They're inside your favorite restaurant and out in the streets. They stand inside doorways and behind desks. They're up in the sky and far below ground level. They're everywhere. From the classic diner waitress apron to the busboy's jacket to the bellboy's hat, uniforms help us recognize people and positions in our world. They define status, help us find people who can offer assistance in service or emergency situations and they provide (you guessed it) visual uniformity to a group of people with the same goals and purpose. Uniforms are used for a reason - they work.
There are many reasons why a co-op or condo's board and residents might want their building's staff to be in uniform. Outfitting your front desk staff in denim jeans and T-shirts just won't convey an appropriate message. Uniforms identify specific tasks and roles, i.e., a doorman, a maid, a building superintendent, a security guard, a concierge or a valet. A doorman decked out in a brightly-colored tailored uniform, for example, is instantly recognizable, projects a professional image, and provides an appearance of decorum and a level of security that a non-uniformed person does not.
So what does it mean to outfit your staff in uniforms? Since we realize now how important it is, what steps does one take to achieve that polished, professional look of a clean-cut, uniformed staff? How much does it cost per person? How long do uniforms last? There are a lot of questions that spring to mind because outfitting your staff is an involved process. It isn't difficult, per se, but it might take more thought than you realize.
Stuart Busch of I. Buss Uniforms and Allan Costumes helped shed some light on the topic. This New York-based company has been around since 1892, serving the needs of hundreds of buildings and building owners. Busch has been in the business personally for 50 years and knows a thing or two about dressing a building staff - over 50 percent of I. Buss' business is with residential and commercial real estate. While I. Buss primarily sells the uniforms they stock, their partner company, Allan Costumes, rents most of their goods. Busch said that the vast majority of the customers who are interested in uniforms actually purchase them instead of opting to pay a rental charge. So how much does it cost to buy a uniform?
"Most buildings will buy a few different styles," says Busch, "to fit the season they're in." You wouldn't want your staff to be cold in the winter or hot in the summer - that would cut down on productivity and simply wouldn't be very practical or very nice. The typical fall and winter uniform for a doorman includes a shirt, jacket and tailored pant and oftentimes a hat. In the warmer months, however, a nicely pressed aviator shirt can take the place of the jacket/shirt combo. So already, you'll need to consider a couple different variations on the uniform for just one staff member.