It’s obvious that the service, healthcare, and many other industries have been hit hard during the pandemic. Many had struggled to survive, but the few that remained open had another challenge on their plate. They had a tough go at getting the supplies and uniforms for their employees. As many of us were unprepared for what 2020 had in-store, the uniform industry was ill-prepared for the supply chain disruptions. Many could not service their customers because the industry is overwhelmingly reliant on outsourced cheaper overseas manufacturing.
Customers generally look for four things in a uniform program bid: quality, reliability, service, and price (not necessarily in that order). A lot of the time it is price which is the most competitive factor. It is our fault, as suppliers we should be doing a better job in educating our customer on how much the other factors outside of price really matter. Otherwise, we start falling into the price trap ourselves in sourcing cheaper and cheaper labor from unreliable regions around the world. In the short first three months of 2021 we have already had to grapple with the on-going pandemic, a freight blockage in the Suez, and even a coup in Myanmar which in recent years has become a go to for cheaper uniform manufacturing. If this teaches us anything, it is that the future is unpredictable.
Instead of falling into this price trap again, we should help guide our customers to look for a supplier that has a broader and more comprehensive ability to service a uniform program. Below are four more factors that uniform customers should take into account when selecting a uniform provider:
- Which regions of the world do they source from?
- What are their domestic manufacturing abilities? Having a domestic production capability is a benefit to alleviating supply chain issues.
- Do they produce and hold an extra supply of their fabrics and trims? Do they have the ability to redirect those supplies to other regions/countries to produce elsewhere if one region is affected?
- Is there scalability in any of the above?
I believe the most beneficial factor is having a supplier partner with domestic manufacturing capabilities.
What are your thoughts?
Are you a uniform end-user, what do you mostly look for when you go out for bid on your uniform program?
As a uniform end-user, have you had issues in getting uniforms for your employees this past year?