Visitors to casino resorts probably pay little attention to the uniforms worn by employees, except perhaps by cocktail servers. Ashlee Garnett’s job is to make people pay attention.
Garnett is a style consultant for hospitality and gaming at Cintas, the uniform people. Designs should have a purpose, she says. From hotel operations to the casino, each job function has its own unique look that complements the others.
“The public does notice the uniform, even if it is subliminal,” Garnett says. “The most impactful part of the uniform is its appearance. Is it clean and pressed? Does it fit properly?”
At Cintas, Garnett believes in an individualized approach when marketing to the gaming industry. In other words, it’s important to be close by.
“We have gaming image consultants throughout the country,” says the graduate of the University of North Dakota. “I mainly work with the gaming customers in Minnesota, which also includes the upscale hotels in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The tribes in Minnesota have purchased many of these hotels in the last few years.”
Garnett works to create styles with the entire apparel line and brand vision in mind.
“Our programs are both functional and fabulous,” she says. “One of my customers is currently partnering with us in a wear test of new gaming uniform designs. This particular test is for a new environmental services/housekeeping line of garments. This uniform was designed specifically with our gaming customers’ needs in mind.”
The feedback is already impacting the future of this product line relative to color preferences and features, adds Garnett, honored last year with the Diamond Level President’s Club Award, the company’s highest award for sales performance.
These kinds of casino hotel trends mirror the hospitality industry at large. “Retail-inspired garments and accessories are a fun and easy way to brighten up a program that feels stuffy or tired. And employees want to wear apparel that does not feel like a uniform. For some properties, we are designing uniforms that give employees options based on their personal style and preference,” Garnett says.
Like so many up-and-coming employees, Garnett, who came to Cintas after a 10-year career in retail, appreciates mentors.
“The most influential partner in my career at Cintas is our national director of gaming, Karla Perez,” says Garnett, who lives in Minneapolis. “When we met, I knew I wanted to work with her. I was drawn to her knowledge, passion and very strong work ethic. Along with being an innovator and visionary in the gaming industry, Karla wins because she cares about the partners on our team and our customers. She is a coach and champion to her team. This knowledge still impacts how I run my business and approach my customers.”
Those who want to follow in Garnett’s footsteps would be wise to “become a student of the gaming industry. The best way to impact business and build trusting partnerships is to understand what is important to customers.”