Not invested in staff uniforms? Skimping on style means you are missing out on a branding opportunity, among other things.
Starting your own small business is daunting. Whether you are opening a restaurant or creating a team of web architects, there are a thousand things to think about, every day. From answering emails to hiring and firing your own employees, it’s a never ending panic in which you feel, at least some of the time, like you are just winging it.
Among those thousands of things to think about and between bouts of imposter syndrome, there is one primary concern that cannot be overlooked. That is the problem of how to dress your staff. With more and more businesses working remotely and the perceived need for staff uniforms lost on Gen Z, we thought it was high time we reviewed all the benefits of uniformity in business.
Let’s talk about employees and what they are wearing. It’s more important than you might think.
What Employees Presentation Says about Your Business
The first question you have to ask yourself to determine whether you need staff uniforms or not, is what you want clients to think of your business when they meet your staff.
If your dress code is casual, you need to be sure that works for you. How many times have you been in a shop and asked a member of the public if they work there? We have all done it, and we have all done it for a reason. Say you have a casual dress code and a customer who works in the local bank comes in, well dressed. Clients are more likely to think that the bank employee works there than your own staff… and nobody wants to be out-dressed by a bank employee.
Similarly, if your employees are styled in high end uniforms that are extremely smart, it might not go with the vibe you are trying to portray. For example, if you work in a sandwich shop, dressing like a bank manager is just going to earn you funny looks.
First Impressions Say It All
The truth is that employees form the first impressions on a consumer and tell them everything they want to know about your business within the first few moments of arriving. In fact, your clients will judge you based on the first 7 seconds of entering your store. During this time, they have seen whether it is clean, what your branding is like, and if they like the atmosphere inside. If any of those areas are found wanting, the chances are that they won’t come back.
If you get that crucial first impression wrong, studies have shown that it takes weeks for people to notice your improvement. Those same studies have shown that it can take just moments to notice bad points about a person. When applied to the world of business, you can suddenly see why scandals and reputation damage are sometimes never overcome.
Of course, badly dressed staff aren’t the only thing that can give a customer a bad first impression, but it is up there among the first reasons. A good example of this is in the restaurant or hotel industry. Imagine you walked into a dining room to see the staff were dirty and their uniforms were covered in food debris. How likely would you be to stay and eat?
The Benefits of Staff Uniforms
Now that we have highlighted some of the reasons why we need to make sure we are appropriately dressed in our small businesses, let’s review some of the benefits of such. Better dressed staff bring the following benefits to your business.
- Definitive Branding – Putting your logo on your staff t-shirts is an excellent idea. IT helps your branding and brings you free advertising.
- Advertising – If your staff are wearing your uniforms outside of work, this isn’t always a bad thing. Your brand is being carried farther afield for free.
- Team Bonding – When your staff are all dressed the same, it promotes the idea of kinship.
- Better Security – If your staff are casually dressed and someone new is on the front desk, people can slip in and out unnoticed.
- Promotes Consumer Loyalty – If they see the uniform and know to trust your brand, customers will trust you staff, too. This leads to better transparency and customer service.
- Sense of Belonging – As soon as they put on your uniform, they are part of your team, group, and corporate ethos.
- Financial Inequality – When you have a workplace that sports casual dressing, it becomes apparent which members of staff have the money to spend on clothing, and which don’t. Uniforms can be a way of equalizing this disparity.
- Hygiene – If you have the type of job where hygiene is especially important, providing uniforms that you wash yourself can control this.
There is one final area we want to mention when it comes to having appropriately dressed staff.
Safety Clothing and Your Duty of Care
If you run an office as your small business, then this might never come up. If you are a builder or work anywhere that your safety is compromised while you perform your role, you need to ensure your staff have access to the appropriate equipment that protects them on the job. This falls under your duty of care. If you fail your staff in this area, you might end up being sued.
Safety clothing is serious business and is one of the main reasons to uniform your staff. Things like hard hats, chef jackets, aprons, gloves for cleaning staff, PPE, steel boots, and high visibility clothing, all fall under the safety clothing aspect of dressing your employees.
Final Thoughts on Staff Uniforms
If you are undecided about whether to buy those uniforms or not, we hope we have given you good enough insight to make your decision. Of course, there are still those occupations where uniforms are not needed; just be sure to check your business is one of them before you go down that path. The last thing any of us wants is for our customers to approach other customers to ask them for help. We all know how embarrassing that can be for everyone.