Uniforms are one of the only factors that the majority of schools in the country have in common. They’re instigated for various reasons – they promote unity, create a community and reduce bullying – to name a few.
School uniforms are currently more expensive than they’ve ever been. Which is leaving a gaping hole for a school uniform shop that isn’t overpriced. Running a school uniform shop is a long term business as school kids will always need uniforms.
And running a fairly priced one is even better – as parents are always looking for different ways to tighten their purse strings! So, if you’re looking at starting and running a school uniform shop, this post will act as a comprehensive guide of everything that you’ll need to look out for.
Will You Require Extra Staff Members?
Without staff members, you have no business. Whether that’s just yourself or a small team of you – your business won’t get off the ground without the right number of staff members. When starting out, this all depends on how many schools you’re targeting and how much business you’re predicting.
You don’t want to have too little of a team to cope with the demand and vice versa. You’ll end up losing money either way and your first customers when starting out are some of your most vital. These first orders will set the tone and will be your first impressions for other customers to base their opinions off.
If your orders are taking too long because you haven’t got the right amount of staff members, then your first impression will be tarnished and it can prove difficult to overturn these.
It’s not just order numbers and demand that should determine your number of staff members. A lot of school uniforms have custom embroidery on them, so you need to think whether you need to hire somebody qualified to operate an embroidery machine or not.
Adding this capability will add another string to your uniform shop’s metaphorical bow. After all, if you’re just selling plain clothing, then what’s making parents choose to buy from you, rather than any other shop on the high street?
What Equipment Do You Need?
This all depends on what range of products that you’re going to be selling. And whether you’re going to be selling online or operating from a brick and mortar store. It’s also dependent on whether you’re expecting to expand your store or not.
Typical school uniform shops usually rely on the following equipment:
Without raw materials, you have no products to sell. Simple. So, depending on your product range you’ll need a wide range of materials. These can usually span from polo shirts, sweaters and skirts to messenger bags, PE pumps and raincoats. It’s completely up to your product range.
As we mentioned earlier, if you’re planning on selling custom embroidered products you’re going to need an embroidery machine. If you’re looking at operating a startup from home, then a single-head embroidery machine may be the right choice for you. Whereas, if you’re in a commercial workspace you may be able to purchase a multi-head which will allow scope for growth and meet increasing customer demands.
Those are the main two – other key pieces of equipment that school uniform shops will need are:
- Display sets and mannequins.
- A cash register.
- Storage racks.
- Label gun/maker.
- Security tags.
- Security cameras.
- Storage capacity.
What Are the Typical Day to Day Operations?
Like any retail store, school uniform shops have their peaks and troughs of business periods. Which means that your day to day role on busy days will be a far cry from your quiet ones. So, let’s take the day to day operations of a busy period, for example.
So, the obvious starting point is customers coming into your store. Before you can focus on processing any orders that you have in the backlog, you have to start with your customers that are in the shop. So, get your most welcoming manner down to a tee and prepare to offer the utmost service with a smile possible.
That’s why you may need more than one staff member, as you can’t be in two places at once. You’re likely to need someone who looks after the shop and a team who focus on processing and creating the orders.
General store jobs are a big part of owning a school uniform shop. So, that means that you’ll need somebody or yourself to open up the shop in the morning and lock up at the end of the day too. Plus, you’ll need somebody to count and bank the takings at the end of each working day.
The shop will need to look presentable and appealing too. So, you’re going to need to restock the shelves in a morning and keep displays looking nice and tidy. Nobody wants a messy shop, it can say a lot about your brand – and not desirable things either!
Processing deliveries is a big job too. Whether that’s laying new stock out in the shop, or preparing orders to be sent out to customers by your delivery team.
Are You Looking to Open More Than One Store?
This is a huge consideration as not only does it mean extra work but it also means that may need double or triple the equipment that you’re already shelling out for on one store. The number obviously depends on how many stores you’re looking to open and how far you’re willing to expand your brand.
As you expand your brand, one of the main things that you need to think about is recruitment. You can’t be in two stores at once, so you’re going to need to employ people who you can trust to run the shop and process orders to the standard that your brand has set already. Anything less will tarnish your reputation that you’ve previously worked hard for.
As your team expands, your management style will need to change to accommodate more staff members. So, whether it means that you’ll need to look at further management training courses to help you cope and adapt, you need to factor this into the forecasted costs.
Your costs will be the biggest factor in giving the green light to a second or third shop opening. It’s a great investment when opening one store, so you need to make sure that you’re able to afford extra premises, equipment, materials and the rest of the requirements. When you’re budgeting, be sure to never miss anything out – you could pay the price at a later date.
What Marketing Strategies Are Most Effective?
No business will ever be successful without the correct marketing strategies behind them. You could be selling the finest, nicely designed school uniforms in the world but if you’re not marketing them who’s going to know about them? Not many people.
So, what are the most effective marketing strategies that’ll no doubt get your school uniform shops noticed?
Window and Curb Side Displays
Especially if your shop is located in a place that gets a lot of footfall, a window display can be brilliant for drawing in customers off the street. Keep them fresh and mix them up regularly – we recommend at least once a month for the maximum impact.
Don’t neglect your curb side boards either. People don’t always look into a shop, but if they have to physically move out of the way of a board on the pavement, they’re more likely to notice it.
Do your research and see what works for other businesses – but remember what works for one business may not always work for yours. Find your own unique approach and run with it.
Use Social Media
Social media is the perfect platform to shout about your business and interact with potential customers too. Start conversations and generate a buzz around your school uniform shop using a multi-channel social media approach.
For example, you could use Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to promote your business and drum up interest.
It’s crucial to get yourself noticed. There are so many people and businesses active on social media accounts that you don’t want to risk getting lost in the huge sea of other users. Keep your content original and fresh – don’t be afraid to express yourself as a brand.
Strengthen Partner Relationships
Promote your business through other local businesses or charities. Take advantage of their mailing lists and customers to get your brand in front of people who wouldn’t normally come across your company.
This is a great way of extending your brand awareness and benefiting from another businesses recommendation. Their reputation will bolster your chances of people actually coming down to your store and checking you out. Plus, if you’re working alongside a charity it shows business credibility, which customers love.
A Holistic Digital Marketing Approach
Buying habits are continuing to advance with technology, which means that you should take advantage of this and approach your consumers this way. Obviously, the size of your business and the success will depend on how much you’re budgeting to spend on your digital marketing efforts.
Creating a content, email and paid advertising marketing network is a great way to get your store in front of new people – but you need to remember to stay patient and back your investment. You can’t expect unbelievable results from a minimalistic budget, it needs to be realistic.
What Are the Legal Requirements?
When opening any retail store, there are various legal requirements that you need to adhere to. Some requirements cover the areas of:
- Insurance and licenses.
- Premises regulations.
- Naming regulations.
- Staff legal requirements.
These aren’t the only areas that there are laws in place for. To see the full range and to find out more about them before opening your own school uniform shop, click here.
Invest in the Right Machine For Your School Uniform Shop
So, now that you know what it takes to run a school uniform shop, you need to think about putting some of the actions in place. An embroidery machine is arguably the main part of your equipment, so you need to make sure that you get the right one for your business.
To help you with your decision, we’ve created a free comparison which shows which machine is suited best to your business. Download your copy today.