Average Uniform Rental Costs (And How To Find Savings)

Colby Ezell / Uniform & Linen / June 13, 2022

Businesses everywhere want their employees to wear functional and professional attire that represents their brand positively. To do so, many businesses decide to work with a uniform rental company to meet their uniform needs.

However, understanding uniform rental pricing can be complex and depends on many factors. In most cases, customers don’t know if they are getting fair pricing and are often subject to many service fees without realizing it.

In this article, we will take a look at the average rental cost for uniforms, how uniform rental pricing works, and share how you can save money on your uniform rental costs.

Average Rental Cost of Work Uniforms

On average, businesses can expect to pay anywhere from $4–$15 per employee per week for uniform rental services. The amount you’ll pay depends on a number of factors including the complexity of your uniforms, types of materials used, and service fees associated with your uniform vendor.

The major uniform rental companies including Cintas, Aramark, and UniFirst typically offer their services within the price range described above. To get exact pricing for your uniform rental needs, you’ll need to get a quote from your provider of choice.

If your business needs basic uniforms such as branded polos and pants, you’ll likely pay on the lower end of the price range above. On the other hand, if your employees need specialized uniforms that are fire-resistant, reflective, and/or extra durable for tough work conditions, you’ll pay on the higher end of the price range.

How Uniform Rental Pricing Works

If you’ve ever rented uniforms or have researched uniform rental programs, you likely noticed that uniform pricing is far from simple. On a basic level, there is a base fee per uniform plus the service fees associated with your rental agreement.

However, since there are many variables in play that you’re responsible for on an ongoing basis, it’s helpful to gain a better understanding of the many fees associated with uniform rentals.

The major uniform rental fees include:

  • Service charge: The general service charge is an automatic charge that customers pay that amounts to roughly 5%–10% of weekly rental program charges. It’s important to note that this service charge and what it entails is not clearly defined in most contracts and is subject to increases on an annual basis.
  • Setup fees: Also known as prep charges, these fees cover the initial costs of putting name tags and logos on the uniforms. It’s important to note that these fees apply to all uniforms that must be replaced or when an employee changes the size of their uniform.
  • Lost items or damaged fees: When uniforms are damaged or lost for any reason, there will be a fee to replace and or fix the uniform.
  • Fuel surcharge: As the price of gas increases, your uniform rental vendor will add a surcharge for these increased costs of doing business.
  • Size-premium charge: There is an additional charge for non-standard-sized uniforms.

Issues With Uniform Rental Pricing

On the surface, many customers think they are getting fair rates from uniform rental service providers. However, since the major vendors have a monopoly on the industry, they can engage in pricing tactics that benefit themselves instead of customers.

It’s common for them to change billing variables to serve their needs and use contract language that most customers won’t understand. Without uniform billing practices between vendors, businesses can expect prices to change throughout their contract without any notice.

It’s also common for uniform rental service providers to breach their own contracts, overcharge customers, and add additional fees without any valid reason. These cost increases can be upwards of 2–3x the rate of inflation.

It should also be pointed out that route drivers for uniform rental companies are somewhat incentivized to keep customers in the dark about certain fees. Since drivers get paid more to hit revenue-generating KPIs, there’s no incentive for them to correct billing errors that could benefit customers.

How P3 Can Find You Savings

With the issues of uniform rental pricing in mind, it’s important to protect your business from unnecessary fees, breaches of contract, and overcharges that impact your bottom line. Without a core competency in this industry, you likely don’t know what to look for or how to go about disputing these invalid charges with your uniform rental vendor.

However, third-party cost reduction consulting agencies like P3 Cost Analysts have the expertise and experience needed to find you the savings you deserve.

Here is an overview of our uniform rental service auditing process:

1. Onboarding

During the onboarding process, we gather the materials we need to start your uniform rental service audit. These materials include a signed service agreement and a letter of authorization to gather the details we need from your uniform vendor. Additionally, we will need at least 4 weeks’ worth of uniform rental invoices.

2. Auditing Process

Typically, we work through your invoices and other materials within 1–2 weeks and share our initial findings. During the audit process, we look at your uniform rental service contracts and pricing variables to find breaches of contract, errors, overcharges, and other discrepancies. In fact, we thoroughly analyze over 50 different pricing variables and line items for each uniform rental agreement.

We can also compare your pricing with nationwide pricing data to see how your agreement compares to industry standards. On average, we get clients around 35% in savings.

3. Negotiating Contracts

We will share our findings with you during a 20–30 minute call where we can discuss a negotiation strategy and move forward with contacting your vendor about these negotiations.

In most cases, we have better leverage when working with your existing uniform rental vendor, and doing so eliminates the possibility of a breach of contract fee. Though the vendor can deny us the chance to renegotiate your contract, they typically allow us to move forward in order to keep your business.

In addition to securing you better contract terms and pricing, we can get you refunds and rebates for past overcharges most of the time. These refunds and rebates largely depend on the contract language and any special conditions that may have been added during your engagement with your uniform rental vendor.

4. Ongoing Auditing

Our work doesn’t stop once we find you savings on uniform rental services. Since uniform rental vendors are notorious for invalid price increases and breaches of contract, it’s important for us to monitor your invoices and contract terms to keep your savings intact. If something seems wrong, we work on your behalf to fix the problem quickly.

Uniform Rental Cost Savings Example

We conducted a uniform rental and linen service audit for an auto dealership that operated 17 different locations. Before we got involved, they were spending $140,000 annually on uniforms and other linen items. They also used 2 different suppliers that communicated poorly, added costs unexpectedly, and had poor service when it came to uniform or linen repairs.

During our audit, we took a close look at every invoice and contract detail from all locations and shared our findings with the client. After a few months of contract negotiations with their uniform provider, we produced these results:

  • Implemented new standards and systems of communication, repairs, and replacements
  • Received over $12k in invoice credits
  • Achieved 45% total savings
  • $300k in savings over a 5-year period

Save on Uniform Rental Costs Today

As you can see, uniform rental pricing is complex and the additional service charges can add up quickly if you’re not aware of what to look for. Additionally, since the major uniform rental providers essentially have a monopoly on the industry, customers are subject to price increases and overcharges.

Fortunately, uniform rental service experts such as P3 Cost Analysts can help you correct billing and contract discrepancies to bring you the savings you deserve.

If you’re interested in having us take a look at your uniform rental service contracts and invoices to see what we find, schedule your free expense audit with us today!

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