The first, and sometimes second week at University, commonly known as ‘Freshers’ Week’ will be full of fresh faced teenagers ready for a new adventure away from home. The risk is that for most 18 year olds it is their first taste of freedom and they tend to go crazy, not know their limits and make mistakes. Freshers’ is a time where students don’t have studies and don’t have to worry about going to lectures and seminars hungover. They can party all night with no consequences. It is also a time for returning students who learned the ropes in previous years to exploit their ‘knowledge’ during this exciting period.
For Publicans, this is a time to engage with potential new long-term customers, whilst welcoming back customers that will be picking up their studies again in the autumn. However, there are precautions that should be taken when welcoming ‘freshers’ into your pub, as a rule they tend to be more vulnerable which means things can go wrong. And when things go wrong, you could be open to various insurance claims.
Drinkaware Director of Business Development and Partnerships Rommel Moseley said “Freshers are particularly vulnerable, being away from home and family, perhaps for the first time, in a new city, with a new group of friends who may have different drinking behaviours. In this period of adjustment, it’s easy for things to go wrong.”
Well Trained Staff:
The safety of those involved in the often-exciting Freshers’ Week is paramount for both the students and your staff. Having the right amount of trained staff in place is key to ensuring a safe environment and there are many actions that you can take which will minimise the chances of accidents.
Well trained door staff are key to ensuring the safety and well-being of those on the premise at all times. However, a key part to a doorman’s job is communicating with the customers, which can often help to detect any potential problems before they become dangerous. Making sure your staff know how to relate to students who become vulnerable after drinking will help to manage the risk during Freshers’ Week as communicating with a student will be very different to your average customer.
Drinkaware offer e-learning courses that will equip staff with the knowledge to spot vulnerable customers and offer practical advice on how to best support them. Whilst the person consuming the alcohol must take some responsibility for themselves, if they feel they have been looked after at your pub, then they will more than likely return.
Interaction In The Queue:
Interacting with students as they queue outside your venue sends a positive message to customers, it works in favour of both punter and pub. Not only do the students who are queuing feel that the door staff are friendly and welcoming, but the door staff can identify customers that could potentially be underage or are already at risk of being too drunk to be responsible. To save money, many students will ‘pre-drink’ before going out for the evening, and this can lead to customers turning up drunk before they have even stepped foot inside the premises. Interacting with people in the queue can scope out those that are on their way to being a risk to themselves and others.
Freshers’ Week can be one of the most profitable weeks of autumn, and during this period you can turn your everyday pub to an event hotspot for local students. Instead of heavily pushing draft and bottled beers, cocktails are more marketable. Where a cocktail has less alcohol content than beers or wines, it will decrease the chances of students getting drunk as quickly as they would with another drink. It also creates a higher profit margin as there is less alcohol being used.
Regular Checks & Safety Procedures:
Some of the students participating in Freshers’ Week are often experiencing drinking away from home for the first time, which can leave them exposed to the effects of alcohol. One way to ensure that your customers are safe at your pub is by having your staff complete regular toilet checks for vomiting/vulnerable students to ensure their safety. Another measure is to make sure staff are collecting glasses and checking for spills or any slip hazards which can help minimise the risk of accidents. You might also want to consider using plastic cups after a certain time of night where it will be easier to minimise any accidents by removing the use of glass.
Communicating with Other Pubs:
Often in University areas there will be more than one pub that students will flock to. It may be a good idea to create a ‘WhatsApp’ group with other pubs in the area to brainstorm ideas on how to best maximise safety of students minimise damage to your premises and warn each other of customers that have caused trouble and are potentially moving on down the road to the next pub.
Freshers’ Week has the potential to be an extremely profitable and interesting time for your business. If you implement processes and training to your staff ahead of the influx of students, you will be able to minimise any potential risks and focus on the benefits for your business.
Get in Touch:
You can get in touch with me for any questions or advice regarding risk management for your pub by telephone or email.