When looking for the perfect uniform for your team, it’s easy to get confused and lost in the crowd. It seems like every day there is a new company with the most atrocious website telling you their product is just as good and to “Trust them”…it kind of reminds me of that credit card commercial where the Russian guy says “Hello, how may I help you, my name… Betty”.
Every year we are inspired by the latest and greatest in uniforms because everyone wants to look and feel great. Unfortunately, that has lead to an abundance of people trying to make a quick buck by promising the world but rarely do they ever deliver the goods. More than 90% of the uniform industry has been overrun by re-sellers that have a “connection” to some factory in the middle of China, Philippines, Pakistan or Indonesia and put up a $20 website and voila! All of a sudden they are an expert and they will take care of you. If you are extremely lucky you may actually get your uniforms on time and done right the first time; but for the majority of people, you will be left holding the bag and wondering what happened. It’s not that these people selling to you are bad, it’s just that they have no control over production, factory priorities or quality control. Some factories overseas are pretty good but most of the factories these re-sellers are using are the bottom of the barrel and it shows.
Ten years ago when I first started Allen Sportswear, I was much the same…re-selling uniforms and hoping to God the factory I outsourced the order to would do it right this time. What usually happened was the order would come 2-4 weeks late and/or be the wrong color, be misspelled and nearly always have sizing that was completely off. It came to a point that I was either going to shut down my business or open my own factory; after looking at our customers and realizing we had a chance to do something special, I choose to open a factory of our own and it has made all the difference in the world.
The statistics before and after opening our own factory are staggering. Using the same factories that 90% of the re-sellers in this country use, we had a return or replace rate of greater than 75% of all orders! You may think that’s crazy and my answer to you is YES, it is. It’s nuts actually and unfortunately that’s the biggest reason when a customer decides to “try someone else”, we know there is about a 75% chance we will get them back next year. I’m not saying we never make mistakes because we do, but since our factory has been up and running we have averaged over 95% of our orders done right and on time! So while the competitors are averaging 25 out of 100 orders done right and on time we are averaging 95 out of 100 done right and on time. The 5% you may wonder? Ironically, they are the most loyal of all our clients. It is because we have gone above and beyond to make it right, and have lived up to our core values of integrity and accountability.
How do we do it? It’s not easy, but everything we have done to get these amazing results have been worth it and it’s made us the company we are today.
First, we set our factory up to have multiple levels of accountability which makes it nearly impossible for an issue not to be traced back to the source. Most offshore factories can afford to sell their products dirt cheap because they do would not waste the time and money to pay quality control agents. In ours, we have one in every stage of production all the way up to packing and shipping.
Second, we personally have all our materials strength tested before ever using it on a customers order. We never use any material or thread that is not of the highest standards or are not appropriate for the corresponding sport. Something that looks great for basketball may not have the burst strength when your player gets pummeled in football.
Third, Every new hire has to go through rigorous testing and training before they are allowed to touch an Allen Uniform. There are great cutters and sewers who can make the wedding gown of the century, but cannot put together a decent looking uniform. So no matter how much experience they come with, they have to get re-trained by our seasoned managers.
Fourth, our Orlando based client advisers or account managers are former coaches, players or plain crazy sports fanatics who love what they do and take great pride in truly helping athletes look their best in every game. Add to that some great graphic designers and a customer service rep that ensures all the details are thoroughly checked, and who communicate DAILY with the production team, and you are assured that you have a full team working to make sure you get what you asked for when you asked for it.
Fifth, we do not have to spend big bucks for big brand advertising, and have a pretty lean and mean team. This allows us to offer quality at par or dare I say even better (definitely way better, but that is another subject) than your big brands at much more affordable pricing. That and the fact that we own our own factory and have better control of costs ensures you that you are always getting more than what you paid for.
Sure, we are not always the cheapest, especially if you’re googling shows you a slew of plain stock jerseys or my-name-Betty factories, but we are always the best! But as they say “you get what you pay for”, so make sure this year you get the best and let us make you the hero of your team.
By: Todd Marinsahaw – Owner and CEO of Allen Sportswear