Sales Tips, Ideas & Keys to Success for Restaurant & Service Industry Uniforms


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• When a location is just opening, it will have more flexibility in terms of
changing uniforms or colors.
• Make sure your client knows his staff represents the entire restaurant.
• Build a partnership by making sure good service is part of the deal.
Follow up on accounts to make sure uniforms are performing as expected
and to get constant re-orders.
• Check out what chains are headquartered in your area.
• Schedule your call before 11 a.m. or after 2 p.m.
Left: Designed with mesh panels,
this chef’s coat offers protection
and ventilation. (Image
courtesy Rehan’s Uniforms)
Below: The standard eight-button
chef coat is trending this
season in short sleeves

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Sales Tips, Ideas & Keys to Success for Restaurant & Service Industry Uniforms

  1. 1. Make a Uniform Decision An inside look at the restaurant biz by Jennifer Elgin W hether or not someone has Jennifer Elgin is a freelance writer and broadcaster, covering fashion and ever been a member of the sports beats for various media outlets. She attended the School of Jour- food-hospitality industry, it nalism at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she earned her B.S. can be difficult to think of in Broadcast Journalism. She loves fashion, fishing, the color red, traveling restaurant stereotypes and not and sports. She currently resides in Denver. think about the exchanges between server Joanna and chain restaurant manager Stan regarding the necessity of “uniform flair” in the movie Office Space. In a hilarious back-and-forth dialogue, Jo- anna presses Stan to explain how dozens of flashy buttons and pins will create a better experience With space for for restaurant guests, and the loyal corporate decorating, the bib manager does his best to inform his employee apron with pockets that with uniformity comes cohesiveness in the protects clothing. work environment. (Image courtesy Of course, this is a parody and both parties are Edward’s Garment) right in their argument set in such an extreme example. It does, however, beg the question for both small business owners and larger restaurants A with many locations: “What should be the uni- v form standard in our unique setting?” e Every eatery has its own identity; some rules t come from a distant headquarters and have been R in place for many years, while smaller, privately- A owned dining establishments make these deci- sions in-house and on a case-by-case basis. To keep in touch with the entire spectrum of restaurant profiles, wholesalers and distributors are stocking up on silhouettes that promote as much style as they ensure safety, and pieces that can transform the wearer from casual to fine din- ing in one simple step. Identifying the market It is widely accepted that large national chains maintain a uniform standard across the board, perhaps assigning tweaks that befit the climate of a certain location. This promotes thorough product branding and identifies an employee as just that. Each store has a level of expectations to be met, and owners do this to ensure that a guest in Arizona will have the same dining experience when visiting a sister locale in Ohio. A uniform in this setting may involve several pieces, such as a company-issued shirt or apron with the store’s logo, neckwear and/or headwear. 40 | Printwear November 2012PWNOV12.indd 40 10/17/12 9:04 AM
  2. 2. Above: By layering a vest over lunchtime wovens, this piece transitions into dinner ser- vice with one step. “Sometimes changing your style doesn’t mean abandoning the basic elements of your image apparel program, but rather adding a piece that complements the look,” says Taraynn Lloyd, Edward’s Garment. (Image courtesy Edward’s Garment) Right: A waist apron keeps everything a server needs within reach. (Image courtesy Aprons, Etc.) Independent restaurants, as their own entity, can allow the centralized ambience to dictate policy and have lenience when determining the desired look and feel of the storefront and its staff members. A common example of this is to allow front-of- the-house staff to wear their own clothing of choice, as long as it fits an agreed upon color palette. The apparent idea here is to invite an air of individuality that sets each employee apart. Any service industry member will agree that saving steps when busy is the bridge to streamlined performance, and that comfort trumps all when considering the hours spent on one’s feet, regardless of uniform policy. The key to cashing in on this indus- try, then, is to zero in on the universal and functional pieces that all employees will want to wear to work. Staples of the industry “Some form of uniform is important in all sizes of restaurants,” explains Pam Pen- nington, Aprons, Etc. “For example, aprons provide the customer with quick identi- fication of their server, and aprons with pockets allow servers to carry necessary items like pens, pads and straws.” With an adjustable neck feature or flat bistro front, the fit can be comfortable for every wearer. Additionally, aprons provide protection for cloth- ing. For those who wear items from their own wardrobe to work, the shield provided by an apron can save costly mishaps from ruining clothes. 2012 November Printwear | 41PWNOV12.indd 41 10/17/12 9:05 AM
  3. 3. A-dress the UNIFORMS & Market’s Needs WORKWEAR Edwards Garment offers these tips for catering to the service industry: Pennington forecasts strong sales in waist and bib style aprons in a wide variety • Offer comfortable pants that provide servers of colors this season. “Waist aprons complement a restaurant’s logoed Ts or polo room to move. Young women want lower- style shirts, while the bib aprons provide the perfect spot to brand on the chest of rise pants that fit on their hip and have a the apron so that employees can wear their own garments. In environments where bit of stretch to the fabric. Young men also employee turnover is high, aprons offer a great unisex and non-sized option.” want pants that are comfortable and provide Agreeing that aprons create a recognizable ID of the service team, Taraynn added stretch. They particularly want pants Lloyd, Edwards Garment, also points out stylish cuts designed for restaurant wear that fit on the top of their hip bone. can make a big impression. “Restaurants look for variety not only with their menu selection, but with the garments that their employees wear,” she says. “They can • Servers that work in one venue during the select different styles and colors based on their brand and the décor of their prop- day and another at night need to have image erty.” apparel that accommodates their changing Other styles that perform well for restaurant servers include polos, poplin shirts, role. Typically, you’ll see them in a woven vests, hospitality pants and aprons––all of which are easy care and machine wash- shirt, with or without neckwear and in com- able. (They have to be; one shift can see enough splatters and spills to make a fortable pants during the day. For evening washing machine shudder.) they just add a vest to provide formal style. “The biggest advantage for allowing employees to wear what they want is ob- viously cost with the initial investment,” notes Sara Rehan, Rehan’s Uniforms. • Vests need to have a longer body length to accommodate the pant sitting on the hip. • Long-sleeve woven shirts work best to pro- tect the servers, and they cover any body art which the patron does not want to see. • Easy-care apparel that is wrinkle resistant and home laundered is a must. The women’s low-rise boot cut pant fits the style demands and comfort necessity of ser- vice team members. (Image courtesy Ed- Bright colors are being served up in kitchens (Image courtesy Daystar Apparel Inc.) ward’s Garment) this season. (Image courtesy Aprons, Etc.) 42 | Printwear November 2012PWNOV12.indd 42 10/17/12 9:05 AM
  4. 4. “Yet, even when the restaurant allows their those items to make the purchase more at- ity this year,” says Pennington. “In a more employees to wear their own clothing, in tractive. This method gives the staff a say formal restaurant environment, often a almost all cases the restaurant will provide in their apparel while following the wishes head chef will wear a more standard chef aprons, usually with their logo on them. of their management team. coat for working and keep higher end This does give the look of a standard uni- coats for visiting diners. Traditionally, long form without the cost factor being prohib- How the other half lives sleeves have served to keep hot items and itive for the restaurant.” While restaurants may vary from one an- products from touching bare skin, but the Rehan reports that restaurants lean to- other in what they require the hospitality overheated kitchen atmosphere have many ward decorating aprons with their logo and support staff to wear to greet and serve searching out lighter-weight fabrics and over shirts, citing more difficulty in re- guests, a whole other world exists beyond moisture-wicking panels in both long- and trieving shirts than aprons after an em- the kitchen door: the back-of-the-house short-sleeved versions,” Pennington con- ployee quits or has been terminated. staff. There is less policy and more neces- tinues. In order to reach out to the individual sity involved when it comes to dressing Traditional-style chef hats have been employees, a Rehan’s representative meets those who prepare the daily fare. Chef and mostly replaced with beanie style caps, with restaurant managers and owners to kitchen staff apparel is designed for pro- which are also available with performance pre-approve certain apparel items. They tection and function, and contemporary characteristics that dissipate body heat, then supply a catalog to the restaurant styles appear on this season’s menu. and pants are offered in baggy styles for showing the approved items and set a “Colored coats and coats in short- greater comfort. In Rehan’s experience, up- group price for the employees based on sleeved versions have increased in popular- scale restaurants tend to prefer chef hats, Image Apparel: A Key to Your Success Building your business means creating a first and From cruise ships to hotels, restaurants lasting impression with customers. You need to to retail establishments – image apparel stand out from your competition and create a is a decisive factor in successfully defining brand that will convey who your company is. your image. Image apparel is a key ingredient. Your employees Edwards Garment is your single reliable are the first people your client sees when they source devoted to customer service. Visit step inside your business and how they present our website at or themselves impacts your bottom line. call 800.253.9885 to place your order today. Use Info # 116 EDW2122_Uni_PrintW_HALF.indd 1 2012 November Printwear | 43 9/28/12 9:25 AMPWNOV12.indd 43 10/18/12 12:30 PM
  5. 5. Left: Designed with mesh pan- els, this chef’s coat offers pro- tection and ventilation. (Image courtesy Rehan’s Uniforms) Below: The standard eight-but- ton chef coat is trending this season in short sleeves. (Image courtesy Aprons, Etc.) GENEROUS Aprons Etc. offers the following tips to approach GRATUITY a local restaurant: • When a location is just opening, it will have more flexibility in terms of changing uniforms or colors. • Make sure your client knows his staff represents the entire restaurant. • Build a partnership by making sure good service is part of the deal. Follow up on accounts to make sure uniforms are performing as ex- pected and to get constant re-orders. • Check out what chains are headquartered in your area. • Schedule your call before 11 a.m. or after 2 p.m. 44 | Printwear November 2012PWNOV12.indd 44 10/18/12 3:47 PM
  6. 6. Wearable_1/3_Nov2012(10/10) New T-Shirts for 2012 Short Sleeve Hammer oz 8 T-Shirt 5. – HJ400 / Unisex XS / S / M / L / XL / 2XL 100% Ring-Spun Carded Cotton White: 5.6oz/yd² Colors: 5.8oz/yd² Navy – 282 U Black – Neutral Black U White – 7541 U Fine Jersey Contrast Inset S/S T-Shirt – 2430 / Unisex An elastic-backed bean- S / M / L / XL 100% Combed Cotton ie keeps the chef cool 4.3 oz/yd² when the kitchen gets White / Red – 7541 U / 711 U hot. (Image courtesy White / Navy – 7541 U / 282 U Aprons, Etc.) White / Black – 7541 U / Neutral Black U occasionally coupled with a neckerchief, every rank up to her current position, un- while smaller family restaurants dress most der every uniform policy (or lack there- Fine Jersey Mock Double of their back of house staff in baseball caps. of ), discusses why she believes uniforms S/S T-Shirt “More small restaurants are now supplying are crucial to a positive restaurant work – 2433 / Unisex the headwear, as they are quite concerned environment. The former hostess, server, XS / S / M / L / XL / 2XL with employees wearing their own hats, corporate trainer and bar manager can’t 100% Combed Cotton 4.3 oz/yd² due to what might be printed on them,” express enough how important the first Cranberry / Gold notes Rehan. impression a server makes truly is: – 7426 U / 122 U Pennington states that smaller restaurants “Anytime I go out to eat, the first thing Royal Blue / White – 661 U / 7541 U are often also concerned with the economy I notice is how the staff appears; not what Black / White – Neutral Black U / 7541 U of the uniforms they purchase, along with aromas are coming out the kitchen, or the Heather Grey / Kelly Green appropriate function. Since most chef coats lighting and décor, but the appearance of – Cool Gray 4 U / 348 U Black / Heather Grey are offered in a common fabric with the the staff,” she says. “If my server, or even – Neutral Black U / Cool Gray 4 U same pocket features, the primary differ- the host, doesn’t look put-together, I have ence between one coat and another often to wonder what the kitchen—where my comes down to the number of buttons and food is being prepared—looks like.” Ob- their construction. For a client wanting a viously, Leeper’s training has wired this Call customer service to open an account today at: chef coat at the best price, she recommends thinking, but experience on both sides of Tel. +1 (213) 488-0226, Option 2 starting with eight plastic buttons. the table often reveals that the assump- Made in the USA tions made on a first impression are valid. Sweatshop Free Why uniforms work in the An avid diner who enjoys trying new workplace restaurants and visiting favorites alike, Laura Leeper, a restaurant general man- ager based in Denver, who has worked at continued on page 106 Use Info #152 2012 November Printwear | 45PWNOV12.indd 45 10/18/12 3:47 PM
  7. 7. Your Personal UNIFORMS & Business Trainer continued from page 31 Internet Strategies continued from page 39 WORKWEAR continued from page 45 D tie to any business or organization. for Google to track visitor content in- Leeper dines out at least five times a The person is tweeting as themselves, teractions. For example, Google Events week. “Most restaurants have a minimum for themselves. The account is still in- offers several tracking variables to help uniform standard; the question lies in tended to build relationships and to create this system, including category, ac- how detailed that uniform policy is. I am exchange information and we suspect tion, label and value. a strong supporter of having a very de- the person works for someone but it’s • Category—The content format. This tailed and stringent uniform policy set in not obvious “who” exactly that com- could be a sell sheet, price list, video, place. If you say, black pants must be worn, pany is. coupon, etc. that standard can be taken many differ- ü Business/Personal Hybrid Ac- The • Action—How users interact with the ent ways. Black dress pants, black cargo count—which is what most smart content (download, pin, share, email). pants, black sweat pants. Black dress pants small business owners create. It’s an • Label—A label of your choice to let is a very different statement than black account that mixes both the personal you to know which specific part of yoga pants. A firm dress code sets the tone and professional. You can tweet about your content was interacted with. For of what you want your restaurant to rep- what’s going on in your industry, example, “Back To School Coupon” resent.” what blogs you’re reading and any might be labeled “Back To School Another reason she advocates a strong struggles you’re facing as a person in 2012.” uniform requirement is the ability for your field. But then you use the same • Value—Assign a specific number or management to hold the staff account- account to share personal interests— dollar value to the content interaction. able. Lenient policies leave wiggle room such as the volunteer work you per- For example, if you think 20 percent for interpretation, and some interpreta- form for a local pet rescue, church or of your coupon downloads will result tions may not be the message an owner, school—and tweet about vacations, in an average sale of $100, you might either corporate or private, wishes to con- family activities and sporting events. choose to assign the event a value of vey to their patrons. “Structure and dis- You mix both worlds, even if that $20. Likewise, you could use a number tinct guidelines eliminate gray areas and means alienating some who’d rather system from one to 10 based on goals squash unfortunate advantage-taking,” not know about the other. However, you have set for that content to have Leeper asserts. you don’t dilute your efforts by trying been downloaded, shared, etc. Finally, she addresses the problem of to show others that you are likable, The information provided by tracked wasting investments on decorated apparel trustworthy and fun to be with. content interactions combined with due to employee turnover. By exchanging Once you’ve joined the Twitter commu- other statistics, such as top pages viewed a final paycheck for branded merchan- nity, you’ll need to find people to follow and organic keyword visits, will provide dise, restaurant owners needn’t hesitate and potential followers. Account owners the information you need to have a more when ordering decorated goods for fear can use the site’s search filters, or utilize focused content-marketing strategy. of losing profit. As Leeper states, “Uni- specific outside pages created to help navi- Use the insight to create content in the forms provide structure, simple as that. gate through millions of other Twitter us- formats your audiences prefer (down- The more structure you want, the more ers. Twellow ( is a web- loads, coupons or video, for examples). detailed you need to be. I feel the pros far site that hosts a directory of public Twitter Generate new topic ideas based on the outweigh the cons.” accounts and hundreds of categories and popularity of existing content and fre- No matter where a restaurant falls on search features to help you find people quently publish content that has proven the uniform-policy spectrum, and regard- who matter to you. to be the most shared through social me- less of its size, all service employees have Another website to visit is Listorious dia. Above all, learn more about how your basic uniform needs to be met in order (, where you can find audience interacts with your website and to best perform successfully. Whether anyone by topic, region or profession and exactly what grabs their attention. outfitting a privately-owned place with the data is compiled from the tens of thou- Remember, the more you know about basic bistro aprons or dressing a staff sands of list curators. Once you find the what content your audiences want, the with enough fabric to hold 37 pieces of right person, you can interview them by more you know how to market to them. flair, the food service industry is ripe for asking questions over Listorious. This industry is based on creativity, and picking. And, with open kitchens more Once you’ve established a community, getting creative with the content pre- popular than ever, back of the house team maintain it by posting relevant content, and sented, though challenging, can open yet members are as visible as the front sup- that which builds relationships and loyalty another door to the pathways that lead to port staff––only the entrees being served to your business. Good luck! pw online marketing success. pw should look better. pw 106 | Printwear November 2012PWNOV12.indd 106 10/17/12 9:31 AM