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Op-Ed: How a simple uniform refresh can keep customers coming back

A great looking uniform will ensure your brand is on trend, approachable and stands out from the crowd by Pamela Jabbour

Our hospitality sector was one of the hardest hit during the lockdowns of the past few years, and continues to be under pressure due to staff shortages and an influx of customers desperate to make up for lost time.

International travel is back but is realistically still not an option for many Aussies who are still recovering from lost income or are unwilling to take on the heightened risk that now comes with an overseas trip. That means that the local tourism industry will (hopefully!) stay booming, as Australians continue to book staycations and hit up our local hotels, bars, restaurants, zoos, and museums – so now is the best time to create a lasting first impression.

People see you before they hear you. What your team wears matters, as it sets the tone for the experience your customer will have. It’s a visual reassurance that you know what you are doing, you are professional, on trend and style conscious.

Every successful hospitality business will tell you that outside appearances are what drives foot traffic inside. As all chefs know, you eat with your eyes first.

Old and dated uniforms – or worse, no uniforms – suggest that you don’t take your business or your service seriously, and you won’t stand out when compared to your competition.

The right uniform is a simple way of communicating exactly what your brand is about and what your customer can expect. A funky tee or relaxed shirt, a linen-look apron and some chinos are perfect for a casual experience. Bright, bold, modern uniforms project a kid friendly and fun environment; for a formal business, a classic white shirt with rolled up sleeves, black chinos and black apron communicate a more traditional service experience.

A great looking uniform will not only ensure your brand is on trend, approachable and stands out from the crowd. You must be successful if you look successful!

Tips & Tricks for a standout Uniform

Need identification

Have a thorough understanding of the who, why when, where. Understanding your company requirements, who is wearing the uniform, why, when it is required and what is within budget. The clearer the brief, the more fit for purpose the product and service. Ensure your team not only stands out but are happy and comfortable with the new designs.

Colour, fabric and fit

Talk to the experts and ask for suggestions on the latest fabrics and fits for your industry. Don’t try and reinvent the wheel – uniforms need to be fit for purpose and practical, and if it works for others it will work for your team.

Range planning

Tell the whole story from top to toe. If you spend time creating a look it needs to consider all factors. Will staff need a winter wear option? What trousers are they expected to wear? Is there a requirement for a cap or beanie? There is no point creating a fabulous shirt or polo only to have it covered up by a Hot Pink Jumper which is off brand and not communicating the consistent story of your brand.

The devil is in the detail

Ensure there is a company uniform policy outlining dress standards. Should the shirt be worn tucked in or out? What type and colour shoes are acceptable? What is the jewellery policy? When taking the time to create your team image through uniform, it is even more important to be clear with details on how it should or shouldn’t be worn.

A new logo or shop fit-out without a fresh uniform to accompany it is like a cake without icing, or an outfit with the wrong shoes. It is the finishing touch that brings it all together and ensures your company image is complete. What does your uniform look like right now? And what does it say about your brand?

Pamela Jabbour is the founder and CEO of Total Image Group, the uniform designer and manufacturer for some of Australia’s leading brands.


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