How to Choose Hospitality & Catering Uniform
The hospitality industry is made up of enterprises that provide accommodation, meals and drinks in venues that are outside of the home. This industry is the 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 same year the hospitality sector contributed £39bn in gross tax receipts, £18bn in exports and £10bn in business investment. To put it simply, the hospitality industry is big business.
Every single restaurant and hotel has its own identity. Each restaurant has its own members of staff and own way of managing itself — whether it’s a chain or totally independent. One of the key ways these businesses create an image for themselves is through uniform.
In this guide, we will discuss the different types of uniforms in the hospitality and catering industry and their specific requirements, but first let’s take a quick look at what the hospitality sector is.
What is the hospitality industry?
The hospitality industry is a broad one. Within this sector, there are sub-sectors such as hotels, restaurants, catering, event management and recreation.
The industry is based on creating an experience between host and guest — service and customer. The staff that work in hospitality provide a service directly to a consumer that has expectations of the product and service they will receive.
Almost everyone spends money in this sector, many as often as daily. Most people in the United Kingdom visits hotels, restaurants or bars from time to time.
Each of these sub-sectors tends to have their own distinct uniform concept. The uniforms are usually very well thought out, as these companies understand the importance of first impressions and brand image.
Who needs uniform?
Job roles in the hospitality industry are plentiful and range from concierges to reception staff, and from chefs to waiters. Despite the range of roles, there are key qualities that uniforms in hospitality require.
In most cafés, restaurants or hotels, staff will be expected to wear a uniform selected and personalised for the business they work for. The choice of garments is usually based on a combination of functionality and appearance.
Due to the fact most hospitality staff appear in the public eye, the uniform needs to look a certain way but it also needs to perform well. There are hazards and physical requirements in these industries that make the correct design of these garments crucial.
Types of Uniform
Front desk staff, greeters and concierges
“Good afternoon, how can I help you?” Across the front desk of the hotel you spot an unkempt individual in a baggy plain t-shirt and worn jeans. Is this hotel going to give you the best night’s sleep you’ve ever had, or is the person behind the desk looking to re-enact ‘The Shining’?
Front desk staff are the primary point of greeting when customers enter a hotel. If the hotel has no other commodities such as a restaurant or a bar, there’s a high chance they are the only members of staff they will encounter.
Apart from quality customer service delivered by a helpful attitude and a smile, the uniform of a front-of-house greeter can set the whole tone. Smart, professional and identifiable instantly gives guests a go-to person that they can trust to check them in or seat them.
Hospitality is about creating a level of reassurance between staff and guest. If an individual is dressed like they are supposed to be there and suits the surroundings, a customer can feel confident they will get excellent service from someone who knows what they’re doing.
A suit jacket or a pair of smart trousers goes a long way to make an employee look professional. Professionalism elevates your brand and makes your employees look smart. Ready for work and ready to help.
Identification is also very important for front-of-house staff such as restaurant hosts or reception staff. A badge or embroidered chest piece with a name and company logo not only improves trust, but also removes the anonymity that can make people more reluctant to interact.
Waiting Staff and Bartenders
Even if your food or drink is the best in the world, poor customer service can ruin any chance you could have at success in the hospitality industry. There is far more to running a successful restaurant than just the taste. Dining is all about the experience.
Good experiences, especially those related to dining, stick in the mind of the customer. It impacts whether they’ll return to the restaurant or recommend it to their friends. That’s why it’s important to be aware of how much your employees' attire can determine your success.
If you’ve ever heard someone say, "The food was okay but the service was terrible", then they might not just be talking about how long their lasagne took to come out of the kitchen. Uniform has psychological effects on members of staff, and these can boost the confidence and unity of your team. This creates a positive culture which influences how staff care for their guests and ensure the experience is exceptional.
Waiters and bartenders work in high-pressure, busy environments. For these reasons, uniforms need to be two things: practical and well-designed. The practicality of a uniform affects how well it performs, and a smart, comfortable, personalised design will make the wearer look and feel good.
Make sure waiting staff are provided with comfortable, non-slip shoes. This doesn’t just stop food ending up on laps, but it allows staff to remain on their feet for hours without pain. It can also prevent dangerous slips while moving at speed on wet surfaces.
Chefs, like many professionals, wear their uniforms practically every day, sometimes for long shifts. A standard chef uniform consists of a jacket, hat, trousers and slip-resistant shoes. These play an important role in protecting the individual from everyday kitchen hazards.
Chef jackets protect against spills, hot splashes, burns, steam and other kitchen mishaps. The double-breasted design allows the wearer to unbutton a flap and switch to a cleaner front to conceal stains.
Chef hats keep hair and sweat off your face. This is not only for personal comfort but also keeps unsavoury hair out of dishes.
Chef trousers protect from hot kitchen temperatures and shield the legs from splatters and spills. The loose shape stops hot food and liquids coming into contact with the skin.
Chef shoes should be anti-slip, water-resistant and comfortable, and are an essential part of the complete chef’s workwear.
Depending on the design of a restaurant, some chefs are hidden from public view, while others are on show as they work. Chefs are expected to maintain cleanliness, but given the risks associated with their role, their uniform needs to ensure safety, hygiene and presentability.
Why is uniform important for hospitality staff?
If you’ve ever wondered how to combine avoiding risks and mess with aesthetic appeal, then you’ve probably got a good grasp of what’s required for a hospitality uniform.
Members of staff spend long periods of time on their feet and need workwear that isn’t going to cause discomfort throughout the day. Looking good is half the battle, but making your staff feel comfortable is the most important part.
Aprons provide ways for staff to keep their hands free, meaning they’re always prepared for action, to help others or to combat risks should they arise. Messy hands can also be wiped on aprons rather than more distinguished clothing. Aprons are much easier to wash and can be swapped out quickly during shift.
Restaurants can be very crowded places. One of the functions of a well-designed and identifiable uniform is that it creates a clear distinction between a customer and staff member. Having workers wear uniforms improves customer service as it tells customers who works there and who can help them.
If a uniform is truly functional it will be easy to wear and will fulfil your employees’ needs to let them do the job to the best of their ability.
Restaurants and cafés have logos and unique branding. Hotels have signature iconography and a name. So why shouldn’t your workwear? Your brand is what gives your restaurant personality and your staff are what gives your business its face. Why not combine the two?
A distinct logo embroidered or printed onto your choice of professional-looking clothing creates a link between consumer and staff before words have even been exchanged. Brand awareness and perception is key to the success of your company.
Companies such as Marriott and TGI Fridays have uniforms that are easily recognisable. They include elements of professionalism with smart shirts and formal trousers or skirts, but have their own flairs such as flashes of colour or ascots. Little braces with pin badges — how fun!
Confidence and team spirit
Feeling like one of the team is a rewarding experience for any team member. Not only is it an emotional bonus but can also improve productivity. Happy employees work better, and hospitality staff are best with a big smile on their face.
Managing a group of staff in a restaurant or hotel is a big undertaking but if the staff are united, they will work smoother to achieve common goals. Employee engagement keeps employees loyal and more likely to stick with a company they feel truly part of.
Within the hospitality and catering industry, there are serious risks that can cause harm to members of staff. (We’re not just talking about the obnoxious customer that demands to talk to the manager!) Sharp objects, spills, high temperatures, slips, trips and falls are some of the most common.
Although precautions should always be taken, appropriate work clothing can help prevent injuries. Long sleeves protect the arms from high temperatures and non-slip shoes make sure your staff carry food rather than wear it.
The choice to invest in a new uniform should always aim to improve the quality of your employee welfare and your company appearance. Keeping your staff safe and happy is one of the most essential parts of any business, as they are the key to success.
Selecting uniform is also about improving customer perceptions. Make it look good. Wow from the outset. First impressions are everything and working on this will make people want to come back.
Uniform is a valuable tool which should be used to drive your business in the right direction. Colours, logos and imagery all work together to remind people what your company is about. If you create a strong identity and company ethos, your staff and your customers will respect what you do and embrace it.
Let WISE Worksafe help you select and brand your next uniform. Talk to us today.