Why do you feel you need a salon uniform in the first place? If it’s because your team’s appearance is sloppy, you need to think again. Professionalism is more about attitude than looks –a sloppy person can make a perfectly good uniform look lacklustre, too. Let’s have a closer look at the pros and cons of a salon uniform.
What will your clients think? Your uniforms show you’re organised and help me feel like I’m in the hands of professionals. I can see at a glance who’s working here and who I can approach for help.
And your team? They can wear a uniform with pride, show respect for their workplace and gain a sense of belonging. Think about the counter staff in the Myer makeup department. There’s a powerful sense of pride and grace about them. No one goes to work at the Myer counter with anything less than a polished appearance.
Done right, a uniform conveys consistency, loyalty and professionalism. It becomes part of your brand.
Done wrong, a uniform sends all the wrong messages to your team and to your clients. What will your team think? Wearing a uniform can stifle a person’s individual character. That can be either a good or a bad thing. I’ve always taken great pride in my appearance; I’d hate to be compelled to wear a uniform that boxed in my personality. My
appearance, how I dress and groom myself, is a part of how I express myself. Getting ready to face the world is my favourite part of the day.
On the other hand, I’ve worked with many people who’d prefer wearing a uniform to the daily dilemma of deciding what to wear, or worrying about their own clothes being ruined. As salon owner, you get to work out what’s the best for your business, team and clients.
So, let’s assume you’ve given it plenty of thought and have decided to go ahead and introduce (or revamp) a uniform for your salon or clinic. Your challenge now is getting your entire team on board and putting in place a dress code they can embrace wholeheartedly. Ideally, they’ll love wearing their new uniform!
How do you get everyone feeling enthusiastic and motivated about the idea of a salon uniform? You give them options so they sense ownership of the change, but you narrow down the choices. I recommend you offer two choices (three
maximum). If you leave the options wide open, you’ll have a room full of competing ideas (that can only end in tears).
Put forward two uniform style choices, explain your rationale for each and invite team feedback before you go ahead with investing in the actual garments. You might ask: Is it comfortable to wear? Easy to care for? Fashionable? On
brand? On trend? Affordable? Versatile enough for everyone on our team? Interchangeable for different seasons?
When you’re deciding on options, think about introducing more than one uniform garment. Perhaps you’re looking at a branded shirt and expecting your team members to pull the rest of their outfit together. Think again, because this is where the success of a uniform often falls over.
Here’s the solution. Create not just a uniform, but a complete dress code that leaves wriggle room for a level of personal choice.
Decide on the shirt everyone will wear (the core piece) then make a list of acceptable items your team can pair with the shirt (pants, skirts and so on). Why? Otherwise, you’ll have people turning up in bike shorts, leggings or sweat pants. Tragic but true.
For each category, give them five or six options. Make it as detailed as you like. You can even name the stores where they can purchase each item. When choosing, make sure to include options to suit all body shapes and sizes (not just those of your current team).
Make it clear what’s OK to wear under the shirt. Choose two or three shoe styles that work. Take it as far as you like – you could even define hairstyles, makeup looks and lipstick shades. I once worked with a high-end salon where all the girls wore a deep red stay-on lipstick and they looked stunning.
Take photographs of all the allowed items and create a folio or style guide clearly showing all the options. Include tips on garment laundering and care. And include a section devoted to what you won’t tolerate: chipped nail polish, dirty shoes, unironed or faded garments.
Let your team know that if they find something they’d like to wear (for example, a particular style of black pants) they’re welcome to bring the item to you first for approval for inclusion in the dress code manual.
Take the time to explain to your team the rationale behind your uniform policy. Start with an aspirational goal of raising the bar and being a salon of choice. Explain that you want to stand out from competitors, gain a reputation for being beautifully polished (in both service and appearance) and build a professional “look” that aligns to your salon brand.
Help them understand that a stylish uniform, worn well, reflects on their professionalism, too. When people on your team aren’t engaged in your planning, you’ll find introducing a uniform is a hard slog. As with any salon change, having a workplace with like-minded, motivated people is key to “selling” an idea and making it work long term.
Make the time to get your people on board. Be prepared with visual examples and a positive perspective on change and future potential, rather than framing it as a criticism of individual sloppiness or quirky styles.
With planning, clever choices and an inclusive approach, you’ll soon have your team turning up every day dressed to impress and ready to make magic happen in your salon.
For more salon team wisdom, email me at email@example.com, visit my website, find my video tips on YouTube, join Cub ZING or read my latest book Your Salon Retail: the no-nonsense, no-hype guide to kick-arse retail in your salon business. www.zingcoach.com