Competition is fierce and customer expectations continue to climb year-on year, every business needs to be “at the top of their game”! Yes, food and drink, the quality of your décor, ambiance are all important, however, serving up premium brands or top-notch food in stylish surroundings is futile if your staff simply don’t look the part!
For those involved in the on trade/hospitality industry, a well thought out staff uniform can help create a professional and lasting impression for both customers and employees, and, comes to first impressions, appearances make a big difference. This is particularly true in the hospitality and on trade sector. Pubs, hotels, bars and restaurants all know that uniforms can have a big impact on customers. Staff uniforms will strengthen your businesses identity and project an image of professionalism, efficiency cleanliness and will also boost staff morale.
Although the sector is not without its issues, it is still UK’s third largest employment sector and accounted for 3.2 million jobs at the end of 2017 through direct employment and 2.8 million indirectly. The total turnover of all businesses in the hospitality industry reached £98 billion in 2017, up from £92 billion in 2016. The sector contributed £39bn in gross tax receipts, £18bn in exports and £10bn in business investment. In simple terms the hospitality sector is big business, with, various departments, employing different staff for different job functions all with different levels of seniority, requiring different workwear/uniform requirements.
Richard Ebbs, Head of Brands for Nisbets Plc. Says: “Clothing is an important way to signify your brand values to customers. Ensuring all staff are kitted out in uniform and workwear that fits the look and feel of your service whilst being comfortable and fit for purpose can be a challenge, but it’s certainly time well spent. Whether you’re aiming for cool and casual, or sleek and sophisticated, dressing your staff appropriately can also instill a sense of pride. Much like footballers wearing their team shirts, a uniform can unite staff and give them a sense of purpose – vital if they are to portray your organisation in a positive light”
One of the unique selling points in the independent sector of the hospitality industry is identity! Whether you are a pub hotel or restaurant owner you will have that individuality that the chain sector does not have, which can also be reflected in your staff uniforms. Don’t for a moment think people are only concerned about the comfort, service, and quality of the food and drink they are receiving. they want to be able to identify staff and see standards of professionalism, in fact, according to a study 79% of people believe that how you dress at work affects people’s perceptions. In simple terms uniforms are in fashion, and can significantly enhance your business in a variety of ways:
• Make your employees feel that they are part of a team. Having a workforce that is neatly dressed in company clothing will create an environment that operates around company values, and can foster a sense of pride in their jobs and your company. In fact, 56% of workers feel more professional in uniform, and 54% say team morale is higher when everyone is smartly dressed. These factors can all result in happier staff – which will reflect in the service they deliver to your customers
• Showcasing your brand. Over time uniforms can become part of the company’s branding. When employees wear uniforms displaying company colors and logos they help distinguish their business from competitors in the fields they serve.
• Protect your workers. Safety is important when it comes to uniforms as well. Making sure all your employees are compliant with the environment around them helps with wearer safety, for example, fire resistant and hi-visibility clothing.
• Improve Security. Specific Uniforms can help identify who belongs in what work areas and help keep work environments safe by distinguishing who belongs where.
Why is it important for back of house staff to wear the right kit in the kitchen?
The importance of wearing the correct attire in the kitchen comes down to three key aspects: hygiene, comfort and professionalism.
Uniform accesories such as gloves, hats and hairnets prevent contaminants such dirt and hairs coming into contact with any of the food. Without the proper kit that enables mandatory hygiene maintenance during food preparation, the risk of spreading disease and even allergens are much greater.
Long shifts in a high temperature environment require the ideal uniform sized correctly and made of materials that are not only comfortable but won’t irritate the skin after long use, as well as being loose enough to provide proper aeration. Not only can uncomfortable workwear be harmful to workers over a long period, but this discomfort may also draw focus away from their work, affecting the overall quality of the food they prepare, thus making a negative impact on a customer’s dining experience.
Professionalism is a varied aspect that differs depending on the operator. However, it is a universal truth that the condition of the apparel worn by staff represents their brand. If a restaurant chef is spotted wearing stained jeans and a tattered shirt whilst working, it gives off the impression that the restaurant doesn’t enforce policies that chefs maintain a clean and professional appearance. That impression made from a lack of professionalism and hygiene translates to the question “if they don’t put effort into their uniform, what chance is there they’ll put effort into our food?”. In turn, this will damage the operator’s long-term reputation and its ability to bring in revenue.
And why is it the same for front of house staff?
The importance for staff to wear a uniform in hospitality and the on-trade is equal to that of chefs wearing the proper workwear in the kitchen. Arguably, front of house uniform for waiting staff is more critical as it is visible to customers and will have a greater impact on their perception and overall customer experience; but the increasing popularity of open kitchens means that chefs are now also often on show, making it more important than ever to get workwear right. With a trend for brighter colours and more comfortable fabrics it seems that uniforms and work wear are now a lot less formal.
A staff member putting on a freshly cleaned uniform opposed to their street clothes is much more hygienically sound. If waiting staff have been at college or another job during the day before an evening shift, the clothes they’ve worn may have picked up all sorts of bacteria and potential viruses over the course of the day. Customers understand this, making a front-of-house staff member’s first impression all the more important.
Style Uniforms believe that customer relations are hugely important in the hospitality sector.
Manager Peter Morris says: “We’ve just returned from a massive hospitality exhibition, The Restaurant Show, held each autumn at Olympia, London. Because we’re a British clothing designer and manufacturer, we really value the opportunity to meet face-to-face with our existing UK suppliers and returning customers. It’s always great to see new faces, too, and our exhibition stand always attracts a wide range of fresh clientele from around the country.
“Over the past twenty years Style Uniforms have developed an end-to-end service that we’re proud of. From stylish front-of-house garments where first impressions really do matter, to durable functional clothing manufactured to withstand the daily grind, our focus is to provide the highest quality uniforms for any given budget. Whether creating a fully original bespoke collection, or supplying standard off-the-shelf clothing with branding, our experienced team makes dressing any workforce a simple hassle-free process. Ultimately, our presence at live exhibitions is a chance to engage with people; it’s a real world experience – an extension of the products and services available at our online home, styleuniforms.co.uk. Our Sheffield headquarters houses design and manufacture all under one roof, from where we guarantee leading UK innovation, craftsmanship and quality. Partnering with our sister company – technical clothing specialist, KIT Design we’re proud to offer UK businesses a high quality home-grown service.”
UK manufacturers & importers of hospitality uniforms and foodservice equipment Bonchef have been supplying workwear to the hospitality sector since 1979, managing director Nauman Butt says; “The Bonchef global team is actively involved in the development from inception to production of all the fabrics in our innovative range. Our Pakistan factory is a centre of excellence where we combine experience with technological advancement to produce quality uniforms. Bonchef today, is still owned by the Butt family and very proud to trade as a family business. We pride ourselves on our friendly and efficient service and will always do our best for all our customers. Our business is reliant upon the strength of our customers and the relationships we have forged with them over the years. We are confident there is no finer collection to satisfy your requirements. A one-stop solution to all your uniform and catering equipment needs.”
Axent Embroidery Ltd has been providing promotional uniforms and workwear for the past 37 years, manager Tom Stainer said: “we provide specialised in-house printing and embroidery services for pubs bars hotels and restaurants nationally and insured exceptional levels of satisfaction and customer loyalty is at the forefront of our business. Just one example of this is the provision of a fully embroidered proof as part of any new logo setup. We are blessed with a combination of friendly, highly trained staff, together with the knowledge gained from being one of the first computerised embroidery companies in the UK, has given Axent the leading edge in excellence which enables us to provide a comprehensive portfolio of workwear and uniforms, including bundle offers!”
Tips to help you pick the perfect uniform for your staff
Choosing the correct uniform for your business is a big investment and something that will require a lot of thought before you make a decision, so, how can you make sure you make the right decision when planning a new work uniform? To help, Alex Grace, Managing Director of personalised clothing retailer Banana Moon, has some hints and tips for businesses on how to make the right choices when picking a work uniform.
• Colour is key: Colour can play a major role in how your business is perceived, so it is important to get it right. Start by thinking about your company’s logo and brand colours, but if you don’t think your logo colors would work then the next step is to think more about the image certain colours project. If your team wear all black for example then they may project authority, while lighter colours can give a calmer and cleaner image. Ask yourself what you want people to think and feel when they see your team in uniform and use this as your guide. Even if you don’t believe your logo colours will work as the base colour of your uniform, choosing safer base colours for the uniform can allow you to use the colours in your logo and branding to really make your uniform stand out, and will ensure your brand is at the forefront when your staff interact with customers and clients.
• Comfort over style: When it comes to choosing a uniform, comfort should always be a priority, so it’s vital you carefully consider what tasks your staff will be carrying out while at work. Working in restaurants, for example, often requires physical work and long hours in a hot environment, so ensuring you pick the correct colours and fabrics is essential. Try choosing darker colours for tops and t-shirts as these tend to hide sweat more easily, and pick breathable fabrics such as lightweight cottons or more technical wicking polyester to make clothes more comfortable to wear. Not only will this help your employees look more presentable, but it can aid job satisfaction – if workers feel comfortable in their uniform this can only have a positive effect on their happiness in the workplace.
• Fit for purpose: Buying uniforms for a team is an expensive task, and as such it’s one that business owners will not want to do on a regular basis. To ensure your uniform stands the test of time, increase longevity by selecting materials that will hold up over constant wearing, washing and activity, ensuring you give each staff member more than one uniform so items get worn out by washing and wear and tear less quickly. It also helps to order uniforms in bulk to get the best deal from suppliers. If you are personalising items with brand names and logos, most suppliers will give you a discount on bulk orders, meaning you can save money upfront and will need to order new uniforms less frequently, saving you time and money.
If the employee feels comfortable in his working clothes, the chances are that he will eventually perform to his full potential and exceed future guests expectations.
Having the proper attire not only helps the employee’s comfort but motivates him as it allows the employee to feel fully integrated and proud to represent the values for whom the employee is working for. Staff uniforms are a great way to establish a team mentality among your staff. It’s a visual reminder that everyone is striving for the same goal. Create and uphold a clear uniform policy that emphasizes professionalism and cleanliness. Your guests will appreciate it!