When things go wrong…

“In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test.

In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”

Since the beginning, the goal of this blog has been to inform and educate. Every post – even the humorous ones – seeks to shed a little light on the mindset and planning that go into working as a Security Staffer, Security Manager, or Bar/Nightclub/Restaurant Owner. To that end, the majority of the posts have dealt with the positives or at least prepping for the negatives in order to prevent or avoid them. This time around, the approach is a little different. We’re going to tackle – in a manner of speaking – the negatives. Those nights on which NOTHING seems to go right.

No matter what your line of work, you will experience a bad day. It may be an angry patron or manager or a disgruntled co-worker that just made things unbearable. Maybe all the credit card machines die right in the middle of a huge holiday season shopping rush. Maybe a bus full of tourists stops in front of your ice cream stand at the very moment your co-worker is at lunch, the manager is out sick, and you are the only one behind the counter. You get the idea: work days aren’t always picture perfect. 

BEFORE, DURING, AND AFTER

Most people would approach bad days in this manner: What went wrong and how do we fix it? It is a great approach but I believe that the rectification of any problem needs to start before the problem occurs. Actually, I would suggest that problem days should be approached BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER they occur. I’m sure that some of you are scratching your heads and thinking, “How the heck do I solve a problem BEFORE it occurs!?” Bear with me for a second.

PPPPPPP

The letters above are not a typo. They are an acronym known as “the 7 Ps”, and they stand for “Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance”. In other words, preparing for the worst will help you deal with the worst when it occurs. In most cases, poor planning and poor preparation will directly result in “a bad day at the office.” Did you only schedule four Staffers on a three day weekend when your club is historically known to be over capacity? Did you place an inexperienced ID checker at the door during College Night? The reason that you should use Checklists, run Scenarios, discuss Ejections, and double check your Scheduling is to MINIMIZE the potential for things to go wrong.

That is not to say that planning in advance will prevent problems from occurring. German military strategist Helmuth von Moltke stated, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” and he was pretty much spot on. Because no matter how well you plan, something can always go wrong. Fully staffed on a holiday weekend? Guess what, your Head of Security just got food poisoning. About to eject a Patron? Oh, you didn’t realize that he and his friends are UFC fighters? Have the Front Door under control? Wait, where did those 3 party buses full of drunken football fans come from? What to do, what to do?

STOP

If you do find yourself in the middle of a no good, very bad day….STOP. That’s right. STOP. Stop what you are doing and take a deep breath. As an old instructor of mine said, “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.” Don’t run around in a panic. Don’t start screaming at the Staff. Definitely don’t starting swinging at the UFC guys. STOP. Evaluate the situation. Decide on a plan of attack. Rushing to fix a problem may in many cases make things WORSE. A pause in the action to regroup, rethink, and then approach the problem with a fresh head will very rarely make things worse. Try the new approach and see what happens, you might be surprised at how well it works.

Just remember that sometimes, no matter what you do, no matter how well you’ve planned, no matter how patiently you’ve reassessed your position, the problem can’t, won’t, or doesn’t resolve itself. You know what? THAT’S ALRIGHT. It is not going to be fun dealing with the ongoing problem or the aftermath, but that is part of working any job. Just as long as you have put your best foot forward and at least attempted to resolve the issue! Sometimes that horse is too far down the road to stop. Wait for it to come back and deal with it on the back end.

LESSON LEARNED?

If something has gone wrong in spite of your planning, you’ve approached the fix calmly and patiently, and things still completely collapsed – or resolved themselves – sit back over the next few days and process it all. First off, it is alright to be disappointed in yourself, your staff, the computers, whatever. Things happen and not always good things. You can’t win every battle. Remember, if challenges could always be overcome, they would cease to be challenges. It is how you approach your mistakes and your failures that will help to define you and make you a better employee, manager, owner, and yes…a better person. 

Think back on your planning. Is there something you would have changed with the benefit of hindsight? Ask your manager if they have suggestions. Get together with your Staffers and discuss the problems and how they could have been either anticipated or dealt with in a more efficient manner. Part of being a great boss is being a great mentor. Let your employees know where they (or you!) have failed and what they (or you!) can do to improve the next time around. When life give you a test and you fail – or barely pass – don’t fixate on the outcome, focus on the solution and move forward. 

Until next time….

“I’ve Fallen And I Can’t Get Up!”…or Nightclub Incidents and How to Record and Report Them

Yep, that’s right, the Paperwork Monster strikes again. Don’t run and hide from it, be a hero and face it down!

SIT DOWN, DON’T FALL DOWN…

For some reason, when people see someone else fall down, they laugh. Some comedians have made entire careers out of prat falls. But in the really world things like falls and accidents can take a real physical and financial toll. In the Nightclub environment, slips, falls, and injuries are almost unavoidable. Drinks get spilled and make the Dance Floor slippery. People get drunk and try to negotiate stairs. Intoxicated individuals try to stand on the bar and fall off. These things happen and when they do, you should be prepared to deal with the repercussions that come after the fact…usually in the form of a lawsuit.

WHAT IS AN INCIDENT?

For Nightclubs and Bars, Incidents can be defined many ways. These are considered Incidents because they are actual witnessed events, usually with some form of evidence:

ANY INJURY TO A PATRON – A glass cut, slipping and falling, or twisting an ankle on the stairs, for example.

ANY PHYSICAL ALTERCATION RESULTING IN INJURY TO PATRON(S) AND/OR STAFF – Basically, any injuries sustained during a fight.

ANY THREAT OF PHYSICAL VIOLENCE MADE TO PATRON(S) AND/OR STAFF – For example, if one Patron turns to another (or a bartender) and says, “I’m going to beat you to a pulp!”

ANY THREAT OF LITIGATION MADE TO PATRON(S) AND/OR STAFF – If a Patron says, “I’m going to sue you!”

ANY PROPERTY DAMAGE CAUSED BY PATRON – If a Patron throws a bottle at a mirror and breaks it or kicks down a bathroom door.

Make a copy of this list. Post it somewhere visible. And make sure that your Staff know what is and is not considered an Incident. There is nothing worse than a Staffer not taking notes on an Incident when they should be! And when in doubt file an Incident Report.

INCIDENT PROTOCOL

Should one of the Incidents listed above occur in your establishment, quick action is necessary. Your protocol may vary from what we have listed, but your entire Staff should be taught what to do regardless of the steps or order in which you wish to take them.

1) Have one of your Staffers notify the Head of Security or Manager IMMEDIATELY. Do this slowly and calmly. If it is a serious Incident, the more patient and level-headed you are in dealing with it, the better off you will be. Tell them what the problem is and what, if any, steps you have taken.

2) The Head of Security/Manager should assess the situation and make a decision as to course of action (if none has been taken). This may entail contacting Law Enforcement in case of an altercation or calling for Medical Assistance in case of Injury. The Head of Security/Manager should take as objective a view as possible of the Incident. This means not taking sides or laying blame.

3) Make an attempt to contact the Patron(s) involved in the Incident or any Witnesses to the Incident. Try to gather their contact information and, if possible, gather any information, including a brief Witness report. If a Patron has witnessed a fight, ask them what happened. If someone threatened them, ask them for a description of the person doing the threatening.

When possible, try to make any questioning brief and to the point and do it with a calm demeanor. Individuals involved in altercations may be agitated. Let them calm down before trying to ascertain what happened. The more information you can gather, the better off you will be when you take the next step…

INCIDENT REPORTS

EVERY BAR NEEDS AN INCIDENT REPORT FORM!!!! Regardless of the size of your facility or type of crowd, an Incident Report form is necessary. We are trying to create a paper trail so that in case of litigation, you will have something to back up your side of the argument.

Don’t have an Incident Report Form? Well, try a Google Search. Easy, no?

The Incident Report Form should contain (at a minimum):

A place of Witness Information

Date/Time/Place of Incident

Staff Involved

Description of Incident

Again, this is the paper trail that will help you in case of some type of civil suit. Having even a minimal amount of documentation is better than having nothing at all. Train your Security Staffers in how to identify Incidents and how to fill out the proper Paperwork.You may not always be around and someone needs to know what to do in case a problem arises!

Until next time…

Eject! Eject! Eject!

Most people in nightclub settings view “ejections” as violent acts: a group of bouncers literally tossing someone into the alley or a Patron being dragged, kicking and screaming, out the front door. In actuality, 95% of all ejections are quite peaceful, with the “ejectee” willingly exiting the establishment under their own power. Whether or not the Patron departs on their  own or with the assistance of the Security Staff is dependent on a variety of factors. And while your establishment wants to avoid “physical” ejections if at all possible, they are sometimes unavoidable.

The first thing everyone should know is that an “Ejection” refers to any situation in which a Patron leaves the club upon a request by Security Staff. For those working in the state of California it is helpful to refer to  Section 602.1A of the CA Penal Code: You—as Security Staff—are considered an agent of a business, and when a person is instructed to leave the premises and refuses, that person is guilty of a misdemeanor.  IF the person refuses to leave, an agent of a business can use reasonable and necessary force to remove them if absolutely necessary.  Remember, “reasonable and necessary” equals the amount of force needed to overcome resistance according to a person’s physical condition, build and perceived threat.

Ejecting Non-Violent Patrons – Most Non-Violent Patron ejections are due to over-intoxication or unsuitable behavior. And, in most of these cases, it is merely a matter of asking the Patron in question to leave. Surprisingly enough, these Patrons will often leave on their own, no questions asked. However, there are occasions in which you must either take away the Patron’s reason for staying or give them a reason to leave. How do you give them a reason to leave?

  1. Most over-intoxicated Patrons will have been cut-off from being served. Remember, that if they have not, you have the power to request a cut-off from the Bartender. As soon as a Patron is considered too intoxicated to be served, it is an indication that they are too intoxicated to remain on the premises (this is for their safety as well as to prevent you as an establishment from being charged with “over-serving”). Cutting off a Patron’s supply of alcohol is usually enough of a deterrent to cause the Patron to leave of their own accord.
  2. Should the Patron not wish to leave on their own, it is up to Security to inform them that they must leave. This can be accomplished by merely asking them to leave or letting them know that they are too intoxicated to remain on the premises. One way to get an intoxicated patron out the door is to ask for their ID, and have them follow you outside. Once outside, they are then informed that they cannot return to the club that evening due to over-intoxication. Yes, it’s tricky, and that’s the whole point. You have avoided conflict within the bar and moved them to a location where you can have a conversation without yelling and “hand off” the Patron to your outside Security.
  3. ALWAYS try and remain as polite as possible to over-intoxicated Patrons. It is often embarrassing or humiliating for them to be asked to leave, so reassurance, patience, and a calm demeanor on your part will help ease them out the door. This is not easy, especially if an individual is argumentative, combative, or so drunk that they can’t form a sentence. Short sentences, body language, and hand gestures can often help to give the intoxicated Patron an idea of what is going on.

 

 

Ejecting Violent Patrons – Some Patrons may react negatively to being asked to leave and this can take the form of physical violence or resistance. If this is the case, try to bring the Patron to the nearest exit. You DO NOT want to move a struggling individual through a crowded bar. There are too many things that can go wrong and you want your ejections to be a quick, painless, and non-attention grabbing as possible.

Avoid restraint holds as much as possible. Individuals under the influence of intoxicants often have high pain thresholds, and wristlock, armbars, and other submissions can lead to broken limbs or other injury. Tight “bear hugs” are often a good way of gaining control of a violent Patron. Another good way to move an individual is to lift them from behind, by their belt or pants. This creates an uncomfortable “wedgie” (think back to Junior High School), brings them to their toes, and allows you to propel them forward. If using this technique, place your other hand on one of their shoulders to prevent them from turning or falling forward, and walk FAST, in the direction of the nearest exit..

  1. If possible, alert the Security Staff member working the nearest exit that you are arriving with an ejection, so that they may clear a path.
  2. Once the Patron is ejected, the Staff members doing the ejecting should immediately re-enter the club. This will keep the Patron from wanting to continue to instigate trouble with the Staff who “kicked him out”.
  3. Should it be necessary to subdue or restrain a Patron until the arrival of Law Enforcement, do your best to clear an area to keep other Patrons clear of any trouble. (Remember “The Buddy System”?)

In almost any case, calm dialogue with customer service in mind will alleviate any need for physicality. Any Patron who aggressively rejects a reasonable request to behave should be asked to leave. They can be told that if they do not leave they will be considered to be trespassing. You will be forced to call the police and once Law Enforcement arrives, it is your nightclub’s policy to have trespassers arrested. It’s amazing how quickly most people will leave when you state this fact.

As always, communication is the key to any successful ejection. A constant flow of communication between Staff and Patron, Patron and Staff, and Staff and Staff.

Notification – ALWAYS notify the Door Outs, VIP Host, and ID Check of any ejections. This will allow them to hold the door (to prevent bottle-necking), clear the entry/exit (in case you are actually carrying someone out), call Law Enforcement (should you be busy with a trouble Patron), and most important: be aware that you are heading in their direction. Once an ejection is complete, it is imperative that those working the Entry know who was ejected and why. Who, so that they can prevent said individual from re-entering that same night. And Why, so that they can answer any questions by either the Patron or Law Enforcement.

Remember, just because someone is a little loud, a little drunk, or a little annoying doesn’t mean they need to be ejected. Treat each incident on a case by case basis, and talk with your Staff at the conclusion of each ejection. That way you can go over what went wrong or preferably…what went RIGHT.

Until next time…