I ran a course recently for door supervisors in an upmarket bar and nightclub environments focused on the service element of the door supervision sector. I put up a slide at the beginning about the expectation of the modern customer of the modern door supervisor. I was amazed when that single slide generated almost 2 hours of conversation and some great discussion points for later on in the course. The room was filled with experienced door supervisors and we spent the next couple of hours talking about the unique type of service sold by door supervisors. Its a service like no other function in the bar and unlike any other job role in the industry. It is a service that is hard to value with money which is often to its detriment. I want to talk about that service here.
Are we selling?
Of course we are. We are always selling. As door supervisors (inside and outside) we are selling our venue to the public. We are also selling ourselves as professionals. Some of you may remember my 5 principles of effective security article. If not you can take a read here. Principle 4 is: “You are the venue”. Its reputation is your reputation”. I firmly believe in that. You represent the brand regardless of what that brand is. Every action and interaction we have with the public whether good or bad is a reflection on the brand. So we are always selling when we put on the uniform and stand on that door whether we like it or not.
What we are selling?
This is the important question and the one which sets door supervision apart from other areas of the venue and other sectors of the industry. Door supervisors sell something that money cant buy and which cant be counted. We sell a perception. We sell the perception of safety, the perception that you can relax and enjoy yourself and you will be in safe hands. On the other side of the coin we also sell the perception of the line that you must not cross. We sell the first two ideas to the 95% of guests who avail of our services and go home happy. We sell the third idea to the 5% who dont.
How do you value this service we sell though. In reality its very difficult which is one of the reasons I feel that the security role is often not given the credit it deserves within the night time economy and amongst venue managers. I’m not blaming venue managers for this and I can understand why this is the case. They can see every cent that Mike behind the bar is worth and Mary on the ticket desk is worth. They can place a value of the waiting staff and kitchen staff. All of the worth of these employees can be counted and valued and number applied to it. How do you put a value on your customers feeling safe? How do you put a price on guests feeling comfortable enough to relax and have that extra drink or stay for a meal. Its impossible to count but it exists and its real and its what we sell as door supervisors.
Is it important?
If we cant put a value on it then how do we know its important? The only realistic way to do that is to take away the security for 3 months and see what happens. Not many venues will do that because deep down they know its important but they cant say how important because they cant put a number on it so its considered a little less important than bar sales or food sales roles. Its hard to blame them when you consider it like that.
Psychology not numbers
If we stop thinking of it as a numbers game and think of it as a psychology issue for a moment. The great psychologist Abraham Maslow in his famous hierarchy of needs model puts it into context. He proposed that human beings have basic needs and only when those basic needs are met do they seek to move on to higher levels of needs.
As seen in the model above the basic needs include safety and security. Door supervisors satisfy this basic need for customers. Who else in the venue can do that? Only when these needs are met and a customer feels safe will they seek to move onto higher needs such as belonging and enjoyment. This is how we add value. We provide the buildings blocks that their experience in the venue is based on. We fulfill the basic needs that allows the venue to fulfill the rest.
May door supervisors consider customer service a limited or sometimes non existent part of their role. The truth is that providing a service to customers is what we do. We are a service industry. We may not provide the same type of service as other departments buts its a service nonetheless. Our job is to do it well. That means looking the part at work, greeting your guests, assisting customers and generally creating a place where people feel safe. That’s the staring point for the 95% of the time when we are dealing with the 95% of the customers who avail of our services.
For the 5% of the time where we deal with the 5% of the people who dont wish to abide by the rules and where we need to intervene it’s slightly different. It is still customer service though. Not to the person being dealt with but to the 95% who dont need to be dealt with but who are watching. Dealing with the 5% in a calm and professional way adds to the experience of the 95%.
Are they sometimes obnoxious and ignorant and rude? Of course they are. That is exactly how people drinking alcohol behave. Our premises sold them a chemical which has that effect on some people. Now we have to deal with it. That’s the service we provide and we do it professionally so that the people who aren’t obnoxious ad rude stay safe.
I know I’m going to get a load of comments on this article about door supervisors not being paid enough and if we were paid more money they would get better service. I fully agree that door supervisors should be paid far more money and receive far more credit than they currently do (the good ones anyway) but the excuses above just aren’t true. I’ve seen door supervisors on great money not know how to treat customers and those on less do excellently. More money doesn’t mean better service even if it makes you feel better about coming to work . We as an industry achieve to adapt to what the modern venue and the modern customer expects. That involves doing what we have always done only better and not accepting some of the idiotic behavior we see from those who want to keep our industry in the dark ages.
We are the underappreciated and unheralded and that will always be the case. We know what we bring and only we know how we do its. We deliver a service that no other department can and when we do it well its shows We have to keep it that way , We dont do it for the credit and we dont do it for the praise (even though its nice sometimes). We do it because its what we do and nobody else can provide the service we do. Once we realise that we provide our own unique brand of customer service the next step is working out how to we can do it better and how we can show the rest of the world.