In most restaurants, the dress code is spelled out pretty clearly. Often, staff members have a specific uniform and there’s little room for variance. But in today’s world of creative body art, piercings, extravagant tattoos, and amazing hair colors, most operations have had to re-write their restaurant dress codes.

Why Restaurant Dress Codes Exist

Contrary to what some of your staff members might think, restaurant dress codes don’t exist simply to stifle their individuality. There are really three reasons why appearance codes need to exist: safety, sanitation, and service. The safety and sanitation issues are pretty clear and easy to justify. The service aspect is not so simple. You may not be able to convince your staff that the restaurant’s policy is right, but you can take steps to make it easier on everyone. Your rules have to be in line with your concept and the expectations of your guests.

Clarity and Consistency

Keep codes clear and consistent. Apply policies equally to both male and female employees. Spell out your policies very clearly, and allow room for moderate accommodation. For example, if you have a policy against visible tattoos, allow employees to wear long-sleeve or turtle-neck shirts to cover up tattoos on the forearms and neck.

Post It

Post your policy where everyone can see it, like on the employee bulletin board or by the time clocks. This way, if your policy prohibits nose rings, for example, employees contemplating the piercing will know up front that they won’t be able to display it at work.

Be Proactive

Leave no room for surprises. The easiest way to avoid conflicts about your dress code is to put it on the table during the interviewing process. Whether your policy is very strict, fairly lenient or right down the middle, show it to prospective employees and ask, “Can you handle that?” That way, no one is surprised.

The appearance of your staff impacts the impression guests have of your operation and can affect overall guest satisfaction and guest loyalty. Train your staff in all areas of the guest experience with our Cycle of Service online training series.