Hiring for Nightclubs, Part 1 – Experience vs. Look?

Many managers think image first when it comes to hiring Security Staff: “I want the biggest, baddest looking dudes I can get my hands on.” Hey, I understand. Security plays a big part (no pun intended) when it comes to your look. And every entertainment venue, from bar to movie theater, has a style, look, or theme. Unfortunately, most people equate large individuals in an establishment with excellent Security, and this is not necessarily the case.

“Yeah, but I need big guys!”, I can hear the club owner screaming. “I need guys that can handle their business when things get crazy.” First off, going into hiring worried about how big your staff is in case the Zombie Bar Apocalypse hits is the absolutely wrong approach. Second, size doesn’t necessarily mean skill. I have seen very large individuals hurt in very bad ways by very small individuals in very violent situations. Your first concern should always be, “How experienced is my Staff?” An experienced Security Staff will (hopefully) be able to divert trouble away from the door before it enters and know how to defuse any potentially violent situations indoors before they get out of hand.

“Yeah, but I need big guys!”, says the frazzled Bar Manager. “I had 5 fights last week!”

Really? Why were there fights? Did you let rival gang members in the door? Were your Staff texting instead of watching the Floor? Were they even manning their Posts? Were they discussing tie/shirt combinations instead of checking IDs? Or was it just a totally spontaneous night of fights breaking out for no apparent reason, with no pre-cursors or hints of violence? Somehow, I doubt that this last question is the case.

My first assumption when I see ONLY large Security Staffers in an establishment is, “This place either has a lot of fights or has rough clientele.” Why? Because really big guys tend to be really strong and have the ability to lift and move things (i.e. people fighting) out of the way…not defusing bad situations. My second assumption is that the bar is sending a signal to its Patrons: DON’T MESS AROUND IN THIS BAR OR THE BIG GUYS WILL MAKE YOU LEAVE. This is not necessarily a bad signal to send. But it can be done in a far less obvious manner. A courteous, professional, SERIOUS Staff can make people think twice about acting like fools.

Things like making eye contact with potential troublemakers, asking the right questions at the Door, turning people away for Dress Code violations, and knowing how to say “No.” in a calm, direct manner make a huge difference when it comes to avoiding trouble in a bar. An individual who comes across as not taking any b.s. will make an impression on a Patron. Every. Single. Time. Individuals who – for the lack of better terminology – are “less savory” than your desired clientele, will know who the serious Security Staffers are, and it won’t be based on their sized. It will be based on their attitude and approach. And attitude and approach are only gained through experience.

That being said, it never hurts to have some big guys on the Floor or at the Door. Why? Because someone will eventually have to do the heavy lifting, no matter how good the rest of your Staffer may be. Some Patrons are just not interested in size or experience, they’re just interested in acting like idiots. So you can hire the big guys/girls…just make sure they are experienced.

You can make your Staff look any way you want, but you can’t make them as experienced as you need them to be. Keep that in mind the next time you have to decide between the 6’8″, 325 pound linebacker with no experience and the 5’8, 155 pound ex-Marine who worked in biker bars to supplement his BJJ training. Hire for skill set and mold them to look they way you want.

Still not convinced? Look up the Gurkhas sometimes.

Until next time…

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