I would love to make you feel better and tell you that every night that you work at a Bar or Nightclub was going to wonderful, free of incidents, and full of satisfied Patrons. But I’m not going to. The more likely scenario is that you will be bored, an ejection or two will occur, and at least a handful of customers will complain.
Handling complaints is one of the things that Nightclub Security Staffers have to do on a VERY regular basis. From too long a wait for drinks to a cover charge that is too expensive, someone is going to complain about it…and someone is going to have to deal with the complaint. Whether you are Head of Security or a Roamer, the person hearing the complaint will probably YOU, based solely on the fact that YOU are standing there to hear it.
Just because handling complaints is part of your job doesn’t make it enjoyable or even amusing. Well, sometimes it can be amusing. But the times that it is not amusing can make for very frustrating conversations. These conversations, especially when talking to an intoxicated Patron, often devolve into a back and forth that goes nowhere.* This is usually the point at which less experienced Staffers will lose their cool and begin the ejection process. There is however, a way to get completely out of the way of a conversation before it starts to devolve:
DEFLECT THE BLAME
At most times in your life, deflecting the blame is often seen as using an excuse (which it is) or not taking responsibility for your actions (also a possibility), both of which can come back to bite you in the behind. But in a Bar/Nightclub environment this tactic can not only take the problem out of your hands, but make you look like the good guy/gal.
People view people in positions of authority with either disdain or admiration, depending on the authority figure’s actions. In the Nightclub setting, the authority figure is generally the Manager or Head of Security. And everyone who walks in the door knows that the final say will rest on the shoulders of either or these individuals. Why not use this to your advantage?
In some circumstances, a deflection of blame should be the first thing out of the gate! Should you have to approach a table full of loud individuals, which is the easier approach:
- “Keep it down! You’re getting out of hand!”
- “Excuse me, but my Manager was wondering if you could tone it down a bit. He’s been getting complaints.”
#2 will usually do the trick. It makes you seem like the Good Guy, just following orders.
Another example would be at the Front Door. An individual walks up out of Dress Code and you deny them entry. If they start to complain, which is the better response?
- “I already told you, you can’t get in dressed like that. Go away.”
- “I would usually let you in, but my boss is being really tough on us in terms of dress code. Sorry.”
Again, blame deflected. You would let them in, but it is not up to you! I have heard some Security Staffers go so far as to badmouth their boss to Patrons in order to make them happy. I personally wouldn’t go that route, but it seemed to work at the time.
The other bonus to deflecting blame higher up the food chain is that the HOS/Manager are usually “too busy” to hear the complaint that is being fed to you. That means there is no further recourse for the Patron. You’ve “done your best, but you can’t do anymore.” It works wonders. Add this deflection tactic to your bag of tricks and see how it works!
Until next time…
* We will be discussing “Circular Conversations” in the near future.