End of Night Checklist…

About 30 minutes before closing time, you should start to notice a familiar pattern in any Bar or Nightclub. No, I’m not talking about desperate men or women looking for that last chance at “love”. I’m talking about Security Staffers prepping their areas for Last Call and Closing. If you’ve seen a well-trained Staff closing, they do it with almost military precision. Chances are they have been either trained on how to close, have a checklist, or both.

In yet another part of our series on Paperwork, we dissect the Closing Checklist and its various components.

First off, I find that a Closing Checklist is actually more important than one for Opening (which will be covered soon, promise). At the end of a long night of work, it is very easy to get lax and forget about what you need to do to wrap things up and get home. You’ve been on your feet for hours, dealing with all kinds of ridiculousity (yeah, that’s a real word…kind of…not really), and want nothing more than to herd the Patrons out and climb in bed. But realistically, this last 30-60 minutes is THE most important part of your night. People are at their most intoxicated and unpredictable, so wouldn’t it behoove you to be the most on top of your game?

The Closing Checklist will obviously vary from Bar to Nightclub to Lounge to Restaurant, but these basics should cover most of what you need:

MUSIC OFF – Yes, there is actually time that the music (whether DJ or in-house stereo) needs to be turned off. And the DJ won’t do it on their own, they need to be reminded. Find out what Noise Abatement regulations exist in your town, put the time the music needs to be OFF at the top of your list, and ENFORCE it. No one will be happy about it, but then again at the end of the night , is anyone ever happy with any decision you make regarding their fun?

CLEAR STANCHIONS – This can vary depending on the establishment. Many places of business need to get the sidewalks as clear as possible before letting out 100-500 Patrons. Moving stanchions can help to give the crowd room to move and allow your staffers to direct traffic. It also removes the possibility that stanchions will be used as weapons should a fight break out. Some establishments prefer to keep stanchions in place to guide traffic. Unless you have an individual manning the stanchions and ready collapse them instantly, I personally do not recommend this approach.

CLEAR CLUB INTERIOR – Before Last Call is announced, your Staffers should already be in place ready to begin The Push. Placing this item on the checklist will assure that it gets done.

CLEAR FRONT SIDEWALK/ALLEY/WALKWAY – Wherever there is an exit from your establishment, you should have Staffers stationed to keep the Patrons moving. Clearing this area also includes picking up any floor/doormats and garbage that might impede or interfere with flow of Patrons from inside your place of business.

RETURN ALL FURNITURE – I had an experience once where a Staffer left all of the Patio Chairs in an alley. All night. Until the next day. In plain sight. While it may seem obvious, you should be platooning people out to return all furniture to its proper place.

RETURN RADIOS AND EARPIECES – Make sure the your Staff is returning their gear, unless they own it!

LOCK FRONT DOOR – It is always amazing to me how often this is overlooked. LOCK. THE. DOORS. It takes 2 seconds and can save you from liability and theft.

COMPLETE INCIDENT REPORTS – Make sure your Head of Security completes and files Incident Reports before he or she goes home. They should be completed at the time of an Incident, but sometimes things get hectic and left by the wayside. Do it at the end of the night, when events are still fresh in your mind.

CLOCK OUT – Obvious? Not always. People are tired, remember? Remind your Staff.

Based on the size of your business, this list can be shortened or lengthened to cover all of your bases. Regardless of the length of the list, I guarantee that having one will make sure that the necessary work gets done. I would also recommend that the Head of Security or Doorman is in charge of the Checklist as their responsibilities should be shifting towards the managerial at this point of the night.

Until next time…

Closing Time….

“You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here…”

Many of us have said it, some of us have heard it, and if you work in Nightclub Security, you’ve definitely felt it. There comes a point in the evening when people just need to GET. THE. HELL. OUT. And you just want to GET. THE. HELL. HOME. Sorry, no such luck. As a matter of fact, your job is the most dangerous and probably the busiest during the last 1 1/2 hours of the night. Let’s break it down…

MAGIC HOUR

No matter what type of nighttime entertainment establishment you  employs you, people get silly, stupid, and dangerous during the hour before last call. “Magic Hour” is when the most fights break out (usually because people are being silly and stupid), the most injuries occur, and the most intoxication sinks in. People have had all night to wind up to this last hour of craziness. This is when you need to be most alert and on top of your game, in spite of the fact that you have been going strong for the past few hours and could really use a break.

1) Observe the crowd – Now is the time to hone in on those folks who have been acting questionable. Slightly tipsy will have by this point become sloshed. Watch your intoxicated Patrons, and if possible, get  them out the door and into a cab preferably with some friends BEFORE Last Call and the push for the door. Keep an eye out for groups of men. Are they eyeballing the drunk females? Are they throwing the stink eye at other male Patrons? Now is the time to intervene. Let them know that they are being watched, either by making it blatantly obvious (standing right next to them) or by doing it in a subtle way (nodding and smiling). They will be less inclined to act like fools if they know they are being observed.

2) Staging- Get your Staff ready for the exodus towards the Exit. Position your staffers at posts that will help move traffic flow. Make sure they all have flashlights at the ready. Move your stanchions off the sidewalk and pick up any obstacles that might impede foot traffic as people try to exit.

3) Compartmentalize – If there are parts of the establishment that are empty, close them to Patrons NOW. Place a Staffer at the entrance to these areas and don’t admit anyone else. If the Patio is empty, keep it that way.

4) Give Patrons advance warning – If you are working in a smaller or quiet venue, a Staffer can circulate and let Patrons know that Last Call is approaching. Tell them how much time they have left and when you’ll have to take bottles and glasses.

LAST CALL

1) Once Last Call is announced, make sure that any Patrons not within earshot of the announcement are advised. Walk out to the Patio, Deck, and VIP lounge and make another announcement. Let people know that they have X amount of minutes before you will have to take their drinks

2) Outside Staffing – Your Doorman and Door Outs should have the sidewalk cleared and ready for exiting Patrons. It is a good idea to have a trashcan at the ready just inside the Exit Door for people to toss their bottles.

THE PUSH

At the decided upon time (usually 15 minutes before the hour) it is time to start moving people to the Exit Door. First of all, there should be a single Exit Door. Patrons should only be able to leave your establishment one way except for cases of emergency. This makes it easier for your Staff to keep an eye on exits and to guide people in one direction….OUT.

1) Narrowing the Chute – Much like cattle, intoxicated Patrons will follow the crowd. You want to make it as difficult as possible for people to back track or divert from their Exit. If you have a multiple floor establishment, start at the Top Floor and close down sequentially (3rd, 2nd, 1st floor). If your club has multiple rooms, close the outer rooms until you only have one room to work with.

2) Push from the Back – Form a line of Staffers and start edging people towards the Exit Door. You can make announcements as you do so: “Night’s over folks, thanks for coming in.” “Alright people, let’s move.” or the good old, “Time to leave, people!” As always, make sure your announcement matches the environment of your club, yeah? If necessary, use your flashlights to guide people towards the Exit.

3) Watch for bottles and glasses – People WILL try to sneak drinks out. Post someone at the Exit Door by the trashcan to intercept them. Watch for hands tucked into jackets, under shirts or behind hand bags. Take bottles and glasses and throw them away or stack them

THE SIDEWALK

1) Have AT LEAST 2 Staffers on the Sidewalk to deal with the exodus. If possible to physically “funnel” Patrons to either side of the entrance (through the use of stanchions), great. If not, have the Staffers point in the direction they wish the crowd to move. Gentle encouragement is recommended as well. “Thanks for coming folks, I need you to keep the doorway clear. Move to the side please.” Flashlights work wonders for moving people out of the way. No one likes a flashlight shining in their eyes.

2) Shift Staffers – Once your various rooms in the establishment are cleared, move spare Staff onto the street to help with traffic flow. But don’t move everyone! Make sure you have enough left to keep an eye out for interior stragglers.

CLOSE HOUSE

1) Stragglers – Double check all of your rooms, stairwells, and bathrooms. NO ONE is allowed in the bar after The Push. No girlfriends, boyfriends, parents, roommates. They can wait outside. Severely intoxicated Patrons should be dealt with by calling them a cab or calling Law Enforcement.

2) Make sure that money is NOT being counted out in the open. It should be done in a room with a lockable door. If there is no access to an office and IF all the doors in your club are locked, then pick a corner, out of sight, to count the cash. YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN A STRAGGLER OR BAD GUY WILL WALK IN THROUGH AN OPEN DOOR. Don’t put your Staff at risk.

DEBRIEF AND OUT

1) Debrief – Have your Head of Security gather your Staff and talk about the night: any problems or issues, equipment malfunctions, ideas or suggestions, upcoming events, staffing problems, etc. You’d be amazed at how many things happen that no one ever hears about during the evening UNLESS YOU ASK.

2) Equipment check – Make sure all equipment has been returned and is prepped for the next shift.

3) Leave the building – IF Security leaves prior to the rest of the Staff, make sure that the doors are closed and locked behind you. Remove your “Security” shirt before you leave or cover it. I suggest that Security leaves as a group or at least in twos. The Buddy System always helps! There have been times when upset Patrons waited for Security after the closing of the bar. Have your car keys in hand and be aware of your surroundings. If you see something or someone suspicious alert the bar and Law Enforcement.

As always, be safe above all else. Until next time…

Open Up!

For many people who hold jobs, starting the work day is pretty straight forward: walk into the office with a cup of coffee, start up the computer, read some emails, and kill time until the boss catches you or you actually have to start work. Guess what? Many people who work security in nightclubs and bars often take the same approach: walk in the door with your 5 hour energy drink, set-up some stanchions, and kill time until the boss catches you or a customer shows up.

Honestly, it is easy to see why security staffers often feel that they don’t need to do much upon arrival. They figure that since the bar manager has been in the establishment for at least a few hours, the bar is set up, music is going, and they know when the first rush of clients is going to arrive, why should they do any work?

Uhm, because it’s your job.

And the better prepared you are to do your job, the better off both you and your place of business will be. I hate to burst your laziness bubble, but I guarantee that there is plenty for you to do prior to starting your shift or opening.

1) Pre-Departure – Yeah, you should probably be ready for work before you leave the house. And part of that is getting yourself in the right mental state. Think about what day it is and what type of crowd you are expecting (depending on the day). Is it Thursday Night College Night or is it Mellow Jazz Lounge Sunday? You have to be paying attention either way but chances are that Mellow Jazz Lounge Sunday will be a bit less stressful and as such will allow you to work in a state of more “relaxed awareness”.

What are you wearing? Are your clothes clean? Shoes look decent? Do you have all of your gear? Gel insoles? Flashlight (how are the batteries)? Breath mints? Cell phone? Earpiece? Nothing sucks more than showing up missing equipment or needing to drive back home to grab something.

2) Arrival and Greetings – You should be arriving 10-15 minutes early, dressed, well groomed, and ready to go. Do you look like you just rolled out of bed? Take a minute or two at the car (or hey, here’s and idea: before you leave the house) to make sure you look presentable. Believe it or not, looking the part will lead to acting the part. And acting the part will lead to you actually doing your job.

Say hello to the bar/nightclub/lounge staff that you encounter on the way to the equipment room or office. It will give you an idea of who is working and they’ll know that another piece of the security pie has arrived.

3) Gear up – Head to the equipment room or office and get your radio or any other gear that your workplace provides. Put it on and test it before you leave the room! Nothing looks more unprofessional than an employee testing equipment in front of a bunch of Patrons.

4) Find your Head of Security/Manager/Supervisor – Ask them, “Are there any special events booked or guests that will be arriving during the night? What post will I be manning? Any special orders for the night? Guest lists? Special guest requests?” You’d be surprised at how often a manager will forget to tell you things. By asking, you not only help to jog their memory, but get yourself even more mentally prepared for the night to come. The last thing you want to hear at 10:15 is “Oh yeah, at 10:20 we have a party of 30 coming in.” Ask questions, it never hurts.

5) Prep the establishment – If you are the first one on, here is a good checklist to follow:

Doors – Are all exit doors secure and in working order? That means do they open and close.

Restrooms – Do the doors work? Toilets flush? Sinks work? Many times YOU are the one that will have to deal with restroom issues. It makes sense to check them ahead of time and save yourself some possible aggravation.

Hallways,Stairs, and Walkways – Are they free of debris/trashcans/furniture? Make sure people can get around without climbing over or around things.

Front Door Check – If you are working the Front, do you have everything you will need? Make sure you have stanchions, ID books, count clickers, Nightly Report binders, and anything else your establishment uses at the Front Door.

Set-up – Any stanchions, tables, cash registers, ropes, chairs, etc. that you will use during the course of the evening. Have these prepped and ready BEFORE the crowds arrive. Otherwise you will have a logistical nightmare on your hands.

Briefing – Get together with the rest of the security team and your Head of Security or Manager and find out what else is going on that evening. This not only gets everyone on the same page, but finalizes your prep.

Now…you’re mentally prepared, your equipment is set, and you can really start your night. Take a deep breath and get to it!

Until next time…