Nightclub Security Fundamentals

In the wake of this week’s Orlando nightclub shooting, there has been much discussion about what could have been done to prevent a large-scale massacre. We must first recognize that shootings on this scale (over 10 people) in nightclub/bar environments have never occurred within the United States. To state that mass casualty incidents such as this one are the norm or increasing in entertainment venues is not only counterproductive, it is patently false. However, the stark reality is that there are incidents involving guns in and around nightclubs on a regular basis. At least every few days, there is a report about a shooting or altercation involving some type of firearm in a bar or nightclub. And while some would try to guide the discussion towards preventing these specific large-scale events from occurring, the more measured approach should be to examine how bar, nightclub, lounge, and nightlife venue security can be improved on the whole.

The ultimate goal for any owner is to provide a comfortable environment for people to enjoy themselves. But at the same time, they must reduce liability and deter or dissuade those with criminal or potentially violent intentions. No discussion about nightclub security can begin without first talking about the role of the security staffer. It is these employees whose part in the overall scope of security is critical to the function of any bar, nightclub, or nightlife venue. Security staffers act as the front line when it comes to reducing liability, providing protection (for both patrons and the physical venue), and dispensing solid customer service. They are usually the first – and last – individuals that patrons will encounter in an establishment, and the staff’s attitude and approach can mean the difference between a customer’s great night on the town or a ruined evening.

Security staffers will spot trouble before the CCTV system, respond to any issues before law enforcement, and take care of any number of problems before the manager can arrive to help out. But no matter how well trained the staff may be, their ability to provide a safe, secure venue for patrons is dependent on the steps that management takes to assist them in the performance of their duties. Every establishment’s security program needs to be built on the idea of “concentric rings of security”, of which the security staff is only one.

Your First Ring of Defense – The Exterior

The first ring of protection begins with the physical security measures in place outside of an establishment: CCTV cameras, secured places of ingress and egress, and visible security staff. People with questionable intentions – whether petty thieves, underage drinkers, or armed attackers – are often deterred by the mere fact that there is security in place. In the majority of cases, criminals do not want to be seen, heard, noticed, or remembered. CCTV cameras limit the criminal’s ability to access a location unseen or enact their plans without being captured on video. Externally locked and clearly marked exit doors not only limit access but can force troublemakers to travel in a direction that will place them in contact with a posted staff member or within line of sight of a camera. Dedicated entry areas force interaction with security staff providing an excellent opportunity for them to ask for ID, remember a face, or potentially bar access to the venue – again limiting options for the would-be criminal.

The physical design of an entry and layout of a rope line can also help to direct people to specific areas, forcing the criminal to figure a way around perceived obstacles. Separate staging areas (i.e. entry line, cover charge area, and coat check) provide additional opportunities for observation of potentially violent or illegal behavior. The more time a potential troublemaker is exposed in an open area or under the watchful eye of an individual or series of cameras, the less likely they are to take any chances. If a target is too difficult or time-consuming to get to, the criminal will choose another target.

Additional steps that can be taken at the front door include the addition of metal detectors (static or handheld), bag checks, and physical pat downs. Besides the potential discovery of weapons before they can be introduced into the venue, these stepped-up measures can reveal everything from illegal drugs to banned items. The obvious downside is that people want to go out for a night on the town, NOT take a trip through the TSA line in order to grab a drink! What some clientele may view as a necessary annoyance others might view as an unwelcome intrusion. Remember, what patrons experience at the front door is going to set the tone for the evening and as such, establishments should have in-depth discussions regarding the implementation of what might be interpreted by some as “extreme” measures.

The Interior Staff – Your Second Line of Defense

While front door staffers are keepers of the gate, interior staffers will be the ones holding the line once the patrons enter. Interior staffers are the eyes and ears of a venue and will more often than not be the first to respond to issues within the establishment. A visible, easily identifiable – whether by uniform, dress code, or name tag – security staff member acts not only as a deterrent but as a potential helping hand to patrons in need of assistance. Knowing that they can easily find and communicate with a security staffer adds to patrons’ comfort levels and thereby their enjoyment of the evening. They know that should a problem occur, there is a staff member there to help. Security staffers should always make it a point to interact with patrons. Extended conversations about the general state of world affairs aren’t necessary, but greetings and questions about how patrons’ evenings are going are a must. The smallest conversations can oftentimes help reveal trouble or brewing problems.

To that end, observation and communication are among the most important factors to successful security coverage. Too many times a potential issue is noticed or handled by staffers within the establishment and there is no communication of the incident to those working the front door, to management, or even to others working within the venue. Nightlife venues MUST have radios – and have staffers trained in their use – in order to rapidly and effectively relay important information. But keep in mind that no amount of communication will be of use if there is not a set of protocols, policies, and procedures in place should trouble of any sort arise.

From responses to altercations to dealing with dress code issues, venue security staff should be able to follow a set of steps to get them from Point A to Point Z. Ideally, these policies and procedures should be contained within a manual and used as the basis of training for both new and old employees. Constant training and reiteration of policies help to build the foundation of a security staff’s base of knowledge. Along those lines, staffers should know the location of basic emergency equipment: fire extinguishers, first aid kits, breaker boxes, and emergency lighting controls. Scenario training – everything from dealing with minor injuries to handling large scale fights – and evacuation drills will help to further reinforce any security staff’s knowledge base.

Finally, developing a good working relationship with local law enforcement is of the utmost importance. All establishments should already have the local police department or state liquor agencies training their employees in ID checks and how to spot intoxicated individuals. Management should also work in tandem with local law enforcement to develop a plan and train staff in what to do during an active shooter situation. Whether meeting regularly with the local Night Life team, speaking to beat officers about recent incidents, or hiring off-duty police officers to work within a venue, frequent contact with LEOs helps to extend an establishment’s rings of security.

Nightclub incidents like the mass shooting in Orlando are still an anomaly. But one would be foolish not to try and prepare for them. Designing a security program for any venue begins with an honest discussion. Owners and managers should take a careful look at their existing security framework: do they have “concentric rings” of security, set policies and procedures, and a viable relationship with local Law Enforcement? Studying what is already in place, discussing what can be improved, and figuring how to make those improvements while still providing customers with an enjoyable night out will only help in the long run. Flaws are only a problem if they remain unfixed. At the very least, enhancing a security program will protect a venue from potential liability and keep patrons safe and happy. In a worst-case scenario, it could save many lives.

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Nightclub Security Fundamentals

 

The Right to Refuse Service

I know that I’ll probably cause a stir in writing this but here it goes:

The customer is not always right.

I can almost hear the rebuttals, see the heads shaking, and visualize open-mouthed gapes of disbelief. For most people – alright, pretty much all people – working in the customer service industry, this belief in the customer’s all encompassing power to be in the right – no matter what the situation – is an unbreakable tenet. Well, I disagree with it and you should as well. The customer is NOT always right. The Patron who gropes your hostess is not in the right, the Patron who threatens your Security Staff is not in the right, and the Patron who demands entry to your establishment is not in the right. People can be as loud, abusive, and just plain rude as they want. That doesn’t make them right and it doesn’t mean that you and your Staff have to take it.

Now, all of that being said, I am not advocating your Hostess punch a groping Patron (though I would press for sexual assault charges) or your Security Staffers pick up threatening Patrons and heave them bodily out the door. It is up to your Staff to be the bigger person – so to speak – and respond to even the most negative of situations in a professional manner. Which leads us to the concept of Refusing Service.

“We Have The Right To Refuse Service To Anyone”

I can’t think of any business establishments where this sign has not been posted in some iteration. But what does it actually mean? Do you really have the right to refuse service to anyone? Well, yes…and no. Businesses are considered private property, which allows the owners to dictate to whom they will or won’t provide service. However, the majority of businesses are also considered places of “public accommodation” which means that their primary purpose is to serve the public in some way.

How does this affect your bar, restaurant, or club? The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits “discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin” in places of public accommodation. That means you can’t turn someone away on the basis of any of the things listed above. More recently, laws prohibiting the denial of service on the basis of sexual orientation have been passed in many US states.

“Well, heck!” some of you may say, “It doesn’t sound like I can refuse anyone service without getting sued for some sort of discrimination.”

Well, yes…and no. First off, if you are trying to deny service to someone based on their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, you may want to re-examine your business model. And if you are denying service based on these things, you WILL get sued. Second, if you want to refuse service based on more realistic or potentially liability-creating issues, you need to develop a set of rules and guidelines for your Staff to follow and let your Patrons know what they are.

First and foremost, develop a Dress Code. We’ve discussed this in detail in previous posts but long story short, if you make people dress nicely, odds are they won’t misbehave. And if they don’t fit the dress code, they can’t get in the bar. Your refusal of service has just gone from “We’re not going to let you in, just because.” to “I’m sorry we can’t let you in, we follow a strict dress code.” Over-intoxication is another easy out. If your Patron – or potential Patron – is too drunk to speak or walk, they need to go. Or they can’t get in. Boom…service refused.

Some scenarios can lead to future refusal of service. Take for example a group of Patrons who consistently get into fights or harass other Patrons. Management can easily say to these individuals that based on their behavior and your desire to keep your other Patrons safe, they are no longer welcome in your establishment. The same goes for people caught drinking underage or sneaking drinks into the bar or climbing over the wall to get in. If you break the rules, you can’t come back.

It is important to keep in mind that your refusal of service cannot be arbitrary! There must be a reason for you to refuse service and IT MUST BE CONSISTENT. For example, let’s say your Dress Code says “No athletic gear”. You cannot deny entry to a Patron for wearing a basketball jersey and then let in another Patron who is wearing the same basketball jersey but is “a friend of the owner”. Nor can you deny entry to an Asian woman for wearing baggy clothes but then let in an African American woman wearing the same outfit. The rules have to apply equally, to EVERYONE. In addition, you can’t set a policy that may exclude a particular group i.e. no headscarves or skullcaps allowed. This could potentially discriminate against Muslim and Jewish patrons and, in turn, lead to a discrimination lawsuit.

The key is to present your Patrons with options for attendance that put everyone in the same boat of expectations. Dress nicely and act nicely? We’ll welcome you. Dress poorly and act rudely? Please find another establishment. Set a policy, apply it equally to everyone, and deliver your message in a professional manner. That way, when a customer is wrong, you have a viable reason to refuse them service. And always, always, always, explain your reasoning to the Patron. They may not agree, but you’ve shed some light on your rationale and given yourself a foundation to stand on should they argue the policy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Let Them Drink and Drive

1467450_10102866756713397_1893859367_nOn Thursday, December 7th, 2013, a young bartender by the name of Mallory Rae Dies was crossing the street. She was struck by a driver who fled the scene. He was apprehended a few blocks away after crashing his car into a tree. Mallory was taken to the hospital.

On Wednesday, December 11th, 2013, Mallory Rae Dies succumbed to the injuries that she sustained in the accident. She was 27 years old.

When the driver of the vehicle was apprehended, his blood alcohol level was .17 – twice the legal limit for the state of California. This was his third DUI offense.

REALITY

The reality is that bars and nightclubs thrive on people having a good time. The reality is that some of these people will get drunk. The reality is that some of these people will have too much to drink. The reality is that a percentage of these people – both slightly buzzed and heavily intoxicated – will get into vehicles and drive. The tragic reality is that a percentage of these drivers will injure, maim, or kill someone else.

Does this mean that bars, restaurants, lounges, and nightclubs should stop serving alcohol?

No.

But the reality is that keeping your Patrons safe and trying to keep them from driving drunk or getting into trouble is something that should be emphasized as much as possible.

LEGAL LIABILITY & SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Most businesses want to reduce their liability as much as possible. In the litigious world we live in, you can be sued for almost anything. Slips, falls, fights, injuries – you name it, your establishment can be sued for it. As such, businesses like mine are called to help reduce the liabilities and keep businesses like yours in business. When it comes to over-intoxication and drunk driving, many states are now enacting laws that state, “Social hosts and business establishments may be held statutorily liable for the actions of a drunk driver according to the law in the jurisdiction where the accident took place.”

What does this mean? In short, your establishment can be sued for the damage that an intoxicated individual causes. I can already see business owners sweating and fretting over “yet another thing I have to worry about”. Well, at the risk of sounding a bit callous, maybe this is something you should really be thinking about…and not just for the simple reason that you “might get sued”.

Regardless of your legal liability, I think it is important that we look at how we handle the issues of over-intoxication and drunk driving as SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES. I want your Patrons to have fun. You want your Patrons to drink. Everyone wants to have a good time. But we owe it to each other as human beings to look out for one another. And we must realize that sometimes that means extending yourself beyond the reach of the Front Door of your establishment.

HOW CAN MY STAFF AND I BE MORE RESPONSIBLE?

First and foremost, every individual on your Staff should undergo some type of Alcohol Awareness Training. In some states and countries this is mandatory and in my opinion it should be that way everywhere. Your Staff might grumble and gripe, but invariably seminar attendees walk out with useful information and many times learn things that they did not know before.

Teach your Staffers to be aware of levels of intoxication and know how to spot Intoxicated Individuals. Make sure that they know how to deal with over-intoxication and mitigate its effects. Tell your Staff to communicate any issues with possible over-intoxication. That means that EVERY member of your team – from Management to Busboys – be on the lookout for issues and be willing to speak up if they spot a problem. Servers and bartenders should know that they ALWAYS have the power to stop serving alcohol if they believe an individual has had too much to drink.

Anyone working the Front Door should be assessing both arriving and departing Patrons for their intoxication levels. Refuse entry to those too drunk to enter and ALWAYS offer assistance to those leaving intoxicated. Call taxis (and pay for them!), offer to call the Patrons’ friends, flag down a Police Officer – just make sure that you are not letting someone stumble off into the night with no idea of what will happen to them. These aren’t just Patrons, they are someone’s sister, brother, cousin, aunt, uncle, mother, or father. I would hope that someone would look out for my loved ones if they were in trouble. And I would be eternally grateful if I found out that an employee from your bar was the one who helped to keep them safe.

PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH

Finally, if you are going to enforce rules at your bar, make sure you enforce them at your parties, at your friend’s parties, and when you are out on the town. Offer your fellow human beings assistance and let’s make sure that we all get home to enjoy the holidays with our loved ones. The few moments that you spend getting someone (maybe yourself!) into a cab or calling their roommate to come pick them up could literally save a life. Sometimes a little inconvenience on your part can save a lifetime of tragedy.

Stay safe. Keep each other safe. We’ll all be better off for it.

VIPs in a Nightclub

We received a number of interesting responses to our last post on Executive Protection in a Nightclub Environment. One of the most common questions asked was, “What is Security’s responsibility when a VIP arrives?” In light of last week’s post and a number of incidents involving VIPs in Nightclubs, it seems like the perfect time to tackle this subject matter!

Who’s Responsible?

First off, you must keep in mind that in the eyes of the law, a VIP customer is just that…a customer. They are not extended (by the law anyway) any privileges beyond any other customer’s. And as such, they should not technically receive any special treatment or be kept “safer” than your other Patrons. HOWEVER, should you or your club sign any type of agreement or contract that provides Security specifically for this particular VIP, you ARE responsible for that VIP’s security above any other Patrons. That means you keep them safe first, and let someone else deal with the rest of the establishment.

As a Head of Security, this would mean that you and one or two of you Staffers would be designated to take care of the VIP guest and whatever their (or their Protectors’s) security requests may be. If at all possible, a meeting with the Patron/Assistant/Detail Leader/Bodyguard/Protector ahead of time would be wonderful. This will not only give you an idea of what they would like, but also allows you to get a better idea of what they expect from you and your Staff.

Keep in mind that in an Executive Protection situation, the Detail Leader’s first responsibility is to his/her client. So if things go seriously bad, their first actions will be to remove their Client from the area – possibly at the expense of whoever is in their way – which could mean you and your Staff. Another reason why a meeting is important…you can find out how serious the risk to the individual may be and how to prep your establishment for their arrival.

Who’s the Boss and what are The Rules?

Setting Security concerns aside for a moment, it is important that lay some kind of ground rules for treatment and behavior of VIP guests. This is generally the area where most small clubs and venues get into trouble. Large venues in big cities generally attract High Net Worth individuals and as such there is a level of treatment and hospitality provided to these HNWs that just does not exist in most small venues. Few small venues will be dealing with individuals spending $10k or more in an evening, although it does happen.

The unspoken rule is that the more money a VIP is spending or the higher their name recognition, the more “rules” can be broken. If you have the money, you can generally do whatever you want in a Nightclub. There, I said it. Many people are disturbed or offended by this concept and understandably so. What they do not see, however, is that oftentimes an establishment is will to take the risk of bad behavior for a good cash payout. And this tends to be what happens with smaller venues. They take the chance and hope for the best. Is this always the case? No. But it is a fairly regular reality. A big spender/big name will get your club noticed. Your club gets noticed, you get Patrons. Patrons spend money. End of story…

…or is it?

I am a firm believer that the “rules” apply to everyone. The main reason is fairly simple: LIABILITY. If something “pops off” in a Club, regardless of who started the ruckus, the Club is going to have to pay. And they are usually going to have to pay A LOT. So, would it not be in the Club’s best interest to lay some basic ground rules? Absolutely.

For one, it is YOUR establishment. That means that YOU get to make the rules. What are those rules? Up to you. Some bars allow dancing on tables, others do not. Some establishments will allow a Patron to vomit on the dance floor and not be thrown out, others do not. Some might even allow VIPs to grope their Cocktail Waitresses. See where I am going here? YOU need to decide what type of behavior is expected from all of your Patrons. And these rules need to be explained to all of your Patrons in the same manner: firmly, with patience. And, in my humble opinion, these rules need to be enforced in the same way to all of you Patrons: firmly, with patience.

“DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!?!?”

At some point in every Security Guards career, someone will ask them this question. When I first started out, my two favorite responses were: “I have no idea” and “Do you know who I am?” The former because it drives people crazy and the latter because it generally threw people off. Now that I have the wisdom of years behind me, my answers tend to be a bit more diplomatic, but generally get still this point across: “Unless you give me a reason to care, it doesn’t matter.”

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VIPs are used to and expect a certain level of service. And as such – especially if they are spending money in your establishment – they should receive excellent service. Unless in trying to receive this service they are extremely rude, overly insulting, or put themselves or your Staff at risk. What is extremely rude or overly insulting? Again, I will let you make that decision. And once you make that decision, figure out who is letting the VIP guests know when they’ve crossed the line. Because no matter where you wish to draw the bad behavior line, how you address the bad behavior is the most important aspect of dealing with VIPs.

Any time there is an issue with a VIP Patron, there should be a direct, immediate response. Whether a drink is spilled on them or they start throwing bottles, you must act as quickly as possible to figure out what is going on. In one of the establishments where I consult, there is a hard and fast rule that states: “All interaction with the VIP Guest MUST be go through the VIP Host/Manager.” I, for one, think this is an excellent idea. First, the VIP Host/Manager probably has a working relationship with the VIP or at the very least has spoken to them face to face. Second, a good VIP Host/Manager always has a trick or two up their sleeve for dealing with unreasonable, unruly, or just plain rude VIPs. And finally, should things go awry in the course of the VIP Host/Manager dealing with the problem VIP Guest, they are the one making the decisions as to course of action NOT the newbie Security Staffer. This in turn, helps the Security Staffer, because…”I’m sorry we have to eject you sir, but my Manager has decided that it is time for you to go.” This response is far better than, “You are outta here!”

In conclusion, know that VIPs do get treated differently, but it is up to your establishment to decide how differently they should be treated. Make some ground rules, stick to the rules, and have the proper follow-through. Ultimately, this will go along way to protecting not only your establishment and its patrons, but your reputation.

Until next time…

Executive Protection in a Nightclub Environment

While the main area of discussion here on the Tao of the Velvet Rope is Nightclub Security, Coast Executive Services finds it important to examine aspects of Security that relate to a variety of subject matters within the Nightclub Environment. To that end, we welcome Guest Writers to submit articles in order to share their experiences and expand our knowledge base. This month’s guest writer is Executive Protection Specialist Kevin Ghee.

EXIT STRATEGY by Kevin Ghee

One of the more dangerous things I’ve found when escorting a Client is the moment when you egress a nightclub environment. For one, you are blind. Meaning that unless you have a multi-member team and you send one of those members to survey outside the club before you leave, you have no clue as to what’s going on outside. In those moments you should be very careful in your movements.

One of the ways I like to work when I’m operating as a solo protector is to use Club Security. If you know at which club your Client wants to party for the evening and the time and resources permit, you must do an Advance of said club. Get to know the establishment’s Head of Security during the Advance. Let him know that you’ll be coming back that evening, and arrange for privileged/VIP parking. I say this because if it’s a very popular establishment, then a lot of locals may attend that club weekly and have developed more of a rapport with the Security Staff than you. They may take up all of the VIP parking, so you should definitely try to secure parking.

Check for a Safe Room in the event a ruckus breaks out. “But that never happens in a club so you’ll be fine!”, some might say. Believe that if you want to. Also, find the VIP section in which your Client will be sitting and walk the route from where you’ll park to where you’re ending up. More than likely it’ll be very crowed once you return. I was just in Las Vegas with a Client and my Advance had to be done while he was still in the SUV, protected by the limo tint and the fact that no one knew he was in the car.

During my Advance I met the Head of Security, who was already aware that my Client would be arriving. I asked him to show me where we would be sitting. He escorted me along this long hallway…and around the back of the DJ booth…and to the VIP section, which of course, was full of people. I asked him to clear the VIP prior to me bringing in my Client. We then walked out of the VIP section and to the front door via a different, shorter route. That was the route I ensured would be cleared and that we would take upon my return.

The point is this: use the Security on staff and try to be in control of as much as you can. You’ll find that the Security, most times, will be more than happy to assist you. In clubs where the VIP section cannot be blocked off or there is more than one entrance, try to have a club Security Staffer present to stop unwanted guests from entering as you take a position close to your Principal.

Fast forward…now your Client is ready to leave. Please – very important – confirm that you have the Driver’s cell number and that he has yours. This is critical, in that if you need to make a hasty exit and the Driver – for whatever reason – had to move the vehicle and is not in VIP parking, you’ll find yourself exposed. You never know what’s going on outside. The disgruntled guy who was put out or who was denied access may be outside ready to exact his revenge just as you want to exit with your Client. I usually have the Client tell me ten minutes prior to wanting to leave so I can call the Driver and have him bring the car up. I then tell the Driver to call or text me that he’s “…in front of the Door” which we will be exiting.

Escorting to a club can be very stress free if you’ve planned properly in advance. Leaving the club can be a gamble. Again, get to know the Security and learn the layout as soon as you arrive. One thing I forgot to mention: find out where the bathrooms are. There’s nothing like trying to find the bathroom in a crowded, unfamiliar nightclub.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

545251_4541725853671_676455005_nKevin Ghee is an Executive Protection Specialist with over 15 years experience in the field. He has worked with numerous athletes, celebrities, and entertainers, as well as Fortune 100 clients. He served as a Team Leader for the 2012 Democratic National Convention, as well as for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. He can be reached at: kjghee@aol.com.

*If you would like to submit an article, please contact us: coastexec@gmail.com

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

The short answer to this question? NO

However, life is not lived by short answers and one can’t possibly expect to pursue a career in any field of work by not getting along with their co-workers. In the field of Security (and in this case Nightclub Security), getting along with your co-workers is of paramount importance. Your safety, your client’s safety, and your establishment’s safety all trump whatever interpersonal disagreements that you may have with your fellow employees. Speaking realistically, there will be people in your life or work that you don’t like or can’t stand to be around. So how does one handle this type of situation?

What is really bothering you?

Is it a co-worker or Manager? Is it a Patron? Is it a circumstance in which you find yourself? Is it a situation in which you put yourself? Is it a particular behavior by a particular person? Is the behavior directed at you only or at your co-workers as well? If it is a “behavioral” problem, is the behavior affecting you and how? And finally is it problematic or important enough to do something about?

How are you involved?

Take an objective and honest look at the “problem” Ask yourself (yes, it is difficult to ask yourself an honest, objective question…but please try) if you are somehow contributing to the problem with you reactions and behavior. Is it possible that you are actually part of the problem? “Don’t be ridiculous!” you say, “I am never part of the problem!” Really? Ask the opinion of somehow at work who you trust. Their response may surprise you.

Don’t make it about you.

Most people respond emotionally to a troublesome person. Try to keep in mind that someone else’s bad behavior is not necessarily directed at you or intended to be insulting. Personalizing the issue can sometimes make it worse.

Put yourself in their shoes.

When dealing with Trouble Patrons, it is important to try and empathize with them. The same goes for dealing with a bothersome co-worker. Sometimes knowing about someone’s personal or work situation can help you better relate to their behavior. Learning something about them can help you understand his or her perspective. It is easy to say, “Bob is always so rude!” Well, maybe Bob is in the middle of a divorce, has recently lost a member of his family, or is working multiple jobs to keep his family afloat. A little perspective can often go a very long way.

Be an adult.

Not matter the situation you find yourself in or how you want to respond to your troublesome co-worker or Boss, you must try to be as considerate, straightforward, and professional as possible. Take a deep breath, control your emotions as best you can, and work on improving your work relationships and your work performance. Sometimes leading by example can help others see the “correct” way of doing things.

Face the problem.

Sometimes the only solution is to face things head-on and talk to your co-worker. Let him or her know what you are experiencing and feeling. Let them think over things from your perspective. DO NOT be abrasive or go on the offensive. The point is to let your co-worker know that you want to improve your working relationship. People can be defensive when confronted, so be prepared to own up to any behavior on your part that may have contributed to any difficulties. By your being sincere and honest with your colleague, they can hopefully empathize with your position.

Increasing the intensity…

Sometimes a head-on solution is not productive. The other person may not be interested in what you have to say or may just be plain rude and unreachable. If this is the case, you need to let them know that while you prefer to resolve matters privately with him or her, you may have to take the issue to your Manager or Human Resources. Unfortunately, this is where things can become tense and awkward. Stick to your guns (perhaps not the best choice of words here, but you get what I’m trying to say) and don’t let a negative response from your co-worker dissuade you from taking action.

The Boss

In most cases, work-relationship issues will go directly to your Manager or Supervisor.  Your best course of action is to tell the boss your view of the situation as objectively, factually, and unemotionally as possible. This can be difficult if you have let the situation build for a while, but you must try. Otherwise, you may come across as a complainer or worse, as the actual troublemaker. Make sure to focus on the work consequences of the ongoing troublesome behavior. Unfortunately, the boss may be unwilling, unskilled, or not interested in dealing with “your” problem. If this is the case you can then consider taking the issue to Human Resources or possibly the Owner of your establishment. Keep in mind that escalation to this level can be a long process. And while no one wants to admit it, it can cause some serious ripples in the work place. This does not mean that you should not present your problems to your higher ups! But you must do it in as professional and patient a manner as possible.

But it’s the Boss!

What if the problem is actually your Boss? There is a good chance that he or she is not even aware that their behavior is affecting you and your work. Your approach to the Boss should be the same as with a co-worker, albeit with extreme tact and professionalism added. Ultimately, your Boss probably does want to hear from subordinates to want to have better work relationships so the can be happier, more productive workers.

Should your relationship with your Boss or co-workers be so strained that it has become unbearable, you may want to consider a work transfer. In this day and age, this is easier said than done, but it could be the only solution.

You may – and probably won’t – get along with everyone, but you have nothing to lose by trying.

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…