Getting A Promotion, Part 2

Contrary to popular belief – and the photograph above – promotions are not handed out on silver platters. Getting a promotion is a combination of skill set, training, attitude, and a number of often intangible factors. Bottom line: promotions and raises aren’t just handed out because employees feel they deserve them. Employees need to prove their value to any company, over time, and on a consistent basis.


I discussed the value of learning everything there is to know about your position so that you have developed a solid skill set. But once you’ve learned “the basics”, what next? I am a huge proponent of constant training and education. There is no reason why you should not be working on improving your existing skills through training, re-training, and training others ALL THE TIME. This may mean searching out classes, courses, seminars, or even new reading materials. There is a wealth of information to be gleaned from a multitude of sources, ESPECIALLY in the field of Security. You should ALWAYS find ways to improve yourself, some that you might not consider “relevant” to your position: business classes, CPR classes, learning a foreign language, or even learning a new skill (bartending, anyone?). You never know what insights you may learn from doing something “outside” of your realm.

Along with those classes, certifications and licensing should NEVER be overlooked. Everything from chemical weapon sprays, to tasers, to exposed handguns, to batons, to EMT certifications…everything relevant to Security should be in your bag. Every state in the U.S. has some type of certification or licensing requirement to work in every field of Security. If you are reading this and aren’t licensed, you need to do it ASAP. Not only are you a huge liability to your company, but you are probably working illegally.

Another perk of licensing, training, and certification is that is shows your employer (or potential employer) that you are SERIOUS about what you do. It shows initiative, drive, and a genuine interest in your chosen field. If two resumes come across my desk, both with equal amounts of work experience, but only one has training and certifications…I’m probably going to go with the trained candidate.


We have entered into an age of entitlement in many companies. Workers expect to be advanced merely due to the fact that they show up for work. Throughout your career, you need to evaluate what you are bringing to the table for you company. Oftentimes, your direct Supervisor will NOT tell you what you are doing right, because they are concerned that THEY are not doing things right. Take a long look at your strengths, weaknesses, skills (or lack of) and decide what YOU need to do in order to advance. Can you be self-critical?  You need to be in order to evolve as a person and as an employee.

As for moving up that ladder, which rung is the right one for you? Are you aiming directly for the top or are you content with moving in smaller steps? Can you justify a huge jump up the ladder? Have you considered what it actually means to make that jump? If you are wanting to move up and have the notion that a promotion means a little bit of responsibility for a lot more pay…think again. More often than not, that money means a lot more work and a lot more responsibility. Are you ready for that? Be honest with yourself. Many people discover – way too late – that making the move up was a big mistake.

Attitude and approach.

A strong work ethic.

A strong skill set.

A desire to learn new things.

The ability to take criticism and learn from it.



Self evaluation.

Add these things to your list of “must do’s”. Only then can you begin to consider advancing in your career or asking for that promotion.

Until next time…

Getting A Promotion…

I was having a discussion with a friend the other day and they asked, “How quickly does someone become a Doorman?” This lead to a discussion with a ton of different tangents, before returning to the basic answer of:

What is that individual’s experience and skillset?

There are few jobs in a Nightclub or Entertainment setting into which you can slide with no experience. Head of Security, Doorman, and Bartender are three of them. Each of these demands a specific skillset and at least some background experience. I can’t imagine having a bartender with no experience make me a complicated drink any more than I can imagine a Head of Security not knowing how to fill out an Incident Report.

So how does one work their way up the ranks in a job setting, especially in the field of Security? How do you put yourself in the position to receive a promotion?

Besides having the correct Attitude and Approach, the only way to truly advance is EXPERIENCE. You have to put in the time.  Only by putting in the time will you learn the intricacies of each position on the Security Staff, which will – along with some demonstrated initiative – allow you to advance and be considered for promotion.

By way of example, here is an excerpt from an Employee Manual:

Skill set:

  • Assist Patrons with any questions or concerns
  • Have general knowledge of  XXXXX Policies and Procedures
  • Monitor sobriety of Patrons
  • Circulate throughout XXXXX, evaluating the conduct and attitudes of Patrons and looking for inappropriateness and misbehavior
  • Monitor male-to-male behavior like rough-housing and possible early stages of altercations
  • Interdict and de-escalate verbal altercations between Patrons
  • Interdict and de-escalate physical altercations between Patrons
  • Maintain flow of foot traffic throughout XXXXX
  • Lookout for hazards to Patrons and Staff, including: broken glass, bottles, chairs, tables, and any other possibly dangerous obstructions.
  • Attend to the needs of over-intoxicated or physically ill Patrons
  • Attend to general cleanliness of  XXXXX
  • Advise Floorman/Zone Leads of any possible altercations or trouble
  • Assist Zone Leads with any work requests
  • Clear Front Sidewalk of Patrons post-closing

These are the required skills for the most BASIC of positions. By way of comparison, let’s look at the skill set for the Head of Security:

Demonstrated knowledge of all Roamer responsibilities

Demonstrated knowledge of all Floorman responsibilities

Demonstrated knowledge of all Door Out responsibilities

Demonstrated knowledge of all ID Check responsibilities

Demonstrated knowledge of all Zone Lead responsibilities

  • Formulation and implementation of XXXXX Security Staff Policies and Procedures
  • Interviewing and hiring of potential Security Staff candidates
  • Conduct procedural training of new and current Security Staff
  • Formulation and management of Security Staff schedules
  • Conduct Security Staff job performance and disciplinary reviews
  • Assist Management with any major Event or Promotion preparation
  • Assignment of nightly Security posts
  • Oversee Security Staff throughout duration of nightly shifts
  • Act as liaison between Security Staff and Management
  • Communicate with Zone Leads and Management to ensure continuity of service throughout duration of evening
  • Act as Liaison to VIP Hostess for any VIP Security needs
  • Act as Liaison to Law Enforcement during sweeps
  • Report all Incidents and responses to Management
  • Review and complete Security Staff paperwork, including Nightly and Incident Reports
  • Conduct end of night Security Staff meeting and Management debrief

A little bit more detailed, no? You’ll notice the first thing listed is “Demonstrated knowledge of…” Think about it: How can you possibly do your supervisor’s job if you don’t know how to do your job and the jobs of every other position on your crew?

One cannot expect to manage a Staff (regardless of the type of job) unless they know what the Staffers do!  For one, it allows you as the manager to “get in their shoes”. Why does guarding the garbage suck so much? You should know, you’ve done it. “How do I fill out an Incident Report?” You should know, you’ve done it. And based off of YOUR experience in the lower rung position, you might be able to make some changes, adjustments, or improvements to that position when you advance.

Finally, the most important reason that you should know how to do everyone’s job:


Someone might call in sick. Or get fired. Or really need to go to the bathroom. And you are the only one around to do the job. But that’s not a problem…BECAUSE YOU’VE DONE IT BEFORE. Learning how to do everyone’s job doesn’t just help you: it helps your co-workers as well.

Now you know to start soaking in information like a sponge. But what else does it take to get that promotion? You’ll have to wait for that information.

Until next time….

Conducting Nightclub Security Interviews, Part 2

Last week we started to discuss the basics of interviewing Security Staffers. This week we’ll get into a little bit more detail.


Right off the bat, you want to be the one directing the interview, not the Interviewee. So make sure that you have your questions ready to go. And when formulating your questions, consider not only the information that the Interviewee will give you – like the basics of who they are and where they’ve worked – but where the questioning may lead.

Oftentimes, an answer to an interview question will give you an idea as to something else you’d like to ask that you hadn’t considered. Conversely, you can ask a question that forces your interviewee to disclose more than they expected. Asking your Interviewee an unusual question can help give you insight to their personality or personality quirks. One of my favorite questions is seemingly pretty straightforward:

“Tell me about the worst job you’ve ever had?”

First off, most people have at least one complaint about somewhere they have worked. There is always something that bothers you about your job. Always. Second, by asking this question – which most people will readily answer – it relaxes your Interviewee. “Wow, he’s asking about that really crappy job, now I can vent.” It’s a little tricky, but getting an Interviewee to relax will allow you to see the parts of their personality that they usually wouldn’t reveal. Especially during an interview! Third, when people vent about things they don’t like, it will give you an idea of whether they will be a good fit for your establishment. Interviewees have actually told me that they couldn’t stand their last boss because he expected them to always be one time. No, really, that happened.


Remember our recent post about Scenarios? Now would be a great time to ask your Interviewee some of those scenarios questions. Think up any number of things that could go wrong during a shift and ask them how they would handle it. Again, the answers can be incredibly revealing. And better to ask now than find out the hard way when something goes wrong.

I generally ask between 3-4 scenarios questions dealing with:

  • Intoxicated Patrons
  • Intoxicated Co-workers
  • Altercations and Ejections
  • Incidents in general

Asking questions relating to behavior is another great interview tool. Have they made any mistakes on the job? How did your Interviewee react to making the mistake? Have they had conflicts with management and how where they resolved? Scenarios and behavioral questions go a long way to seeing if your Interviewee will be the right fit for your establishment.


Besides taking notes on your Interviewees answers, you should also be watching their body language? Do they appear nervous? Flustered? Poised? How did they act towards your receptionist/host/hostess when they arrived for the interview? How did they act after the interview? Pay attention to their non-verbal cues, things like shifting in their seat, avoiding eye contact, or excessive perspiration. If they are nervous to begin with, do they calm down as time goes on? Are they watching you or the clock?


Remember, you are the one dictating when the interview begins and ends. Make sure to let the know that their time is up and that the interview is over. Thank them for coming in and ALWAYS ask if they have any questions for you. The good candidates usually do.

After the interview, review your notes, make reference calls and background checks, and ask your co-interviewers (if you had any) their opinions. And make sure to take note of your Interviewees’ responses to the interview opportunity itself. Have they written you a “thank-you email”? Have they called to expand on earlier answers? Do they have further questions? Make sure that you note these things.

Once you have reviewed things on your end, I would suggest a second interview. You can make this less formal, add additional interviewers, or even do it over the phone. Involve those people who you think are important to the hiring process (ahem, Head of Security) and have a new set of questions to ask. Chances are this second interview will only confirm your decision to hire, but it is always better to be safe than sorry. Never feel obligated to hire someone because they’ve made it this far into the process.

Take your time. Even if you need to hire someone ASAP, you still have time to think about your decision. Better to take time on the front end than have to deal with the flak later. Remember, this individual will (hopefully) be with you for a while, make their hire a carefully thought-out choice. Good luck and happy hunting!

Until next time…

Conducting Nightclub Security Interviews, Part 1

Inevitably, a time will come when you need to conduct interviews for Security Staffers. Maybe you are a new establishment, maybe you just fired some workers, or maybe you just need more bodies. Regardless of the reason you need new Staff, you should always take the same measured, careful approach to hiring. Unless, of course, you enjoy lawsuits, irresponsible workers, and an overall useless Staff. Hey, you might like those types of aggravation….but I hope not. Today will discuss some interview basics.


Many people like to schedule interviews with open-ended hours, i.e. “Interviewing between 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.” I have found that this approach may work with a large group of Interviewees, but more often than not it leads to “bunching” with many people showing up at the front and back end of the time slots or a large group of people sitting around waiting to be interviewed. I prefer an approach whereby a set time is given to prospective employees, “We have a few slots available between 9 and 12. What works for you?” This not only places the initiative in the Interviewees’ hands, but allows you to set a fixed time for interview length, say 15 minutes.


Where will you be conducting your interviews? Office? Dance Floor? Park Bench? Will the Interviewees be seated in close proximity to those being interviewed and be able to hear the questions? Or will they be in a separate room? No matter where you conduct the interviews, make sure you have comfortable seating, good ventilation, and a little water – for both you and the Interviewee.


You’ve got your interviews set-up, now what? First and foremost, YOU need to be organized. Do you:

  • Have an individual folder for each Interviewee?
  • Have a printed schedule of interview times?
  • Have a notepad and pens or pencils?
  • Have a business card ready to hand out?
  • Have a copy of each Interviewees’ resume/application (with notes?)

Your agenda should also include the order in which you want to run the interview: introduction, position details, company information, interview questions, closing, etc. The Agenda is one of the most important parts of your interview because it shows the Interviewee that you are organized, prepared, and ready to go.

So, now your interviews are scheduled, your location is finalized, and your agenda is looking sharp. Let’s go out there and do some interviewing!


Just like Detective Joe Friday, you want good, solid information with which to work. Your first set of interview questions should relate directly to the information the Interviewee has given you on their application/resume. This will not only confirm that the information is true (What!? You mean people lie on applications and resumes!?), but can help fill in any gaps on the written page. Some possible questions:

  • How long did you work for Billy’s Bar
  • Tell me about your job duties at Billy’s Bar
  • What were working the conditions at Billy’s Bar
  • Why do you want to work for us

Questions like these will give you a foundation from which to build the rest of your interview and help you to guide the interview in the direction you wish it to go.

So, what direction is that? Well, you’ll have to tune in next week for Part 2. Sorry, I couldn’t resist the cliff-hanger!

Until next time…

Denying Nightclub Entry

There are two basic realities when doing business in the Club world: Not everyone can get into your establishment and not everyone should be allowed into your establishment. There will always be times when someone is denied entrance to your club, for any number of reasons. The fact is that there are basic rules and regulations that need to be followed in regards to admission.

The problems usually start when your “rules” don’t fit with what is legally acceptable. Arbitrary refusal of service is illegal. However, if the Patrons’ behavior (e.g. flashing gang signs) or dress (as in wearing “gang colors”) detract from the safety, well being, or welfare of the other customers or the establishment itself, refusal of service is legitimate. (Local laws vary and as such you should know what they are and how they apply to you.)

There are situations and circumstances which are universal to establishments that serve alcohol. Here are some hints on how to deal with them.

1) UNDER AGE PATRONS – The legal age for consumption of alcohol in the United States is 21. Period. Unless your establishment is running an “All Ages” or “18+” night, this law never changes. So don’t let underage drinkers in. Ever. Period.

2) OVER INTOXICATION – The hardest thing for any establishment to do is strike the very precarious balance between selling alcohol and keeping their Patrons at a “safe” level of sobriety. Your Door Staff are really the first line of defense when it comes to keeping your place of business at the “safe” level. Allowing an intoxicated individual into your establishment not only increases your liability, but increases the risk of altercations and accidents. In many states, the final establishment an intoxicated individual frequented may be held liable for the actions of that individual once they leave. Car crash? Fight? They can lead back to you and your bartenders.

Sometimes it is as simple as telling an overly-intoxicated individual that they’ve had too much to drink and you cannot allow them in. But more often than not this will elicit a response of , “I am NOT drunk.”, which will lead into a circular conversation that goes nowhere. Many Doormen will tell overly-intoxicated Patrons to “come back in an hour”. It often works, as by the time an hour has passed the Patron will either have forgotten the invitation, found another place to drink, or passed out. But you do run the risk of the Patron returning.

The easiest solution I’ve found is to offer free passes or drink tickets for the next time the intoxicated Patron comes to your establishment.  This will show that you do want their business…just not tonight.  Outright rejection is never easy for anyone to take and denial of entrance  couched with an invitation to return at another time helps to ease the blow.

3) DRESS CODE – While we have covered this subject in detail in a previous post, there are a couple of things I’d like to touch on in regards to Dress Code. First off, besides intoxicated Patrons, individuals who do not pass Dress Code are going to be the majority of the rejections at your Front Door. And, most of these individuals will take offense when told that they will not be let in based on how they are dressed. Often, “not passing dress code” is taken to mean that the individual is sloppy or low-class. In reality, this is far from the truth. Dress Codes are implemented to give clubs a look, draw a specific clientele, or for special events. Dress Code can be ugly Xmas sweaters for a party, button down shirts and dress pants on Friday nights, or vests and riding boots in a motorcycle bar. The key is to let your Patrons know what the appropriate Dress is before they wait in line.

Always post your dress code. On your website, on the front door, at the entrance to any lines. It should list exactly what items of clothing are prohibited. Ultimately, the goal is to educate your Patrons so they know what to expect when they are preparing for a night in your establishment. In the same vein, your Doormen should know to be polite and apologetic when denying entrance for Dress Code. Explaining to Patrons why they cannot enter is always better than an outright rejection. Have your Door Staff prepared to answer all questions regarding Dress Code with an explanation.

“Why dress shirts and pants?” – We run a promotion every Saturday we call ‘Business Casual’. It’s like a costume party, but with stylish clothes. But we relax the Dress Code on Fridays if you’d like to come back. (If your dress code is always business casual, you can state that the look for the club is “upscale”)

“Why no open-toed shoes?” – We don’t want to risk anyone cutting their feet should their be broken glass on the floor. We want you to be safe.

“Why no athletic jerseys?” – Unfortunately, we’ve had some problems with rival teams’ fans starting altercations. On Sundays we allow jerseys during games.

Again, educating the customer will let them know what is or is not allowed. With enough time and “education” most people will know what the Dress Code is for your establishment.

4)  UNRULY CUSTOMERS – The most difficult and often most dangerous Patrons to deal with are those who are acting unruly before they even enter. Being rude to others in line, pushing or shoving their friends (or other Patrons), skipping in line, or just plain being abrasive, there is a good chance that the behavior of these Patrons will deteriorate once they enter and start drinking (or drink more than they already have). It is EXTREMELY important that when dealing with these individuals your Door Staff be patient and always have back-up.

While there is no easy way to turn these Patrons away, one approach that works well is for the Door Staff to “deflect” the blame. The Doorman can state that his boss “…believes that your group is too intoxicated to be let in.” Again, when preceded with an apology, “I’m sorry but…”, it is easy for the Staffer to play the “I’m just following orders” card. This technique works even better if the group sees an individual (it can even be another Staffer) speaking to the Doorman just prior to their arriving at the Front Door. The “manager” can then step inside, out of the group’s eyesight and “unavailable” to talk.

Is this approach sneaky? Yes. But if applied by a patient and apologetic Door Staffer, it can work wonders.

Remember, the key to Denial of Entry is to educate the Patron. Not condescend, not insult, not anger, but EDUCATE. Let them know WHY they can’t come in and how much you want for them to return another time. Heck, you’ll even buy them a drink!

Until next time…

Nightclub Industry Interview: Shaun Lager

Shaun Lager is a Bar and Nightclub Industry veteran and current Head of Security for EOS Lounge. He is also the creator of the ID Sleuth, which I recently reviewed. I had the opportunity to sit with Mr. Lager, discuss the current state of Nightclub Security, and get his take on where Security is now compared to when he began in the 1990’s.

How long have you worked in the Bar and Nightclub Industry?

12 years so far.  I started at an all-age venue called the Yucatan. It was gigantic, with a basement, a middle level, and an upper level. Live bands and music. I started bouncing without any prior experience. I just needed the money and I couldn’t bartend because I wasn’t 21 yet. I also did some bar backing for a little more cash, and when I turned 21, started bartending. But I would still work as a bouncer for the bigger shows. By the end of my stint there I wasn’t necessarily the Head of Security, but was more of the “right hand man”.  When it closed, I went to a placed called “Q’s” and did a couple of “tours”, as I like to call them.

How has Nightclub Security changed since you started?

When I started, it was basically big meatheads asserting authority. The attitude was, “If you mess around, we’re going to thump you.” The police never really got involved and no one got hurt, but bouncers would drop the hammer on people if they needed to. Today’s standards are completely different. More of it is customer-service based. Everyone’s got a lawyer, everyone knows a lawyer, especially in sue-happy California. When I started there were very few bars here. Now, you throw a rock and you hit three bars. With competition and litigation, you have to clean up your act. People want to go where they are treated properly, not where they get thumped.

With more emphasis being placed on customer-service, do you think Security has improved in clubs?

I do, for several different reasons. For one, we have more technology now. We didn’t have camera systems or radios back then. If something happened you took some witness statements – which usually contradicted themselves – and it was left at that.  Cameras change all of that. Improvement is a process, just as in any industry. Technology, police presence, competition, everything plays a part in it.

What about the quality of Security Staffers? Any improvement?

A little, but not much. Most of the time it’s still a lot of babysitting. It’s really hard to find good replacements, even for a position like mine (Head of Security). Someone who won’t lose their cool, someone who can deny an individual entry and still make them feel like it’s okay…especially in a small town.

You’ve worked as a bouncer and bartender, but you’ve also worked as a Manager. What do you see as the differences between the Managerial approach to Security and Security’s approach?

Here’s the way I like to look at it: a bar staff is kind of like a football team. A single player can’t pull everyone; you’re all parts of a whole. For example, back in the day, bartenders were the glory boys. They could do no wrong: get drunk, act like fools, whatever. Now, not so much. You can’t drink on the job for liability reasons. And that effects the bar as a whole.

I try to emphasis to my team that you have to work as a whole instead of just doing “your” job.

What are the kinds of things that you’ve argued about with Management?

(chuckles) I’ve always gotten my way. But seriously, I come into conversations saying,  “I’m doing things in this way, for this reason, because of this experience in the past.” I have a huge pool of situations to pull from, which has helped to form my knowledge base. And because I know management, I know the money side of things. I can say, “Well, this is the way to save money in the long run, or the business needs it.”

Case in point, in one of my jobs, part of my demands were new radios, new headsets, security cameras installed. And hey, that stuff is expensive, but it is also necessary. Fortunately, I can point out why.

What do you think gets overlooked the most by Bar/Nightclub Managers?

Cameras. Most places are busy 2-3 nights a week. I worked in a club that was filled to capacity 5 nights a week. The cameras I had there not only helped to keep an eye on employees, but made an impression on customers. If someone got into a situation, whether staff or patrons, the witness stories were always different. But you could go to the video and there are the facts, in plain black and white. They were really beneficial in slip and fall or assault cases.

But a lot of managers don’t think that way. They say, “Why do I need to see the video?”. Because it lets you catch doormen taking money, bartenders giving away drinks, basic but important stuff.

What are the challenges of an all-ages night?

18 and over night is a pain in the butt. They’re kids. They come drunk, they don’t know how to drink, all the guys are tough guys. And you have to let them know, “No, you can’t do that. This is the way things work.” You literally have to train them how to behave in a bar. It’s the same thing for working the beginning of the University school year. You’ve got a bunch of fresh 21’s who have never been in a bar and don’t know how to act.

What are the challenges of working a city this size (Santa Barbara)?

Your life is an open bubble to everyone. Especially when you add social networking sites. Your picture can be up on Facebook before you even get home at night. Nothing goes without being checked by the public. It’s like a game of politics. You really have to be on your toes in terms of dealing with every situation. It’s almost more PR than anything. If you throw someone out or don’t let someone in who is, or thinks they are somebody, the repercussions can be huge.

What is the size of your Staff now?

Fifteen. Usually the most I run is thirteen, including busboys. All of them pretty rookie, with under a year of experience. But I pick them like that because I can mold them. A lot of places they train their staff a certain way, but not the small town way. You have to really train them to understand that there is a lot of grey area in terms of how they need to deal with people.

"I tell my guys that it is their job to make a big situation small. The job is to make sure that everyone is having a good time. "

How do you train a new guy?

I have the club broken into sections. The least likely section for trouble is where I stick the new guys. I tell them what to look or and how to deal with certain things. And then I move them around when they start to understand things. When I roam the bar, I try to get in their head a little bit, see things the way they do. I’ll ask a lot of questions. See how they do in certain situations.  For example, I might ask, “Is this guy too drunk? Well, let’s find out” and show them by example how to deal with the issue.

A lot of the time, you don’t know what the new guys are thinking or where they are coming from. Are they freaked-out by some guy acting weird on the dance floor or do they realize that he’s just drunk and not a problem? The new guys need to know that people come to a nightclub to have fun. They’re allowed to get a little stupid.

I also make them call me if there is a situation they can’t handle or don’t understand. I will let them act as back up while I take care of the issue. And when I see that they are getting the hang of things, the roles will reverse and I will be back up. It’s all about baby steps.

Do you find that the newer staffers are confused that there is more to the job than just throwing people out the door?

Oh yeah. I sometimes put it to them like this, “You seem like a nice, tough guy, but try to throw me out of the club.” And I’m not a tough guy by any means. Add the twelve buddies that I brought with me to the mix, and they’re going to thump you.

I always try to take the new hires out of their element and make them see things through the customer’s eyes. Not only is that good for business because you are getting in their head, but it’s a good training tool.

And in terms of ejections, you have to make them know that they never know who they’re going to grab. I could look like nothing and be a Navy Seal or BJJ Black Belt. You never know who you are approaching in any situation. It ain’t Roadhouse.

I tell my guys that it is their job to make a big situation small. The job is to make sure that everyone is having a good time. A big disturbance changes the vibe in the nightclub. If you can contain a situation to five people, you did your job. Keep it to one person, even better. No one notices, excellent.

What is your most important function as a Head of Security?

Honestly? Being able to talk to people. Being able to understand the customer. You have to. You never want anyone to leave mad.

Thanks for your time.

No problem. Thank you.