Following alcohol service laws and training staff will help you avoid these costly mistakes.
Once your business gets a liquor license, the last thing you want to do is lose it! There are several slipups that could result in the suspension or revocation of your license — but all of them are easily preventable through proper alcohol server training for both employers and staff.
The main goal of alcohol service laws are to ensure the safety of customers, staff and the general public. Be sure that you understand and follow all alcohol service laws in your area — and avoid these common mistakes that could severely hurt your business, or worse, your customers and community.
Here are our top 9 mistakes that could cost you your liquor license.
1. Failing to check IDs.
Or, doing so in an inconsistent, haphazard manner. There are many ways an ID can be tampered with, or just invalid. Minors will try to use someone else’s ID, a fake ID, or an altered the ID to show an earlier birthdate, for example. The result is that you could serve alcohol to someone under the age of 21 — which is the most common reason a liquor licensed is revoked in the United States.
Always checking ID before service is the best way to ensure you don’t serve someone under 21. Check the ID for signs of tampering, such as peeling at the sides or pinholes, and if the person cannot prove they are 21 or older, refuse service. There is no penalty for turning down alcohol service, but there are major consequences for serving a minor!
2. Serving intoxicated guests or overserving.
If a customer enters your establishment visibly intoxicated, you need to be capable of recognizing this, and refusing service. If they become noticeably intoxicated while at your business, you need to know when and how to politely and firmly stop service. Count drinks and cap the number of drinks they can be served within a certain period of time.
Signs of intoxication include: slurred speech, confusion, slow reflexes, lack of coordination, unresponsiveness, irregular breathing, or nausea and vomiting. If staff continue to serve guests who are clearly intoxicated, they could face serious consequences — and you could lose your license.
3. Selling at unauthorized times.
Your liquor license details specific hours of service. If you serve drinks at 2:20 am when your license stipulates you cease service at 2 am, you could get in big trouble and have your license revoked! Pouring rules differ based on location, so make sure you and all staff are conscious of the rules pertaining to your license and location.
4. Losing control of your guests.
Neighboring businesses could complain to police about loud, unruly guests. Disorderly conduct is not allowed in licensed establishments. If guests are causing disturbances, you need to ask them to leave, or risk losing your license.
5. Forgetting to keep documentation.
Documentation about every aspect of alcohol service, from invoices to order sheets, needs to be organized to show where and when your alcohol was procured before it was served. When alcohol is delivered to your establishment, for example, keep proper documentation of the delivery in an easily accessible place along with all other records of purchase. When inspection time rolls around, or if you’re audited, you’ll be thankful you kept these records in a safe spot!
6. Employing untrained or unqualified staff.
Most states have requirements related to alcohol server training. And in most states, the employee also needs to be at least 18 or 21 years old to serve alcohol. If staff are caught without the state-required certificate and the minimum age requirements are not met, the whole business will suffer the consequences.
7. Allowing drinking in unlicensed areas.
It’s up to you to ensure guests don’t bring alcoholic beverages into places that they’re not allowed to as per your liquor license. For example, depending on what’s stipulated in your establishment’s liquor license, drinking in stairwells, hallways, storage areas or washrooms may not be permitted, and you could be held accountable if customers are caught. To prevent this from happening, post signs by doors reminding patrons not to drink outside designated areas. Reinforce with staff that this is unacceptable and constitutes a serious offense.
8. Letting staff drink on the job.
In some states, it’s illegal to allow staff to drink while working and you can lose your license instantly if staff are caught drinking on premises during their shift. As an extra precaution, some establishments ask staff not to drink on-site even after their shift ends, so there is no gray area.
9. Failing to prevent or report illegal activities.
If you are unaware of illegal activities happening in your establishment, for example, a customer consuming illegal drugs on-site, you can easily lose your license. This is even worse if you actively allow illegal activities. If someone reports a customer or customers who are engaging in illegal activities on your premises, you can face serious legal consequences.
Prevent these costly mistakes through training
Consistent training at regular intervals is the best way to ensure you keep your liquor license! Remind staff how to spot an intoxicated customer, how to properly check IDs, how to de-escalate a potentially dangerous or violent situation, and how important it is to follow all of the alcohol service laws in your location.
Training protects you against alcohol liability lawsuits, improves customer service and even helps in staff retention — employees who are confident they’re doing their job well will be more likely to stay. And of course, legal consequences for irresponsible service can be severe, so don’t take any chances!
With Userve’s comprehensive Alcohol Server / Seller Training, you can rest assured that your staff is properly trained in the safe service of alcohol. Protect your customers and your business by getting trained with Userve!