Thursday, March 3, 2011
Things I've Learned Bartending in a Strip Club #10
#10: The customer is not always right, especially in a strip club.
Working in a bar is completely different than working in an office or working in any type of retail position. Granted, bartenders are still in the business of customer service and catering to the needs of the customer. When alcohol is added to the mix, it changes the playing field entirely. Most customers don't have a problem controlling their alcohol intake. It's the people who can't control themselves after consuming alcohol that makes the job interesting.
I always managed to work the whole "the customer is not always right" to my advantage whenever I worked behind the bar. Granted, only the most awful customers would ever experience the wrath of my "the customer is not always right" bartender attitude. Nice customers always received my best customer service. I was always considered one of the nicer bartenders behind the bar at the club I worked at. As glamorous and fun as bartending in a strip club may seem, if you work behind the bar long enough in one of those places, it eventually starts to eat at your soul and make you bitter. The bitterness eventually comes out in the form of a "take no shit" attitude towards the customers.
Tell, Don't Ask
In a regular bar or restaurant, if a customer becomes overly intoxicated and starts bothering other paying customers, they will probably be given a warning or two and eventually be asked nicely to close out their bill and leave. It doesn't quite happen like that in a strip club. Sometimes customers might be given a warning or two for their bad behavior. If the customer fails to comply with the rules consistently, no one will ask the customer to leave. They will tell the customer to leave.
When you have a club full of scantily dressed women and drunk men, it makes perfect sense why there are strict rules in place. If a customer wants to stay, the customer has to play by the club's rules. When it comes to club management, there is no room for discussion. You either follow the rules or you leave.
My philosophy when bartending in a strip club was if you're there, you're there to spend money. If you had money to buy a lapdance, you had enough money to tip the bartender a dollar or two for your drinks. It always irritates me whenever I get stiffed, but it really got under my skin when I was bartending in a strip club. I would always give customers two chances (two rounds) to redeem themselves. If they stiffed me on the first round, I figured they were probably short on cash and would hook me up on the second round after they paid a visit to the ATM machine. If the customer stiffed me on the second round, I'd give them a dirty look. On the third round, I'd avoid the stiffing customer as long as I could. I would make sure to help everyone else around them. Sometimes the customer would catch on to my passive scolding and put money on the bar. As soon as that would happen, all would be forgiven. If the customer still didn't have a clue and asked me why I wasn't helping them, I'd kindly explain to them that since they had chosen to stiff me two times in a row, I'd no longer be serving them for the rest of the night.
The Snappers, Whistlers and Wavers
If you want to piss off a bartender, try snapping your fingers or whistling at them. It's the fastest way to either get kicked out of a place or to not be served at all. In the strip club, if a customer snapped their fingers or whistled to get my attention, I'd be sure to stop whatever I was doing and inform them in front of the entire bar that I wasn't a dog and I refused to be treated like one. This was always quite effective on a Friday or Saturday night when the bar would be packed. The public scolding would work twofold. First, the Snapper/Whistler knew right away that his bad behavior would not be tolerated at the bar. If he wanted to be served, he had to be polite and wait his turn, at the end of the line. Secondly, the rest of the bar would shame the Snapper/Whistler on his outrageous behavior.
The Wavers just get on my nerves. Wavers are always the people whom you know have never worked a day of their life in either a bar or restaurant. They have no clue as to how bar etiquette works. To them, they think as soon as they approach the bar, someone should be willing and able to serve them right away, never mind the rest of the people who were at the bar before them. The Wavers always seem to be the leader of their group. As soon as they approach the bar, they wave at you and then turn around to ask all of their buddies what they want to drink. Whenever I had a Waver come into the strip club, I'd mock them by waving right back at them and then purposely help the person right next to them. I knew I could always get away with going out of my way to piss off the Wavers in a strip club. My mocking them and their self-righteous attitude always taught them a valuable lesson in bar etiquette: if you want to be served at a bar, don't wave at the bartender and have your drink order ready.
Most times in a customer service situation, if a customer is rude to you, you have to be nice back. It's the nature of the business. Working in a restaurant, I constantly have to bite my tongue and have a completely different conversation with a rude customer than the one I have in my head. That didn't seem to be the case in a strip club. If a customer was rude to me, I was always rude right back to them. I refused to take any of their crap. Management always backed us up too. I guess they figured with all of the crap we already had to put up with all of the sleazy dudes trying to pull one over, if someone got postal on us, management had no problems yelling at them as they kicked their rude ass out.
Bartending in a strip club, it was a requirement that we had to measure out all of the alcohol for every single drink we poured. This rule was definetly not up for discussion between the management and staff. People would get fired for not using their jiggers to pour alcohol into drinks. There were cameras everywhere watching our every move. The club made a lot of money on alcohol sales. In the management's minds, if a bartender wasn't properly measuring out the alcohol for a drink, the bartender was stealing. Stealing is always the quickest and easiest way for any bartender to get fired, at any bar.
So if a customer ever complained about there not being enough alcohol in their drink, I'd snatch the drink right out of their hands and look them dead in the eye as I poured their drink down the sink. I would then grab the glass, set it on the bar and have the customer watch me remake their drink using the jigger. I'd inform them that it was the club's rules that every drink have a specific measure of alcohol in them. If they had problems tasting the alcohol, they could either order a double and pay for a double or drink somewhere else.
I have found in my experience as a bartender that whenever a customer complains about not being able to taste the alcohol in their drink, they're being cheap and trying to pull a fast one by getting more alcohol without having to pay for it. This customer probably even stiffed me on the first round. And then there's the customer who orders a drink that is loaded with sugar and mixer and complains when they can't taste the alcohol. If you want to taste the alcohol, then order alcohol, not a drink that is loaded with sugar and mixer.