How do you make a good first impression? By being ready to make it, with intentionality and purpose.
It feels like February 2020 was over a thousand years ago – another era in space and time, where the world was a different place. Many practices that were standard then are being examined under the lens of our new expectations for cleanliness and preparation.
For example, on a restaurant review site this past week there was a question posed about the takeout and delivery capabilities for a certain local establishment. One respondent drew attention to the fact that the employees at this restaurant were not wearing masks as a warning to the inquiring patron.
A month ago, that was not an expectation at all. As a matter of fact, you may have been put off, and wondered what working condition was making employees wear face coverings. But now, they are anticipated; to not have face masks is seen as unusual and unsafe.
Governments may soon regulate that all food service workers don face masks for the foreseeable future, but even if they do not, there is still social license to consider.
Every business that trades with society will need to regain the confidence of the buying public.
We are all on high alert for lurking dangers on shopping cart handles, doorknobs, light switches, and ATM buttons. People are more generally aware of germs now. Which means that expectations have changed. Trust must be rebuilt, even if you did nothing yourself to erode it.
What might that mean for restaurants in the near future?
First, we foresee that “anything goes” uniforms will not serve you well. This is the moment for all your front of house staff to be pressed and polished, looking professional. Their appearance must engender confidence when someone walks through the door. Patrons are apt to share their experience and impressions on all social and review sites. Give them photo-worthy evidence that you are taking this moment seriously. Fresh and Clean will be the theme going forward.
Back of house will gain glances as well as people peer in to see how their food preparation is handled. This is your opportunity to present them as buttoned up, clean cut, and well-orchestrated – picture a bustling French bistro in their kitchen whites. Yep, white says clean in a universal language.
Executives are thinking ahead to changes that need to be made so that customers can feel comfortable coming in the doors once again. This may be the time to give your brand the
Related Content: Jon Taffer – The Future of Restaurants Will Be Led by Trust
fresh start you have been thinking
A new T-shirt, cap, and apron can go a long way in conveying to your audience that you care about their experience. And it could be a great chance to grab some market share while your competitors are still trying to figure this all out.
2020 has made its mark as a year of challenges; the latest and largest being COVID-19. All industries have been greatly impacted, and everyone is unsure of the future. But, one thing we believe with everything we have is that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and we will all get through this.
With that being said, here are some trends that we have seen enter the market, that we believe will do well to inform purchasing once we reach the other side of the rainbow.
Topics included in the guide:
- Tonal Prints
- Stylish Deco Options
- Trendy Earth Tones
- Pins & Patches
- Retro Accessories
- Pattern Accents that will Complete Your Look
- And so many more fashionable styles!
Download The Top 20 Uniform & Gear Trends of 2020 Guide Now!
If increasing engagement is on your task list, then you need to see what our innovative apparel emblems can do for you. Using Near Field Communication (NFC) Technology, you can share messages, keep your team updated, run promotions or manage a host of other campaigns. This is the same technology that is used when you tap your mobile phone to pay for coffee at Starbucks, and now it can be embedded in your logo on apparel or other branded gear. We simply embed RFID chips into your custom patches and emblems and then apply them to your custom garments and accessories.*
Your customers or employees just need to hold their phone close to your logo and, voila, a website is launched. Most newer models of phones come with the technology built in. From there you can stay in contact with your audience, and change up the messaging on your web page as needed. We have come up with 5 uses for this technology that can take your engagement efforts to the next level. Try one of these on for size, or create your own bespoke campaigns. The uses are endless.
1.) A Fitness Center could put a custom emblem on a gift with sign-up gym bag. Then the emblem could link through NFC to a page with all the current classes and special events listed. Personal trainers could provide private content to their customers that is only accessed through the emblem. Even those who are no longer members could find that information useful and may pay for classes a la carte or come back in to sign up for all the cool things offered.
2.) A Radio Station could hand out T-shirts that connect the recipients to a special landing page with custom playlists. Then, to keep the listeners coming back, change up the content on a regular basis – like a weekly “new music guide.” Curated content is all the rage right now and when people feel special and have access to unique content that is not available to the general audience, you can amp up the personal connection factor.
3.) A Restaurant Chain could include a custom patch with NFC on their New Hire Swag Bag, with instructions included on how to scan it. Then, once scanned it launches a page that has the CEO speaking via video to welcome that team member to the organization. Most entry level employees have no idea who the CEO is and this is a great way to humanize the leadership among the rank and file. Next level: A C-suite welcome music video would be amazing.
4.) A Chain store could put an interactive patch on their front line uniforms and use it as a way to keep the team updated on new training, new reward programs, and new product roll outs. Who doesn’t like a treasure hunt and with content that is rolled out periodically but not necessarily on a scheduled basis, it keeps people coming back to see if anything new is being said. While these may not be critical downloads they could be incentivized to get responses from the “first 20 people who answer this question correctly get double reward points…” Anything that is gamified helps to increase participation.
5.) A food manufacturing company could put a patch on custom aprons to promote their latest ingredient. Then, at regular intervals they could launch new recipes on the linked web page to keep buyers and professional chefs coming back for more inspiration. They could even use it as a collaboration platform for their community to upload images of their best dishes to the site.
OK, now you’ve heard five great ideas from us, but we bet it got your brainstorm brewing. So, tell us your ideas of how you want to use NFC to increase your engagement and take your audience participation to the next level.
*Custom emblems and patches take about 4 – 6 weeks to produce and we can program them or you can do it yourself.
March 2020 felt more like its own year than a month. If you had been asked on the last day of February what March would hold, I would bet good money it wasn’t what we’ve all been through in the past few weeks. With the upending of our world and the restaurant industry dramatically impacted, we should prepare ourselves for what’s next, because it won’t look like where we’ve been.
The main ingredient of a thriving, growing economy is trust. And, though you did nothing to lose it, the restaurant industry will need to do everything in its power to regain it with consumers.
The world has changed, and so have the expectations that people will have when they enter your place of business. Here are a few things you can do to get ready for this new normal:
1. Cleanliness is next to Godliness – in the year 2020 that is a truism we can’t escape. Having a sparkling clean space takes the concern of what’s lurking on your surfaces off the table. People need to see the cleaning happening. If they can’t, leave a note on prepped tables akin to the ones you find in a cleaned hotel room. Have the person who cleaned the table sign it.
2. Sanitizing Tools – At one time or another, everyone was likely told to wash their hands before eating, but somehow, that one slipped off our radar. Not anymore. Foaming sanitizers, wash up sinks, little wipes in packets – visitors will need something available to prepare for touching their food.
3. Get rid of door handle use wherever possible. Those auto-opening grocery store doors mean you don’t have to share a handle with four thousand other people, and who knows what they have touched. For the foreseeable future, having a door opener on duty may be the best welcome you could offer.
4. Your employees may need fresh pressed shirts and aprons. In the same way the crispness of the airline pilot’s uniform gives you the confidence to get on the plane, a look can be very powerful. It might be as simple as a new shirt and clean ball cap to give your team the fresh look it needs. How your frontline shows up will say more to the customers in the first few months than pricing, or promos. You may even want to get custom face masks.
5. Anything communal should be suspended. Salt and Pepper shakers, ketchup bottles, salsa ladles, salad tongs, kiosks and point-of-sale screens. We have all become hyper-sensitive to who has touched anything before us. For the time being, consider packets of sauces and seasonings on the tables and behind-the-counter salad bars. People will exchange convenience for safety.
The restaurant industry is one of the most dynamic, adapting, and creative places to work. There has always been pressure on all sides to improve, re-invent, stay ahead.
This new challenge is a huge opportunity to demonstrate the resiliency of foodservice in America.
Together, we will all come back stronger, more united, capable, and full of employees who are more thankful than ever for the chance to work and grow. Let’s get to it.