Rethinking the Uniform

Over the years, I’ve worked for a number of different shops and worn a lot of different uniforms, and have drawn some conclusions about the drawbacks of many of them, and how to improve them. In addition to the many technical problems I’m going to list, I offer that most delivery uniforms are indistinguishable from shop to shop, defeating the whole purpose of wearing them. Despite wearing a full uniform (red logo polo + khakis and ball cap), I was always mistaken for a competitor’s employee when I worked for WingZone, despite carrying a very distinctive bag and using an illuminated car topper. I feel that much of the point of a uniform is to look distinctive, so following the herd might not be the best strategy in this case. Many shops go with the traditional khaki pants, primary colored polo shirt, and possibly a khaki baseball cap, as modeled here by a Papa John’s employee:

http://www.papajohns.com/careers/images/uniform_man.jpg

I’ll start with the shirt. Drivers need pockets, preferably at least two on the front of the shirt. It makes keeping track of pens, money, cell phones and other delivery paraphernalia much easier, especially since you don’t want to be digging a cell out of a pants pocket while driving. Next is the color, light colors pick up stains such as pizza sauce, road grime and grease much more readily than darker colors such as black, my preferred color. I’m going to post a pic of my ideal shirt at the end here, and optimally it would have reflective white piping for safety at night, just to address that now since I’m stating my preference for black. Finally, I think that the polo design itself is not optimal, since it’s hot in the summer if worn with an undershirt, soils quickly due to the open weave design, and looks sloppy when oversized, as is common in the industry. I think that a synthetic material black with white highlights button up shirt designed to be worn open over a solid color undershirt would be much better in several ways. First the pockets, much better looking and common on this style of shirt. Next is the comfort factor, such a shirt could be worn open in the summer and buttoned in the winter, reducing sweating which can be a turnoff for a customer, and by being worn over something will be less likely to show sweat stains and such. Finally, with an open design sizing becomes far less of an issue, since an oversized shirt of this style wouldn’t look nearly as bad as an oversized tucked in polo does. Here is a picture of one plain example of the style I favor, in other words a bowling shirt:

http://www.bowlingconnection.com/Merchant2/graphics/00000001/legendblackwhiteDBL.jpg
Add a reflective logo on the front shirt pocket and a big one on the back, maybe some reflective piping, and it’s just about perfect.

Next up are the pants, typically khaki slacks. My biggest problem with these is wear and tear, especially if you don’t have shirt pockets and are always reaching into your pants pockets to make change. Money is dirty, and you’ll invariably end up with black streaks near the pockets that simply don’t come out. In addition, getting in and out of the car often leaves a black line across the back of one pant leg, and this too can be a difficult stain to remove. Don’t even get me started on pizza sauce, and after my WingZone experience, fryer grease and buffalo sauce. Black jeans or black khakis not only look more professional, but wear better too. If they’re black cargo khakis, even better, since drivers need all the pocket space they can get, extra pens or packets of cheese and peppers carried in those cargoes can really help the impression on the customer. I eventually got my Wingzone to agree to allow black jeans and slacks (except when corporate came through) because we looked like auto-mechanics otherwise. It really did make a huge difference for the better for our appearance across the board, since no one wants to see a greasy server, it just looked bad all around.

Which brings me to the baseball cap. Frankly, I’ve yet to see the person who looks good in one of these, nothing screams “low class” like a dirty, creased ball cap, which after a few months in the average shop any uniform cap will be. I was told once that one of the chains that I worked with had done a customer poll about the ball cap, and narrowly decided to keep it because some women customers said it was “reassuring” to look out the peephole and see the cap. It sounds kind of BS-ish to me, since if you’re really that surprised when 30-40 minutes after you order pizza the doorbell rings, a simple “who is it?” would clear up that mystery just as easily. Honestly, when I wear one with sunglasses (a driver essential during certain hours) I look like a bank robber, I just have that sort of face. Plus, per my earlier comment, they do nothing to distinguish your shop from the competition. If I had to pick a uniform cap for my own hypothetical shop, I’d be tempted to go with something like a Kangol newsboy cap with my logo on it, at least that would be distinctive and stylish. Bottom line, I feel that not only does the ball cap do nothing for a shop, but that it makes anyone wearing one look worse and less worthy of respect than without one, so out it should go.

So, to summarize for the impatient and semi-literate:

Bowling style logo shirt with reflective piping and reflective logo on back and front pocket.

Black khakis or jeans, especially cargo khakis

Ditch the ball cap!

And the usual disclaimer, the proceeding is my opinion based on years of driving experience, not to be taken as gospel, mileage may vary, etc etc.

Cargo pants are great for delivering, I wear them all the time if I know I am going to be on the road and suggest them to our drivers as long as they are neat and in good shape.

We bought some button up shirts to try because they looked much better than polos or tees. In the first couple of months I lost two buttons. It made me think twice about putting the crew in them since a button in a pizza could mess up your whole day. I guess a little better quality stitching would help, but how much to pay for a uniform shirt? I have our crew in printed tees, they are comfortable and cheap to replace when they get stained or ratty looking. When I bought the button up collared shirts for my wife and I, they did not want any part of it. They like the tee shirts. I guess drivers could be in button up shirts if they don’t cook, but our drivers also cook, do prep and make dough.

Rick

Dox47

I agree with you 100%. The dark pants are a must, polo shirts do look sloppy and ball caps are just not a great image for me. .

Have you looked into a cost comparison on the shirts? I would think the bowling shirt would cost more to purchase than the polo shirts but would be interested in if they would last longer. The cost per wear would be what I would look at. Like other purchases I make, I have to look at the real cost of things rather than the price.

My issue is as much what type of jacket as it is what type of shirt, since there is snow on the ground from October until April

This is one of those things that as a driver I just never had access to, and since I don’t know of anyone using a bowling shirt style uniform, I don’t know where to start as far as doing the research. My personal experience says that they would last longer, since I usually wore one open as a form of light jacket over my uniform shirt as a way of adding pockets, and during the summer to conceal any underarm stains since I overheat easily and didn’t have access to home laundry facilities at the time. I’d buy simple black button up shirts from the thrift store for a few bucks a piece, and I could wear one several days in a row without any noticeable soiling, not something I could say of a uniform polo. The no access to home laundry is a pretty common driver issue, so a shirt that can be worn more times in a row without showing it is a huge advantage. I also think that if you look at the retail price of a polo vs bowling or button up style shirt, that they are similar, and it could be reasoned that the wholesale cost to a business would be similar as well.

I’ve seen some places that give employees a personalized embroidered jacket after 6 months on, I always thought that was kind of cool. If you’re talking snow, I don’t think that supplying a uniform jacket would really be desirable, since it would be too heavy to be cost effective, and you’d need a different one for the summer. I always wanted a lapel pin or something similar for my jackets, but I often wore a sport coat during the spring and fall, and although the customers loved it, I wouldn’t call it a practical delivery uniform by any stretch. My favorite recent jacket for driving is what I call my “Anton Chigurh jacket”, a black denim jacket like this:

http://www.yourprops.com/norm-47ec719e85c1b-No+Country+For+Old+Men+(2007).jpeg

It’s light weight, has the requisite number of pockets, is easily customized, and is distinctive looking. It’s also available for under $30 on Ebay with free shipping, leading me to believe that they could be bought wholesale in bulk for far less. Maybe not to everyone’s taste, but it’s been one of my more practical pieces of work wear lately.

(incidentally, I bought the jacket as part of an Anton Chigurh costume for Halloween, and did some deliveries in the whole getup with Prince Valiant wig and cattle gun. The customers were… unsettled)

I’m not sure who “Anton Chigurh” is. But I bought this same jacket at Old Navy a couple years ago on clearance for $6. I’m hard on my jackets and it has held up amazingly well. I believe sew-on and glue-on patches are dirt cheap, so maybe a good way to customize something like this?

If anyone is really interested, I can find wholesale prices for bowling shirts, denim jackets ect. I have accounts set up at a few garment wholesalers from a former failed business. I most recently purchased a few of these denim shirst to be embroidered and my employees love them. Will soon be ordering more for about $8 plus embroidery: http://www.bodekandrhodes.com/cgi-bin/b … ache=17565

And for you Dox47, these allow for more concealed options for your weapon than a polo.

Yep, I was being discreet by not mentioning that little detail, but indeed they do. Though with the tiny .380 I often used in the summer, it really didn’t matter what I was wearing, the thing was slimmer than my wallet.

This guy:

http://www.cinemastrikesback.com/news/new%20dailies/noCountryForOldMen-1024.jpg

He was the villain in the movie No Country for Old Men, the one that famously sported a terrible bowl cut hairstyle and killed people with a pneumatic tool used in slaughterhouses to stun cattle prior to bleeding them out. Needless to say my shop had a pretty liberal Halloween costume policy, though the customer’s that “got” my costume really seemed to like it, I got countless complements and many puzzled looks about the oxygen cylinder and sinister looking device I was carrying. Halloween was usually a slow night at my shop at the time, so I usually tried to have fun with a great costume when I’d work that night. I have both experience as a machinist and a small metal shop including a lathe in my garage, so I was able to make up my own prop cattle gun for the costume, it was sweet. Okay, I’ll cease hijacking my own thread, back to discussing the pros and cons of various uniforms!

Oh yeah, now I get it. That would be the thing where I would think “I probably shouldn’t condone this, but it’s to amusing not to see what happens”.

Uniforms?

Pffft.

I prefer to work in sandals, basketball shorts, and a tank top most of the time.

If this is the LoneStar from TTPG, the Think Tank just attracted one of the worst.

I’ve been posting here far longer than this new format has been around DPB.

Thanks for the welcome.

n00b.

Simply search TTPG for Lonestar and you will see what I mean. This guy is an insulting lunatic.

If I was to say the same thing about someone from this forum, I think the comments would be deleted, the thread would be locked, and I’d be banned.

When it’s the other way around… Well… We’ll see if the rules apply to everyone, or just dissenters.

Says the lunatic, insultingly.

Awww I dont’ think they’re despotic over here at TT2.0 bro. They weren’t with TT1.0 anyway.

Such actions to stop the engagement of debate are tantamount to admitting defeat.

I think these folks over here are made of sterner stuff than that.

If they’re not willing to hear all sides, how can they have the “best forum on the internet”, or whatever such claim I saw made on a banner on one of these monitors a few moments ago.

:lol:

We know Charles (Dewar’s)can sometimes say stuff that is downright abrasive, or impolite. He very often recognizes it and retracts it. Sometimes not. We have a long and colorful history with him in many, many conversations. I have been less that cordial more than a couple times. I also have a long reputation here.

You would be pleased to know how often we will shoot a friendly Private Message to someone asking for a kind removal or offering a reminder that someone got a bit too mean spirited. I get 'em every now and again. Sometimes it is even spot on the money.

WA Dave used to send some to me. I wonder if he is just still on holiday, or has gotten lost to the Think Tank somehow. I miss him.
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It’s all good bro.

I’ve had n00bs try to hump my leg before. :lol:

Nick, You equate things I have written with this sort of tone?

If you can’t take it don’t dish it out. :lol: