The Sins of The Bouncer

Human beings are imperfect. As a matter of fact, I have yet to meet anyone who didn’t exhibit a number of flaws in their character – including yours truly. From work ethic to fiscal responsibility to a short temper, you can bet that someone you know has an aspect of their life that could use a little work! As a matter of fact, the workplace is where many people’s faults and flaws are amplified or exacerbated. And your friendly neighborhood bar or nightclub is no different.

Unfortunately, the general public has a skewed view of bouncers. They’re seen as muscle-bound idiots on power trips who care more about hitting on girls and getting into fights than they do actually being helpful or keeping people safe. And, truth be told, that can often be the case! After all, stereotypes have to come from somewhere and many bouncers do NOT help to reverse the bad guy image.

I present to you…THE SINS OF THE BOUNCER!!!

Pride/Ego

You know the type: can’t be bothered to speak to their co-workers, only talks to the cutest girls, is rude to most guys (besides their bros, of course), and is more than willing to argue with the Manager – after all this is HIS door and no one tells him how to run it. Pride and Ego will get a bouncer into far more trouble than they can possibly imagine and will most definitely lead to trouble. What’s the saying? “Pride goeth before the fall”? Too much Pride and Ego will keep you from acknowledging your faults, learning a new skill, or admitting fault, and will definitely alienate your Patrons and Co-workers.

If you take pride in being known as the “asshole at XYZ Club”, just remember that XYZ Club won’t be around forever and you’ll probably need another job. Who’s going to hire the asshole? On the flip side, if XYZ does happen to be around forever, how’s your Ego going to react when a club-goer from 10 years ago comes by and says, “What, you’re still here?” Remember, you’re a Bouncer, not the Sultan of Brunei. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s an acknowledgment of gaps in your skill set and a willingness to be humble. Wanting to improve is a sign of self-awareness and a desire to grow. And humility will get you a lot farther than you think.

Violence

“I’m here to kick ass and chew bubblegum…and I’m all out of bubblegum” It is always easy to spot the guy or girl who is eager to go “hands on” with any Patron, is content when they can literally pull someone out of line, finds joy in throwing people out the Front Door with as much force as possible, and is definitely NEVER backing down from a fight. There are many, many, many individuals who see working in bar and nightclub security as carte blanche to release their anger issues or violent tendencies on unsuspecting individuals. What almost all violent individuals seem to forget – and maybe it’s a result of being hit in the head too many times – is that they are NOT going to be on the “winning” end of a fight…even if they win it!

Besides the moral issue of unnecessarily laying hands on people, there is the matter of being fired and sued for doing so…even if you may have been in the right! There is also the very real possibility of seriously injuring a Patron or co-worker or yourself; not to mention how bad your actions are going to make you, your co-workers, and the establishment look. And here’s a little tidbit for you brawlers to chew on: there are very, very few undefeated PROFESSIONAL fighters on this planet. I promise that you’re not going to be one of them.

Laziness

Helping the team pick up trash at the end of the night will not make anyone think less of you. Getting up from your stool to check IDs doesn’t make you look any less tough. Escorting a coworker to their car or helping a Patron into a cab is not going to take away any of your Instagram likes. Taking the time to learn what the new IDs look like is not going to make you worse at your job.

If you don’t want to work, don’t come into work. You aren’t doing the rest of the crew any favors by complaining, dragging ass, or mysteriously disappearing when it’s time to stack chairs. What many don’t realize about being lazy at work is that it actually shows. It comes across in your body language. Not only does it make you look bad to your boss but the Patrons will be able to spot it a mile away. They might not know what your job entails but they – and your boss – can spot a slouching, uninterested, half-asleep employee a mile away. Just stay home. No, really, stay home.

Impatience

No one said that dealing with inebriated individuals was easy. Or even fun. Well, ok, on occasion it can be humorous. But if you don’t have the patience to listen to someone repeat the same story 3, 5, 10 times…you’re in the wrong business. If you don’t have the patience to tell someone the same thing 3, 5, 10 times…you’re in the wrong business. We’ve said it a million times, dealing with drunks is like dealing with 3-year-olds: they’re annoying, they don’t listen, and they probably don’t understand what you want them to do. So you need patience.

Impatient staffers have the tendency to snap at Patrons, rush into situations without thought, and generally miss the entire point of what their boss is telling them. Being quick to action is not necessarily a fault but it can have devastating consequences. Taking a moment or two to surmise what is ACTUALLY being said or what is going on can mean the difference between apologizing to a Patron for almost throwing them out or apologizing to the boss because you threw out their drunk friend. Yes, people can be annoying. Yes, people will not pay attention to you. But taking a moment to formulate a plan, figuring out what to say before you say it, or having a little empathy for the frazzled Patron will make your job much less stressful and much more bearable.

Greed

When most people think of greed, they think only of money. But greed is by definition “…an intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food”. Greedy bouncers want more of something. Their thought is, “What’s in it for me?” For some, it is money: they take from the register, overcharge on the cover, demand money to cut the line, or pocket the tips that are meant for their co-workers. Others will want to jump ahead in job title, jockeying to become the Doorman or VIP Host or Head of Security, no matter what the cost. And some refuse to give up shifts or won’t work anywhere but where they will get attention and adulation.

The problem for a greedy person is that there is never enough. So they will do whatever it takes to get more, which in turn begets its own set of issues. You may be lining your pockets without realizing that someone is actually counting the register and expecting there to be X amount of money in there at the end of the night. Charging some people extra at the door may cause a ruckus up front when the Patrons – and your boss – realize that you are running a racket. Not giving up your shifts might mean that when you need a shift covered, no one is willing to help you out. There is no room for greed on a team. Greed takes you out of the team equation. Greed blinds you to the needs, concerns, and potentially the safety of others.

Have you considered that perhaps the Patrons will reward you financially – through continued business and tips – if you work with the team instead of only looking out for Number One? Or that if you give up the occasional shift, someone might actually turn to you as the go-to when they can’t make it in? Being a team player pays off in non-fiscal ways: it earns you the trust, respect, and confidence of others. And ultimately, that is worth far more than the extra few dollars in your pocket.

Lack of Knowledge / Lack of Training

 Now more than ever, security jobs are focusing on safety, security, and customer service. An individual working in a bar or nightclub in a security capacity needs training – be it on the job or in a classroom setting. The days of hauling someone into the alley and beating them about the head and ears are long gone. The days of liability, lawsuits, and punitive damages are most definitely here. Not knowing how to do your job properly may let an under-rage drinker into the bar. Lack of training might lead you to miss the heavily intoxicated Patron about to fall down the stairs. Lack of training may even get you killed trying to break up a fight. There is nothing cool about not knowing how to do your job.

Get licensed! It is something that I have stressed too many times to count. And in this day and age, most municipalities and states require licensing of some kind. At the very least, licensing will give you a basic understanding of your role and cover you should anyone ever ask for proof of training. If you are lucky, you may work for a business where training is provided for you. If not, seek it out! Better yet, have your boss hire someone to put on a training session for you and your co-workers that cover a variety of different topics.

But remember, learning isn’t just about seminars and classrooms. If you don’t know how to do the job, while on the job…ASK! There will always be someone who knows how to do that thing. Someone with more experience than you. Ask for performance reviews. Ask for critiques of how you handled situations. Hold work meetings to hash out problems and look for solutions. Gaining knowledge will not only make you better at your job but will make you a more valuable employee. If you learn enough of the things, at some point down the line someone will be coming to you for help!

If you are an individual who can recognize yourself as partaking in one or more of the above listed “sins”, remember that it is never too late to change. I would even opine that we all slip back into old behaviors on occasion. But one of the great things about being human is that we can make the choice to do and be better AT ANY TIME. Take inventory of your skill sets. Check your attitude and approach. And work on improving yourself. It will make you more valuable to your employer and more importantly, it will make you a better person overall.

 

 

What’s in a name?

Last week I had the pleasure of attending ICON Services Corporation’s security course: Celebrity & VIP Protection. Why? First off, here at Coast Executive Services we do more than just Nightclub Security Consulting. And second, anyone working in field of Security (or any other industry) should constantly strive to expand their knowledge base across all subjects.

On the first day of training, the course instructor (Elijah Shaw) asked a great question:

“How do you define yourself?”

In this particular case, he was talking about Executive Protection Specialists. And that got me thinking about how many in the field of Nightclub Security view and define themselves. For the most of the general public, anyone working in a security role in an entertainment venue is a “Bouncer”. And most individuals working in the field would consider themselves “Bouncers”.

Why?

Is “bouncer” the term people are most accustomed to? Is it the term they are most comfortable using? Or is it just what “bouncers” want to be called? I think that all off these are correct to a certain degree. I also believe that by using the term “bouncer”, we have a tendency to lock ourselves into the stereotype. You know: big, muscle-bound guys who like to be rude and get into fights. If you’ve taken any time to read this blog, you know that I go to great pains to refer to “bouncers” as Security Staffers.

I do this because it is important for us as Security Staffers to get out of the “bouncer” mentality. If you are a somewhat mature, semi-intelligent individual you realize that not only is getting into fights stupid from a self-preservation perspective, but it is also incredibly foolish in terms of litigation (getting sued). Second, I think it is equally important to try and change the way society as a whole views the profession of nightclub security. If people think of you as a bouncer, they will expect you to act as one. It is your job to show them the aspects of the job that they may not always see: customer service, cleaning, assisting with the over-intoxicated, etc.

We define ourselves to others by our titles. And others define us by the names they make up. So when people ask you what you do, what do you want your answer to be? Do you “provide night club security”? Are you a “guest relations specialist”? Do you work in “conflict management”?

Or are you just a bouncer?

Think about it.

Until next time…

Abracadabra!!!!!

What do bouncers and magicians have in common? If you answered top hats, white gloves, and waxed moustaches, you are amazing……ly incorrect.

Seriously though, what do they have in common? Both magicians and bouncers use distraction techniques.

Magicians use distraction to keep you from noticing how they perform their trickery. Bouncers use it to get you out of a club, gather information about your state of sobriety, or keep you relaxed while they discretely call for backup.

Let’s first examine why distraction techniques are an important part of a bouncer’s bag of tricks…

It is a known fact that alcohol severely restricts attention while arousing our aggressive tendencies. And according to research studies, in hostile situations, drunks who are inclined toward violence tend to focus on aggressive, provocative stimuli. Nothing is more unpredictable than a violent drunk and anything that you can do to get their attention and pull them away from their source of agitation may get them to work with you instead of acting out in a violent or aggressive manner.

There are two types of distractions: physical and psychological. Both are viable and they can often be used together. A drunken patron’s restricted attention is often narrowed to the most obvious, attention-grabbing thing and a good question or loud noise can fully consume an intoxicated individual’s diminished mental capacity.

Physical distractions are anything that gains someone’s attention via auditory or visual means. Here are some examples:

  • Waving a flashlight on a group of patrons during an altercation
  • Snapping your fingers in front of an individual’s face
  • Lightly grasping a patron’s elbow or placing your hand on their shoulder
  • Clapping loudly while maintaining a calm tone of voice
  • Loudly announcing “Security! Break it up!” when approaching an altercation
  • Turning on the “house” lights at the end of a night

These techniques tend to work better in a smaller, quieter environment as noise and light help to jar individuals out of their “zone” and back into “reality”. In larger nightclubs, use of flashlights is often the best way to get an individual’s attention. (If you are going to use a flashlight, aim it DOWN at their chest or waist, not UP into an individual’s face…unless it is your intention to blind them)

One of the best techniques I have seen (and used) for getting an intoxicated individual’s attention is to ask for their ID and walk out the front door with it. Unless completely blacked-out, the patron WILL follow you. After all, everybody wants their ID back! (This also works wonders when try to remove an individual from the premises without resorting to physicality.)

Psychological distractions are also useful. The key with these techniques is to try and hit on a distraction that is important to the individual or captures their attention. This can be an item, person, or situation. Using the distraction in the form of a question is best.

Some good examples:

  • “I like that coat you have on. Where’d you get it?”
  • “Can you tell me where your friends are?”
  • “Do you have your ID with you?”
  • “How crazy was that game tonight?”
  • “What kind of drinks have you had this evening?”

(Notice that we ask, “What kind of drinks?” not “How many?” This makes the individual think, allowing you time to assess their sobriety level during the question and based on their response. If they answer “Six.” there is a good chance they’re intoxicated)

Getting the patron’s attention, having them cooperate with you, and keeping yourself safe are the ultimate goals. By asking distracting questions you are getting the patron to focus on you, which in turn will help you to build a rapport with them. Though you may be about to remove them from the premises, distracting them with random questions and a light manner can often get them out the door before they realize what happened.

But how do you get them out the door now that they are distracted?

As the announcer says…Tune in next time!