Should Restaurants Buy or Rent Uniforms?

Uniforms are pretty much a given in the restaurant industry. Unless you are running a small diner with just a handful of employees, you’re going to want at least front-of-house staff dressed in classy, good-looking uniforms. The more classy the restaurant, the more likely you will want your back-of-house staff to be uniformed as well. The question then becomes whether it is better to buy uniforms or rent them from a company like Alsco.

Alsco is the company that originally came up with the concept of uniform rental. They started way back in the late 1880s; they have been an industry leader ever since. Alsco offer a variety of programs whereby employers can get customized uniforms in a variety of styles. But perhaps uniform rental isn’t right for your restaurant. Maybe you would be better off buying. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Your Initial Investment

The first thing restaurant owners tend to look at is the initial investment in uniforms. It can’t be escaped. Getting workers in uniforms costs money one way or the other. In this regard, rental wins the day. The initial cost for rental is significantly lower than purchasing, for obvious reasons. When you are buying, you’re paying upfront for every piece of clothing your staff will need. That could mean quite an outlay just to get everyone outfitted.

Uniform Coordination

Next on the list of considerations is uniform coordination. In other words, you definitely want all front-of-house staff to look either identical or similar. So that means coordinating uniforms with aprons, at the very least. You might also want to coordinate with table linens and the main colors of your restaurant’s theme.

Does the back-of-house staff have to be coordinated with their front-of-house counterparts? Not necessarily. But if you do want that coordination, you will have to put a lot more effort into considering all your buying options. On the other hand, renting gives you access to uniform professionals. They can handle all the coordination issues for you.

Garment Manufacturers

Your choice of garment manufacturers will play into the overall quality of the uniforms you ultimately settle on. This is one area in which buying has the edge. Why? Because uniform rental companies do not give you access to every brand on the market. They cannot. They are limited to the brands they currently stock.

It is true that some uniform providers offer a larger brand selection than others. If you buy though, you can purchase any brand you want. You just have to do some shopping. You may find a brand that meets your requirements in every way yet isn’t offered by any professional uniform service.

Repair and Replacement

One last thing to consider is garment repair and replacement. This could go either way depending on the kind of contract you are offered by a uniform rental provider. Unfortunately, the devil being in the details is often the case with uniform rental.

A reputable uniform provider will include language in the contract that dictates they assume responsibility for all repairs and replacement. That provider will make sure uniforms are always in good condition. Still, you have to read the fine print. If a contract does not stipulate that the provider assumes responsibility, repair and replacement may be left to you – at least financially.

There are other considerations including how restaurant uniforms are laundered. However, the four things mentioned in this article provide a good starting point. It is likely that linen rental will be better for most restaurants, but each situation is different. You will have to figure out what’s best for your business.