There is a difference in expectations between a local breakfast counter and a five-star restaurant. Those expectations are often encapsulated in staff uniforms. Believe it or not, restaurant patrons subconsciously care about the uniforms staff members are wearing. What they see in the employees serving them goes a long way toward forming their impressions, for good or bad.
To assume that patrons do not care about restaurant uniforms is to not truly understand what makes them tick. According to Utah-based Alsco, a nationally recognized provider of workwear uniforms and linens, restaurant uniforms are an integral part of meeting customer expectations.
Here are three reasons restaurant patrons subconsciously care about uniforms:
1. They Care about Ambiance
Studies show that restaurant ambiance is just as important to customers as service and food quality. In some cases, it is the most important of the three. Consider research done by the University of Denver in 2017. Researchers looked at thousands of restaurants surveys covering more than 5,000 eating establishments in the New York area.
The data shows that food quality is the most important factor to consumers when choosing between fast food and formal dining. Likewise, customers in a formal dining experience expect to pay more for certain types of cuisine based on perceptions of quality. But when comparing ambiance against service and food quality in a formal environment, ambiance ends up being the most important factor in customer satisfaction.
To put it simply, uniforms are a big part of establishing ambiance. Even when customers don’t consciously recognize uniforms, they know when said uniforms add to or detract from ambiance. It’s important for restaurant owners to remember ambiance when choosing uniforms.
2. They Care about Service
The same University of Denver research shows just how important service is to restaurant patrons. They want servers and bartenders who cater to their every need with a friendly attitude and a smile. Staff uniforms influence service to a fairly high degree. Think function and comfort.
Restaurant uniforms that are highly functional make it easier for staff members to do their jobs. Comfortable uniforms make them feel better while they do them. Both increase the level of customer service offered, thereby improving customer satisfaction.
3. They Care about Image
Last but not least, restaurant patrons do care about an establishment’s image. This overlaps with ambiance, but it also goes well beyond it. The image a restaurant projects significantly influences not only its ability to bring in new customers, but also its ability to retain existing customers.
A restaurant that allows staff members to wear whatever they want presents an incohesive image that gives customers the perception that management is less than engaged. Likewise, uniforms that don’t fit the general image a restaurant is trying to project create inconsistent messages in the minds of customers. That inconsistency will drive customers away.
The other side of the coin are uniforms that enhance a restaurant’s image. These are uniforms that are appropriate to the style of the restaurant, complimentary of the restaurant’s theme, and easily recognized by patrons as soon as they enter. They are the kinds of uniforms that promote repeat business.
They Do Make a Difference
It’s easy to assume that uniforms don’t make much of a difference in restaurants. But nothing could be further from the truth. The dining experience is a very personal one that creates an emotional link between enjoying a good meal and the atmosphere in which that meal was presented. Creating and maintaining the right kind of atmosphere requires paying attention to uniforms. They do make a difference.