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Door Supervisors – 8 Top Tips for Christmas

Door Supervisors - 8 Top Tips for Christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – or so they say. For security operatives working over Christmas and the New Year, it’s a period of time that brings with it a set of unique challenges that are not difficult to imagine. In this article, you’ll find eight tips that we’ve put together to help see you through the period to the new year happy and healthy.

1.      Dress appropriately

A security professional appropriately dressed for winter is more likely to remain alert and responsive, mitigating the risk of distraction caused by personal discomfort. Also, being visibly well-prepared enhances the public’s perception of a door supervisor, as it conveys a sense of reliability and professionalism.

In short, before worrying about Christmas itself you have something else to worry about – winter. Icy cold temperatures, regular rain, sleet and snow, and short days make a big difference to the conditions you will be working in during the rest of the year.

Adequate winter attire, including waterproof and insulated layers, will set you up for comfort on shift so you can deal with all the challenges that come with working in security at this time of year. Using lots of lightweight layers under your waterproof is ideal as it allows you to add or remove clothing as needed to make sure you’re comfortable at all times.

2.    Be vigilant

A quick look at any city centre across the UK on a Saturday night in December will reveal that a potent mix of lots of alcohol and lots of people (all out to celebrate the holiday season) creates tension and the increased likelihood of violent incidents.

As a door supervisor, you need to be psychologically ready for the busiest time of the year. Work parties, family outings and festive spirit drive people out en masse into every type of hospitality venue you can imagine, including restaurants, bars, hotels and clubs. This can make things tricky for even the most astute security professional.

It’s hard to enforce rules of “no large groups”, as this simply cannot apply to most Christmas parties. Also, dress codes have to be relaxed, as people come out wearing any number of fancy dress outfits or silly Christmas jumpers. And you can’t be hard on people for having a drink prior to coming to your venue or you’d have no customers at all! Many of the tools you typically use to maintain safety or to gauge a person’s intent are taken away from you. So, what can you do?

The key is to keep your communication skills tip-top. Communication is always the first step. If you’re good at this, you can avoid most issues. Being firm but down to earth will help. As we all know, customers can be difficult, to put it mildly, when they have had a drink and are in a large group, but it does you no good to lose your composure. Remember, every single person you meet will have come out to have a good time with friends, family or colleagues. Patience, politeness and a reminder that – even if they’re being ejected, they can still perhaps enjoy another bar if they drink a bottle of water and calm down – can prevent things escalating. If things do get violent or out of hand, fall back on your training to see you through. Controlled, coordinated and swift action will be your saviour here.

3.      Avoid overworking

During the Christmas and New Year period, you will have more security work thrown at you than you can possibly imagine. It’s nice to be in demand, and it’s handy to earn extra money, especially at the moment, but don’t fall into the trap of working every hour possible.

Avoiding overworking is crucial, especially in shift work like security, as it directly impacts upon your physical and mental wellbeing. Security workers often have irregular sleep patterns, disrupting their circadian rhythms and increasing the risk of fatigue. Prolonged periods of overwork can lead to exhaustion, reduced cognitive function and compromised decision-making abilities – posing serious safety risks in security roles. Chronic overworking has also been linked to various health issues, including cardiovascular problems and increased susceptibility to illness. Additionally, it can strain personal relationships and hinder your work-life balance.

Employers will need all hands on deck, but either they must prioritise reasonable working hours or you must be selective enough to prioritise them for yourself. Adequate breaks on shift are essential – plus one or two days off each week to recuperate if you are working very long shifts. Balancing work commitments with sufficient rest is essential for sustained productivity, customer satisfaction and overall wellbeing in the demanding context of shift work.

4.    Watch the financials

As we all know, over the Christmas period there are not enough security operatives to go around, especially for the busiest nights such as Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve, when every hospitality venue needs more security than at any other time of the year, compounded by the fact that many security operatives understandably wish to spend time with friends and family too.

Consequently, the pay goes up – normally by a minimum of 50% per hour for the Christmas period in general, but often by two or three times the standard rate of pay if you’re working a full New Year’s Eve shift. During the festive period, many doormen go with whoever offers them the most money – which makes sense, but you also need to take precautions to make sure you don’t get underpaid or not paid at all. Far too many security operatives have taken work offered by smaller or less professional operators at this frenetic time of year – often on a cash-in-hand basis – only to find themselves being paid later and/or underpaid when their invoice is due in January

To avoid this situation from occurring (as it does far too frequently these days), it’s really helpful to establish clear terms of employment – including hourly rates, overtime policies and payment schedules – before agreeing to any work. You should try to maintain written documentation of your work hours, duties performed and any additional responsibilities that may warrant extra compensation.

Also, ask around about the reputation of the company:

– Do they always pay?
– Have other people had payment issues?
– How long have they been in business?

Regularly review and reconcile information with your employer to address any discrepancies promptly. Clear communication regarding payment expectations and a commitment to record-keeping are essential for a transparent and fair working relationship. But of course, this is difficult, and not many of us are that good at this sort of thing.

That’s why one option could be – especially with a client you haven’t worked with before – to ask them to book you via Surely, where all your rights are officially protected and they will have to pay a deposit and outline the payment terms (e.g. 10 days). This way, you can focus all your energy on getting the job done, rather than spend your time worrying about chasing invoices and disputing payment.


5.    Work as a team

In the security sector, where quick and effective responses are vital, a well-coordinated team can significantly enhance overall safety measures. It’s the difference between an argument with a customer turning into a brawl or into a straightforward ejection of one or two people with the minimum of fuss.

Team members bring diverse skills, experiences and perspectives with them, allowing for a comprehensive assessment of potential threats. Clear communication within the team ensures that information is shared promptly, aiding in timely decision-making.

Further, a unified team creates a visible and formidable presence, acting as a deterrent to potential security threats. Situations tend to escalate less when customers can see that they’re up against a coordinated and professional team.

In crisis situations, seamless teamwork enables a rapid and organised response, minimising risk and maximising the effectiveness of security protocols. Overall, the importance of teamwork in security roles lies not only in the collective strength it provides, but also in the ability to adapt, strategise and maintain a secure environment through collaborative efforts.

6.  Know your venue

During the holiday period, you will often work at venues you are unfamiliar with. Increased requirements from clients means security companies need to deploy personnel across a variety of locations. When this happens, make sure you get familiar with your new environment as quickly as possible, from top to bottom and side to side.

Familiarity with the environment is pivotal in security, ensuring a proactive and effective response to potential threats. Security operatives must intimately know the layout, access points and vulnerable areas of their assigned location. Don’t just check out the area once – do it several times – and continue to do so throughout the shift. The more often you look, the more you will see. An empty venue and a full venue present different safety challenges that it is difficult to visualise but easy to experience. Speak to others who have worked there before. Their knowledge of the venue could prove invaluable at pointing you to potential hotspots.

This familiarity facilitates quick navigation during emergencies and aids in strategic placement for surveillance. Understanding the environment also allows for the identification of anomalies, suspicious activities and security vulnerabilities. Whether securing a public venue or private property, being well-versed in your surroundings enhances situational awareness, enabling professional security operatives like you to anticipate, deter and respond to security challenges with precision and efficiency.

7.  Be helpful

This is a time of year when normal people behave in an abnormal way. Drinking too much can put people in danger, cause them to vomit (or worse!), fall asleep, make bad decisions and generally become vulnerable and a danger to themselves.

Just ejecting them from the premises might seem like the easy thing to do, but is it the right thing to do ethically and legally? The answer is no on both counts. You have a duty of care to look after people who end up in an intoxicated state.

Give them some water, encourage them to sit down for a while, see if they have friends, colleagues or family inside the venue who can look after them, get them to call a cab, ask them to check they’ve got their wallet, phone and valuables with them.

Basically, use your common sense and try to be as helpful as you would want someone to help you if the roles were reversed. Of course, some people don’t want help, or they get aggressive – all you can do is try your best.

At the end of the day, all you have to do is to be able to look yourself in the mirror and know that you did everything reasonable in your power to help this person to get home safe and sound. Who knows, you might even get thanked one day (if they remember!).

8. Enjoy yourself!

As a door supervisor, you work directly with the public. As empathy is so important to being good at your job, we really recommend that you embrace the spirit of the holiday season. Embracing the Christmas spirit is essential for creating a warm and festive atmosphere in the hospitality sector that will enhance your customers’ experiences. Beyond offering quality service, the holiday season provides a unique opportunity to foster positive emotions and build lasting memories. Security staff radiating holiday cheer contribute to a welcoming environment, making patrons feel valued and celebrated. A nice smile, a laugh and a joke will go a long way to making all the difference.

This not only enhances overall customer satisfaction, but also boosts team morale, making the time spent at work all the more enjoyable. By embracing the spirit of goodwill, security professionals can transform routine interactions into joyful and memorable moments for everyone involved.

Working the doors at Christmas

This article may give you a little too much to absorb in one go, but hopefully some of them will resonate more with you than others. The key is simply to be highly conscious that working the doors is very different at Christmas in the hospitality sector, in comparison with the rest of the year, and you therefore need to have increased awareness to do a good job and achieve great outcomes during this time. From everyone at Surely, we hope you enjoy a productive, enjoyable and rewarding holiday period. We welcome any feedback – what are your top tips for Christmas? Email us at and we’ll share the best ideas on our social media channels.


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