Employee Uniforms: An Often Forgotten Aspect of Improving Restaurant Sales

restaurant uniform ideas

Psychology teaches us that humans are “predictably irrational” to use a term from the popular book by Dan Ariely. If you haven’t read the book, you can read the “short form” at Wikipedia, here. Employee UniformsAmong the “predictably irrational” elements of human psychology are:

  •  The Truth about Relativity – the fact that people compare things one to another, and when that comparison gets a bit muddled or confused, can make an “irrational” choice or at least a choice that has little to do with facts.
  • The Fallacy of Supply and Demand – the fact that people can be confused by “anchors” and other aspects of comparisons into making strange choices about which products or services are the best values.
  • The Cost of Zero Cost – the fact that “free” motivates people to do the strangest things.
  • Being Paid vs. a Friendly Favor – the fact that sometimes NOT being paid gets people to do MORE than being paid.
  • Emotion in Decision Making – the fact (WELL KNOWN TO MARKETERS) that emotions often drive decision-making.
  • The Problem of Procrastination and Self-control – cool vs. hot states of mind, and just how hard it is to forgo that slice of chocolate pie.
  • The High Price of Ownership – how we overvalue what we have, and undervalue what we don’t.
  • The Effect of Expectations – previous “knowledge” can alter an experience.
  • The Power of Price – the “price illusion” up to an including placebos.

That’s just a quick summary…  The book is well worth the read.

Restaurant Uniforms, Employee Uniforms, and the Impact of Irrationality

Now, what does this have to do with employee uniforms and especially employee uniforms for restaurants? Well, as most restaurant owners will tell you, the ambiance of a restaurant makes a big difference (often in surprising ways).  Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame), for example, has run a few successful and a few unsuccessful restaurants in Pleasanton, California, and he notes that the restaurant owner has to decide if he is conveying a “fancy” restaurant or a “value” restaurant. If the customers are confused… meaning that they “think” it’s a fancy restaurant when it is in fact a “value” restaurant, they can be unhappy. And the converse is true… if they “think” that it’s a “value” restaurant but it is in fact a “fancy” restaurant, they can have sticker shock at the pricing. The same piece of fish can be sold at wildly different prices depending on the “relationship” between the restaurant ambiance / brand / reputation and the price.

Your employee uniforms contribute a great deal to the ambiance of your restaurant. If employees look casual, then it’s a casual restaurant. If they wear no standardized uniforms at all, then it’s a very casual restaurant indeed. But sometimes if the uniforms are “too perfect,” or “too consistent,” then the customers may think it’s a “value” restaurant when what you are going for is a “fancy” restaurant. It’s the small things – the presentation of the food, the lighting, the cleanliness of the restaurant, the way that people are greeted (or not), that can make all the difference to a restaurant’s success. It’s not just the food!

If you own a restaurant, reach out to one of our employee uniform idea consultants. We’ll work with you to perfect this one critical aspect of your restaurant’s ambiance. There’s an art to choosing restaurant uniforms for your employees, and a lot of it is realizing that people are “predictably irrational” when it comes to the prices they’ll pay and the restaurants they’ll frequent.