So you are an athletic director and/or a coach and you’ve been charged with the important, yet daunting task of ordering team uniforms. Before you pick up the phone or start searching the Internet, we’ve compiled a list below that will help you avoid some common missteps.
OK, you’re on a budget correct? Some budgets are larger than others. Your kids are clamoring for the BMW, but you’ve got budget for the Chevy! There are high quality, high durability and great looking team uniforms out there in the Chevy-budget range. Russell Athletic & Badger are two such brands. Alleson is another (and they happen to manufacture a lot of Under Armour’s team gear – same factories). I’ve become a big fan of Champro as well. All of these brands will last and provide terrific options for your teams, oftentimes with 30-50% savings (that adds up big time!). Hey, if you’ve got the BMW budget and want the BMW, go for it! Otherwise, take a look around, there are lots of savings to be had. FYI…I was lucky enough to play on two state championship football teams for a big high school. I just checked my jersey from the late 80’s…Russell Athletic. Still in good shape!
Coach, I need the swoosh!
I get it. Go ahead with that if it’s in the budget. Otherwise, kids are really looking for cool uniforms (within the regulations, sometimes not so easy to achieve!). Nowadays, almost every brand creates fully-custom, sublimated uniforms (decorations baked right into the fabric). You can obtain the “wow factor” by getting these…you simply have to plan ahead because the lead time on these is generally 5-7 weeks. Cost-wise, on the surface they appear more expensive than stock uniforms; however, by the time you get done decorating many stock styles the cost is almost the same as the full custom options. I’ve seen some great designs…these quickly make junior forget about the swoosh!
Service, Service, Service
Realistically, this might be better placed at the top of the list. It doesn’t matter what brand you get if it arrives at the end of the season! Do not deal with reps that are hard to get hold of, you deserve much better than that! Mistakes will happen, how are they made whole? Never take a back seat on service!
Most schools want to get 3-5 years out of a team uniform. Make sure you are picking styles that make that possible over that timeframe. If you purchase a “closeout” style, forget about getting three more next year because a few seniors never turned them in! A good solution to this is to go with the full custom options. Although these might be a bit more expensive upfront, the design will be available through the years as long as your manufacturer is open for business. Getting a few replacements each year shouldn’t be an issue (although you will still have to deal with long turnaround times and may have to pay a premium on the replacements).
Under the Gear
Most schools and clubs also encourage and even require their athletes to purchase accessories for training. Performance Tees, Hoodies, Compression. Bags. Etc. Again, lots of high quality options are available with these items, some more expensive than others; be wise and take a look around. Also, in today’s day and age there is no need for the AD or a coach to function as the bookstore or retail outlet (you have enough to do!). No need to send out order forms. No need to package items. No need to collect checks. No need to even market this to your teams and make sure all of your student-athletes are getting what they need (certain companies can even take over that task). Many organizations can provide a fully-functional online store to fulfill these orders and take away the heavy lifting and headaches.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pete Fitzpatrick is a co-founder and CEO of OHteamshop, TAPPSteamshop and TXteamshop. Previously, Peter co-founded Home Team Marketing in 2001 and served as CEO for 13 years. Prior to HTM, he held numerous positions within the sports marketing and media industry with Host Communications (Cornell University), Anheuser-Busch, and Fox Sports. In 2012 Peter was awarded the prestigious Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal “Forty Under 40 Award.” Peter received his BS from Cornell University in 1994. Peter enjoys volunteering and coaching his kids. He currently resides in Fairview Park, Ohio with his wife, Jennifer and their four children.