Over the years and from a night club consultant perspective, if anything the O. J. Simpson trial, 9/11, and shootings by certain High-Profile Sports figures in nightclubs has brought about, is a greater awareness of the legal process and the potential for violent and unpredictable situations. Media broadcasts also fuel the general public’s perception that personal harm can occur anywhere. Never more evident is this possibility for criminal problems, than in bars, cocktail lounges and night clubs where alcohol gets served. Persons who have had too much to drink are apt to vent inner frustrations or show aggressive natures. Manager planningAn owner and operator should always have a plan for the worst that expects the best. Here are some “Do & Don’ts” from a Night Club Consultant perspective to protect your business and reputation from fights or other acts of violence: Do train your personnel how to act in unexpected situations such as dealing properly with an unruly customer. All bar employees should understand their role as a service provider and what steps to take and not take during any confrontation. If you use on-site security personnel or have a night club consultant train them, make sure they know their limitations in controlling a situation and don’t cause a further escalation of the problem. Don’t rely on employees, experienced or not, to use their own judgement without providing them adequate guidelines and parameters. Normally, the owner/operator is responsible for the actions of the managers and staff. Do instruct employees when to contact the local authorities (i.e. police or sheriff’s dept.) if an altercation, such as a fight, is going on. Law enforcement agencies have the training and expertise to deal with hostile situations. Establish a working relationship with your neighborhood police as part of your nightclub business plan so that customers and employees view them as friends – not foes – if you need them for assistance. Don’t have your bar service personnel or nightclub management engage in direct physical confrontation with patrons. Although crime is reportedly down in several parts of the country, many undesirable persons carry weapons. Also, the bar business IS part of the hospitality industry and the key word is always be “hospitable.” Aggressive actions only provoke more hostility. Do offer first aid and contact the local paramedics, where necessary, to render medical assistance when any patron gets hurt. Injuries may not appear that extensive and more complications can arise if a person is not treated immediately. Post phone numbers and other instructions for contacting medical assistance (i.e. 911) nearby all telephone(s) and provide a well-stocked first aid kit too. Don’t allow hostile or high crime environments to exist. Problem areas often include poor parking lot lighting, unsupervised pool table equipment and serving patrons who had previous altercations in or outside the bar. A positive or negative atmosphere can contribute to how regular customers may react in unexpected situations. Violent acts disrupt bar business, cause patron and employee harm and lead to costly lawsuits. Ask any bar and night club insurer and they will tell you that this ultimately translates into higher liability insurance costs and bad public relations in your community. No law abiding citizen wants to frequent a bar or club where their safety is at risk! Note: For alcohol service training materials and guidelines, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) has a program called “Serve-Safe” which is used by many bars, nightclubs and restaurants. You can contact the NRA toll-free @ 1-800-424-5156 for or this night club consultant directly for more information.