If you own a restaurant, you know that you need a variety of employees to make the operation run. In addition to your kitchen staff — line cooks, sous chefs, and expediters — you need the right people to take care of customers. Even if your food is the best in the world, if you have poor customer service, you may not be in business for long. There is much more to running a successful restaurant than just the food alone. It is important to be aware that your employees attire help determine much of your success.
It’s easy to determine what the back of house (BOH) employees will wear, and why — chef jackets, hats, aprons, and headgear all come to mind. But what about the front of house (FOH)? Does your hostess really need a uniform? What about bartenders and servers? The answer often depends on the type of restaurant. Most five star restaurants have strict dress codes for all employees, regardless of the job. What about a casual place? Is it important? Do customers even care or notice? Maybe not, but it could also make the difference in the success of your restaurant. Read on to learn why requiring FOH staff to wear uniforms may be the best decision you can make, regardless of they type of restaurant.
It Reflects Your Brand and Business
Imagine that you have a business meeting with an important client. What will you wear? Even if you don’t wear your most expensive suit, you will likely think carefully about your attire. If you think of your staff as yourself and your customers as your important client, you will have much success.
When a customer walks in the door, the first person they are greeted by is the host or hostess. This person can very well make a guest’s impression positive or negative. What do you think looks better? A host that is dressed in casual clothes, followed by a bartender in street clothes, and then a server in different clothing? Or three employees dressed in a similar, professional manner?
Many, if not most, people may not notice either way. But those that do notice can make a difference in your business. Do you want restaurant critics, competitors, or anyone in the restaurant business talking about how your bartender is dressed or do you want them talking about the food and overall experience?
It Provides Less Distraction for Your Diners
A clean, crisp, uniform doesn’t distract a diner from your menu, decor, or food, while a waiter that is casually dressed in jeans and a t-shirt might.
You want your guests to focus on your excellent food, relaxing atmosphere, and outstanding service. You don’t want them to feel as if the person serving their food is just another guest. That’s how many people will feel if you don’t make them stand apart from the guests.
It’s Easy to Determine Who’s an Employee
When you go to a restaurant, or any place of business, for that matter, you don’t want to bother another customer that isn’t an employee. Instead, you want your guests to feel at ease asking the easily recognizable hostess where the restroom is. Remember, an awkward moment can greatly affect a customer’s desire to return, and if it’s early on in the experience, it can very easily affect an entire visit. Make sure all of your employees are clearly identifiable. Nametags do this, but having both a uniform and a nametag will give a diner little doubt.
When a guest sees a hostess in an apron (or even a chef’s jacket designed specifically for front of house employees), they can be confident that that person will assist them in whatever they need, and walk out feeling good about the experience. More importantly, they’ll be likely to return, or sing your praises to friends and family.
Your Customers Know You’re Serious
Your customers will never know what kind of money you’ve spent in the kitchen, and they won’t know what your food costs are, but if they walk in and see an impressive looking staff waiting to make their experience as enjoyable as possible, they will know you are serious about your business. It seems like a minor thing, but it matters, and can make the difference in whether a guest wants to dine in your establishment for an important occasion where they may be trying to impress their own guests. Never give a customer a reason to go elsewhere.
It Can Make Your Employees Proud to Be a Part of Your Restaurant
Studies show that uniforms make people take pride in their work. It makes them more productive, as well as serious about the job they are performing. It’s much easier to feel like your job is important when you are dressed well.
It Eliminates Inappropriate Attire
It’s easy to believe that everyone knows what is appropriate work attire and what’s not, but that’s just not the case. Especially if your restaurant has a casual atmosphere, it can be difficult for employees to know where to draw the line when it comes to clothing. Only you know what you think is okay and not okay for your staff, but it can be difficult to determine the guidelines on your own.
Having a uniform makes it easy. Your employees know what to wear to work, and you are easily able to tell when they aren’t. There’s no discretionary thinking involved. You don’t have to ask around whether a skirt is too short or a saying on a t-shirt may offend others. It’s an easy way to take all the work out of it.
It Can Help Weed Out Bad Employees
A potential employee that is serious about his or her job wants to make the best impression on both the boss and restaurant guests. If this means wearing a uniform, he or she will do it because they understand its importance. An employee that resists a uniform, or wears it sloppily, or doesn’t take care of it, is likely going to cause you problems in other areas as well.
FOH Staff Will Feel Just As Important As BOH Staff
A server may feel intimidated by the kitchen staff since a restaurant is known for its food, but he doesn’t have to feel that way. When you provide all of your staff with similar uniforms, it shows that you believe each and every employee is as important as the next. Remember, your restaurant can’t run on its kitchen staff alone, no matter how small or casual the atmosphere.
Show your employees that you value their experience, time, and work ethic by unifying all of the employees in your establishment. An easy way to do this is with a uniform. Even a simple piece like an apron or jacket can make a host feel as important as a sous chef.
While specific uniforms may not be necessary, it is in most cases to your benefit to have a dress code for all employees in your restaurant. It promotes your business, shows your customers you are serious about what you do, and can promote unity amongst staff.
If you don’t believe you need specific uniforms, at least consider requiring everyone to wear the same type of attire — white button down shirt and black pants, for example — to show the world that your employees are a team, and as a team you will work towards making your business the best it can be.