Ensuring adequate security is a priority for all restaurants and bars, but how best to accomplish that depends upon the unique demands of the business.  Every owner wants to run a safe establishment, and prevention of both physical and emotional harm to patrons and employees is always paramount.  Factors such as location and business hours will help to determine the appropriate specific level of security, and in many cases having security staff on-premises is prudent.  A security guard provides a greater visual deterrent than just having a camera surveillance system, and signals that a business is serious about providing security. 

Restaurants and bars will often hire internal dedicated security personnel.  Bouncers and doormen are hired to confront patrons at the point of entry and to intervene when situations get out of hand.  When hiring a doorman or a bouncer, an establishment must consider attitude and demeanor.  Remember that security is not there to rough house patrons, but rather to provide a calming effect and in many cases also to serve a dual role as ID checker.  You don’t want somebody who is quick-tempered or who is prone to fight, and in general you do not want to hire people with a history of violence due to liability concerns.  Know the training and background of the security personnel.  It is imperative that security employees learn about applicable civil and criminal law, the limits of their authority and the amount of force that can be lawfully applied. 

Once management decides to hire a bouncer or security guard, there are a few guidelines that should apply to the screening process: 

  • Establish certification requirements.  While not every state requires certification to be a bouncer, certain states do require a license for the job.  Even if the state you work in doesn’t require any such training, it’s not a bad idea to require it from your applicants in order to be sure of their professionalism.
  • Perform background checks.  Background checks matter, especially when it comes to bouncers and security personnel. Do they have training? Do they know how to handle conflict safely? Can they be trusted not to drink on the job? Are they going to be a liability that thinks more with their muscle than with their head? It’s so easy for something to go horribly wrong when drunk patrons are involved. You want to make sure your employees know how to handle any situation.
  • Establish ground rules.  Be abundantly clear with any applicant or employee on what their roles and responsibilities are in any situation. Is a simple stern look from across the bar enough to deter certain kinds of behavior? It can be. Should the employee have regular casual conversations or friendly interactions with patrons? That depends on the restaurant or bar. Does the bouncer have the authority to call out patrons, or call the police, on their own, or should they report what they believe to be inappropriate behavior to a manager? Having a specific, limited role keeps everyone working on task, and helps to keep the business running smoothly.
  • Promote communication.  The better everyone communicates with one another, the better everything goes. The bouncer or security guard outside should know what the atmosphere is inside, and vice versa. Managers should be getting prompt reports of any kind of possible incident. Patrons need to know if and when their behavior is beginning to cross over from fun to inappropriate or dangerous.

The bottom line is that security guards are there to make the patron experience safe and enjoyable.  Performing due diligence during the hiring process is the first step in making that happen.