HIATUS TIME!

After eight years, we here at Nightclub Security Consulting will be taking a little break. It has been a real pleasure tackling the subject matter, answering your questions, and sharing the information that – hopefully – helped you to do your job more safely and efficiently.

 

Should you desire more regular updates, tune in to our podcast, “The Tao of The Velvet Rope”, for all things bar, nightclub, and security related.

See you soon!

CAMERAS EVERYWHERE?

“Should we install cameras? I mean, do they make that much of a difference?”
 
It doesn’t happen very often but on occasion, owners and managers of Nightlife establishment ask me for my opinion on the installation and use of CCTV cameras.
 
Listen, if you are still working out of the paradigm that CCTV use in a business can do more harm than good, you need to seriously re-evaluate your position. There is no reason why any business should be working without the benefit of CCTV coverage in this day and age. And with a variety of low-cost and technological levels to work with, it just makes sense for your bar or nightclub.
 
While I won’t go into detail on types of cameras, placement, or installation in this post, I will be addressing some of the arguments that have been put forth, both Pro and Con, for the use of CCTV cameras. For the record, I am very much for the use of CCTV and highly recommend that you look into purchasing a system for your establishment.
 
Cameras as a deterrent
 
There have been a number of articles and studies done on the efficacy of CCTV use in both Public and Private Domains. These studies show a mixed result when it comes to using only CCTV as a deterrent. However, when using CCTV in addition to physical security (guards) and other systems (alarms/lighting), there is a significant deterrent factor.
 
In other words: cameras work best in conjunction with other systems. Bad guys and girls don’t want to be caught in the act, period. The addition of other “counter-measures” to further impede bad behavior if/should the perpetrator defeat the CCTV system is an added layer of protection. And more than likely, the added layer of protection is enough to frustrate or impede extra attempts by the bad guys to do bad things.
 
Cameras as monitoring devices
 
Knowing that there are a number of cameras monitoring their actions will – at the very least – give the would-be criminals pause to think. Remember, the bad guys can be on your Staff! Bartenders giving away drinks, doormen pocketing cover charges, and even hostesses dealing drugs. These things happen and what better way to catch them than on camera? With today’s technology, you can literally place your cameras ANYWHERE. Inside cash registers, on shelves, in plants, behind photo frames…ANYWHERE. One benefit of smaller, hidden cameras is that people aren’t feeling like they are being “surveilled”, which is one of the arguments that people have against CCTV use. 
 
Cameras as evidence-gathering devices
 
Deterrence and monitoring capabilities are wonderful but the main goals of surveillance are to catch someone in the act and prevent further action or to use the footage as evidence later. The high-quality of today’s systems is incredibly beneficial when it comes to catching minor details that one would not have noticed in cameras of the past. Add sound to the mix and the value of the footage goes up exponentially.
 
Events unfold in real time on CCTV footage and that footage can be slowed or even free-framed if necessary to gather details. Witness testimony is sometimes flawed and individuals may forget or confuse details. And while Incident Reports are helpful, even they can miss important moments that occurred prior to or during an event. Cameras only miss what they can’t see. Though footage may be disputed but use of said footage along with eyewitness testimony and Incident Reports is exponentially beneficial.
 
Cameras as mediators
 
I’ve heard about issues with management behavior from employees. I’ve heard complaints about management from employees. And I’ve heard A LOT of complaint from patrons about employees. You know what is amazingly helpful in settling disputes about job performance, customer service, or employee mistreatment? CCTV footage.
 
Digital video can help to resolve any number of claims that would be unverifiable in any other format. It can be very hard to argue a case when the CCTV footage shows someone in the act, especially if that footage is time and date stamped!
 
“Yeah, but….”
 
I know that there are still folks out there who will argue against the use of CCTV and they are well within their rights. I know many business owners who refuse to use cameras. The reasons are varied but the main arguments against CCTV in businesses usually come down to privacy concerns, use of evidence, and abuse of the system.
 
Privacy concerns
 
To begin with, there is not much of an expectation of privacy in most workplaces. In fact, you probably have fewer privacy rights at work than you do while not at work. As a business owner or manager, you are well within your rights to film your employees and patrons. Period. The only exception being the placement of cameras in bathrooms or dressing rooms. And even that can be contingent upon what state you are in. As for your patrons, they generally forfeit their rights as long as you notify them of the CCTV usage.
 
“They’ll get caught doing bad things”
 
More than a few owners have indicated to me that their reticence in installing CCTV systems was based on the fear of their staffers doing something wrong and getting in trouble. For one, no one is perfect, so camera or not…they’re going to make mistakes. If the staff in your establishment is making you so nervous that you are worried they are going to get caught doing something bad, you need to seriously consider hiring a new staff. IF you are taking the time to mentor, train, supervise, and manage your staff, mistakes shouldn’t be an issue. Again, the camera footage can help to point out minor errors and be used as an instructional or training tool.
 
Abusing the footage
 
Employees are often worried that whatever they do on video will be used against them or that the footage will be abused in some way. While there have been cases of illegal filming or of footage being used for nefarious purposes, they are far and few between. You can allay your employees’ fears by letting them know that yes, they are on camera but that the footage is under lock and key and would only be used or distributed if absolutely necessary.

With any system, there is the possibility of abuse. But if you and your management are acting in the best interests of your establishment, patrons, and staff, the benefits of CCTV use far outweigh the perceived downside. Bad people will be less likely to try stupid things, your staff will know that they can rely on the surveillance to catch trouble, and you can rest assured in the fact that there is always a tangible backup should bad things happen. By using cameras, security staff, and a variety of alarm systems, you continue to make your establishment safe, secure, and – hopefully – as liability-free as possible.

 

GSX8 Presentation!

The ASIS International  Global Security Exchange 2018 Conference Session List has been published and I’m very excited to be presenting with my friend and colleague Zachary L. Rugen this year in Las Vegas.

Those of you looking to gain some insight into the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How of Nightclub Security are sure to enjoy the talk. We will be holding a Q & A Session during the latter part of the presentation.

TOPIC: “The Changing Face of Nightclub Security”
Date: Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Session Time: 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM

For more information, go to the Global Security Exchange website.

Drugs are a thing…

I was just involved in a recent conversation regarding Drug Policy and Procedures in nightlife environments and I wanted to flesh things out a bit and give people some food for thought. First and foremost, I want to emphatically state that nothing in this post should be perceived as condoning the use, sale, or distribution of illegal substances in any venue. I have a pretty simple approach regarding drugs in nightlife establishments: your venue, your rules. Just know that if you break the “big” rules aka the law, it will come back to bite you in the behind.

To say that drugs are not available, sought after, or found in the bar, restaurant, or entertainment industry is not only false but incredibly delusional. I would even proffer that one of the economic drivers of the nightlife industry is drug sales. Let’s be honest, cocaine has played a serious role in the nightlife economy for many, many years.

Does that mean I am ok with it? No.

Does that mean that I will turn a blind eye to it? No.

Does that mean that I am pointing the finger at anyone? No.

But let’s face the facts that illegal drugs exist and they are more than likely being sold in or around your establishment and potentially being used/sold by members of your staff.

DRUGS ARE ILLEGAL. Plain and simple. But does that make you and your staff law enforcement officers? No. It does – or at least it should  – help to guide you in the right direction when it comes to their use and sale in your establishment.

Cannabis

Let’s ease into this discussion with a look at marijuana. With the recent legalization of cannabis for recreational and medicinal use in several states, the laws governing use and possession of marijuana have changed dramatically. Along with that, so has the approach taken by many establishments regarding cannabis use onsite. First off, if you are in one of these states, you need to brush up on your local ordinances and make sure that your establishment is following the proper rules re marijuana consumption. Only then you can make a properly informed decision in regards to the course of action that you want your establishment to take. Second, realize that if you decide to become a venue that welcomes the use of cannabis, it may be ok on the local/state level but someone higher up may not look upon you so kindly.

The “Other” Drugs

Whether it is someone doing/selling coke in your bathrooms, taking Molly in a VIP booth – the drug, not the girl – or popping pills on your patio or dancefloor, drugs exist in the nightlife world. If you are one of those establishments which have not had to deal with this issue, good on you! I hope that you remain that way. But if you are a venue that experiences the occasional – or even regular – patron using drugs, you need to figure out an approach to dealing with the issue.

How you deal with people using drugs in your venue – aside from the obvious illegality – is going to be up to you. I’ve worked in venues that turn a blind eye and I’ve worked in venues that clamp down hard on anyone caught using anything. One of the things to keep in mind is the liability: who is going to pay if something goes wrong? If your bouncer catches three guys doing coke in a VIP booth and they OD or get into a fight or slip and fall while under the influence, who is going to deal with the fallout? You are. Always. The “I didn’t see it” excuse will only work for so long. Especially if law enforcement enters and there is a deep fog of cannabis smoke filling your venue or a pile of bodies in a booth!

Drug Use

Figure out your policy. Is it going to be a) get caught and get kicked out b) get caught and get a warning c) get caught and don’t get a warning but we call the police? You need to decide which position you are most willing to extricate yourself from should things go sideways. The easiest option…kick ‘em out. It’s probably not going to affect your bottom line and it’s far safer for you from a liability standpoint. But again, some venues want to have a laissez-faire approach, especially if they are catering to a crowd that is spending money and expects to be left alone. Just remember, you are responsible for your location, your staff, and your patrons, so chose wisely.

Drug Sales

Selling drugs is illegal. As much as I would like to say this is a no-brainer, it is not. There are MANY establishments whose clientele or employees are selling drugs; often in plain sight. It may be small quantities, it may be large amounts, but it is definitely happening. For those of your turning a blind eye to your employees selling drugs, know this: THEY WILL GET CAUGHT. And there is a good chance that you will go down with them. If people know where to find drugs, they will go to that location and get them. That puts you in the figurative – and quite possibly, the literal – crosshairs. Trust me, you do not want to be known as “the bar where you can get the drugs.”

So how do you deal with this? Easy: don’t allow it. If you find out a staff member is selling drugs, fire them. If for some reason you don’t want to fire them, call law enforcement and let them know what is going on. The former option may be painful in the short run but way better for you and your business in the run. The latter option will probably open a can of worms you don’t want to deal with, but again, it’s up to you. I can guarantee that the more dealers you remove from your premises, the less risk you are incurring.

But what about patrons who may be dealing? This is a little more difficult because it can be very hard to catch someone in the act. While your security staff is there to enforce the rules, the added task of them trying to sniff out – no pun intended – drug dealers is time-consuming and probably won’t pay off. The best you can do is train them to look for the behavior that might tip them off. Are multiple individuals sharing bathroom stalls? Is a patron in constant conversation with a variety of individuals throughout the night and either leaving the venue and returning; or making a lot of trips to the bathroom with some company?

Oftentimes, cocktail waitresses can be your eyes and ears to finding people involved in drug sales. People tend to trust them to be less “strict” when they are behaving poorly and may even drop any pretense of trying to hide their illegal behavior in front of them. Having staff members with their ear to the ground can be immensely helpful. No matter who hears or sees the behavior, they need to report it ASAP. This will allow you to then tail the suspected dealer(s) or patrons that may be up to no good.

Again, how you want to deal with the individuals at that point is up to you. I have seen everything from detaining the individual while calling law enforcement to “Hand over the drugs and you can leave without any trouble”. But do keep this in mind: drug dealers do NOT want to get caught. This can lead to unpredictable and quite possibly violent or dangerous behavior. So whichever approach you take, be aware of the dangers and potential repercussions.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it is your establishment and you make the rules. If you don’t want the drugs onsite, then do everything in your power to keep them out. If you don’t mind having drugs onsite, just know that the good times WILL come to an end. And that end might include jail time, loss of your business, and more trouble than you can possibly imagine. So, make good decisions.

Spring Break Safety Tips

It’s that time again: hordes of young adults heading off for adventures and entertainment. Also known as SPRING BREAK. Every year we post some tips and tricks and this year is no different, so here goes…

Spring Break! Ah, the memories: Sunshine, the beach, attractive guys and gals, refreshing beverages, and adventures to last a lifetime. While our Spring Break days are long over, we are realists here and know that for many students and youngsters, this is the time of year to cut loose and get a little crazy. Fortunately, most students’ Spring Break will end with happy memories. Unfortunately, some trips will contain the unhappy memories of theft, assault, injury, or hospitalization.

For you kids out there, how can you ensure that you will be in the “Happy Memory” group? By following some simple Spring Break Safety Tips!

1)  SIGN UP! – First and foremost, do yourself (and your parents) a favor by signing up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). The STEP program enables the State Department to contact you in the case of a family emergency or to notify you of a crisis near your travel destination. They also provide a Smart Traveler iPhone App. The State Department also has a great “Students Abroad” page that is worth a look.

2)  Makin’ copies – Make copies of your passport, passport card, and itinerary. Leave a set at home with someone you trust. Keep your passport in the hotel safe (as long as it is in YOUR room and YOU set the passcode) along with your valuables. And keep a paper copy of your passport hidden somewhere in your luggage and accessible in case you lose it.

3)  Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems – Before you depart, notify your credit card company that you are traveling to avoid getting your card shut off and to help spot unusual charges. Should you need to visit an ATM: DO NOT GO ALONE. Have one person use the ATM while the other(s) stands to watch. DO NOT count your money in public or flash it around. You should only carry the money and credit cards that you need when you go out, in a hidden pocket if possible.

4)  “Pour up, drank. Head shot, drank” – Regardless of what Kendrick Lamar says, don’t fill up a swimming pool with liquor and dive in. This tip will probably elicit groans and eye-rolling, but the reality is that excessive drinking impairs your judgment. And you DO NOT want to be in a foreign country (or any unfamiliar city) while seriously impaired. If you are going to drink, designate someone to the “Sober Guide” for the day. If you each take a turn, everyone will be safe and happy. Besides, not drinking every day will actually help you enjoy your trip even more.

In addition, should you (or a friend) feel noticeably intoxicated after a drink or two, be aware of the possibility that you have been slipped Ambien or Rohypnol (Roofies). Excessive slurring, wooziness, and difficulty standing are surefire signs that you’ve been drugged. If this is the case, notify your friends immediately and leave your location. If the symptoms worsen, seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY.

5)  Drinking, Sunlight, and Hot Tubs…Not a winning combination – As much as we propagate the idea of chillin’ on the beach/in the hot tub with a drink, it is actually pretty bad on your body. Drinking in the sun will not only cause you to forget things like sunscreen (lobster tan, anyone?) but will intensify the effects of alcohol and lead to increased dehydration. And drankin’ in the hot tub dilates your blood vessels and lowers your blood pressure, which can lead to unconsciousness and drowning.

Stay in the shade, wear sunscreen, put on a hat, and DRINK WATER as often as possible. Already been drinking? Stay out of the hot tub!

6)  Party Drugs – Again, we are realists here and know that the temptation – or for that matter solid plan – to do drugs may be on the agenda. Remember, the laws governing your Spring Break destination are probably VERY different from the laws in your home state/country re: illegal drug use. Some countries offer the death penalty for transport or even possession of drugs. Do yourself a favor and don’t try to buy drugs in – or try to smuggle them into – a foreign country. Better yet, don’t do the drugs at all.

7)  Go Together/Leave Together – The saying, “There is safety in numbers” exists for a reason. You instantly become a target when you are walking alone or hanging out in the club by yourself. Make sure that you are watching out for each other and that no one wanders off. Remember that “Sober Guide” idea? Implement it and travel as a group. The other benefit to operating in “group think” is that the single person’s vote can be overridden a.k.a “We are ALL leaving. NOW.”

8)  Hook it up…or don’t – Yes, everyone imagines the amazing Spring Break hook up. In reality, this can lead to catching a nasty cold, contracting something you can’t get rid of that easily, or more seriously, sexual assault. Be realistic: if you plan on hooking up over your break, stock up on protection. Or you if plan on a quick make-out session, make it clear that things are going any further. Better yet, save yourself the hassle and just hang out with your friends.

9)  Strangers in Paradise? – In regards to the hookup or even the hangout, just because you meet a “chill” group of people doesn’t mean you should abandon your friends and set off on your own. Stick with your friends or bring along someone you trust. That goes for bringing randos back to your room as well. Don’t do it. As soon as your room becomes the “party room” valuable things start to disappear.

10) In Case Of Emergency – 911 does not work in every country. As a matter of fact, each country has its own version. Here is the list of emergency numbers around the world: http://studentsabroad.state.gov/content/pdfs/911_ABROAD.pdf

11) Trust Your Intuition – If you find yourself in a situation, place, or with person or group and you don’t feel comfortable…LEAVE OR LET SOMEONE KNOW. A lot of you will want to stick with the group to not be the Debbie Downer. But if your gut is feeling like something is wrong, listen to it. If you are wrong, well you made a mistake. But the consequences of not listening to your gut feelings can be far worse. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE RUDE AND INCONVENIENT AT ANYTIME! That means if YOU want to go, you have the right to say so. If YOU see a problem, you have the right to speak up. And if you OR someone you know needs help, you can ask for it. If you are voicing your concerns to your friends and they are not listening to you…it may be time to find a new group of friends.

12) Have A Good Time – In spite of what may be perceived as “doom and gloom” in this message, we want you to have a good time on Spring Break. As long as you pay attention, stick to your friends, act responsibly, and actually get a little rest, we guarantee that you will have fun.

Be safe and enjoy yourselves!

It’s Science!

For those of you who still wonder why people act the way they do under the influence of alcohol, this is a great read:

http://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/science-tech/brain-scans-show-why-people-get-aggressive-after-drink-or-two

It’s not necessarily that people become more aggressive, it’s that their brain can’t dampen the aggression. I’m sure more studies are to come but this type of work continues to point towards Security Staffers need to be trained in Conflict Resolution, Verbal Judo, and De-escalation techniques.

Call for interviews!

Share your knowledge, share your experience, and help us grow as an industry!
 
The Tao of The Velvet Rope is our weekly podcast where we discuss the myths, truths, and realities of nightclub security and examines the best practices for nightlife security. As we enter our third season, we are looking to interview industry professionals (domestic and international) in order to present our audience with diverse viewpoints and approaches to the field. Whether you are a Security Staffer (any amount of experience), Doorman, Head of Security, or a Managers/Owner we would love to hear about your experiences.
 
We cover the following topics in our interview sessions:
 
• Your personal industry history and experience
• Your philosophy and approach towards security and running a security team
• Security issues or concerns that are specific to your establishment(s)
• How security has changed since you started in the field
• Which security trends to expect in the future
• The security trends you believe need examination or discussion
 
While there may be some promotion of your company or venue, the main goal of the interview is to gain an understanding of the field and provide other security professionals with suggestions, concepts, and solutions to help broaden their skillset; as well as to provide our non-security audience with a glimpse into a too-often misunderstood field.
 
We happy to provide you with questions ahead of time and see where the conversation takes us. Interviews typically run between 30 and 60 minutes and, once completed, usually go to air the same week.
 
You can find our podcast on iTunes and any number of other streaming services or on our landing page at http://www.taoofthevelvetrope.com/
 
If this is something that might interest you or someone you know, drop us an email at toftvr@gmail.com
 
 

Encouraging Bad Behavior

Every once in a while, I see something that just makes me shake my head. This new “game” is absolutely one of those things.

Far be it from me to tell people what kinds of games to play or how to spend their free time. But any game that replicates an environment where violence is likely to occur on a regular basis and encourages that violence is – in my opinion – not only extremely unhelpful but suggestive in a negative manner.

We know that fights occur on bars because one of our jobs is to prevent them. Having a game intentionally place you in an environment where you can start fights is, in a word: stupid. Fights are violent and dangerous. And, unfortunately, they are often the precursors to more violence and tragic outcomes. There is nothing “fun” about them. Encouraging the idea is not only irresponsible but unnecessary.

What say you? Is this something we need or something to ignore?

Don’t Let Them Drink and Drive!

On Thursday, December 7th, 2013, a young bartender by the name of Mallory Rae Dies was crossing the street. She was struck by a driver who fled the scene. He was arrested a few blocks away after crashing his car into a tree. Mallory was taken to the hospital.

On Wednesday, December 11th, 2013, Mallory Rae Dies succumbed to the injuries that she sustained in the accident. She was 27 years old.

When the driver of the vehicle was apprehended, his blood alcohol level was .17 – twice the legal limit for the state of California. This was his third DUI offense.

REALITY

The reality is that bars and nightclubs thrive on people having a good time. The reality is that some of these people will get drunk. The reality is that some of these people will have too much to drink. The reality is that a percentage of these people – both slightly buzzed and heavily intoxicated – will get into vehicles and drive. The tragic reality is that a percentage of these drivers will injure, maim, or kill someone else.

Does this mean that bars, restaurants, lounges, and nightclubs should stop serving alcohol?

No.

But the reality is that keeping your Patrons safe and trying to keep them from driving drunk or getting into trouble is something that should be emphasized as much as possible.

LEGAL LIABILITY & SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Most businesses want to reduce their liability as much as possible. In the litigious world we live in, you can be sued for almost anything. Slips, falls, fights, and injuries; you name it, your establishment can be sued for it. As such, businesses like mine are called to help reduce the liabilities and keep businesses like yours in business. When it comes to over-intoxication and drunk driving, many states are now enacting laws that state, “Social hosts and business establishments may be held statutorily liable for the actions of a drunk driver according to the law in the jurisdiction where the accident took place.”

What does this mean? In short, your establishment can be sued for the damage that an intoxicated individual MAY cause. I can already see business owners sweating and fretting over “yet another thing I have to worry about”. Well, at the risk of sounding a bit callous, maybe this is something you should really be thinking about…and not just for the simple reason that you “might get sued”.

Regardless of your legal liability, I think it is important that we look at how we handle the issues of over-intoxication and drunk driving as SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES. I want your Patrons to have fun. You want your Patrons to drink. Everyone wants to have a good time. But we owe it to each other as human beings to look out for one another. And we must realize that sometimes that means extending yourself beyond the reach of the Front Door of your establishment.

HOW CAN MY STAFF AND I BE MORE RESPONSIBLE?

First and foremost, every individual on your Staff should undergo some type of Alcohol Awareness Training. In some states and countries, this is mandatory and in my opinion it should be that way everywhere. Your Staff might grumble and gripe, but invariably seminar attendees walk out with useful information and many times learn things that they did not know before.

Teach your Staffers to be aware of levels of intoxication and know how to spot Intoxicated Individuals. Make sure that they know how to deal with over-intoxication and mitigate its effects. Tell your Staff to communicate any issues with possible over-intoxication. That means that EVERY member of your team – from Management to Busboys – be on the lookout for issues and be willing to speak up if they spot a problem. Servers and bartenders should know that they ALWAYS have the power to stop serving alcohol if they believe an individual has had too much to drink.

Anyone working the Front Door should be assessing both arriving and departing Patrons for their intoxication levels. Refuse entry to those too drunk to enter and ALWAYS offer assistance to those leaving intoxicated. Call taxis or Uber/Lyft (and pay for them!), offer to call the Patrons’ friends, flag down a Police Officer – just make sure that you are not letting someone stumble off into the night with no idea of what will happen to them. These aren’t just Patrons, they are someone’s sister, brother, cousin, aunt, uncle, mother, or father. I would hope that someone would look out for my loved ones if they were in trouble. And I would be eternally grateful if I found out that an employee from your bar was the one who helped to keep them safe.

PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH

Finally, if you are going to enforce rules at your bar, make sure you enforce them at your parties, at your friend’s parties, and when you are out on the town. Offer your fellow human beings assistance and let’s make sure that we all get home to enjoy the holidays with our loved ones. The few moments that you spend getting someone (maybe yourself!) into a cab or calling their roommate to come pick them up could literally save a life. Sometimes a little inconvenience on your part can save a lifetime of tragedy.

Stay safe. Keep each other safe. We’ll all be better off for it.

LINES OF SUCCESSION

Over the past few years, I’ve been involved in numerous conversations – some of them panicked – with managers and owners who suddenly find themselves in need of a Head of Security. My first question to them is always the same:

“Who’s the next in line?”

Invariably, they come back with one of two answers:

“We don’t have anyone.”

OR

“We have a guy in mind but we’re not sure he’s ready to take on the responsibilities.”

Besides the obvious problem of not having anyone to competently fill the position, the other issue is the fact that these – and many other – venues are missing a Succession Plan. They are ill-prepared for who comes next because they have never taken the possibility of change into account or have adopted the attitude of “We’ll deal with it when it happens.” Well, it’s happened…so now what!?!?!?!?

The nightlife industry is by its nature a transient industry: people come and people go. Sometimes they stay for a few months, sometimes a year or so, and if you are very fortunate, they stay for the long haul. As a result of this, many establishments don’t consider the future of their employees because their employees may not even be there in the future! What these establishments don’t realize is that by actually taking your employees into consideration – instead of just seeing them as temporary cogs in a wheel – you will keep them happy and productive. And you will retain them because they enjoy working for you!

But what does that have to do with Lines of Succession? Much more than you expect.

Before you can start, you need to understand what “succession planning” is. By its definition, succession planning “…is a process for identifying and developing new leaders who can replace old leaders when they leave, retire or die.” Seeing as 99.9% of your staff is probably not retiring or dying, your planning needs to account for those people who could potentially leave. It could be a Head of Security or a Doorman or a Bartender. But you will need to find someone to fill their slot. Whether you have 15 employees or 1,500, you will need a succession plan. While that plan will differ in terms of scope depending on the size of your establishment, its main purpose remains constant: ensuring that employees are developing in their respective roles in order to fill in when they are needed. Why wouldn’t you develop that person in-house?

Your management team is probably working from one of two possible scenarios:

  • No staff, startingfrom scratch
  • Staff already in place

If you have no staff, you are actually ahead of the curve in many respects. You don’t have to worry about figuring out which employees to promote or shift. You do, however, have the hassle of the employment process. But look on the bright side: hiring and recruiting is where the first bit of rubber hits the road. Remember, without solid hires, without a strong talent pool, your potential group of “advancers” is going to be very limited. If you hire strong, your pool of potentially advancing employees will be strong. (Should you have any questions regarding hiring and interviews, feel free to refer to our past posts here, here, and here).

Either before or during the hiring process, you should consider the structure of your Security Staff. Do you want a single Head of Security or do you want to spread the responsibility among Zone Leads? Do you want your Doorman to also be your Head of Security? Or do you want a Head of Security and an Assistant Head of Security? By delineating roles and responsibilities, you can then develop the process by which people on your staff can advance. What does it take to go from a Static Post to a Roamer to Doorman? Figure it out and put it in the succession plan. If your staff is already in place, now would be the time to outline these roles and start to place people in their new positions.

By having set positions, you give managers a chance to observe how their employees undertake important tasks, thereby allowing them to recognize which employees are strong, weak, or in need of further mentoring or assistance. A set system also does a couple of things for employees: it shows a commitment on management’s part to develop and evolve their employees and it helps employees recognize the importance of learning their positions if they want to advance. The most overlooked areas of bar and nightclub security are employee engagement and retention. You want your employees to feel like they are not only a part of the team but an integral part of the team. Giving people set tasks and offering them the possibility of advancement does this! Employees who know there is a chance to advance will want to stick around and move up the ladder.

Your structure is in place. Your employee roles are set. Where do you go from here? Now is the time to become actively engaged in mentorship and training. Developing your security staff can include everything from specialized training and development (ID checks, de-escalation techniques, dealing with altercations, etc.) to assigning them special projects i.e. adesignated team for VIPs or a team to handle Sporting Events. You can also start to use your lower level staffers to fill in the more important roles on slow nights or on nights when more senior employees are absent. Sometimes being thrown in the deep end of the pool will give an employee a far better understanding of the responsibilities of their supervisors.  And it is a great way to gauge their abilities and refine their skill sets.

One thing to keep in mind is that you must be an active part of your employees’ development. Team meetings, performance evaluations, one on one mentoring; they are all an integral part of getting your team motivated and keeping them interested in their work. Complacency comes when 1) the employee feels they are of no added benefit 2) they don’t know what their role is and 3) management does not engage with them. If your employees don’t care, they won’t work. It is your job to not only give them a reason to care but to support them in their endeavors. If your team knows that there are opportunities for advancement, they will want to work harder. Working directly with a supervisor or manager will ensure that they get the experience and build the knowledge base necessary to move up the ranks.

On the managerial side, having a succession plan ensures that you have backup employees to accomplish the jobs you need to be done when you lose a team member. Without a plan, you are often left scrambling to fill in the gaps, which can cause stress, frustration, and a potentially understaffed team at a time when you might need them most. With a succession plan in place, managers will know the skillset of those “downline” and be able to plug them in or advance them as necessary. This ability to quickly promote and replace employees will save you valuable time. Instead of interviewing, hiring, and training new employees, you’ll be able to shift your existing staff to fill important roles in a timely and efficient manner. A tiered structure will also ensure that your more knowledgeable, experienced staffers are able to pass along their years of experience. So when the time comes to fill in their positions, you’ll have retained their knowledge through thementorship and training of people farther down the chain.

You need to be prepared for staffing disruptions, whether intentional or unexpected, and a succession plan is a step in the right direction. While it may seem daunting at first, the process is much quicker and much less painful than you expect. Talk to your team, decide what you want your team structure to look like, implement it, and begin to train your staff right away. Keep your staff educated, interested, and happy in the knowledge that they have opportunities beyond just standing on the patio watching for fence hoppers.