In the world of detailing, appearance is everything. Not only can customers tell if you are a good detailer by the quality of your wash, they walk away with a first impression of your company in general. While the job you do is what really matters, a professional appearance (including the clothing your wear) can win over customers in the market for detailing services.
In this blog post, I’ll break down what to keep in mind when purchasing uniforms for your detailing business. It really depends on what type of customers live in your area, your budget, and what your team will want to wear on a daily basis.
1. Uniforms Look Professional
Especially when approaching new customers, you want to project a sense of professionalism in this business. Even if you can only afford a line of t-shirts with your logo or company name, it’s better than just a blank shirt and shorts.
Trust plays a major role in the detailing business, so anything you can do to put the customer at ease is extremely important. Not everyone feels comfortable leaving their vehicle to a total stranger for this first time, but if they see that the person detailing my vehicle is with an organization, and helps to relieve any doubts.
Many detailers will greet their customers wearing something a little more professional (like a polo or button-up shirt) before changing into a t-shirt for the actual detail. It’s probably a good idea to have several types of uniforms on hand just in case.
Add a Badge for Added Professionalism
If you do decide to purchase professional uniforms, you may even want to have a badge or two made for when you greet your customer for the first time. Working in sales, my parents used to do this all the time when cold calling, and is a strategy that still works well.
Based on my experience printing t-shirts, I prefer a nice cotton/poly blend like the Next Level CVC. These tend to be a lot more comfortable in general than a cheaper Gildan or Hanes, and are more form fitting. It really comes down to the body type of your crew and their preferences, but these do not shrink up like 100% cotton shirts typically do.
2. Increased Confidence for Employees
Although it sounds simple, having professional looking uniforms for your employees can make it easier to hire and keep top talent. Since there may be a lot of mobile detailers in your area, providing employees with uniforms is one of the best ways to make it feel like they are working for a top-notch company in the area.
Many detailers I have used over the years do not wear uniforms, so it is definitely a good strategy for standing out and making your employees look and feel like they really are working for the best detailing company in town.
3. Really Effective Advertising
When trying to build a brand, clothing really is the first step in setting yourself apart from the unbranded white-shirt type detailers. While you want to keep any text, phone numbers, and graphics pretty minimal overall (to make things super easy to remember at a glance), contact information is a great idea when used strategically.
For example, there are a couple of detailing companies around my office that work side-by-side. The ones that wear uniforms with embroidered badges (as opposed to white t-shirts) just look more professional and approachable. If I’m standing in line at a food truck, I’m probably more likely to ask someone with a uniform about pricing, since it’s clear that they are a mobile detailer.
Again, it’s a great advertising strategy.
Where to Purchase Detailing Uniforms and Apparel
If you’re a beginner new to detailing, it’s probably a good idea to have a graphic designer create a good looking logo if you don’t have one already. Be sure to select brand colors that you would want to wear every day as well as display on your van, business cards, flyers, and anywhere else.
Online vs Locally
I would probably consult with a screen print shop in town, since they may have designers that can both create your logo as well as offer to print it on a number of t-shirts, polo shirts, etc. Most have a catalog of apparel you can check out based on my experience. Embroidery shops are also a good option for polo shirts and hats.
If you plan on adding hats, hoodies, or anything else, screen printers usually can show you samples and different options. Keep in mind, high-quality screen printed shirts will last longer than direct-to-garment (DTG) shirts you can buy online. However, buying online can sometimes be cheaper if you only have 1-2 employees since there aren’t minimums.
If you are looking for a sleeve print, pocket print, or anything more than front/back I would highly recommend contacting a screen printer locally.
If you want a couple of different color shirts for your crew (for each day of the week), achieving the printer’s minimum order may be easier than you think. The last batch of 10-15 I ordered ran me around $120 but it depends on how many colors you have in your design, what type of shirt, and how many you need.
Where to Buy Online
There are a few good companies you can use online that specialize in various formats from embroidered uniforms to basic polo shirts. If you are planning on ordering in volume, they usually can send samples.
Below are a few websites I’ve come across for the various types of clothing you may want:
One of the cheapest options for just getting a simple direct-to-garment t-shirt made is to design and order on Amazon. These you can pick up relatively cheap, and is a pretty simple walk-through process on Amazon once you have the logo file you want. Perfect if you just want to test the quality, and haven’t had shirts made before.
Other websites that allow you to create custom-made apparel that I’m familiar with include:
- PrintAura (affordable, and my favorite for t-shirts)
- Threadbird (online screen printing)
Professional Uniforms and Rental Services
There are also several companies that specialize in uniform rentals. Cintas is one of these companies you may have heard of. They usually provide you with one fresh shirt or garment per employee per day and will pick up your dirty laundry at the end of the week.
This is a great choice if you have several employees, because it eliminates the need for employees to do their own laundry, and ensures everybody is wearing the same colors/types for any given day.
Comfort vs Appearance
Since the ultimate goal is to stay cool most of the time (but sometimes warm), you may want to look into cotton/polyester blend tees, but many people love Dri-Fit moisture-wicking type of materials. It really comes down to personal preference. Dry-Fit tees can sometimes stick to you when wet (which some people don’t like), but it really depends on the material.
You may want to go all out with a complete uniform set if you already have a well-branded detailing business. Unless the weather is super-hot and humid year round, a lightweight embroidered button-up shirt looks great in my opinion, especially when greeting customers to pick up their keys.
Overall, looking professional is very important in this industry, and it’s really all about the little details. For beginners, starting with a good-looking t-shirt is a great start. You can use websites like Fiverr or Upwork.com if you don’t already have a logo, but working with a designer in the area you live in is probably best for communicating exactly what you want.
You may want to start with a basic t-shirt and eventually add in 1/4 zip pullovers or golf polos as you grow. Have anything related to uniforms that’s worked for your business? Leave a comment below.