The examples that leap to mind may be restaurant uniforms, but many franchises require uniforms for drivers, technicians, and counter staff. Workmen, cleaners, and trainers are also likely to have uniforms.
Uniforms are generally part of promoting the business.Just as a company’s invoices, business cards, and vehicles display the brand, uniforms allow the workers to display the business identity. In some cases, such as when your staff wear branded polo shirts to lunch, to conferences, and to community events, you get a walking advertisement.
For some businesses, particularly those that send people to customers’ homes, the uniform may also be designed to inspire confidence and trust in workers on the part of customers. A maid service, roadside locksmith service, or in-home computer repair provider may find that uniforms put customers at ease and constitute an advantage over more casual competitors.
Franchising: Realities and Remedies, a book on franchise law from the Law Journal Press, describes this type of requirement as “noncontroversial…Indeed, this is exactly the type of ‘system uniformity’ franchisees are buying into when they agree to open a franchise in the first place.”
And most franchisees will agree that the franchisor’s uniforms, like the trademark, signs, menus, ads, and other design elements of the business, are part of what the franchisee is buying.
When you’re considering which franchise is the right one for you to invest in, though, you should think about the details and the implications of the uniforms.
- Will they limit your hiring options? One of the first questions in an interview for a Tilted Kilt “kilt girl” is, “Will you be comfortable in the uniform?” (shown in the photo above). Will your community’s workforce be large enough to provide you with a steady supply of workers who will be comfortable in the particular uniforms of the franchise you’re considering?
- Will there be costs involved, for you or your employees? Many companies require workers to wear uniforms and to pay for them, and the Department of Labor allows this, unless the cost of the uniform would push the worker’s income lower than minimum wage. That is, a company can deduct 50 cents an hour from the wages of a worker making 50 cents over the minimum wage until the deductions add up to the cost of the uniform. A worker making minimum wage cannot be required to pay for a uniform. Uniforms required by law (for safety, for example), must usually be paid for by employers. Some franchisors include uniforms in the items they provide in exchange for your investment in the franchise. Even in these cases, though, laundering the uniforms may be taken on by the franchisee or by employees. Clearly, there are a number of options. Find out just who pays for what and figure it into your costs.
- Don’t overlook the advantages! We’ve talked about the primary reasons for using branded uniforms, but there can be side benefits. Workers may be less likely to be late in the morning if choosing the right clothing is taken care of for them. Uncomfortable conversations about appropriate clothing can be eliminated. Instituting a laundry requirement for uniforms can be much easier than trying to mandate hygiene rules for street clothing. Some studies even suggest that workers in uniforms behave more professionally and respectfully to one another.