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Counting the Costs of Anti-Social Behaviour

Troublemakers affect almost all venues across Australia. Regardless of the type of venue, location and target demographic, there are always going to be people who ruin the experience for others.

A frustration for managers and owners is that 1% of customers typically cause 95% of incidents. Sometimes this ratio may be even more extreme. This small group can make patrons feel unsafe and damage the reputation of an establishment.

The true cost of troublemakers can also be difficult to track. There are obvious costs, such as property damage, but also many hidden expenses. Listed below are just a few of the reasons why anti-social behaviour can be an expensive problem.

Cost #1: Increased Staff and Security Expenses

Anti-social behaviour must be handled by staff who could otherwise be dealing with more productive tasks. Venues may also need to hire more security staff to provide a quality of service that, without troublemakers, would be possible with a smaller team.

Research has shown that around 30% of alcohol-related violence in Australia occurs within bars and nightclubs.

This directly increases the cost and complexity of running a venue.

Cost #2: Reduced Repeat Patronage

Alcohol-related violence is, unfortunately, common in bars and nightclubs across Australia. In fact, 30% of all alcohol-related violence happens within bars and nightclubs.

The more unsafe a patron feels, the less likely they are to return. Venues rely on repeat patrons as the backbone of their business – so it’s vital to do as much as possible to encourage valued patrons to return.

It has been shown that reducing incidents of anti-social behaviour increases repeat patronage. Consequently the reverse is also true: anti-social incidents can, over time, damage a venue’s reputation. The prevalence of easily accessible online reviews also magnifies this effect.

Cost #3: Inefficient Queue Management

Aside from ID scanners, there are few effective ways to actively screen for unwanted people in queues. CCTV can be used to identify a person after an incident so that they can be banned in the future – but upholding the ban relies on staff being able to identify troublemakers who may use a different ID.

This is a difficult task and is prone to mistakes. Manual identification leads to less efficient queue management, increased stress for staff and fewer patrons entering per hour. Long queue times have also been linked to patron aggression.

Cost #4: Increased Staff Turnover

Staff turnover is another vital concern. Members of staff who are regularly subjected to anti-social incidents are likely to be more stressed. Reducing the number of troublemakers entering a venue can decrease staff anxiety and increase team happiness.

Cost #5: Police Involvement

Serious anti-social incidents can attract police attention. It’s important for police to be able to do their job, but cooperating with investigations is time-consuming and stressful for managers and staff.

Police across Australia are also cracking down on underage drinking, resulting in large fines for stores and venues that serve them.

Cost #6: Property Damage and Theft

Troublemakers are more likely to cause damage to a venue’s property than regular patrons. If a venue isn’t able to effectively screen patrons and prevent unwanted people from entering, the cost of property repair can be substantial.

Is Hiring More Staff The Answer?

In an attempt to reduce incidents, some venues hire more staff or provide additional training. This can have a positive effect on anti-social behaviour – but is expensive and not the most efficient answer.

Staff can only act based on the information they have access to. It’s well established that troublemakers, once barred from a club or bar, simply move to the next one. While some venues collaborate and share lists of barred patrons, there is often a delay in communication.

Even if staff members are aware of a troublemaker, the person may use a secondary or fake ID to gain access without being detected. Once these people enter a venue, they know that they are likely to remain anonymous – giving them an additional incentive for anti-social behaviour.