A one-man company is positioned to provide guidance in a $16 billion industry.
Stephen Driscoll, the owner and founder of Pinnacle Business Solutions LLC, is an 18-year veteran of the uniform rental industry now focused on streamlining the ordering process between vendors and businesses for uniforms and other supplies.
“I’m trying to connect with all of the end users who use the rental and lease services,” Driscoll says. “It’s a matter of creating an accurate but functional and economical program.”
For many buyers, purchase managers and business owners, negotiating with a uniform company can be a source of headaches.
“Universally, they would say bidding uniforms was the one thing they dreaded the most,” says Brad Parke, general manager of The Greek Corner Screen Printing and Embroidery. “You just don’t hear about it; it’s not sexy at all.”
Parke knows a thing or two about the uniform rental industry. He spent 19 years as general manager at Rental Uniform Services, which was later bought out by UniFirst Corp.
“In my position in sales, I would compete against other companies’ quotes,” Parke says. “It’s a difficult process trying to figure out who had the best value. I think it’s beneficial to have someone help you navigate.”
Overall revenue in the industrial laundry and linen supply sector grew to $15.9 billion in 2018, according to a December 2018 report by market research firm IBISWorld.
The bulk of it comes from three titans in the industry: UniFirst, Cintas Corp. and Aramark Uniform & Career Apparel LLC. Driscoll began his career with UniFirst.
Outside the box
Driscoll’s business, operating as The Uniform Broker, offers consulting to maximize contracts with vendors through two processes, which he calls his trade secrets.
Driscoll doesn’t sell or rent out uniforms, or deal directly with the companies providing those services.
“It’s not a tangible product, but it’s knowledge,” he says.
Driscoll keeps his processes close to the vest, only saying the first is a weekly regimen for savings and the second helps business owners identify unforeseen problems.
His consulting fees range from $589-$989 for a single account assessment. He’s also written an e-book on the processes, which sells for $119.
He says he’s worked with three companies so far in Springfield, but declines to name them citing nondisclosure agreements.
“I will never, ever coach anybody on how to get out of any kind of contract,” says Driscoll, who currently works out of his home. “That’s a commitment you entered into. We’re going to abide by that commitment, we’re going to streamline it, we’re going to maximize the cash flow and increase your profitability. If anything, what we’re doing is improving that vendor relationship.”
Though uniform is in the name, Driscoll doesn’t limit his consulting work to one aspect or industry.
“There’s not a door that’s not a prospect for me,” he says. “If you can wear it, stand on it or wipe it, I can help it. This isn’t just uniforms, shirts and pants, or mats on the floor and shop towels.”
He says his contract consulting also covers linens, aprons, mops and bathroom products, and company savings can come from unexpected places, like floor mats inside and outside of entry doors.
“Anywhere from 70 to 76 percent of all the soils being tracked in on the bottom of shoes is going to be trapped on these two products,” Driscoll says. “If I can trap the biggest majority of the soils coming into the doors, and you have janitorial services on the back side, what if we were able to reduce that from weekly cleanings to every other week, therefore saving you additional money?”
Building on the past
The Uniform Broker isn’t Driscoll’s first venture in the consulting world. He started Advantage Uniform Consulting LLC in 2010, after leaving UniFirst. It was a learning process.
“I got my teeth punched in. It was awesome,” he says. “It was one of the best learning experiences that I had inside of all of this, because what I took away from it was that even though I knew how to service the customer, I didn’t understand the business aspect of obtaining the customer.”
In three years running Advantage Uniform Consulting, he learned the behind-the-scenes steps in building and growing a business.
With his next consulting business launch, in January 2018, Driscoll wanted to have a brand.
“This is where I failed the first time,” he says.
While researching social media practices, Driscoll says he met Jeremy Wells and Dustin Myers of Longitude LLC.
“Stephen came to us with a strategic shift in business, coming up with a new name and repackaging,” Myers says. “We came in from a branding perspective for messaging, helping him understand who his customers are and how to connect his value in a way they resonate with.”
Longitude developed Driscoll’s logo and is assisting him in strengthening his online presence.
“They designed an entire living, breathing, walking person that is The Uniform Broker,” Driscoll says.
His vision in five years is to take The Uniform Broker model to 10 regional offices with staff across the country and hit 5 percent revenue growth annually.
“This is a brand new industry inside of an existing industry,” Driscoll says, declining to disclose his first-year revenue. “We’re trying to break down a wall that people don’t even know is up.”
The Doula Foundation of Mid-America Inc. moved; Steve Albrecht opened Dr. Steve Albrecht Coaching Services; and Common Sleep LLC got its start.
Vineese Knight with the Massengale Group Of Keller Williams says when she was a young salesperson the biggest mistake she made was looking at people as numbers. She started experiencing real success when she made the mental shift to thinking of her customers as people and genuinely caring about their needs above her own.
Cody Ritter, owner of Base Construction & Management LLC, attributes the company's fast growth in part to keeping customers happy. Base Construction & Management LLC is one of the Springfield Business Journal 2019 Dynamic Dozen companies, recognizing the 12 fastest growing companies in the area.
"You are a leader," says Carrie Richardson, Executive Director of Leadership Springfield. She gives suggestions as to how you can develop your leadership skills.
Michael Wehreberg, Wehrenberg Design Company, discusses the shift in the last five years in web site design to mobile-first designs. Ultimately, you have to think of the human first and serve them with ease, and Google will give you credit for being mobile friendly.
Ömer Önder, owner of Springfield Diner, struggles with the process of renaming his restaurant. The process led by Dustin Myers and Jeremy Wells, owners of the branding agency Longitude LLC. Ömer expresses all of the emotions he is going through as they work together to revise his seating, menu, hours, and a name to reflect those changes.
It is projected that 10,000 people in the United States will turn 65 years old everyday for 19 years, and non profits are going to be competing over the coming years in a fierce labor market. Give Five was developed as a civic matchmaking program to help connect capable retirees with charitable organizations that need help. Greg Burris outlines the problems the program addresses, opportunities for individuals and organizations, as well as how United Way of the Ozarks is licensing to the program to share with other communities.
Jamie Kinkeade noticed most of the women in her fitness classes at The Studio were wearing Lululemon. She knew her clients were driving to Kansas City to purchase the brand, so she approached the athletic apparel company to stock their merchandise in her store, The Movement. They said "no" at first because they were not looking to expand into the Springfield market, but her persistence paid off.
With more job openings than people to fill them, it is time for your company to evaluate how you are motivating and engaging your team to help you retain and attract the best talent. Sherry Coker, Executive Director at the OTC Center for Workforce Development, walks you through tangible and intangible incentives that encourage employee engagement, performance enhancement, and higher job satisfaction.
"When we first started we thought we could pretty much do this on our own," discloses Vera Gibbons with Baby Foot®. "We thought we knew what would be great...that's not really what happened." Gibbons recommends partnering with a strong marketing partner early and give them a budget.
With four generations in the workplace, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of how each approaches brainstorming can make all the difference in arriving at the best idea. Boomer Kay Logsdon, Director of Applications at CultureWaves, and self-described fossil Millennial Locke Hilderbrand share what their trends research at CultureWaves tells us about generational differences and tips on how to bridge the gaps. Generations in the Workplace is an ongoing multi-episode series tackling the issues of generational conflict.