The entry and exit points to your nightclub are vulnerable areas to a wide variety of potential problems, including theft, illegal entry of minors and/or firearms and physical conflicts amongst patrons and club staff. Here, Nightclub Security Consultants’ Robert Smith offers five steps club owners and operators can take to better secure their front doors.
For you managers and owners that are reading this, just think about this: You expect and often demand that your security staff handle every possible dangerous situation that pops up in the club. And if they make a mistake, for the most part, you’re all over them. Do your guards have the preparation, the equipment and a true chance to succeed? Wouldn’t it be great for you if you could give them the best chance of success? Sure it would, and this article can do just that.
Everything starts at the door. Every positive guest greeting, every good or bad guest, every over-intoxicated guest, every underage person, every weapon, every screwed up attitude and every law enforcement agent comes through the front door. So, it’s pretty obvious to me that if you have a solid door staff, the total support of management and all the necessary tools to do the job correctly, there will be far fewer problems.
This subject has made for some pretty lively discussions and, occasionally, some disagreements from owners I work with. Let me give you my ideas of what some of the most important areas are to being able to positively answer the question, “How secure is your club’s front door?” If you use them, you will be able to create a better and safer door for your guests, your employees and for your community.
1- Select the correct employee
As stated earlier, the front door is where it all starts, so having an employee who is “visually” appealing is a great beginning. The door guard is the first representative of what the club represents. Sorry, it is what it is. An unattractive, overweight, sloppily dressed, unappealing door host can be a terrible scene for guests ready to spend their money.
To better visualize this point, think of any nice hotel you’ve stayed at. The first employee inside the door was probably healthy looking, normal weight, clean-cut, well-dressed and articulate. So, in my opinion, the best door host would be a hotel concierge type of person that is attractive, outgoing and can talk about any subject in front of them.
Trust me, this energetic, good-looking employee, dressed to the nines, is now feeling a new power for the job. They’re so much more secure and positive about who they are and what they stand for. This is a great start! Plus, the positive psychological affects on good or bad guests can be noticed almost immediately.
2 – Training is critical
This is a critical point in every club operation. In some jurisdictions, there are laws mandating guard training. However, even if training is not required, find the best “job-specific” security training you can find.
Your staff’s must-have training should cover topics such as communication skills, conflict resolution, powers to arrest, alcohol service regulations and rules regarding entertainers, as well as some hands-on role play to help the employees truly learn proper skills and methods.
Sorry for the obvious pitch here, but our company offers in-person and online training that has been judged by many jurisdictions as the best in the country. Whoever you get to train your staff, just get it done.
Additionally, consider sending your door staff to a local junior college public speaking class. Better yet, send them to a Toastmasters professional speaking group in your area. This unique set of professional speakers can teach your door host so much about the fine art of simply knowing how to talk to people. And, folks, communication skills can save you thousands of dollars and even make you thousands of dollars!
3 – Clear policies and direction
Every club or bar, no matter the size or shape, should have a clear written security policy manual. And although every employee should read and understand this manual, the employee(s) tasked with being the door host should be one of the most knowledgeable employees regarding the security manual and its contents.
Remember, it all starts with the front door. Having a door staff that is totally versed on the polices and procedures can help with law enforcement inspections, can lower overall club liability, can prevent underage persons from entering and can limit entry of guests that just need to go home, while also being a welcoming presence for your valued guest. And, isn’t this what we want?
4 – Give them decision-making power
This is a simple point, although sometimes a very difficult one to truly accept by managers and owners. We all know that owners and managers can do everything better and faster than any employee—yeah, right. Managers must give some decision-making power to the door host in order for the door to be run correctly.
This decision-making power might be surrounding areas such as the entry way set up, who is allowed entry, who must pay the cover, allowing dress code breaches and more. This small decision regarding “trust” can empower the door host while giving management a sense of well-being.
Finally, if this point is granted, managers must never over-ride the door host’s decision. This is another critical point to help create a great door staff. The door host may make a mistake, but it’s important to live with the short-term pain to help the door host learn and become better.
5 – Proper front door equipment
Let’s just create a sub-list of the best equipment to have at the door. Remember, depending on your operation, the crowd you are catering too and your budget, use this list to help your door host do the best job they can. This list is in somewhat of an order, but consider it as an all-inclusive wish list.
• Strong ambient foyer and outside lighting
• Small, rechargeable, L.E.D. flashlight (extra
flashlight, extra bulbs)
• Small ultra-violet flashlight
• Identification checking guidebook
• Radio communications with all staff
• Hand-held or mounted identification scanner
• Hand-held metal detector (wand)
• Doorway walk-through metal detector
• Indoor trashcan, possibly secure top for any
• Posted guest entry policies (dress code,
acceptable ID, behavior)
• Posted essential phone numbers (police, poison control, cabs, state beverage control, military bases)
• Clear entry direction signage (general admission,
VIP, club members)
• Emergency equipment (fire extinguisher, first aid
kit, front door lock keys)
• Soft, professional standing mat for prolonged use
• Stanchions and velvet ropes
• Outside trash receptacle with broom and dustpan
This list is pretty long and, I think, pretty detailed. It can truly help the small, single-stage club or the multiple-room, mega club. The important thing to remember as you start to add or change your current from door position and operation is that this won’t happen in one weekend. This is a long process and may become frustrating to the point you abandon the idea to change.
To stay on target, use your calendar to set target dates and really try to shoot for them. Don’t give up and remember, you can always ask for help. Call us, ask another operator, call your state or national association, but don’t give up.