Why Do Bar Managers Not Ban Mobile Phones?

Published on 9th August 2014 by Stickboy BKK

No matter what type of bar, be it a British style pub, a beer bar, theme pub, go-go bar… they all have one thing in common. Staff with their noses in a mobile phone and not doing what they are paid to do. An all too common sight in venues across the city. Mobile is number one and customers are number two.

Why is this allowed to happen? The answer to that question is simple. Bar managers don’t have the balls to ban mobile phones in their venues. They’d love to but they don’t.

I can’t get my head around this and I have asked many managers and owners across a wide range of bars in different areas why don’t they swing the axe and ban them? I have listened to their reasons and I’m sorry to say, I don’t buy into their “excuses” for not manning up and taking charge of their bars.

The most common reason given for not banning phones is that staff will leave to find a job elsewhere and recruiting new girls for naughty bars and getting service staff for regular bars is said to be difficult. Really? I disagree. My personal take on recruiting staff is that if you are running a good bar and create a happy work environment where they are making good money you won’t ever be short of staff.

Right now I’m sure more than a few of you reading this will be laughing and thinking what the hell does Stickboy know about running bars and clubs? A whole lot more than you are probably giving me credit for. I’ve worked and been involved in the nightlife and entertainment industry since I was 19 and managed bars and nightclubs in Europe, the Gulf and of course, Thailand. I talk from experience, not a barstool like most nightlife commentators.

ban bar girls phones

When I was manager of Bangkok Beat the rules were simple as far as phones went. Any one of the 30+ staff, excluding the supervisor and security, caught using a mobile phone from 8pm until the end of night meeting was over would have their salary cut by 1,000 baht. Do it a second time and you would be fired. Harsh? Yes. Effective? Very. How many times did I need to cut a salary? Once. A cashier foolishly updated her Facebook status on my night off forgetting that we were FB friends. I simply replied with “1,000 baht” and a little yellow emoticon with tears. There was no sulking or tantrums, only laughing and joking as it was always said that I had eyes like a pineapple. If you are familiar with the Thai expression dtaa bpen sap-bpa-rot you will get the joke. If not Miss Mod explains it here.

Now, I’m aware that some of my rules, such as salary cutting, aren’t compliant with Thai employment laws, however, they worked and worked well with no complaints from the team. Hell, I’d cut 500 baht if I caught anyone chewing gum on duty. Were girls grabbing their handbags and running for the door? Nope. Why would they? They enjoyed coming to work. Happy staff are productive staff which means good customer service, something that lacks in so many venues and that is down to one person. The manager.

Look at Baccara on Soi Cowboy as an example of a bar that recently banned the use of mobile phones for their girls. Are they short on staff after a mass exodus when the ban was put in place? What exodus? The girls know what side their bread is buttered much like I said before. Why leave when you are working in a bar you like and making good money?

Salary cuts are only one way to tackle the problem and I could think of ten other ways to avoid breaking employment laws that would put an end to this mobile phone nonsense overnight for those running regular bars. As far as naughty bars go, come on lets be honest, are go-go girls going to run to the labour department saying their salary was cut?

It’s time for managers to man up and grow a pair but it’s not going to happen anytime soon. They are too busy bitching and moaning about how the current political situation is killing them, whilst the few customers actually going into their bars are being ignored by girls busy on their phones. Start with the basics boys.

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