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Controlling The Door

Overcrowding (includes both staff and guests) and lack of door control can put your establishment at risk and the public in danger.

Here are some tips to control the door and prevent overcrowding:

  • Keep the exterior areas of your establishment well lit and maintained and keep overflow guests lined up in an orderly manner.
  • Liquor Licence holders are expected to have in place reasonable measures and make reasonable efforts to deter or minimize the harm caused by disorderly conduct by their patrons to outside areas in the vicinity of their licensed premises. This applies to adjacent areas and line-ups to get into a licensed establishment, such as at a nightclub.
  • Keep parking lots and sidewalks neat and tidy and check lighting on a regular basis.
  • Control and monitor overflow guests by having them form an orderly line on the sidewalk rather than allowing them to gather as a group outside your doors.
  • Don't let intoxicated guests into your establishment.
  • Post a sign that indicates that management reserves the right to deny entry to intoxicated individuals.
  • Assign a staff member to the door who has been trained in responsible service practices.

Well-trained staff with the proper attitude and demeanor can help to maintain order and head off potential problems.

Door staff should:

  • have the skills to be able to check ID for underage drinkers and fraudulent cards
  • monitor washrooms
  • handle potential issues in a calm but firm manner without escalating situations
  • be well trained in the use of force and how and when to eject a guest

Note: If your establishment hires a private security service, or you have employees whose primary job is to provide security, they must be trained in under Bill 159, The Private Security and Investigative Services Act

Conduct regular checks of the parking lot areas.

Watch or remotely monitor parking lot areas for cars where guests may be drinking before they enter your establishment.

If you spot individuals who have been drinking, do not allow them into your establishment as you have no way of knowing how much they have had to drink prior to arriving at your establishment.

Train staff to recognize and address potentially aggressive guests.

Everyone in your establishment should be trained to keep an eye on aggressive, obnoxious or agitated guests.

Train staff to issue a friendly but firm warning or look of disapproval that sends an early message that bad behavior will not be tolerated. Most guests will respond positively and the problem will be solved before it has the chance to escalate.

If a guest refuses to comply with a warning either ask them to leave or do not allow them to enter the establishment.

Do regular "people counts" to prevent overcrowding.

Your liquor sales licence notes the number of people who are permitted to be in your establishment at any given time. This number includes both staff and guests. If you exceed that number, you risk being charged with an offence and putting the public in danger.

You can prevent overcrowding by:

  • monitoring the number of people as they arrive and leave to ensure that you are within the capacity limits for your establishment
  • assigning an employee to the patio area to monitor guests to ensure it does not become overcrowded
  • Develop a good working relationship with liquor inspectors and police officers

It is your responsibility to give on-duty liquor inspectors and police officers your full cooperation at all times when they arrive at your premises. Keep in mind that they can provide you with valuable advice and, if a situation occurs, you can feel comfortable calling them for help.

Train staff on ID checking procedures.

Make sure staff are familiar with what is acceptable ID for your establishment:

  • share examples of fake IDs at pre-shift or staff meetings
  • run through scenarios or role playing with staff where they handle ID checks
  • use your DVD training package to reinforce or refresh training for existing staff

Consider following a "staggered closing" process.

If your establishment is a large venue (i.e. nightclub), consider starting to close sections or rooms gradually as closing time approaches rather than closing the entire establishment at the same time. This strategy can reduce the number of people leaving your establishment at the same time, along with the accompanying noise and potential problems.