Closing Time: Managing Patron Behavior

Closing Time: Managing Patron Behavior
Photo by Sara Norris

One of the most critical times in any bar or nightclub is the time leading up to and the actual closing of a venue. Whether you are mandated by local ordinances or have the ability to extend past closing time, it can be problematic if not monitored and proactively managed. Here we’ll examine the common closing time security problems and suggest practical and reasonable social behavior management at this incident rich “witching hour”.

Historical Incidents at Closing Time

A high percentage of incidents occur in the hour before, during and immediately after a venue closes and the longer the venue stays open the higher the risk for incidents. Bar and nightclub owners and managers need to make sure that their staff doesn’t become complacent and that they are constantly on alert; looking for areas of suspicious activity. Staff reductions or under staffing can also leads to more incidents and the improper handling of issues that may arise.

Your staff also needs to keep a close eye on patron’s right before and during last call as patron consumption rates increase and social behavior is impacted. Failure to proactively interact with patrons during closing time and making them aware of the security staffs presence can also lead to inappropriate behavior.

Revenues vs. Risk Exposure

Evaluating the real revenue picture during the last hour of operation and understanding that in most operations, those that have increased revenues near closing time have more police involved incidents. The risks associated with the increase in sales/revenue in the final hours of operation include the risk of fights and altercations, customer complaints and service incidents, and violating local liquor laws and alcohol management.

Best Practices
In order to keep you patrons safe and reduce incidents during closing time you need to:

• Evaluate and have a closing plan
• Use the POS System for closing time analysis
• Evaluate last hour cover charge policy
• Proactive management interaction with patrons during last hour
• Work to mitigate staff complacency
• Practice heightened alcohol awareness during last hour
• Manage the social behavior because they are impaired