Hiring for Nightclubs, Part 2 – Placing an Ad

I am often asked by Bar Managers and Owners, “How do I find the best bouncers?”

My answer is pretty straightforward: Word of mouth.

I’ve found that in the field of Security word of mouth is usually one of the best ways to find quality individuals who need little instruction or guidance (notice I said “little instruction” not “no instruction”). Bouncers work in a small segment of the Security world and they know a decent number of individuals who can readily fill positions when needed. That said, any Security Staffer you are thinking of hiring – found through word of mouth or not – still needs to be properly vetted, regardless of their background or referrals. But more on that at a later date.

What if you don’t want to rely on your Staff for suggestions or if – for whatever reason – you want to cut your Staff out of the decision making process? Most people’s main option is to place an ad, either in the paper (how 1990’s of you!) or online. I’ve taken the liberty of linking to three such advertisements.

1) We need a specific type, not necessarily a skill set

I found this ad to be the most amusing and honestly, the most direct. They want eye candy, period. At least they’re upfront about it. Whether or not they will be able to keep their Patrons safe is another matter altogether.

2) We are fairly realistic in our needs

This establishment has a pretty solid ad. They are looking for specific body types with specific skill sets, are willing to tell you about their clientele up front, and even ask for a resume. However, a quick read between the lines tells you a couple of things: their clientele is large and sometimes prone to violence. How do I know that? They ask for large Staffers to handle their large Patrons who don’t necessarily need to be restrained (“it doesn’t happen often”), but might have to be. And in the next sentence they add that some type of physical restraint experience is preferable. Hmmmmm….makes me wonder what’s really going on here.

3) We are serious about our hire and you shouldn’t apply unless you are serious

And we have a winner. At least in the sense that they are professional about their job search. Solid job description with requirements and skill set listed. And the positive indicator (at least from a liability standpoint) that certifications or licensing of some type are needed.

As you can see, there are different approaches to achieve the same(?) end. And while they will all get you prospective Staffers, I’m guessing that only one will get you quality Staffers. But hey, maybe all you want is the body.

So, What Should My Ad Look Like?

An ad looking for Security Staffers needs to contain at least these basics:

  • Who the individual reports to – Manager, Bar Manager, Head of Security. Who do they speak to about basic job issues and who do they listen to?
  • Detailed Job Description – “Checking ID’s” is not sufficient. Your description should list the duties and expectations of the position.
  • Qualifications – Be specific: Guard Card, previous nightclub experience, supervisory experience, etc.
  • Contact Info – How will your prospective hire get in touch with you?

This listing will let the prospective Staffer know that you are at least serious about your hiring. Now it is up to you to add the “flavor” to your ad! What kind of establishment do you run? Upscale, dive bar, lounge? Are you looking for a personable Doorman or a tough Bouncer? List who you are and what you are looking for. While the basics of the position are helpful, anyone looking for a job will want to know a little something about the venue.

Done with that? Good. Now go place your ad and get ready to do some interviewing!

Until next time…

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…