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…

Nightclub Security Positions (Part 4) – The Doorman

Everyone wants to be The Doorman. No, really. The goal of every person working on a Nightclub Security Staff is to be The Doorman. It is seen as the ultimate power position, the shot-calling spot, the decider of who enters or who does not. Security Staffers think about what they have to do and how they have to do it to reach this coveted spot “On The Rope”.

Well, it’s time to crush a few dreams.

One of the most difficult positions in any Nightclub or Bar is, you guessed it: The Doorman. You take the most abuse, get cursed at regularly, and are told that you are worthless, stupid, and on an ego trip. And this is from people trying to get INTO the bar. Doorman are spit at, swung on, laughed at, and have things thrown at them. Boyfriends want to fight you for hitting on their girlfriend and girlfriends want to fight you for not letting in their boyfriend. 90% of the time The Doorman is taking abuse. The other 10%? Actually doing your job.

So what in actuality IS The Doorman’s job?

To begin with, you need to know how to do the jobs of every other Security Staffer in your establishment. Roamers, Floormen, Door Outs, all these positions have some bit of knowledge that will be relevant to your position at the Front Door. And more often than not on a slow night, you will be called on to fill in someone else’s position in a pinch.

As Doorman you need to be well acquainted with the Policies and Procedures of your establishment. This is to ensure that you can answer any Patron’s questions with confidence. Nothing is more telling of a Doorman’s lack of professionalism than his (or her) inability to answer basic questions about their bar or nightclub.  A Doorman needs to know all Security Staffers’ names, the establishment’s capacity, entrance and exit points, the location of fire extinguishers, equipment, the Manager’s Office, and any and all information that Law Enforcement or the Fire Department may request. After all, the Doorman is usually the first face that they will encounter upon arrival during an emergency.

As Doorman you need to know your IDs inside-out and back to front. You are the first line of defense when it comes to keeping underage drinkers out of the bar. A good Doorman will always keep an ID Book near should an unusual ID pop up. You should know a fake ID within a few seconds of it being handed to you. Believe it or not, one of the biggest Doorman fails is just checking to see if the ID is real and not matching it up with the person who gave it to them!

Controlling the flow of people into the nightclub/bar is another important duty. If your establishment is running multiple lines (VIP, Table, General admission), communicating with the other Doormen/Hosts is key to keep things moving. The second a line starts to back up or bulge onto the sidewalk, you are presenting yourself with a whole other set of issues. Now, some nightclubs/bars want a long line. Fine. But you need to figure out how to move those people in quickly once they get to the front of the line.

Managing the individuals entering the club is another important aspect of the Doorman’s job. Are they drunk? Aggressive? Rude? You need to make a call on whether or not to let them in. Your club may have a strict dress code or a “look” that they expect from their Patrons. Make sure you know what it is depending on the night of the week. And finally, it is often the Doorman’s job to be the “face” of the club. You are the first people see when they arrive and the last one they see when they stumble out the door. You want to be remembered as the nice guy, not the jerk.

Among the Doorman’s other responsibilities:

  • Prep and clean Front Entry
  • Set-up line ropes, stanchions, trashcan, and mats
  • Assist VIP Host/Hostess throughout evening with any concerns. Make sure that you are in constant communication with the VIP booth in order to ensure a smooth flow of Patrons. The last thing a VIP wants is to be held up at the Front Door, regardless of how much money they are paying
  • Facilitate cover charge (when applicable). IF you are tasked with charging cover, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ENOUGH CHANGE AND CHECK IT OFTEN. Nothing will hold up a line faster than a Doorman waiting for change.
  • Keep capacity count. This is very important, especially is medium sized clubs. The Fire Marshall and Law Enforcement WILL shut you down for being over capacity. And while the tendency is to go over capacity, make it your job to let the Manager know when you are getting close to full. This will help you manipulate the line.
  • Work closely with Law Enforcement to maintain order at Front Door and Sidewalk. Listen to Law Enforcement. They may make your life miserable at times, but it is for a reason. While it may be a pain to clear that sidewalk, it is an even bigger pain (and way more dangerous) to break up a fight between two groups waiting to get in.

A Doorman needs two things more than anything else: PATIENCE and a SENSE OF HUMOR. Patience is key when dealing with language barriers, intoxicated Patrons, people who have been ejected, or people you won’t let in. It is important that you learn how to defuse heated situations, without getting personally involved. Anyone working in Security should read: Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion

Being a Doorman is like being a comedian who is being heckled for four hours a night. Learning how to deflect insults will prolong your sanity and make your nights far less stressful. Learn how to take a deep breath, count to 10, and move on. You must be able to laugh at the ridiculousness of any number of situations you encounter. You must be able to laugh at yourself, your co-workers, and yes, Patrons who are acting irrationally (though hopefully not in their face).

You will be yelled at.

You will be called names.

You will be poked in the chest.

Your friends will approach you when the line is 50 deep and ask to be let in.

Women will flirt with you and call you the wrong name.

Men will suddenly become your best buddy and try to tip you $1 instead of paying the $20 cover.

Someone will threaten you.

People will get angry at you.

People will tell you that  your club sucks and that you are a terrible person, even though they waited in line for an hour to get in.

DEAL WITH IT.

If you cannot handle being treated poorly, you should not be a Doorman. If you can’t take insults hurled at you from across the street, you should not be a Doorman. You have to take abuse with a smile and break bad news to people with a smile. You have to turn people away from the door in a manner that makes them feel good about themselves and let people into the club that you would never talk to in the “real” world. You will make people angry, sad, or happy depending  on whether or not you let them in. As a co-worker of mine once said, “The Doorman is only the good guy when someone is let into a club, without waiting, for free, with five of their friends. The rest of the time we are just big jerks.”

Still want to be The Doorman?