Employee uniforms are a standard in the restaurant industry, but how do you decide what uniforms are best for your restaurant? This may seem like an easy choice, but don’t take this decision lightly. There are several factors that you should consider when choosing restaurant uniforms:
As operators, you know that employee uniforms must first meet safety standards. Each state’s Department of Health will have safety requirements for restaurant employees. After you consult those standards, then the uniform rules should be determined by position and job function. Safety standards for restaurant uniforms can vary from no slip shoes and hair restraints, to jewelry or sleeve length. Once you have determined guidelines for a safe uniform, the fun begins.
Employee uniforms, in a split second, can communicate who you are to your customers. Is the uniform organized, clean, and professional? Does the uniform have any personality? Restaurant uniforms play an important role in the customer’s experience. Employee uniforms are a reflection of your brand, and from a consumer standpoint, it’s important to be consistent, this includes restaurant décor, cuisine and any marketing materials.
This does not mean all employees have to be dressed in the same uniform. Each job function has its own set of needs and/or requirements for a uniform. Categorizing employee uniforms by job also allows your customers to easily identify employees. Even though the uniforms will not be the same for every employee, it’s important that each uniform group is cohesive with one another. This can be achieved through material, colors, style and the incorporation of your logo. I suggest purchasing uniforms through one provider so that the color and material are consistent.
I believe it’s important to consider your employees before making this decision. They will be wearing this uniform every day at work, so you want to make sure that they are comfortable in it. It can be beneficial to involve them in the decision making process. I suggest narrowing down your search and then sharing samples of each and getting feedback. In my experience, you can discover things you never would have thought! This will give the employees a sense of ownership of the uniforms, too. Also, if your employees will be responsible for the cleaning and care of their own uniform, it is important to choose fabrics that are easy to wash, fade resistant, and not easily wrinkled.
Once you have chosen restaurant uniforms, it’s important to create a uniform policy outlining standards. This document should be detailed. Below are some topics I suggest having in your employee uniform policy.
- Make sure you describe each piece, head to toe, for each job description.
- This should include how to wear the uniform. For example, tucking in a shirt.
- Some restaurants require employees to wear their nametags or they are not allowed to work. Temporary nametags are a great solution for new employees and those who have forgotten theirs.
- What if a uniform is damaged or lost? Be sure to answer whether there is a cost associated with getting it replaced and circumstances that the company would replace it.
- Be sure to specify what can be worn, as well as what cannot be worn. Small jewelry might be allowed, but large earrings and necklaces may not.
- Depending on your restaurant culture, you might specify whether or not employees are allowed to show body or facial piercings or tattoos.
- In your policy you should indicate the level of cleanliness expected from the uniform.
Developing a standard for uniforms is more than just picking one out of a magazine. But if you make the right decisions using these best practices, I’m sure your restaurant uniforms will attribute to a successful customer experience!