Fashion on a Plate
Remember your catering college days? One of the first lessons taught was that we feast with our eyes as much as our palates but presentation now goes way beyond the plate.
According to Nick Jubert, managing director of chefs wear and catering uniform specialists Denny’s Uniforms, it has never been more important to have staff looking good.
Nick explains: “In today’s uncertain economic climate, having staff look and feel good is more important than ever in promoting a business. If you are running a hotel, restaurant, café or any food serving establishment, then you know just how critical it is to make the best first impressions for any prospective guests or visitors.
“Good appearance implies high standards and professionalism. It reassures customers that everything about the drinks and food preparation and service is clean and hygienic. It is part of winning the battle to get them through the door and then to keep them returning for more.”
Nick’s point is supported by a plethora of documented research on dressing for success – a familiar phrase that if put into Google brings up a host of websites, YouTube clips and blogs advising on how best to dress to impress for interviews, dates and a range of social occasions.
But beyond ensuring staff look clean (no stained workwear for those front of house) and tidy (hair tied back if appropriate, only minimal jewellery) how far should you take the fashion fix to boost business?
Angelika Nordback, buyer for Fuller, Smith and Turner plc, which uniforms its pub chain staff says: “There is no doubt in my mind that if a customer visits a pub whose staff are smart, well presented and look like a team, the impression they get is greatly improved.
“In some cases, uniforms allow our staff to carry out their jobs in a safe manner, particularly back of house but in the main, we use the uniforms to create and convey a sense of style and professionalism. We know the staff in our pubs will be well presented when they first greet the customer. First impressions last.”
While full uniforms may be an affordable expense for some plcs, they may be an outlay beyond smaller independents’ means, so how can the likes of the high street or garden centre café compete?
Nick suggests: “A good entry level for staff uniforms is the apron. An apron is the ultimate, low cost, multi use uniform. It can fit all sizes and shapes with one size and immediately makes the wearer instantly recognisable as part of either the front of house team or the kitchen team. The apron can be a versatile
and stylish solution.”
Aprons come in bib and waist styles of varying lengths (think barista style through to short, pocketed diner style) and according to Nick, the latest fashion is for eye-catching colours such as hot pink, fuschia and opal.
Nick, whose company has just collaborated with the London College of Fashion to create workwear with greater appeal to younger staff says: “Fashion trends in corporate or hotel uniforms tend to evolve at a slower rate than high end fashion but that’s not to say such workwear cannot be styled with an eye to current trends. Making uniforms more stylish makes them more relevant to a younger audience, which after all, represents a good proportion of the industry’s workforce.
“It is important staff engage with any item of clothing you want them to wear at work. If possible, I would recommend that you involve your staff in the decision-making process when choosing what to wear in your business.”
Make it Personal
Helen Harker, head of design at leading uniform supplier Simon Jersey says: “Branding your garments on however small a scale is a perfect way to promote your business and help identify your staff to customers. It can be achieved through embroidery, badges, tabbing or printing and it depends on your business which branding solution is best. Each offers a distinct finishing touch to a uniform.”