Uniforms and Marketing: Your Employees’ Attire Can Help Market Your Restaurant
Restaurant workers’ uniforms are among the most creative uniforms of any industry. In many cases, restaurant uniforms are light years ahead of uniforms in most other industries in terms of being effective marketing tools. Whether they are to look professional, casual, elegant, festive, sporty or comforting, restaurant employees, especially servers, often wear attire that reflects the brand identity of the restaurant. Restaurant owners and managers usually plan carefully to design uniforms that will convey the desired image to guests, customers, business associates and the general public. Owners and managers in the restaurant industry are among the most business savvy in understanding that a uniform is an integral part of a marketing program, by helping customers feel the intended mood of a restaurant and by complementing more obvious marketing materials. When planning updates to employee uniform designs, however, both veteran owners and newcomers to the industry may wish to consider a variety of factors that impact how effectively a uniform markets a restaurant and makes an impression of the restaurant’s brand identity in the customer’s mind. Marketing and Uniform Design
Uniform rental companies provide assistance to customers that goes beyond simply providing new uniforms, picking up dirty uniforms, washing them, and delivering clean ones. These companies can also ensure that your uniforms are ideal from a functional standpoint, based on the jobs for which they will be worn. They help customers select styles, fabrics, and colors that convey the desired business image to everyone who sees uniformed employees.
The Uniform and Textile Service Association (UTSA) is an international trade organization representing these firms. UTSA recommendations for uniform design and development include:
- Design on the basis of safety and functionality concerns first. Textile service providers have up-to-date knowledge of the latest textile developments and technologies and how they will perform under various conditions. For more on today’s high-performance fabrics, see the SIDEBAR accompanying this article;
- If you use a professionally- designed logo on uniforms, make certain that all logo colors and background colors are consistent with the same colors used in other materials, such as menus, wine lists, carry-out bags, signage, etc. This consistency will help your restaurant appear organized and professional;
- Uniforms with varying textiles and designs, but with common color themes and logos, can be planned for workers in widely different occupations within one company. For example, a bartender standing in one area that receives a lot of cool air from the air-conditioning system may need to wear a heavier fabric or longer sleeves than on-the-go servers or cooks standing over hot stoves. A textile service provider can help you develop a complete uniform program that meets the needs of different workers economically;
- If you are developing a new color scheme and branding program for your restaurant, think carefully about how prospective colors will work in uniform design. For example, colors like orange and lime green are trendy and can help convey a festive image; however, they also can look terrible on people who do not have the right coloring to wear them. If you want to use high-impact colors, a consultant from a uniform rental company can help you incorporate them attractively into uniforms that will look good on many people;
- Top off your uniform ensemble with caps, aprons and other elements that reflect the uniform color scheme and incorporate logos or other graphic elements;
- If possible, include a visual point of visual distinction that customers will easily remember. A uniform services company can help you design a visual element that will reflect your restaurant’s brand and fit well with your overall uniform scheme. For example, if your restaurant’s brand identity is a casual wine bar serving trendy menu items, a wine-splash graphic on servers’ aprons might be appropriate. If your restaurant serves French food, an embroidered French flag emblem at shoulder level could add a point of distinction;
- Remember that proper fit and state of repair also impact the appearance of uniforms. When you rent your company’s uniforms, instead of purchasing them, uniform rental professionals expertly measure and fit each of your employees. Professional garment replacement and mending, staples of a rental agreement, will ensure that uniforms are maintained in an appropriate manner.
When your company’s uniforms provide comfort and convenience for employees, and also work effectively to sell your business and lay the groundwork for good customer relations, you are getting the greatest possible benefit from your investment in them. Visit www.uniforminfo.com to learn more or to find a UTSA member by location.
David Hobson is president of the Uniform and Textile Service Association. He can be contacted at email@example.com.