Throughout our lives, there have been many times we were forced to wear uniforms when we didn’t want to. Maybe you went to Catholic school, were a Boy Scout or have another reason that makes the idea of wearing a uniform unpleasant. However, the upside of having your staff wear uniforms in your restaurant outweighs employee reluctance. So you shouldn’t dismiss the possibility without knowing the pros and cons.
The right kind of restaurant uniform can be transformative. Restaurant uniforms provide instant authority for service staff, and uniforms can make as strong an impression as your interior décor. Good uniform choices provide instant recognition and authority, but customers rarely notice or comment on outfits that meet their expectations, so the influence and benefits of standardized uniforms could prove subtle but significant.
Restaurant uniforms showcase your business’s personality, brand your restaurant, ensure that employees wear appropriate dress and prevent staff from damaging their own clothes from spills and food mishaps. Restaurant owners should avoid over-the-top designs that make their employees uncomfortable. Restaurants that prefer not to order uniforms can achieve some of the benefits by creating a strict dress policy, providing aprons with logos and furnishing employee name tags.
Restaurant Uniforms for Branding
Branding strategies include incorporating company logos into all forms of advertising and employee uniforms are highly visible sights at a restaurant, making them a key advertising resource. Your restaurant staff members are your most valuable resource for communicating your brand and restaurant philosophy. Uniforms should match your restaurant’s concept and foster the qualities that you want people to associate with your restaurant, such as savvy and hip, sophisticated, playful, family-oriented or dedicated foodie.
With uniforms, you want to be have distinct uniforms but not steal attention from the food and atmosphere. Restaurant uniform retailers offer design assistance, volume discounts and consistency. Consider the benefits of changing colors each day of the week to create variety and attract favorable interest, but avoid garish colors, caricatures and clothes that distract from the brand and reputation of the restaurant.
Uniforms should not hurt employee morale. Changing over the uniforms from a dress code may not be welcomed, but in general, staff should find uniforms tolerable. There are several ways to ensure that the staff are not put out by the uniform. New owners might want to consult with their staffs for advice before choosing uniforms that people will wear for a big part of their waking lives. People care about their clothes and appearance, so consult them if you plan to put them in green and purple with orange suspenders.
Bad or humiliating uniforms cause staff members to act defensively. Try to choose comfortable uniforms that people enjoy wearing to brand the company in a positive light.
Employee morale gets a boost when people dress in quality restaurant uniforms, and stain-resistant fabrics help people stay clean and fresh during long shifts. If managers and owners dress consistently at work, it may make staff more amenable to new uniforms.
Choosing a Uniform Strategy
Choosing restaurant uniforms could become a large undertaking because most restaurants have different uniforms for cooks, chefs, managers and serving staff. The French Brigade system has a different uniform for each kitchen station. You can distinguish different job titles with distinctive aprons, hats or other accessories, and staff members could literally change hats when they change jobs.
Uniform differentiation extends beyond the different roles of employees to the different types of restaurants. Formal restaurants might consider tuxedos for hosts, front desks, bartenders and servers. The same is true for staff in hotels, casinos and banquet halls.
Kitchen staffs look more professional when chefs, sous chefs and executive chefs wear stylish chef coats with company logos. Some restaurants choose only certain distinguishing clothes for their staffs such as restaurant tops, custom ties, uniform shorts, chef hats and caps or custom aprons and vests.
Choosing restaurant uniforms depends on customer demographics and restaurant budgets. Study what it takes to make customers and staff comfortable. Formal dress works for upscale restaurants but could leave a negative impression with young urban customers. Casual and neighborhood restaurants benefit by choosing uniforms that make their workers appear friendly and approachable.
Comfort and cost are important in making a final selection of apparel. Hot, uncomfortable uniforms for kitchen workers and servers could affect staff performance, and nobody wants service from sweaty servers. Large restaurants need to provide a variety of uniforms in different sizes and styles, so costs and fabric durability become major determining factors.
Scientific Studies Validate Psychological Benefits of Uniforms
The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology conducted a study that measured the psychological influences of lab coats. The results found a strong correlation to improved attention to detail and mental attitudes of people who wear professional clothing. The benefit did not change when the test subjects were told that the lab coats were painter smocks. Choosing the right restaurant uniforms helps to make staff members more service-oriented, friendly, chatty and goal-oriented.
Costs and Fitting Considerations
Sometimes, all a restaurant needs are T-shirts, but many restaurants choose a distinctive look for each restaurant position.
Choosing the right outfits involves several interrelated considerations. Costs of uniforms include providing enough uniforms so that your employees can keep them clean without undue maintenance hardships. Keeping spares in several backup sizes for emergency situations and new employees proves highly beneficial.
Consider the costs of upscale manager uniforms, which are usually more formal and expensive, and think about using partial uniforms with dress clothing. Finding the right dress Oxford shirts and matching pants could pose difficulties when buying from local retailers. Restaurant uniform companies specialize in coordinating uniforms to create complementary looks for each staff member.
No matter how professional your staff is, making people wear uncomfortable or humiliating uniforms might cause them to make mistakes and develop poor attitudes. Ostentatious uniforms make customers as unhappy and uncomfortable as the people who wear them, which defeats the purposes of wearing uniforms.
There are thousands of other ways to attract attention and generate publicity without using degrading uniforms or providing a sexist take on women’s clothing. Uniforms won’t make or break your restaurant, but smart uniforms in subdued colors with subtle logos offer astonishing branding, service and employee-loyalty benefits.