James Wilford, of YMS Group, explains why JustSo is just right for his companies
James Wilford began Your Music School (YMS) in Canterbury in 1995. Twenty-four years later, the school has 20 classrooms with 30 teachers. As well as running music lessons for people of all ages, YMS offers a rehearsal space for bands and a small recording studio, and it hosts a variety of groups from a steel band to a woodwind group. Today, James runs two other businesses under the YMS Group banner: a theatre trip travel company called Theatre Trips Kent, which began in 2010, and YMS Travel, a bus and coach hire firm, with afleet of 20 vehicles.
Branded workwear didn‘t feature at YMS until 2010, when James joined a BNI networking group. “I‘d never needed to do much networking before, but we had rebranded and I wanted to get the new image known across Canterbury,” he explains. “It was there that I met JustSo [Clothing & Merchandise] and I discovered how easy and affordable branding clothing is. At first we just got polos and shirts for the music school as the travel company was still in its infancy. Since then, we‘ve expanded the uniforms across all the companies: polos, shirts, jackets, ties, fleece – everything.”
JustSo embroiders Uneek polos for YMS
The coach driver uniform includes a smart shirt and tie
JustSo also supplies YMS Group with branded promotional goods such as pens, USB sticks and year planners
The embroidered uniforms give the companies an identifiable brand, James explains. While the garments are optional most of the time for the music school staff, the receptionists wear branded tops, which include Uneek polos, sweatshirts and shirts (the staff provide their own trousers or skirts). In the two other companies, the drivers all wear a uniform. For those working on buses which are more of an economy hire for school trips and similar, the uniform needs to be simply smart, clean and branded, explains James, while the coach drivers on the theatre trips wear a smarter uniform of shirts and ties. Again, Uneek polos and shirts are given to the drivers, along with United Brands softshell jackets and fleeces, both of which have the pullers changed to match the company’s colourways, and Henbury V-neck knitted jumpers. Quadra Burbank Zipper Portfolios are also embroidered for the staff to use.
One big advantage of using JustSo was narrowing down the garment choice, James reveals. “They go through everything and select items for us – they know what we‘ll want to look at. To go through a whole catalogue is overwhelming. What‘s also good is that they know which clothes will last. The uniform I‘m wearing today, I‘ve had it for years – washed and ironed, it still looks as good as new, there‘s no fading. I know I could get cheaper online, but JustSo is the best option, and the most cost-effective – the clothes might cost a pound or so more, but they last so I don‘t have to buy new ones each year.” JustSo also supplies YMS Group with branded promotional goods such as pens, USB sticks and year planners, which James then gives out to schools and other potential customers. Along with the branded workwear, it all adds up to a highly effective marketing strategy. “I didn‘t realise how powerful it was having branded uniforms until we started doing it. A small company that has a branded van and branded workwear looks like an established, strong company.”
The main reason YMS Group didn‘t opt for branded clothing before 2010 was a fear of the cost, explains James. “It‘s cheaper than you expect though, especially with JustSo‘s 321 deal for start- ups, where the logo is set up then you get three polos, two sweatshirts and a softshell or similar, all for the same price that you could spend on one jacket if you tried to buy your workwear yourself.” It‘s the ease of having someone create a shortlist of appropriate garments that really stands out for James, though. “JustSo finds out what the customer does and they take them on a journey, choosing everything together. If you‘re the company buying, your mind can be blown by all the options otherwise. I haven‘t stopped recommending JustSo since I first met them.”