If you operate a bar and your patrons are increasingly being involved in “incidents” at or near your licensed premises, you should be concerned about disciplinary action being taken by the State Liquor Authority or being labeled as a “focus of police attention” by local law enforcement. Such situations can be costly to the bar’s bottom line or even result in temporary or permanent closure of the business.
The way you operate your bar can play a key role in minimizing and diffusing bar brawls and other aggressive incidents. Here are a few techniques you can train your staff to employ:
- Remove the audience (get aggressors away from onlookers)
- Employ calming strategies such as allowing the aggressor to talk and express anger and expressing an understanding of the aggressor’s mood
- Avoid hostile or angry remarks to the aggressor and respond indirectly to hostile questions
- Increase the distance between the aggressor and others
- Avoid sustained eye contact with the aggressor
- Move slowly and avoid sudden movements; maintain calm, relaxed facial expressions; and control the vocal signals of anxiety and stress
- Depersonalize the encounter
- Encourage the aggressor’s decision-making
- Offer the aggressor face-saving possibilities
There are certainly other techniques you can implement, but you must make the time to actually train your staff. If the staff can’t be effective, you will lose customers. It is an investment in time that will give your bar real ROI.
If you do find yourself in a disciplinary situation, consulting with an experienced liquor license attorney can help avoid the collateral consequences and future backlash from the incident at hand. Pleaing no contest and paying the fines may not be the best strategy.