No matter the neighborhood or crowd, any nightlife venue contains a certain element of risk for patrons. Alcohol mixed with large groups of strangers can lead to a range of experiences–some great fun, and others more concerning.
Many people don’t want to think about the ‘bad stuff’ because it’s uncomfortable or scary; but as the owner or manager, you have to think through these scenarios and prepare for them.
Having and enforcing an action plan that your staff is familiar with ensures that your customers are safe, happy, and able to enjoy themselves. Your clients will be grateful that you go that extra mile to keep them safe, and will remember that for future nights out. Here are 7 things to consider to improve your bar safety.
1. Locate and recover stolen items quickly
It’s incredibly important that your customers feel safe in your bar. While people should be responsible for keeping an eye on their belongings, it’s extremely beneficial to be able to offer support to your customers when needed. If they discover that their purse was stolen, their coat was taken out of coat-check, or even if their drink was taken, they are going to come to you and ask for your help. It’s a win-win to be able to offer them the assistance they need.
Use the tools on hand: cameras
If you have a camera system in place, you can help them track down the item and maybe figure out who stole it. Even if you can’t get the item back for them, at the very least they know that you’re willing to help them try.
2. Dealing with spiked drinks
You may run the safest bar in town, but some things can happen in the blink of an eye. Make sure you have enough bartenders on staff so that they are able to watch out for suspicious behavior. If the bartender is too busy, they may place the drink in front of a customer and move on without making sure the person who ordered it notices it.
These brief moments of a drink being left unattended can be crucial. Having adequate staff allows your bartender to take that extra moment to hand the drink over and give the customer the attention they need to make sure their drink is safe.
Implement policies to keep customers safe
If a customer buys a drink for someone else–especially someone they don’t know–deliver the drink directly to the person it’s intended for. It’s a win-win. Both the server and the person receiving the drink knows that it’s directly from the server and hasn’t been tampered with, and the person buying the drink has successfully completed their transaction.
3. Monitoring the outside of your bar or club
Outside of a bar or club can get really busy and overwhelming. You’ve got people lining up, meeting their friends, and stepping out for a smoke, all in the same area. You can hire an extra bouncer, though that isn’t a perfect remedy. Another great step: installing proper lighting and an effective camera setup will inform customers that you’ve got an eye out for them, no matter where they are.
Cameras can actually prevent issues
Security cameras aren’t just great because they provide a birdseye view on the situation; they also act as a deterrent for people who are acting up. If a group of rowdy people outside notice the cameras, they will often step back and decide to move on without causing a commotion. Don’t be shy about putting up signs so it’s clear to everyone that you’re always watching.
Worry less with proper lighting
Lighting is also important. Keeping the front entrance, back doors, and any alleyways well lit deters any kind of bad behavior. Having proper lighting also makes it easier for your cameras to pick up clear images of anything going on, so you’ll be prepared to forward it to the cops if need be.
4. Help your customers find their friends
It’s not unusual for a group of people to get separated while at a bar–especially when it is crowded. Teach your staff to identify people who are looking for their friends and help them find their groups. It may seem like it takes your staff away from their assigned jobs, but it’s important to help your customers feel safe. Reconnecting these groups will be easier with your staff helping because they will know the best places to look. Also, it gives the separated friend someone trustworthy to talk to while they are alone.
5. Identify overserved customers
Your bartenders have a huge responsibility in serving alcohol to people. They have to check IDs, monitor drinks, and of course, make sure people aren’t drinking too much. If someone has too much to drink, it poses a risk to the customers and staff in your establishment. Give your bartenders training and backup whenever they need it so they are comfortable refusing to serve customers. Helping them know the signs to watch for when identifying someone who has had too much allows them to put a stop to it.
6. Train your bouncers to handle difficult situations
If you’re able to employ a bouncer at your establishment, that’s great, but you need to make sure they are trained properly. Your bouncer needs to be able to identify and de-escalate situations quickly and efficiently.
Bouncers can help prevent drunk driving
While that’s a huge responsibility on its own, they also are your last line of defense for people leaving your bar. Encourage them to try and watch for inebriated customers leaving, and making sure they aren’t getting behind a wheel. They can help to call cabs for customers who shouldn’t be driving, and potentially prevent some real tragedies by simply speaking up. Empower them with the tools needed to help them understand suspicious and troublesome behavior as much as possible.
7. Help your customers get home safely
At the end of the night, make sure that bouncers, bartenders, servers, and managers are keeping an eye on the customers. They may be getting antsy to leave for the night and get a head start of the cleaning procedures, but making sure that the staff stays alert and watches for customers getting behind the wheel while intoxicated is an important part of their job.
Don’t give customers the opportunity to get behind the wheel while intoxicated
If your staff sees an intoxicated person about to get behind the wheel, get them to call a cab. If the intoxicated customer refuses the cab, call the police and report them. If at all possible, make arrangements with cab companies to have drivers in the area at your closing time so customers don’t have to wait. If at all possible, offer free overnight parking for customers who need to leave their cars. You can also try to get promotional discount codes from ride-sharing programs like Lyft or Uber to give your customers an incentive.
To help you keep your bar safe, we’ve created a daily safety checklist that your staff can use at the start and end of their shifts to keep every customer safe.