Uniforms for your restaurant staff can do a lot for your business. They present a clean, professional image. They tell a story about your restaurant: what to expect, the quality of the service, and even the quality of the food.
Researchers at Princeton have shown that when people meet someone for the first time, they assess a number of things within seconds: the person's status, intelligence, trustworthiness, and many other attributes.
The same can be said for your restaurant.
These judgments are usually made with little information outside of presentation, which make uniforms very important. Here are a few things to consider when buying uniforms for your restaurant staff:
1) What Story Are You Trying To Tell About Your Restaurant?
A noteworthy restaurant tells a story. When you step inside a special restaurant, you're ushered into a different world: an intimate Italian dinner at candlelight with the one you love, a safe place to bring the kids where everyone is friendly, an award-winning establishment where all the food looks like art. Ask yourself: What story do you want your restaurant to tell?
Make sure that story translates to your uniforms. If the decor and theme of your restaurant pay homage to the Roaring Twenties, then uniforms that harken back to that era will come off as frisky and authentic. Not only will they add to the restaurant ambiance, but they will accentuate it.
If you run a casual family restaurant, however, they could look totally out of place and cause customers to think that they inappropriately dressed for the venue. For a family style restaurant, you want to go something that appeals to all ages, maybe a catchy logo that would appeal to children, but nothing too revealing as not to offend the “older folks.”
2) Can Your Staff Effectively Do Their Jobs In Their Uniforms?
Style is great, but make sure you also consider the functionality of the uniforms. Can a server lift a tray over his head, or is the uniform too restrictive? Is the chef going to have a problem working quickly with her knife, or is movement going to be free and easy?
Many of the newer chef coats have mesh under the arms and side vents for extra mobility. Waiters are often in vests, but even if they are in jackets, jackets can be made with extra room under the arms if they are lifting heavy trays for banquet type of work.
3) How Much Mileage Do You Need To Get Out Of Them?
For special events, you might not be as concerned with the durability of the uniforms, but if you're planning on using these uniforms over and over again, you'll want to have a good idea of how long they should last and how stains and spills wash out of them.
4) What Color And Why?
Color is part of the story your restaurant tells. Consider your restaurant's current color scheme or branding. Matching your restaurant uniforms to your branding can create a sense of unity and help people remember you.
Also, you want to make sure your staff looks distinct and like they work at the restaurant. It doesn't have to be something generic, but so long as the entire staff is wearing the uniform (say a gingham shirt with a polka dot tie), the patrons will know they are employees of the restaurant and stylish ones at that!
5) How Many Variations Should Your Restaurant Uniforms Have?
Not all restaurant jobs are the same, so keep that in mind when you're selecting uniforms.
While you might like your restaurant's chefs to wear crisp, white uniforms to convey a sense of cleanliness and professionalism, people might be confused if they see your maitre d' walking around wearing something similar.
When looking for uniforms for your restaurant staff, run through these kinds of questions to make sure you end up with uniforms that will look great, make your staff feel great, and tell your restaurant's unique story.
Jennifer Busch is the owner and CEO of I. Buss & Allan Uniform Company, which has been making business uniforms since 1892. I. Buss & Allan creates unique looks for a range of companies, including restaurants, hotels, and real estate owners and developers.