Contributor – Sam Coffey. Director, 3 Cheers Training
RSA Marshals have the potential to greatly add to a venue’s hospitality and compliance, but there are key problems that stand in the way of them achieving this to best effect.
1) The name
Marshal is a negative label, not evocative of hospitality. It’s basically a police name, as is RSA ‘Monitors’, which implies “I’m watching you”.
Labelling them RSA ‘Hosts’ instead immediately flips the script, as the word host automatically puts the person into a hospitality frame of mind. They are there to look out for patrons, and want them to have a good time. They do this whilst also looking to prevent intoxication, as the role requires.
‘Hosts’ get along better with patrons, and as direct result of them being more involved in the patron’s hospitality experience, you’ll find incidents of intoxication will drop along, along with other negative incidents, such as altercations onsite and in the surrounding area.
The name change to ‘Hosts’ can be simply internal – i.e. you can still tell the authorities they’re officially RSA Marshals.
2) The uniform
RSA Marshal uniforms make them stand out. The problem is this embarrasses patrons when spoken to, as everyone around them can see it happening. It also has patrons not relax when a RSA Marshal is anywhere near their vicinity – sitting up straight, and watching them out of the corner of their eye until they’re gone. It’s a hospitality fail.
Dress RSA Hosts casually to fit in with the crowd, but with a radio, an earpiece and identification badge to wear on their belt. This subtle identification shows a patron being spoken to that they work there, but is not blaringly obvious to everyone around them. This small change is powerful, as it keeps the patron being addressed relaxed, as well as other patrons.
Some venues have conditions where a RSA Marshal is required to be clearly identifiable. There are ways of achieving this without them overtly standing out. For example: print “RSAH” on their back instead of “RSA”. The additional “H” throws off the meaning of the preceding RSA thus camouflaging them to a degree into the crowd.
3) The people venues employ for the role
The RSA Marshal / Host role isn’t generally given the importance it deserves, so many venues don’t put much effort into filling it. RSA Hosts should be seen as being as important to a venue, as they’re akin to bar staff, in that they are a personable representation of the establishment.
Imagine someone to host your patrons who can fit in with them, and gets along with them so well they actually assist them to have a great time. All this while overseeing the RSA compliance of the venue.
We hired both women and men who fit in well with the crowd, getting along great with the patrons but at the same time being mature enough to take care of them and protect the venue’s licence.
RSA Hosts are much more than a RSA Marshal / Monitor, and you’ll get three times the value from them in comparison.
Another good idea is putting bar staff on rotation so that they work the RSA Host role one or two nights a month, as the skills they learn on the floor they’ll take back behind the bar. They’ll also form stronger relationships with the patrons, especially regulars. It allows for diversity in the workplace for them too, which can help with overall staff retention.
If your bar staff are too valuable for this, hire dedicated RSA Hosts, or security companies often provide these positions. Just make sure the person is social, personable, friendly, hospitable and committed to the patrons’ real enjoyment.
Putting them, and all staff, through our “Special Alcohol Management Service” course training will ensure best outcomes swiftly.
4) Allowing them to do Ask To Leaves (ATL)
The problem with ATLs is that things can go wrong, like the patron can abuse the staff member, threaten them or even attack them. When staff have bad experiences with patrons it usually creates distance between them, establishing an ‘us & them’ mentality in their mind.
RSA Hosts should be actively looking to ensure patrons have a great time. If they generally don’t like patrons then this is much harder to achieve. So if possible, don’t get RSA Hosts to ATL patrons.
5) Only using RSA Hosts if a liquor licence requires it
Such is the positive effect that RSA Hosts have, it’s good to put them in on busy nights even if your licence doesn’t demand it. If you’ve got more security on than your licence requires then make those additional ones Hosts rather than security. Security companies can look to supply the hosts.
Even if you don’t have excess security, a RSA Host will still be worthwhile. You’ll find they’ll pay their own way as they’ll stop ATLs, people from leaving early, increase hospitality experienced in the venue etc. etc.
RSA Marshals – a role that is being under-utilised by the industry in terms of it’s potential.
Great hospitality takes care of compliance!
Three Cheers Training