This April is Alcohol Awareness Month. One month of the year is not enough for bars and restaurants to be aware of the effects of alcohol, however. In an on-premise setting, serve staff needs to know how alcohol can affect guests every day. In addition, many states have some version of “dram shop” laws. These are laws which can hold an establishment accountable for injury or damage caused by a person who left their venue drunk. Taking drinking and drunk guests seriously is a good start, but are your servers and bartenders trained and certified?
Training Your Staff
When making sure your staff is prepared for service, don’t forget to include training on responsible service of alcohol. If you haven’t already, we highly suggest you and your staff take advantage of training specifically for this purpose. The two programs we recommend are TiPS and ServSafe.
TiPS, which stands for Training for Intervention ProcedureS, is specifically for training on the safe service of alcohol. This includes covering service to underage customers as well as identifying the signs of intoxication and how to deal with problem behaviors. In addition to classroom training sessions, there are also online options.
ServSafe, a division of the National Restaurant Association, provides ServSafe Alcohol® training and certification. Like TiPS, you can train either in a classroom or online. ServSafe provides two levels of training – the Primary Exam trains and tests on the basics of safe service of alcohol while the Advanced Exam (which must be proctored) tests for knowledge of key concepts.
Both programs are affordable and take only a few hours to complete. Coming in at under $50 per student, this is a bargain when compared to the benefits of having a well- trained staff. For an extra cost, ServSafe also provides DVDs of various subjects including Handling Difficult Situations and Evaluating Real-World Scenarios. These DVDs may be a good idea in order to conduct refreshers at your establishment.
Have Your Staff’s Back
As important as training is, remember the day to day functioning of your staff. Make sure they know you have their backs. We’ve all been there, the loud and aggressive patron who wants just one more though he (or she) obviously should not have another. Or the quiet patron who has been knocking back shots for the past hour without ordering food. Maybe it’s the hot girl at the door with an ID that says she’s 35 when it’s obvious she can’t be older than 25. Being the manager or owner gives you the responsibility of analyzing the situation quickly and de-escalating when necessary, helping your staff do their jobs, and helping the guest (as well as other patrons) to enjoy the rest of their evening.
Finally, do you run pre-shift meetings? If so, in addition to any chef’s special, new drink options, or upcoming events, a quick reminder of safe alcohol serving practices keeps this important subject top of mind. It also lets your staff know this is important and that you support them.