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Dress for success

Exude professionalism with uniforms

Uniforms are a big part of your brand. They can speak to your professionalism or lack thereof, especially in our industry where the standard is basketball shorts and flip-flops. 

Your employees’ uniforms show you care about your image with customers. Customers trust and would rather pay a bit more for a company that appears professional over an uncertified pool boy. When you purchase a service, do you want something done by a team who upholds a certain level of professionalism — or someone wearing basketball shorts and a sleeveless shirt?

These are expensive pools ($80,000 to $100,000) with expensive equipment ($10,000 to $20,000). Uniforms will drive more business, plain and simple. Perception is reality, and uniforms instill a level of trust you cannot get with random clothing. It shows a team, strength in numbers, a process: everything the pool and spa industry often lacks upon first impression.

Here at Manning Pool Service, we have a summer and a winter uniform requirement that has done very well. When a new employee starts, they receive six MPS shirts, a pair of Crocs, a ball cap, three shorts, two pants and a rain jacket. The techs can buy more of each item at cost. We do not want to make money off them; we just want them to be in uniform. If a tech comes to work without a work shirt or shorts, they can buy a pair for the $20 we paid for them. Or they can go home and get the right uniform clothing item to come back to work.

It was a struggle at first. Some techs would fight us on the clothing items by not wearing uniforms and trying to slip by or wear similar items that looked very close to our uniform. You must enforce the policy and ask why they are not in uniform. Eventually everyone gets used to the new structure and falls in line.

Buying uniforms for 16 maintenance technicians can be costly, but the payoff is more customers who appreciate a professional uniformed individual handling their service as well as more confident technicians.

Uniforms provide more upside than just looking more professional. It can create a sense of team and community.

Jeff Manning

We went with simple khaki, blue or gray shorts from Academy. They cost $20 a piece and are made from light fabric with a quick-dry feature. The shirts we provide are a simple blue, orange or green T-shirt in a cotton and polyester blend. Getting multiple in each size and color with your company logo does not have to be expensive. Plenty of companies do this for under $1,000.

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Crocs can be a bit expensive. However, this is one of the most important pieces of our uniform as it provides safety and functionality. In the summers, we wear kitchen-grade non-slip Crocs. This prevents the tech from slipping and falling on decks or tile. They also allow the tech to easily step in the pool and reach hard-to-get areas. They can walk in shallow waters to cool off, on beach entries or sun ledges to help get those deep-end benches.

On the Crocs website, you can accumulate points to earn get free pairs. The tread on Crocs lasts a tech about six months, so we keep a supply of all sizes to replace when needed. Our managers do periodic Croc checks to inspect the employees’ soles for grip to ensure safety. If the tread is eroded, it’s time for a new pair.

In winter, we have our techs wear Redwing boots. It is easy to get an in-store account with the company so your team members can go up there, present their ID, and receive a nice pair of waterproof, slip-resistant, steel-toed work boots. You can even refine the selection to a specific pair or two you want your team to wear. The employee can work without having to pay the full amount upfront, while Redwing bills your account. You can then divide the payment and take out portions among several pay checks until the tech has fully reimbursed you. This allows the tech to be safe and in uniform without breaking their bank.

We provide each employee with two pairs of khaki, blue or gray pants of the same brand and material as the shorts. The employee is free to wear pants in summer but must wear pants in winter. No shorts are allowed from October through April. This is to make sure the techs are properly dressed for the weather, and helps prevent illnesses and being short-staffed.

When the employee reaches their 90-day mark, they receive three Columbia button-down shirts embroidered with our company logo. These are costly ($60 each) but provide another level of the professionalism. Plus, it’s a huge confidence boost and they feel more like they are a part of the team in the nice shirts.

We also have a program where the employee can receive a “Funky Friday” shirt if they get a customer to leave a Google review and mention their name. Every Friday, they can wear these shirts. There are a variety of shirts to choose from that include everything from Hawaiian style to funky pizza slices. The employees can even bring in their own shirt choice, and if approved by the manager, we can embroider it for them so they can wear it on Fridays. These are a crowd favorite, and give the employee an incentive to work toward and earn.

Uniforms provide more upside than just looking more professional. It can create a sense of team and community. Your employees will appreciate a more stable work environment, and will want to look nice and feel included. Your customers will prefer your company over your competitor who is in ripped jeans and chlorine-stained tank tops.

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