By Tina M. Payne, RN, MSN
Launching a scrubs business can be exciting as well as stressful. This post will highlight how to start a scrubs business in 7 steps. In August 2017, while working as a Telemetry float pool nurse, homeschooling 3 of my 5 children, being a wife, and taking care of my infant son, I founded Grace Health Scrubs. Grace Health Scrubs is a premier mobile and onsite uniform retail business located in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is one of very few uniform businesses which is owned and operated by a nurse in my area. Our company is growing steadily and we are partnering with local hospitals, doctor’s offices, and nursing programs.
We have a convenient website that allows healthcare professionals to shop 24 hours a day. As a nurse and business owner, part of purpose is to empower and share with other nurses that they have a unique advantage within the scrubs market that scrub manufacturers have yet to realize. The insight that we have based on years of wearing one specific product can really offer a lot of value to scrubs distributors and manufacturers alike.
Medical uniforms, also referred to as scrubs or nursing scrubs, are a necessity in our ever-growing economy. As long as there is a need for medical care, there will be a need for scrubs. Wearing scrubs is most often a requirement of healthcare professionals but is also expanding to other service industries such as housekeeping, massage therapy, and cosmetologists, just to name a few.
There is a global need for scrubs as well. Hospitals are one of the top employers who require medical scrubs in the world. In hospitals, there are doctors, nurses, laboratory personnel, and other personnel who are required to wear departmental colors such as all blue, grey, green, or even white uniforms.
Although scrubs are constantly in high demand, not all styles, colors, and sizes are readily available for purchase in regular stores – which is where you come in. I have heard many nurses say they only have Walmart in their local area to buy scrubs from.
There may only be a handful of stores in your area, and it is guaranteed that they will still not carry every possible brand, size, or color desired by everyone needing them, so many consumers must resort to online shopping instead. As a result, why not be the bridge in your community and provide a needed service?
This article is geared towards the experienced healthcare professional wanting to start a viable scrubs business that will require in-person and online sales.
So whether you are a nurse, nursing assistant, doctor, or lab technician, you likely will have a lot to bring to this business, including your insights as a consumer of scrubs, as well as your network of healthcare workers and colleagues whom you already have a relationship with.
Having a solid network and relationships in this business will take you further than you can imagine. Over time, the uniform business can be lucrative and rewarding.
On my business journey, I have had many people inquire as to how to start a scrubs business. In 2018 I created this blog platform and Facebook group for moms and nurses. My goal is to provide support, encouragement, and tips on starting a business. As a result, I have since launched a coaching business, helping other women and nurses to start their first business. As part of an upcoming series about the scrubs business, this post will outline 7 basic steps to starting a scrubs business.
HOW TO START A SCRUBS BUSINESS IN 7 STEPS
Step 1: Create a Business Plan for your Scrubs Business
A business plan can seem intimidating at first, although breaking it down into smaller pieces will help. This is the step a lot of people skip and find out later that they really needed a business plan. Outlining your business structure, budget, marketing strategies, and future plans will surely put you in a better position to obtain the necessary funding and create a more appealing business entity.
Step 2: Business Registration and Licensing Requirements
You will need to establish your business entity with the Secretary of State office within the state you reside in. Go to their website or call the office if you have any questions about registering your business.
Next, apply for a business license from your local municipality. This serves to acknowledge the existence of your business in your city. This license may have a variety of titles depending on your location, it may be “vendor’s license”, “sales tax certificate” or “business license”.
Also, if your state has a sales tax, apply for a tax account with your state department of taxes as you will need to collect sales tax on items sold. Get a tax identification number too, or an employer identification number with the Internal Revenue Service. If you have a previous or current business which is related, contact a tax attorney or lawyer with regards to establishing a DBA or “doing business as” entity.
However, if you are still not sure about all the licensing requirements to become a medical scrubs and uniform retailer, you can contact the Uniform Retailers Association (URA), which is a non-profit trade association dedicated to the growth and prosperity of the independent uniform retailer.
Step 3: Get Capital for your Scrubs Business
Having capital is the number one thing that can make or break a business. Use your business plan for guidance. Create a budget for operating cost, expenses, etc. There are a few ways to go about this if you don’t have the cash yourself.
- Get a business credit card or loan
- Raise funds through events such as yard sales, GoFundMe fundraisers, etc.
- Seek out an investor
- Take on a partner
- Take time and save up the money needed to launch your business
Step 4: Learn the needs and wants of your customers
Before you start a business, you have to be sure that you are solving a problem. Some ways to find out information is by sending out polls to your healthcare network by email or social media, conduct surveys, and research the requirements of the local hospitals, nursing homes, doctors’ offices, etc.
Find out the most common brands, colors, material preferences, etc. that the staff in your location wear. In addition, you may want to visit the hospitals and medical facilities and request their staff uniform requirements, including color and style parameters, and ask about the uniform material preferences. Just remember that knowing your customers’ desires and behaviors will help you in your marketing strategies.
Step 5: Lease the best building and/or Launch Your Website
If you have decided to open a brick and mortar space, the capital you have raised will hopefully cover your first year of expenses.
Brick and Mortar shops are at a minimum a 6-figure operation and it will take a lot of funding to open one with full inventory and staff for the first year. So please take the time to consult with a business strategist and accountant if this is your preferred route. So, after you have done all of that, you want to make sure that your building or storefront is in a great location, with easily visible signage, being handicapped-accessible. The location of your business should be somewhere that can be easily reached from all roads. Ideally, your location should:
- Be close to medical facilities
- Have a building with a front display window
- Have colorful building signage which describes your medical uniform business
Launch your website
Websites are a must-have in this business. Consumers have so many options available to them, they are always comparing prices and checking the reviews. Just think of the last time you made an online purchase, did you cross-check the price? Did you check the reviews? So it is non-negotiable as to whether or not you need a website. Now, whether you will use your website solely as an e-commerce site for your business or as a convenience to a mobile scrubs business, there are a few things you need, including but not limited to:
- An easy-to-search domain name
- A responsive website
- Excellent SEO (meta tags, keywords, analytics, speed)
- Detailed product descriptions, features, and benefits
- Easy navigation
- Optimized images
- An easy checkout process
- A clear returns and shipping policy
- Customer reviews
Step 5: Purchase Inventory for your Scrubs Business
Unless you are creating your own scrubs line, then you will need to purchase inventory. So, the best way to go about this step is to research the brands you are interested in selling based on your market research in your area.
This most likely will lead you to specific wholesalers and/or manufacturers. A good wholesaler is a link between the manufacturer and the retailer (you), while the retailer is the link between the manufacturer and the customer. Now, a good wholesaler will usually give good discounts for buying in bulk, which will allow you a greater profit margin. Anything greater than 25-30% is ideal for a profit margin.
However, the better option is to contact the manufacturer directly. Please know that not all manufacturers sell their scrubs in every location in America, so be sure to check with them individually. Many of them will have an application process and different requirements, such as a minimum opening order.
Additionally, some will only sell to you if you have a physical brick and mortar store. Most of them do not agree with solely online scrub stores. The best way to find out is to call them directly. As a business owner, you have to reach out to these companies yourself in order to earn their respect. For additional help, you can check out my best selling digital guide The Ultimate Scrubs Business Planning Guide.
Step 6: Market your Scrubs Business
For good marketing, it is necessary to recognize your target audience or demographic. In this case, we know that it is medical professionals. We have already established that these consumers are very busy, with some working off shifts and long hours. As a result, marketing to them must be adjusted in a way that they are made aware of your business both locally and online, and it must be done in a quick and efficient manner.
In today’s digital age, social media marketing is necessary. Having a strong internet presence is necessary to make an impact with consumers. An example would be to hire people to model your uniforms in promotional videos. Boost or run ads on these videos on popular social media sites like Instagram or Facebook. Even if you have a brick and mortar store, your website should be compelling and display content that introduces your business to the world.
Step 7: Start selling
Before you are ready to launch, make sure you are set-up to accept payment in a variety of ways; we are in the era of CASHAPP where people are fueled by convenience and speed! Whether you are selling your merchandise in person, online, or through social media, it is a good idea to accept all types of payment. You have to be able to accept cash, purchase orders, credit, debit, PayPal, etc. if you want the sale these days.
If you are not willing to accommodate people, then you will likely miss out on the money. Starting out as a new business, you do not want to turn any customers away, so be prepared for these types of payments or at the very minimum make people aware of what you will accept when you advertise.
Do you already have a scrubs business but need help with sales?
Check out this free resource: 5-Ways to Make Money in Your Scrubs Business This Week.
So there you have it, the initial 7 steps to starting your scrubs business. Of course, there are many more steps in the process. It is important to note that although worthwhile, this is a serious business, not a side hustle.
There is a lot of time that will need to be invested in it. It is not as straightforward as simply buying inventory, that does not make a “business”.
Buying a case of scrubs or a pre-made website with no additional research or training will leave you discouraged and unmotivated.
So before you start a scrubs business, please do the necessary research and get help from experts to diminish your learning curve.
I have successfully helped several nurses start and launch their scrubs business, with the hope of helping others too.
So if you need additional support or one-on-one coaching please feel free to apply by clicking HERE or email Tina Payne at Tina@goalsofaceomom.com for an application or you may check out my available programs at www.goalsofaceomom.com/programs.