In my various travels through the world of Security work, I’ve found that there is an inevitable discussion that takes place at some point: How to handle ejections or removals of belligerent patrons/crowd members/clients? And while I find these chats constructive and informational, I usually walk away thinking, “Why are we never discussing how to deal with the problem BEFORE it becomes a problem?” In the real world, situations arise that are not cut and dry, black and white, or easily resolved with a catchphrase or witty retort. In the real world, there are more “Oh sh*t!” moments than there are “Ah-ha!” moments. So how do we reverse that equation in a Nightclub Environment where testosterone, pheromones, alcohol, intoxication, and loud music are thrown into the mix?
For starters, you need to be honest with yourself as a Bouncer, Head of Security, Manager, or Owner: YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO PREVENT EVERY SINGLE POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS SITUATION FROM OCCURRING IN YOUR ESTABLISHMENT. Seriously. You will NOT catch every fight, slip, stumble, argument, or foul mood in your venue. What you can, however, attempt to do is lessen the chances of bad things happening.
1) MANAGE YOUR FRONT DOOR – This does not mean placing your Manager at the Front Door. What is does mean is controlling your traffic flow, making sure that Patrons know which line they need to use to enter the Establishment, minimizing crowds in front of your venue, scrutinizing Patrons who are entering for Dress Code and Intoxication, and making sure that your Front Door Staffers are personable and efficient. If people are content BEFORE entering your venue, they will stay that way 90% of the time.
Do you have:
- Signage that indicates which Entrance/Line is which
- A posted Dress Code
- A sign indicating Cover Charge (if applicable)
- An designated VIP host
- A designated Staffer to walk the sidewalk and direct people to the correct line/clear crowds/answer questions/look for signs of intoxication
90% of eliminating trouble inside is dealing with it outside. Again, if people are happy outside, they will probably be happy inside (isn’t that all philosophical and stuff?)
2) MANAGE YOUR POSTS – Make sure that you and your Staff are where they are supposed to be, when they are supposed to be there. That means Staffers showing up on time and knowing their responsibilities once they get to their Posts. Does your Staff rotate through Posts? If so, does the rotation leave any gaps, or do you have someone on a Post until they are “tapped out” of the rotation? Are your Staffers actually working while at their Posts or are they texting/talking to Patrons/napping/not paying attention?
3) UTILIZE YOUR TOOL BOX – The Security Staff are not the only ones working a venue. Busboys, Cocktail Waitresses, Servers, Bartenders, Promoters, DJs. They are all present and all working at some time during the evening. You should be checking in with them as often as you check in with your team. The people on the floor are the ones that are in the mix and can tell you who is acting a fool, which VIP booth is being rude, or which annoying Patron is harassing the Staff.
So what do these three things have to do with minimizing ejections? When done in conjunction, the items listed above do one very simple thing: force you to pay attention to your job. What is your job? Reducing liability. Paying attention to what you are supposed to be doing will help you to catch the great majority of problems WELL BEFORE they occur.
The Dress Code issue that you catch at the Front Door will keep you from having to eject someone from inside the club after they’ve ordered drinks and are ready to have a good time. The Staffer watching the sidewalk can catch the overly-intoxicated group of gentlemen before they wait 30 minutes to get let in and are refused entry, thereby avoiding an ugly scene at the entrance. The Staffer not texting will be able to spot trouble brewing right in front of him/her, jump in to separate the arguing Patrons, and calm down the situation. Asking the Cocktail Waitress how her night is going will reveal that the table full of sorority girls is being harassed by a drunk older man.
Pay attention. Pay attention. PAY ATTENTION. The more you observe, the more information you take in. The more information you take in, the quicker you act. The quicker you act, the faster the resolution. The faster the resolution, the higher the happiness quotient for everyone involved. And who doesn’t want to be happy?
Until next time…