Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ticking over

One of the places I have the joy of working has seen a serious decline in numbers. Really over the past 12 months this has been going on. Part credit crunch, part decline in the number of people in the venue's target market, in this case the top end of the socially immobile.
We've not been getting the crazy nights when it's just a continuous conveyor belt of drunks to the door. The student nights packed to the gills still take place but once a term rather than once a week. The result of our diminished door and related bar spend is a serious pressure to reduce fixed costs. This pressure translates into being open fewer nights, this obviously means less nights when I can work there. The pressure to save also means less glass collectors and bar staff, this means when things get busy, the bars can't cope, the floor gets messy, broken glass and spilled drinks accumulate.
The worst consequence of this short sighted thrift however is the reduction in doorstaff levels on any given night. The punters are fewer, they're not miraculously better behaved. We're professional, we don't have jacket fillers, we can all do the job well, each in our own way but we can do it all well. When the door numbers are cut down and we get away with two or three weeks and no bother the change is cemented. Give it a few more weeks and maybe we drop another one. Our workload increases and we push harder but nothing goes wrong. So we go from a light mid-week team to two down on that. The money is saved, a few lads are out a few shifts but the businesses wage bill drops and all is good in the nightclub.
What we don't have is any spare capacity. We don't make widgets, we can't stock some up. We only work person to person and if two lads go at it we need a minimum of 4 staff to break it safely and get them out of separate exits at different times. The observant will note that we also require at least one on the front door and most likely one on the cash desk to stop the revenue walking away with a punter.
This kind of situation is common, we handle it as well as we can. We don't make it look pretty and we take risks but the job gets done and it costs less than doing it right.
What it will take for the business case to change? Until one of us or a punter gets it in their mind to sue for a lot of money they will not see a good business case for spending some money to save more money in the long run. Until they wake up to that we'll just keep ticking over, doing what we do, waiting for the sky to fall in.