Choosing a uniform program that is cost effective, easy to manage and customizable to your company’s needs can often become quite complicated, time consuming and costly. Before making a decision, you will need to consider what type of program is right for your organization.

The two most common options you have are either renting your uniforms or buying them direct. This paper will dive into the pros and cons of both options and provide you with simple solutions so that you can make an accurate and informed decision that will likely save you a lot of time and money in the long term.

Defining Direct Buy and Rental Programs

Direct Buy: When a company decides to purchase their employees uniforms outright and does not require an industrial launderer to clean and service the garments.

Rental: When a company relies on the service of a third party to manage, clean and deliver employee’s uniforms on a weekly basis. The customer does not own the garments but rather rents them for the term of the contract which typically lasts for 3-5 years.

Direct Buy Programs

Industry analysis has shown an industry shift towards purchasing uniforms direct vs rental programs. According to a recent analysis by Frost & Sullivan, “direct buying programs are becoming more prominent because the global economic recession resulted in unpredictable layoffs, especially in the manufacturing sector.”

Direct Buy programs often provide customers with more program flexibility, higher quality performance clothing options, and avoid unnecessary fees without engaging in a 3-5 year rental program contract. In addition, direct buy programs allow customers the freedom to customize their program to fit their needs and add/reduce clothing options as their business fluctuates. Some of the major benefits of Direct Buy programs include:

·         Often less expensive than rental programs after year one

·         Employees receive the latest in fabric technologies

·         High employee satisfaction due to higher quality and more comfortable work apparel

·         No hidden fees or unnecessary service charges

·         Wider selection of clothing options to choose from

·         Employees wash their garments to their personal preference and avoid harsh chemicals used throughout the industrial laundering process

·         Better for the environment

Rental Uniform Programs

Rental programs are often used for their perceived convenience and low upfront costs. This space is dominated by four service providers that include Cintas, Aramark, G&K and Unifirst. Depending on your specific industry, research each company before choosing one as they each specialize in different categories (i.e. Cintas Industrial, Aramark Hospitality).

Rental programs can be a logical option for employees who come in contact with hazardous chemicals and cannot take their clothing home for washing. In addition, these programs require zero upfront capital costs. However, recent poll has shown that as 30-60% of employees engaged in a rental program wash their clothing at home versus choosing the industrial laundering service paid for by their employer. Some of the major benefits of Rental programs include:

·         Convenient program management

·         Maintains hygiene and ensures product quality by using a sophisticated washing process

·         Consistent uniform appearance

·         Clothing maintenance services (additional costs)

·         Replacement services (additional costs) 

Things to Consider

Before deciding whether to engage in a Direct Buy or Rental program one must consider the follow questions:

·         What is your company’s turnover rate?

o   Rental companies will often lock you into a 5 year commitment that may have you paying for employees that no longer exist.

·         What level of service do you actually need?

o   Determine whether or not you are comfortable with your employees washing their garments at home. If you are, than you will save significantly and should engage in a direct buy program.

·         Are you located on a preexisting route?

o   If you are not located on a preexisting launderer route, than you will be assessed additional service charges by the industrial laundering provider.

·         Do you want quality or commodity?

o   Direct Buy programs will offer you higher quality clothing options that will likely last for 3 years with normal wear and tear. Rental programs make their money on the service rather than the products so you are often provided a lower quality garment and offered assessed service fees that you may or may not utilize.

·         If choosing a Direct Buy program, look for brands that offer warranties on their products.

o   Some manufacturers, such as MASCOT Workwear, offer up to a two year warranty on their clothing so you can accurately forecast the program’s overall cost.


There are clear benefits to both program options. The key is to determine what your company actually needs so that you avoid paying for additional unused services. Companies are beginning to lean more towards Direct Buy programs as they are turned off by lengthy contracts, unnecessary admin fees, and desire more program flexibility. Some brands are offering free online program management services to reduce the headache of managing these internally.

Building your uniform program can be complicated and costly if not properly managed. Spend time upfront building a program that your organization will be happy with five years down the road. Most importantly, if you choose to go with a Direct Buy program choose a reliable brand that offers an expansive assortment of options so that you can grow with them while maintaining a consistent unified look.

About MASCOT Workwear

MASCOT Workwear has been in business for over 30 years and is an innovative leader in the manufacturing of high quality performance workwear. Some of the largest companies in the world rely on MASCOT every day to deliver work clothing that makes their employees on the job lives easier. MASCOT Workwear helps reduce program costs by offering a free online program management tool that is user friendly and time saving. MASCOT Workwear works with your budget and delivers high quality products backed by a two year warranty so that you can purchase with confidence.

MASCOT Workwear offers companies of any size the option to purchase high quality performance workwear without having to engage in lengthy contracts. With over 700 unique products to choose from, MASCOT Workwear can be your single source for all of your work clothing needs no matter what industry you are in. With over $52m of stocked inventory, your company can rest assured knowing that your uniforms will be delivered on time, every time.

If you are considering outfitting your work force with uniforms, let MASCOT Workwear supply and manage your program for you. Contact a MASCOT Representative today to learn about how MASCOT Workwear can deliver a customized program to you that your company can be proud of. Work is hard, uniform program management doesn’t have to be. Give us a call today for a free assessment at 800.459.4405