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Looking presentable on the job is point one in employee 101. However, what’s formal for someone could be unfashionable for someone else. And what’s casual for one might look crude to another. 

Which is why, having a dress code in place keeps things simple and under control. Plus, it means that your staff always dress in a way that represents the character and identity of your café. 

In fact, dress codes are just as important as staff attitude and café décor. Why? Because it sends a clear message to your customers, telling them that you take business seriously – even if the actual style is casual. They add a layer of professionalism to your café and can make life easier for your staff as well.

Here are the top five reasons for having a staff uniform or dress code for your café:

1. Uniforms are, well, uniform!

If everyone is wearing identical tops with your logo, customers will be able to easily identify who works for you and who doesn’t. There’s nothing more awkward than a customer ordering breakfast from another customer!

2. It sets a standard

Your staff probably come from very different nationalities, cultures and lifestyles. Uniforms will help create a sense of commonality and confidence by emphasising the fact that everyone is on the same team.

A staff uniform or dress code will also help maintain a consistent standard of presentation. One way it accomplishes this, is by encouraging staff to replace clothing items when they become worn or shabby looking.  

3. It won’t break the bank

A uniform does not need to be top-to-toe. It can be as simple as an apron worn over everyday clothes. If all your staff are wearing crisp, clean aprons of the same colour, your café will look both professional and welcoming – at a small cost. 

4. It can enhance the ambience 

Well-presented staff help set the tone and inspire a sense of comfort and confidence for your customers. This is the reason your dress code should reflect the image of your café.

For example, if your café is slightly dated in its décor, you can have your wait staff wear floral 1960's-style aprons for a fun effect. You can also use uniforms and props for seasonal celebrations and events such as Christmas, Easter or Halloween.

5. It creates a clean impression 

A dress code creates the impression that you care about all aspects of your business – from how your staff look and behave to how tidy and clean your café is. This gives the overall impression of a well-run café. 

More importantly, this will help maintain a consistent quality of cleanliness and appearance among all staff.

Get creative

You don’t have to stick to the conventional white shirts and black trousers. Uniforms or dress codes can be as formal, fun or quirky as you like – as long as it reflects the personality of your café. Just make sure that it’s comfortable, gender appropriate and easy to maintain.

There are government regulations to staff dress codes as well. Find out about them here:

5. Know when to let go

If there is an obvious 'bad apple', it is best to let them go. It may be part of an ongoing pattern of behaviour and in the long run easier to find a replacement for one person than to continuously lose staff.

Carefully choosing a team of considerate, hardworking staff can really boost the productivity of your café. It will also help create a welcoming atmosphere in your café and dramatically reduce staff turnover.

For further information, check out Fairwork Australia or business.govt.nz.

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