, trouser, and skirt styles so that all shapes and ages can choose clothing that they are comfortable wearing.
- After consultation allow your supplier to present a number of options that meet your requirements, select from these options or discuss necessary changes.
- Once you are happy with the collection undertake a wearer trial, this is essential and you really should try and make the time to do it correctly. Ideally a minimum of 3 months should be set aside for wearer trials. Implement any changes that arise as a result of the wearer trial.
- Finally agree a date for the rollout/delivery of the new Corporate Clothing Collection.
- It may be helpful at this stage to present the collection to the wearers; this can be in the form of a simple presentation or a spectacular fashion show. The idea is to engage your staff and excite them about clothing they will have to wear every day.
I have left out a crucial point here: How many garments should a wearer get?
It is impossible to advise on how much clothing to issue without knowing the circumstances, however, a rule of thumb is 2 jackets and 3 bottom halves (trousers/skirts)
Once Clothing is selected we move on to critical area number three….
Measuring and fitting. Establishing the sizes required.
Fit is an emotional and very personal thing. No other area has the potential to derail a Corporate clothing Programme like fit. The cost (and these are mostly Hidden) and inconvenience caused by poor fit is enormous.
The gold standard for making sure clothes fit is a fitting/measuring session.
Ensure you do all fittings in Private, either one or two wearers at a time.
I prefer to size the wearers in pairs. This way they get to hear a valued colleagues feedback on their choice and you can fit one person, whilst the other is changing and/or choosing styles.
This is also a good time to discuss aftercare, and the suitability of the chosen style.
Choice is key to wearer contentment. The right style will help achieve the correct fit
As each wearer is measured, emphasise that they will leave the fitting with an order for clothing that will be in the style they chose and a size that will fit, regardless of what the size label says!.
Of course you will get the big chap who insists he is a 34” waist and can still get into his wedding suit!! Or the size 16 lady who insists on struggling into a size 12… Not to mention the Dieters!! Who insist they will be at least two sizes smaller by the time the clothing is delivered!!
When this happens, point out the benefits of clothes that fit…. Beg,.. plead… and if necessary bully them to try the bigger size…If they refuse then inform the person in charge of the clothing programme and mark the order customers own measure.
Measuring Job done, collate all the sizes and prepare for the next critical part of the program
Delivering the clothing to the expectant wearer!
Having gone to great lengths to select a suitable supplier, select suitable clothing and get the style and fit right it would be a real shame if all the hard work were undone by an unprofessional approach to delivery.
Treat the clothing like precious gems….
Ensure that the individual orders…that you left with the wearers…now match exactly the clothing they are about to receive.
The supplier and the person responsible for the Corporate Clothing Program should be there on the day the clothing is delivered. This will enable any problems to be nipped in the bud, if you do not nip the problems in the bud, I guarantee they will grow, often out of control.
A single problem can escalate out of all proportion in a close knit working environment leading the buyer to believe all sorts of problems need dealing with when in reality an individual just needed a little special attention on day one.
Clothing selected…delivered…. and it fits!!…phew!! Relief and JOY!!!!!
We now move on to Critical area number five
It is vital to give aftercare instructions with all corporate clothing.
Discuss it at every point along the way, put guidelines on the order form and include written guidelines in each individual pack of clothing. This will support the care label on the garment.
I believe if you can manage these 5 areas of the corporate clothing issue well you will have a rewarding Corporate clothing programme.