Use uniforms to extend your branding efforts


October 9, 2018

PHOTOS: Ray Johnson

The uniforms Johnson Pest Control technicians Kevin Fritchman, left, and Tom Frye wear lend a professional look and reinforce company branding. The vest helps protect shirts from wear and tear when using backpack sprayers and misters. PHOTOS: Ray Johnson

Ever since I started my company in 1984, I have known the importance of having a uniformed employee out in the field representing my brand.

At first, I used a uniform rental company that supplied factory workers, mechanics and other professions with a pretty dull and unimpressive-looking set of work clothes. But I wanted our team of technicians and sales personnel to convey a professional, branded appearance — so I took our uniform program to a much higher level.

When it comes to standing out from the rest of the crowd, it’s all about perception. And there’s a big crowd out there.

You may have noticed that some of the most successful and respected organizations in the world provide their employees with uniforms: FedEx, UPS, airlines, police and fire departments, to name a few. And let’s not forget our wonderful military troops who protect our nation. I think there must be something to this “uniform advantage.”

On the first day of employment, we provide a set of uniforms to each technician and home inspector (our sales team). All they have to provide is a plain white undershirt, brown or black belt and a smile. The Johnson Pest Control look is a white shirt, complete with epaulets, logos and long or short sleeves. All tattoos must be covered with a long sleeve. Depending on the product they are applying, long sleeves must be worn per the label anyway.

The backpack factor

Several years ago, we transitioned from using small tanks with long hoses on our trucks to apply materials on the exterior, to using backpack sprayers and backpack misting machines to get the job done. Wearing the backpack on a daily basis, however, started to affect the wear and tear on the lower back portion of our uniform shirts.

To solve this problem, I came up with the idea of providing a custom vest for the technician to wear while using the backpack. We still do get wear — but on the vest, not the shirt. The vest looks very professional, too. We even have one employee who wears his vest all day! The vest is made from a heavy, durable cloth and holds up very well.

For pants, we now use the Carhartt brand for its durability and good looks. Our employees love them.

Fancy footwear

The final component of our uniform is our shoes. I give a shout-out to my Atlanta, Ga.-based friend, Arrow Exterminators President and CEO Emily Thomas Kendrick, for sharing with me Arrow’s “Trips, Slips and Falls” program. We now use it, too: After being employed 90 days, we give our employees a $100 voucher for shoes at the local Red Wing Shoes store. This will get them a good safety shoe that meets ASTM International standards and has steel toe and electrical hazard protection.

To upgrade to a much better shoe, our employees can elect to pay about $50 to $70 more and get the best, most comfortable work safety shoes they can buy. Most of our employees do, in fact, upgrade to the best shoe, and we deduct the difference in cost from their paychecks. These most likely are the very best shoes our employees have ever owned, and they get a new pair every year. Since we started our safety shoe program, our trips, slips and falls have been next to zero (knock on wood).

Providing uniforms for your team requires commitment. Finding the right mix of clothing and shoe providers may take some time, but will result in a consistent look. Plus, your employees will love you for it.


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