SASH Program trial shows decrease incidents in venue

17 April, 2019 by Andy Young

Three Cheers Training, previously known as ModKnights, has recently completed a one year study of its Special Alcohol Service Hospitality (SASH) program at Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory (OAF), which has shown a number of positive results for the venue.

SASH has been available to licenced venues since December 2009 and aims to help reduce incidents of patron intoxication, violence and aggression. The OAF trial showed positive outcomes in these areas, but also showed a five per cent increase in bar revenue, highlighting that the results were not simply a result of decreased trade.

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Sam Coffey of Three Cheers Training, told TheShout that the positive outcomes of this trial were important for a number of reason.

“In the past it’s only been anecdotal evidence that SASH works whereas this trial has grabbed actual data both quantitative (the results from the incident register and bar revenue takings) and qualitative (the results of the interviews with the management) to show clearly that SASH is effective,” Coffey said.

“The trial has also been great as over time OAF staff got better at implementing SASH and as they did their incidents fell more and more. This is important as it shows that SASH works as whole and is nowhere near as effective if only parts of it are deployed. It also makes a huge difference the level that it’s deployed i.e. if it’s done halfheartedly then the results are weak, if it’s actioned to the level it needs to be then the results are very strong.

“This can be illustrated by the fact that OAF incidents dropped more and more dramatically towards the end of the trial. For example at the six month mark they had been steadily dropping month to month to be down 44 per cent on the previous year, by the end of the 12 months they’d dropped down to 56 per cent. If they’d been deploying SASH at the same level of effectiveness throughout the year as they had been at the end then it stands to reason that they would’ve been down far more than the 56 per cent they did overall impressively achieve.”

The trial took place from January 2018 to January 2019 and when comparing the incident register at the venue to the 12 months prior to the trial, total incidents were down, as Coffey mentioned, by 56 per cent. Key decreases included ‘Approaching Intoxication’ down 55 per cent; ‘Intoxication’ down 75 per cent; ‘Violence’ down 500 per cent and ‘Aggression’ down 80 per cent.

OAF’s Head of Security said: “The program is so positive. The relationship between patrons and guards has become so positive. Incidents are down and before where we would have to ATL (Ask To Leave) a patron, they’d get aggressive, cause an argument; now we intercept them earlier, speak to them, get some water into them and they don’t get aggressive anymore, cause they can see we’re on their side and we don’t have to ATL them.”

The SASH program has three foundations: Mood, Assist and Water. By helping staff to understand how they can positively manage and influence patron mood and how they can assist patrons in a hospitable manner it helps to drive patron to make the right choices. In addition the program teaches how to hospitably keep patrons hydrated with water to limit the dehydrating effects of alcohol.

Staff at OAF initially completed the Three Cheers Training program online before a trainer spoke at staff meetings to refresh the course and demonstrate some of the techniques the course promotes.

OAF’s General Manager, Mark Gerber, said: “Staff keep getting better at working with Three Cheers (SASH). Staff get better at interacting with patrons, they become more expert at implementing it (SASH), at getting people on-board with the program. In addition patrons have been gracious and thankful to receive SASH.”

In overseeing the results of the trial Professor Peter Miller and Dr Nic Droste of Deakin University’s Centre for Drug, Alcohol and Addiction Research (CEDAAR) said: “The results presented in this case study conducted at Oxford Art Factory are a promising first step in reviewing the effectiveness of the SASH program. The introduction of the SASH method here is associated with a sizable reduction in recorded incidents related to service refusal, intoxication and aggression, and a complete cessation of recorded violent incidents.

“These results are accompanied by a small increase in reported revenue. But this increase is much more noticeable because it occurs in the context of a purported downturn in the surrounding night-time economy. In this context, it may well be that the economic value of the program is substantially greater than it first appears, although this requires more robust and expansive trialling.”

Coffey also told TheShout that the SASH program is something all venues should consider.

“SASH is shown to improve; hospitality patrons experience, enjoyment of staff in their roles, local amenity, relationships between staff and patrons. It protects the licence from breaches as it drastically decreases incidents and does so while increasing revenue by maximising potential patron spend.

“Not all venues suffer from violent incidents, but all licensed venues would benefit from the improved hospitality outcomes the Three Cheers SASH Program delivers to their patrons as will their staff.”

He added that he is in the process of securing funding for a second multi-venue trial, with a number of venues agreeing to take part and the University of New South Wales taking over the reseacrh arm.