Studio management software is perhaps the single most effective tool to streamline your business’s operations. The Studio Director partners with owners to manage billing, collections, enrollment, customer complaints, student feedback, inventory, and much more. While you’re at it, you might want to try some other strategies to make your studio operations sleeker, easier, and more professional. One way to accomplish this goal is with a uniform. But should you require your staff to wear it?
There’s no right choice for every studio. Instead, the benefits—and drawbacks—of a uniform depend on the image you want to convey, the needs of your employees, and what appeals to your customers. Consider the following.
Benefits of Employee Uniforms
A Coherent, Cohesive Brand Image
A uniform forces you to cultivate a specific image for your staff, and by extension, your brand. Do you want your staff in khakis and polos? Or dressed up in elegant attire? What color will people associate with your brand? What about the logo? By creating a coherent brand image, uniforms make it easy for students and prospective customers to recognize your business and its branding materials wherever they go. That’s free advertising.
The way your employees dress conveys much about your business. By requiring uniforms, you ensure that your staff is always dressed professionally and presentably. Just make sure that the uniforms you select look polished, not silly, and that they look good on a wide range of body types.
Advertising Outside of the Business
Your employees have lives outside of their work for you. So they’ll probably stop and get coffee on their way in, or maybe go out with other staff after the work day is over. If they’re wearing their uniforms, especially in a group, that’s free advertising.
When people look for a dance, fitness, or other studio, they typically start with names they know—even if they know nothing about the business itself. Make sure everyone knows your name with a uniform that contains your logo and company name.
Easily Spotted Employees
Particularly if you run a large, open business that attracts crowds, finding employees can be challenging. Gyms, large dance studios, and other bustling businesses should ensure that their employees are easily spotted. Staff uniforms are one of the easiest ways to achieve this end.
You want your employees to be proud of your business. The best way to do that is by creating a welcoming and comfortable work space and providing a service customers want. A uniform can support these actions by reminding employees of where they are and why they're there. If your studio develops a cult-like following, employees may even get positive attention outside the walls of your studio. And that can bolster their sense of brand pride.
No More Nitpicking
A uniform saves you the annoyance of having to determine which clothing is appropriate and which isn’t. Instead, you set a clear standard that your staff must follow. No more measuring skirt lengths or sending your staff home for offensive shirts. Removing the subjectivity inherent in policing clothing can save you time, and help you avoid unfairly enforcing dress codes against employees.
Drawbacks of Employee Uniforms
Most Employees Hate Them
Some employees like uniforms because they eliminate the challenge of deciding what to wear each day. But let’s be honest: most employees hate them. A uniform can rob a staff member of her individuality, feel paternalistic, or even feel degrading. Most employees hate uniforms. Employee morale matters, so take into account employee views before instituting a uniform policy—particularly if you’re going from no uniforms to uniforms.
One way to circumvent this problem is to get your staff to vote on a uniform they actually like. Ask yourself what you’d feel comfortable wearing every day, and then wear the uniform yourself. If you’re unwilling to do so, you can expect your staff to willingly wear the uniform you select, either.
They Create New Rules and New Hassle
A uniform necessitates a uniform policy. And for a uniform policy to work, you'll have to enforce it. This adds an additional layer of rules to your business. Enforcing these rules can be stressful, nurturing conflict with your staff. You’ll have to decide how strict you intend to be with the policy—must shirts be tucked in? How must pants or skirts fit?--and then apply that rule to staff equally.
Word to the wise: be careful about setting different policies for men and women, or forcing women to wear skirts. This could be a form of gender discrimination.
They May Undermine Your Professional Image
Think about the most impressive professions you know of. Odds are good their members don’t wear uniforms. Doctors may wear lab coats, but they rarely wear a logo on their clothing. Lawyers and law firms don’t have uniforms. Nor do accountants or other white collar professionals. Teachers wear their own attire, except for those teaching young children at franchises. Your favorite author probably doesn’t have a uniform, and celebrity fitness instructors often have flamboyant, unique, ever-changing looks.
The wrong uniform can actually make you look less professional. It’s mostly low-skill professions that use uniforms, so proceed with caution. You might want to consider a branded patch or a dress code instead of a head to toe uniform.
Different Bodies, Different Needs
If you’ve ever tried on something that looked fabulous on your friend, only to run from the mirror in horror, you know that different bodies have different needs. A uniform that looks great on some people and horrible on others can undermine your brand. It undermines employee self-confidence, makes your staff uncomfortable in their own skin, and may look less professional. Consider choosing several uniform options, and allowing your staff to select. Or opt for subtle lines and a cut that looks good on most body types.
Some businesses that use uniforms end up taking a painfully lazy approach to branding. The problem is that they see their uniform as an excellent source of advertising. So they forget to pay for actual advertising, or to take any proactive measures to support their brand. If you want to use a uniform to get out of doing actual work, think again. That’s lazy branding.Whether or not you choose to require your studio staff to wear uniforms is really up to you. But hopefully, this information helped you consider the pros and cons, and make the best possible choice for your business.