The title of this article; “Secure Your Doors” seemed a bit ominous when I first read it. However, as I thought about what it actually meant, I started trying to think of a stronger set of words that could convey the seriousness and the importance of taking total control of your front door and how my past job experiences influence my current company.
So you know, I’ve had two pretty great careers in my life. I was as a medical deep-sea diver in the Navy for 10 years. As the medical specialist for a dive team, I had received the best training, had the correct equipment and reviewed everything before every diver splashed.
My second career was a 20-year stint as a San Diego Police Officer. Again, before I ever hit the streets, I was given the 6 months of second to none training, given and taught how to use the equipment and everyday, before I stepped into my patrol car, I would double check my equipment, the vehicle set up and remind myself of any important training bulletins.
I mention these two personal life experiences only to impress upon you my own level of commitment to training and equipment as I prepared for my serious and often dangerous jobs. And, if you think about it with honest reflection, the day-to-day job of an in house security guard or a bouncer is just as serious and dangerous as any job I had in the past and these employees should be given every opportunity to succeed.
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 truly “Secure Your Doors”. Use them, use a part of them but please try to create a better and safer door for your guests, your employees and for your community.
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, over-weight, 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, not over-weight, outgoing and can talk about any subject in front of them.
Trust me, this energetic, good-looking employee, dressed to the nine’s 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
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.
The training your staff must have should cover topics such as communication skills, conflict resolution, powers to arrest, alcohol service regulations, rules regarding entertainers and 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 just talking to people. And, folks, communication skills can save you thousands of dollars and even make you thousands of dollars!
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 it’s 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. And, isn’t this what we want?
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. However, managers must give some decision making power to the door host 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, live with the short-term pain to help the door host learn and become better.
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 their job they can. This list is in somewhat of an order but consider it as a all inclusive nice to have 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 discovered contraband
- 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)
- Door host business cards
- Professional work podium
- Soft professional floor prolonged standing mat
- Front door use only stanchions and velvet ropes
- Outside ashtray receptacle
- Outside trash receptacle
- Small broom and dustpan
Nothing Good Happens Overnight
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. Use your stay with it personality and your calendar. Set dates, 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.
Finally, I have seen an increased level of violence against club and bar security guards over the past several years. Working on your door host and your door operation can help limit and prevent violence from guests who are visiting your venue. I suspect as a manager or owner, your goal is to run a safe and fun club while still making butt loads of money. Well, you just read a pretty solid recipe to help you.