‘A refusal often offends’ …this is generally never truer than in the case of doorstaff refusing entry to potential customers. Most customers will accept the reason given for their refusal and head off to try their luck elsewhere. These days though, it’s common for some disgruntled customers to immediately take to Facebook, Twitter and the press to vent their frustration, often under cover of anonymity.
There is a general disbelief among the drinking public that doorstaff could possibly be qualified to make fair, sound and non-discriminatory judgement calls. Irate customers often prefer to assume that we are on power trips, have huge egos and generally get a cheap kick from refusing them entry for want of anything better to do. A lack of belief in our ability to be able to make sound decisions is historically understandable and stems back to the old-school view of doorstaff as inarticulate, uneducated numpties who stand on a door because they’re unemployable (subtext: thick), can’t do anything else (thick) or because they’re small minded bullies who get off on throwing their weight around (thick).
At Serenity we are successful in countering this stereotype by working professionally, consistently and within the law to keep venues and customers safe. And here’s a thing: we don’t make it up as we go along, but we work according to the house rules and admission policies set by the venue owner/manager. The licensee offers an open invitation to people to visit their premises and it’s entirely up to them what house rules and admission policies they set and who the refuse entry to, provided it is within the law. Some venue managers don’t want stag and hen parties (ie big groups) in their venues as it isn’t the vibe or ambience they’re aiming for – that’s entirely up to them and perfectly legal. There are plenty of venues who welcome large parties with open arms and are glad of their custom.
Doorstaff work as agents of the licensee, to keep the venue safe and to uphold management policies. They have an obligation to work together to uphold the Licensing Act 2003 and the Equality Act 2010 (along with other relevant laws). If somebody is refused entry or asked to leave a venue (ie their invitation has been withdrawn) then they’re trespassing if they then enter or refuse to leave. Doorstaff are generally the bearers of bad news to the customer, being the ones hired to carry out these policies and to articulate the refusal to the customer. This is all incredibly dull for customers on a night out to hear about, therefore, when offering reasons for refusal it will normally be something concise and, hopefully, tactful. There is no legal obligation on management to offer a reason for refusal but since refusals do offend then it’s clearly more professional to offer a reason. We always do.
While doorstaff may, occasionally, make a wrong call regarding a refusal, we will stand behind every decision we make. If we’re not sure about a decision we will usually run it by a colleague or a manager for a second opinion before making a final decision. Unsurprisingly, 90% of front door refusals are down to intoxication (drink and/or drugs). People question how we can possibly make a call about someone’s state of intoxication, but like any other job role, it’s down to training, education and experience. You trust your hairdresser or barber to cut your hair without questioning their ability, competence, experience and training. Likewise, you should trust Serenity doorstaff to make sound judgement calls.
We record all incidents and all our interactions with customers are on camera. Therefore if a customer has an issue with the reason they were refused, or if they feel a wrong call has been made, then it’s perfectly reasonable for them to make a complaint to venue management. All complaints are acknowledged within 24 hours and dealt with immediately; after all, it is not in our interest to refuse customers and to leave them unhappy. Customers spend money in our venues which keep our venues open and Serenity staff in work. We genuinely want all our customers to enjoy their nights out, to be safe, and to return to our venues. However, we also have to work within the law – and, strange but true, we can’t allow people (whether LGBTI, straight, disabled, older, black, white etc etc) into venues if they are drunk (or drugged) – it is, quite simply, against the law.
I often hear customers complain ‘I know my rights’ as they refuse to accept why they are being refused entry. They don’t know. This is what we’re up against in carrying out our jobs professionally and legally: old-school stereotypes and a lack of understanding of our actual job role as it relates to the law. Hopefully this article helps you to understand why doorstaff make the judgements we do and shows that our decisions aren’t made arbitrarily or on a power-crazed whim.
For more information visit serenitysecurity.co.uk