As customer expectations have risen it is now more important than ever that staff wear appropriate workwear.
That’s the view of Ruaraidh Macleod of workwear supplier Kylemark Corporatewear, who said that well-dressed staff have become a vital part of successful outlets.
“A simple, cheap-looking T-shirt used to be the standard for many bars across the country, but now with service standards and customer expectations rapidly on the rise the importance of having smart, well-dressed staff who are easily identifiable to the customer is a crucial factor in the success of any bar.”
Macleod said formal shirts with crisp bib aprons are currently “very much on trend”, while long-sleeve mandarin collar shirts in black are proving popular with food-led bars.
“It is a fact that most staff would rather be given a uniform for work,” said Macleod. “Firstly, a smart, clean uniform makes you feel good about yourself. Secondly, there’s no need to waste time deciding what to wear to work. And thirdly, staff uniform and workwear, if personalised or branded, is tax exempt. So employers and employees gain from wearing branded staff uniform.”
While it is important that employees are smartly dressed, comfort is also high on the agenda, according to Ric Shonfeld, commercial director at supplier Tibard.
“Staff want uniforms that are comfortable to wear and often this means providing a tailored garment that suits the wearer,” said Shonfeld.
“Employers should take note of this as staff who feel comfortable in their uniform and look the part will project a much more welcoming image to customers.
“To that end we would always recommend that an employer carries out trials of garments with their staff rather than just leaving the decision up to the purchasing manager.”
Shonfeld also advised that workwear will tend to last longer the less frequently it is washed. That being the case, it is vital that each employee is provided with several changes of clothes, so they are not forced to wash their work uniforms on a daily basis.
For chefs and back of house staff, Shonfeld recommended purchasing five jackets, three trousers, two skull caps and five aprons (totalling around £75 per person), while for front of house employees he recommended three blouses or shirts and five aprons and bibs, at a cost of around £50 per person (front of house staff are usually expected to supply their own trousers).
Purchasing the workwear is only half of the story, of course. It is equally important that any staff clothing is kept clean and presentable.
“You may spend a long time choosing the right look for your establishment, but if that item is not processed and cleaned properly, it will still look dirty and give a negative impression,” said David Hill, sales and marketing director of Johnsons Stalbridge Linen Services.
“And critically, with kitchen wear, you have the added risk of cross-contamination so it has to be cleaned to the right specification.”
A clean uniform makes you feel good about yourself.
Hill said restaurant and pub operators are increasingly outsourcing their laundry requirements to ensure the highest hygiene standards are met.
“With a commercial laundry, uniforms will be washed at specific critical temperatures,” he explained.
“The minute you ask staff to launder their own clothing in a domestic environment, you are exposing your business to the risks of washing items at too low a temperature, and risking the potentially serious hazard of cross-contamination.”
Hill added that the choice of fabric is an important consideration, with many operators switching cotton, which can shrink, for polycotton.