Quick announcements…and a failure in training.

Quick notes this time around as we are moving some things!

PODCAST – The Tao of the Velvet Rope Podcast has a new home!

We have switched Podcast hosts to Libsyn. This gives us a few more options for outreach, commentary, and tracking, as well as a few behind the scenes improvements.

TRAINING –  We will be conducting a seminar in Missouri on April 23rd. It’s a great chance to learn something new, do some networking, and ask all the questions you’ve been holding onto for the past few years!

Hospitality & VIP Training for Nightclub & Bar Security

Follow the link for all of your information!

FAILURE IN TRAINING?

I don’t want to devote an entire post to this video but please take the time to watch it and think of what you or your Staff would have done differently. And then ask yourself, “Are my guys ready to deal with a situation like this?” If the answer is no…scroll back up the TRAINING link!

 

 

Don’t be a “Bouncer”

Over the course of the past few years writing this blog, the importance of  being “professional” and all that might entail has been reinforced in a number of our posts. Instead of a long reiteration of said posts, I thought that a few quick sentences could demonstrate how not to be – or be perceived as – a “Bouncer”. Please understand when I say “Bouncer”, I mean what the general public believes “bouncers” to be: large, menacing individuals who would rather fight than talk, and who take pleasure in belittling Patrons because they are on a power trip.

Here is a basic list – which if followed – will at the very least help you keep your job in the industry and possible even help to burnish your reputation. Much of it will seem like common sense…unless you’ve spent any time in a nightclub, in which case many of the sentences are far too common.

DON’T start fights

DON’T lose your cool over small things

DON’T be rude to Patrons

DON’T argue with intoxicated individuals

DON’T sexually harass your Patrons

DON’T drink on the job

DON’T play favorites with your Patrons

DON’T work for tips

DON’T make fun of or belittle your Patrons

DON’T sexually harass your coworkers

DON’T ignore your Patrons when they are trying to ask you a question

DON’T argue with your supervisor(s)

DON’T fight with your co-workers

DON’T automatically assume the intoxicated Patron is wrong

DON’T complain about your post for the night

DON’T get on a power trip

DON’T expect to be let go early

DON’T pick sides in an argument between Patrons

DON’T get upset when Patrons call you, your mother, or different members of your family terrible names

DON’T act like you are better than anyone on the Staff or in the line

DON’T lose your cool over big things

DON’T go into work with a bad attitude

DON’T sell drugs or tell Patrons where they can buy drugs

DON’T expect that intoxicated people will listen to anything you say

And, most important…………

DON’T EVER LOSE YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR!!!

Until next time.

 

Bouncer Fails…

Not every night that you work the Door is going to be slow and lazy. More often than not you will encounter a situation that tests your limits or forces you to act quickly and decisively. And once in a rare while you will be placed in a possibly life-threatening situation. There are a myriad of scenarios that can occur during the course of your shift, but your approach to each should be consistent, patient, and attentive.

This video clip is an excellent example of how lax attention can have a possibly deadly outcome. We could break the video down second by second, but instead we can look at the major mistakes made.

Mistake #1 – Lack of Distance

From the very beginning, the Doorman is too close to the Patron. Any Patron, regardless of state of sobriety or perceived intent, should be kept at least arm’s distance from you at all times. Many Security Staffers close the gap through what might be considered “posturing”. They think that getting up close might intimidate the person they are dealing with. In reality, this may be seen as an aggressive move and can lead to unnecessary escalation. It also puts you as a Staffer in a serious danger zone.

Creating space between you and a Patron allows you room to move, a clearer view of the Patron’s entire body, and an opening to defend yourself. It also lets the Patron know that you are not crowding them or getting into their personal space, which can help to relax them if they are getting worked up.

Mistake #2 – Busy hands

You should never have your hands occupied with anything other than what you need to do your job while talking to a Patron. Cellphones, cigarettes, cups… not acceptable. These are distractions and occupy important space – namely your hand(s). Should you have to defend yourself, grab something, or move someone, it will be very difficult with something in your hands.

The Doorman not only smokes a cigarette during this entire encounter, but he even places one hand in his pocket while smoking! How does he expect to defend himself?

Mistake #3 – Forgetting the Buddy System

While not always possible, it is HIGHLY recommended that you be in the presence of another Staffer during any encounter you have with a Patron. This not only ensures that you have physical backup should things turn ugly, but also provides you with a witness should anything go awry. There is a reason that every field of Security prefers to work with multiple Staffers: SAFETY IN NUMBERS. You should always have +1 person in relation to the situation you are dealing with. 1 Patron = 2 Staffers, 2 Patrons = 3 Staffers, etc.

When the Doorman’s “backup” finally does arrive, he spends his time dealing with another customer and not trying to figure out what is going on in the situation to his immediate left. As a matter of fact, the distraction that he causes in dealing with the 2nd Patron allows the 1st Patron to pull his knife and stab both himself and the Doorman.

Mistake #4 – Lack of Situational Awareness

You need to be aware of your surroundings, who is in them, and what they are doing AT ALL TIMES. That does not mean that you have to engage everyone and everything. But it does mean that you need to be paying attention. ALWAYS. This Doorman not only fails to keep correct distance and has his hands busy, but he TURNS AWAY from the individual he is addressing. In addition, although the main “threat” the Doorman is dealing with is directly in front of him, he turns to deal with other Patrons twice. Never turn away from an individual. Never. Especially one who is intoxicated and attempting to gain access to your establishment.

The fact that the Doorman does not want this particular Patron in the club means that he should focus his attention on the Patron. Period. While minor distractions can and will occur, the Patron in front of you is your point of focus. Ask yourself, “Why won’t he back up when asked?” “Why does this Patron have a hand in his pocket?” Simple questions that should be running through your head at all times.

Keep in mind that being Situationally Aware is NOT the same as being paranoid. If you are paying fearful attention to something that does not exist, you are being paranoid. Acknowledging what is going on around you without attaching some type of negative connotation to it is being aware.

Stay aware and stay safe.

Until next time…

Taking your job seriously…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I hope that you all have a nice relaxing Holiday Season and are approaching 2013 refreshed and renewed.

We finished out 2012 with a post about the importance of showing up to work and having a strong work ethic. The begin 2013, I think it is important to have a brief discussion about taking your job seriously. Some people might ask, “Is there a difference between having a strong work ethic and taking your job seriously?” Well, many people show up to work everyday and do their job, but go about it in an unorganized or halfhearted way. They would consider themselves to have a strong work ethic (they showed up, didn’t they?). Others would say that the serious nature of their job (i.e. security) proves that they have a strong work ethic. But that doesn’t mean that they do the job well, work within a structured environment, or take the job seriously.

In my humble opinion, if you are working in the field of Security – regardless of environment – you have an obligation to not only take your job seriously, but to work as hard as possible to make sure that you do the job well. How does one do this? It is pretty simple actually:

  • Show up early for your shift
  • Show up in uniform or dressed to work
  • Show up with all your equipment in working order
  • Check in with your Supervisor/Manager immediately
  • Ask what you can do in addition to your posted duties
  • Take time before, during, and after your shift to figure out how not only how to improve your job performance, but how to help others improve their job performance
  • Work with others to solve problems
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  • Be willing to accept criticism
  • Minimize your distractions

Do keep in mind that taking your job seriously and working to improve yourself and others DOES NOT mean that you can’t joke with your co-workers or try to enjoy the work you do. After all, if we can’t let loose a little, we’ll burn out fast. But keep in mind that while you are on the job, your main focus should be WORK.

In other words:

DON’T BE THIS GUY…

Bouncer Fails

Every month I like to do a little Googling of the word “Bouncer” and see what comes up. The results are usually some type of fight video or altercation between a Bouncer and a Patron. And in about 50% of the cases, the Security Staff are too hands on. If you read my last post, I made a big deal out of “being nice”. When you watch a lot of these videos, you can see that the Staffers are either not being nice or they are allowing the customers to get the better of them.

What I mean is that the Patrons keep pushing the Staffer’s buttons until the Staffer “snaps” and get “hands on”. Basically, the individual running the door runs out of patience or they let their emotions get the better of them. Either way, it’s a huge problem. Ultimately, your job in Security is to protect people, not put them in harm’s way or cause the harm yourself.

In the following video, I see an example of a complete loss of composure by the Doorman, accompanied by some very serious lapses in situational awareness by all of the Security Staffers involved. First, let’s look at the video*:

(Be forewarned, the language is NSFW)

Not pretty is it? I see an intoxicated Patron (yes, he’s annoying, but that’s besides the point) being pushed around for no discernible reason. So let’s break it down a bit:

00:00 – 00:34     Just Another Night?

The Patrons are drunk and there is some kind of dispute trying to be resolved. So far, nothing out of the unusual. BUT…

FAIL #1 – The Staffer in the black jacket has his hands in his pockets. Why? The worst thing you can do in any situation involving a possibly dangerous or suspect individual is talk to them with your hands in your pockets. You’re asking to get hit.

00:35 – 00:51     The Trouble Starts 

The Patron approaches an individual who I assume to be the Manager. The Staffers intervene, which is understandable, but their pushing of the Patron is waaaaaaaay over the line. Not only that, but when the Patron returns, they just stand there, not creating any type of safe zone around themselves, even going so far as to let the Patron bend down and pick something up off the ground.

FAIL #2 – The Patron could have very easily used this as a distraction to grab a weapon (in his off hand) OR  jump right up with a head butt or attack on either Staffer. Bad Situational Awareness. Is the Patron verbally abusive? Yes. But hey, everyone has been cursed at. Suck it up.

00:52 – 01:10     Things Fall Apart 

Is it necessary for both Staffers to push back the Patron? I would argue no. At this point, the Staffers have escalated the situation.

FAIL #3 – The Patrons are now heated and they are coming back for more. Why does the Staffer in the Black Coat place his hands behind his back? And why do they let the Patrons approach them again without some type of verbal warning to back off.

01:11 – 01:25     Disasters, Inc.

What a mess. Red Coat Staffer actually removes his hat and tells the Patron, “I’m going to give it to you.” Wow.

FAIL #4 – An implied threat of violence accompanied by the act of preparing an attack (hat removal). We just drifted from stupid behavior into possible assault territory.

01:26 – 01:45     How Can We Possibly Make This Situation Worse?

Red Coat pushes the Patron (again), and actually starts instigate a fight, to the point of having to be held back by his partner. And the Staffer in the Black Coat keeps his hands occupied (with a hat), turns his back on his buddy (to put down the hat), and puts his hands back in his coat.

01:46 – The End     Epic Failure

Red Coat is obviously trying to get into a fight at this point. Multiple pushes on the Patron, multiple failures in situational awareness and body positioning, and basically breaking every rule in the book in terms of procedure when dealing with intoxicated individuals.It gets bad enough that they need to bring back up from inside.

Videos like this serve to demonstrate how a situation can turn bad very quickly, especially when accompanied by severe lapses in judgement. Remember it is up to you as a Security Staffer to dictate the conversation and guide yourself, your fellow employees, and yes – even intoxicated Patrons – into the zone of safe conflict resolution.

  • Calm your Patrons down – Use phrases like, “Slow down.” or “Let’s talk this out.”
  • Remove yourself from the situation – If a Patron is angry at you, leave the scene and have someone else deal with it. It doesn’t make you a coward, it makes you smart and keeps you out of trouble.
  • Keep your head and hands up – Always. No matter how safe you feel, anything is possible.

Don’t be like these Staffers. Be intelligent about your approach, patient in your attitude, and DON’T FAIL.

Until next time…

*(as always, any and all video is the property of the YouTube poster and I make no claims as to its authenticity or the actual actions depicted)

When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong…

Everyone likes to think that they do a good job, at their job. I’d say that 80% of people do a good job, at their  job. For most, minor mistakes on the job are easily corrected or deleted or can be explained away. In the field of security, minor mistakes can very often take on a life of their own and begin to snowball into bigger problems. And large mistakes can end in disaster, whether liability, injury, or damage to property.

In earlier posts, we discussed Use of Force, Situational Awareness, The Buddy System, and their importance to Security Staffers. We also watched a clip of what I consider to be improper Use of Force. Well, we are now going to return to said clip and break it down even further in a little segment called:

When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong (props to Dave Chappelle for the title).

In this segment, we will examine all the mistakes made by Security. You probably want to open the clip in another window for easier viewing.

The Premise: Drunk Patron on the sidewalk, harassing Security.

The Question: What is one to do?

The Clip:

Before we even get into the breakdown, let’s discuss Security wearing any type of dangly party necklace. Don’t do it. Way too easy for someone to grab and use against you. One might snap, but 3-5 necklaces will choke you out.

Minute 2:56 – 3:05

1) Bouncer #1(B1) leaves his post to confront the Patron (P). Why? Let him rant and rave. He’ll (probably) eventually wander off.

2) B1 turns to look at B2 just before he lunges in for the choke. HUGE MISTAKE. Though it may not seem like very long (.5 seconds?) it is plenty of time for P to get in a cheap shot. Plenty of time.

I won’t even go into the applied choke as it is just plain stupid.

Minutes 3:15 – 3:30

3) Why is B2 holding a cellphone? He should be either: helping subdue P (again, this is dependent on what started the altercation. In this case, B1 started it), looking for trouble/P’s friends, or using the phone to call the Police. Not trying to subdue someone while holding a sweet Blackberry. (Failure of Buddy System)

Minutes 3:31 – 3:50

4) B2 WALKS AWAY (?!?!?!?!) – Now, I understand that the bar is busy and you have to watch the door. But you have your co-worker on the ground in an altercation with a Patron, and you are just hanging out in the doorway. Regardless of how “in control” the situation might look, it is anything but. A crowd is building, your fellow staffer is on the ground, and you’re chilling in the doorway. Stupid. (Failure of Situational Awareness)

Minute 4:30

5) B2 finally realizes that people are a bit upset and starts to keep an eye on Patrons exiting the bar…

Minute 4:45

6) …but fails to intervene when an Angry Patron gets directly in the face of B1. As a matter of fact, it takes him another 15 seconds to get involved, telling Angry Patron to relax…before walking away AGAIN. (Failure of Buddy System)

Minutes 5:05 – 5:35

7) Now we have an escalating situation: Angry Patrons getting into arguments over an altercation they are not directly involved in. B2 now has the task of watching the door and calming a building confrontation…oh yeah, and B1 is still on the ground.

Minute 5:36

8 ) B2 gets waaaaaay too up close and personal with Angry Patron. Not only is his body language aggressive as he approaches, but he leaves himself no room to defend himself. (Failure of Situational Awareness)

Minute 6:01

9) Total Loss of Situational Control. B2 gets pushed by Angry Patron, B1 is still on the ground, the crowd is growing, no one is happy. (Failure of Situational Awareness)

Minute 6:35 – 6:45

10) B2 is  now directly engaged with Angry Patron, leaving Good Samaritan Fella to help B1 with the now choked out P1. Starting to get a bit hectic, eh? (Failure of Buddy System)

Minute 6:50

11) B2 walks away and turns his back to Angry Patron, finally coming over to check on B1. (Failure of Situational Awareness)

Minute 7:30 – End

12) At some point in here Bouncer 3 appears. 5 MINUTES AFTER THE INITIATION OF THE ALTERCATION. 5 minutes might as well be a year. (Failure of Buddy System)

I understand that altercations are dynamic situations, adrenaline causes tunnel vision, and general confusion can be, well, generally confusing. But a thoughtful approach to any situation is always beneficial. By taking your time to assess (a few seconds is PLENTY) you can save yourself from escalation, injury, and liability.

I was involved in a similar altercation a few years a back with a fellow doorman I’ll call “Chief” (especially because he hates it). Me and another bouncer had to take an aggressive Patron to the ground. “Chief” did the following:

1) Called the police

2) Gave us space to deal with the Patron by creating distance between ourselves and the crowd

3) Calmed the agitated friends of the Patron

He did it all in a cool, collected manner. This usually attained by years of experience and tons of practice, but that does not mean that you can’t start learning NOW. Pay attention to altercations and you and your staff’s reactions to them, have them watch video like this and break them down, and discuss all incidents at the end of the night so that you can all gain a better understanding of how to better do your job and make sure that when you Keep It Real, it Doesn’t Go Wrong.

Feel free to chime in with any other pointers or suggestions, the crew in this video obviously needs them.

’til next time….