foodservice uniforms

What to ask foodservice uniform providers

Cintas white paper asserts price shouldn't be the only factor
Monday, April 1, 2019

Whether running a fine dining restaurant, quick-service restaurant or foodservice operation in a school, office or nursing home, outfitting employees in high-quality uniforms is key. Uniforms give employees a professional appearance and allow patrons to easily distinguish staff from guests.

There is no cookie-cutter approach to a uniform program. That’s because a small, upscale steakhouse with 30 employees will likely have very different needs than an organization that outfits cafeteria workers for corporate campuses across Canada.

It’s important to develop a program that best fits the unique needs of the business. Understanding the options available will make it easier to develop a five-star program.

One of the options available is to rent uniforms. If a foodservice operation decides to rent uniforms, it’s important to consider more than just price while searching for a uniform provider. Be sure to ask the following questions.

  1. What garments are offered, and what is their quality?

Inquire whether the garments are name brand or unbranded.

To encourage employees to wear the uniforms, they should also be comfortable. Ask about the range of motion the garments offer and key features that will benefit the wearer, such as breathability. Look for garments that are tailored to the end user and fit various job functions.

  1. Are the garments retail versions, or are the garments built exclusively for an industrial laundry program?

Clarify whether the garment has been specifically manufactured for a rental program. Uniforms designed for rental programs will provide optimal washing performance and prolong the life of the garments.

  1. How is the uniform provider’s supply chain structured?

Determining how the uniforms are sourced will enhance overall quality assurance. A strong supply chain with distribution centres and local facilities also increases the likelihood that garments will be available for the life of the program and simplifies and expedites ordering when size changes occur and new hires are brought on board.

  1. What documentation does the program provide?

Tracking systems help ensure garments are picked up and delivered as requested. Find out whether the provider sends detailed confirmation reports, such as pickup reports, to their customers before the garments leave the customer’s site or a service summary report that reviews what was picked up the week prior and is set to be dropped off.

  1. How are the garments cared for and maintained? Are the correct laundry processes and formulas being used?

Garments should be cleaned, inspected and repaired according to style and soil level to protect their quality. Industrial washers and dryers will customize the chemical levels, time and temperature, and detergents based on specific soil types.

Garments should be dried with high heat to eliminate odours, bacteria and wrinkles. The garments should then be inspected for any issues, such as loose buttons, and repaired, if needed, before being sorted for return to the customer.

  1. How would the representative describe the customer service model?

An in-depth understanding of a provider’s customer service structure is essential should concerns or problems arise. Ideally, the provider will allow for consistent, weekly interaction with a trained representative who conducts pickups and drop-offs. In addition to the route representative, ask whether the foodservice operation will be assigned dedicated account contacts. Also determine whether customer service is handled at a local facility or via an off-site call centre.

  1. What are the terms and conditions of the service agreement?

Obtain as much detail as possible about the terms of the service agreement. It will also be beneficial to know how price increases are handled and what service guarantees are in place that will enhance the foodservice operation’s program.

Not all uniform providers are the same. Ask the above questions to weigh more than just the final program price. This is key, as there are many factors that go into a successful uniform program.

The preceding article has been excerpted with permission from the Cintas white paper “Food for Thought: Should I Rent or Purchase Foodservice Uniforms?” The white paper can be accessed in full online:

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