“Ask the Experts” December 2006

Share Button

Dear Hcareers User,


Grooming is much more than keeping clean and putting on a fresh set of clothes every day. It’s an attitude, a disposition, a positive sense of self that radiates from within. Most important, it’s what can mark the difference between languishing in a dead end restaurant or hospitality job and promotion to a position of increasing responsibility and reward.

Just ask Roberta K. Nedry, president of Hospitality Excellence Inc., a company working to enhance the guest experience through service excellence. Since starting her career at Disney World, she has watched the evolution and growing flexibility of grooming standards. But one thing has not changed.

“The one core component you must have is a professional, neat and clean appearance that appeals to everyone,” she says. “Then you will be widely received and perceived as more successful.”

At Einstein Bros Bagels in Fort Lauderdale , Florida , everyone is well groomed and makes a positive impact. From the baker, who often leaves the kitchen to speak to the customers, to the manager and general manager, there is an attitude that radiates throughout the organization. Here is a foodservice company where everyone appears to deserve a promotion.

Grooming for Promotion Dos and Don’ts

  • It’s all about positive attitude. When you feel good, you look good, and your guests will pick up on your enthusiasm.
  • Find out as early as your first interview what the ideal grooming standards of the establishment are and make sure you can meet them.
  • Avoid multiple body piercings, tattoos, multi-colored hair and long fingernails. They might be part of your lifestyle, but very few people in high positions sport them. Your appearance, as Nedry emphasizes, must appeal to everyone. Save the Goth gear for your downtime!
  • If you smoke, don’t forget to cover your tracks. Smoking lingers not only on the breath, but also on your clothes. In the restaurant and hospitality industry, your guests are sure to smell stale cigarettes on you.
  • Avoid overusing perfumes and colognes. It’s easy to think that more is better when a hint of scent or none at all is a safer bet if you’re working closely with guests, especially in front line sectors.
  • Take note of the other aspects of your personal hygiene, such as body odor. Keep your hair under control. Nedry relates the story of finding a long blonde hair in her food at popular restaurant. She’ll never return. “Hair should never be part of food delivery,” she says.
  • Do periodic personal grooming checks to ensure your grooming is still meeting the standards of your job. For front desk clerks and servers, for instance, it’s paramount to wear clean and well-pressed uniforms or attire at all times. Your customers will question other service standards, if you appear rumpled and not quite clean.
  • Don’t complain. If you haven’t been noticed or promoted, complaining will reinforce negative opinions of you.
  • Avoid gossip. Gaining information is key, but not through gossip, which can be damaging to your career.
  • It’s NOT personal. Even if you’re feeling frustrated in your job, making your frustrations public could poison the work environment and your opportunities for advancement.

How to Get Noticed and Promoted

Once you’ve mastered the grooming standards of your position, you’re well on the way to being noticed and promoted. The next step is to show your interest in moving up the career ladder. “I believe very strongly in going to someone with a leadership role in the organization, like your catering manager or GM or HR person, to get advice,” says Nedry. “These people have already moved up. When they see you showing your interest, even before a position is available, this will register with them. Too many employees wait until a job opportunity comes up before making a move.”

Few people recognize the resources at hand right in their own organization. Your strategy could be as simple as taking the catering manager or concierge out for a coffee and discussing your plans and hopes. Not only will you flag your interest in advancement, but you’ll also learn more about the establishment and how it operates.

If the position you’re interested in requires new knowledge, such as enhanced computer skills, ask your higher-ups where you can gain the necessary skills. They’ll point you to online resources and industry journals that will help you gather information.

If you’re well groomed, project a positive customer service attitude, and make your interests known to others in your organization, chances are you’ll be noticed. Says Nedry, “I’ve seen it many many times. I do a lot of work with the concierge profession. Concierge s not only project how they look in a clean way, but they project a feeling inside that’s contagious. They express so much interest in fellow employees as well as guests that a couple I know have moved on to human resources positions. Because of their empathetic qualities, appropriateness in grooming, attitude and disposition, they are now in charge of helping others improve.”