Training Your Bartenders to Serve Safely

Security is of paramount importance these days, and not just for your business, but for your customers as well. There can be an apprehension among many patrons to go out and socialize in public places. For the benefit of your patrons and for their awareness, the active promotion of your business as an establishment that focuses on safety is a selling point, not a detraction.

Security for Your Patrons is Paramount

Safety starts at the front door as you promote the concept of security that makes your customers feel safe. Always smile and say, "thank you for coming," as your patrons are entering your establishment.  Also offer similar sentiments when they leave.

Engaging with your patrons and making sure they know that you and your employees are approachable will help if they see something that is possibly wrong. Patrons may have an awareness of a dangerous situation, which they can share with you and your staff to help potentially head off possible trouble. Give the customer a chance to help you and, in turn, be able to ask you for help. By being informed, you can better anticipate and engage to prevent unwanted situations from becoming incidents or tragedies.

As you card patrons and assess all patrons for entrance, this can be done in a thorough manner, but it can also be done in an amicable manner. Encouragement of interaction between you and the patron needs to happen at the onset of their entrance to your business. Your staff’s observation needs to be continual and ongoing during the patron’s stay.

Have house policies posted at the entrance and have your employees point them out. Stress that inappropriate and offensive language, speech, and actions are not protected; you have the right to set boundaries on bad behavior for the safety and benefit of everyone.

Once the house policy is explained to guests at the entrances, it then becomes a condition of entry and a condition to have them leave if the patron does not adhere to the stated policies. A reassuring message to your patrons is also a sign that states anytime they need any assistance, to please ask any employee. Your patrons need to feel comfortable reaching out to your staff.

Know State IDs, Including Underage IDs

overserving bar security

We have stressed in prior articles and in the training we conduct how critical it is not to let a problem get through your entrance. This includes identifying fake IDs and knowing how to check IDs. Every bartender should know what an underage ID looks like in their home state and in surrounding states and provinces. Please check out this handy reference guide for state-issued IDs for those who are under 21. Keep in mind that some states allow a person to drink on an underage ID, if the person has attained their legal drinking age but has not yet received their new ID. Know where to check and what to check so that your staff can identify if the person has the privilege to drink at your establishment. This is key to avoiding potential criminal and civil fines and the potential loss of license for the business.

States, cities, and counties may all have different opinions on alcohol laws. Always ask your city clerk for proper guidelines and ordinances on best business practices to follow. The first line of enforcement you may likely encounter may well be from local authorities.

Don’t Overserve Customers

Responsible service is quick, courteous, and should make the patron feel special. That does not mean over-serving alcoholic beverages. This is where the experienced bartender knows the difference. A customer may consider good service the continuation of the serving of alcohol to the levels of impairment and beyond. Of course, we all know that is anything but good customer service.

First of all, overserving means the owner is losing money on every pour. Any good manager will time the pours of their bartenders if the business doesn’t use metered drinks. The bartender will lose money when patrons are tipping by round. The larger the drink for each round, the less rounds for tipping. Most state and local laws are written in such a way that the business is liable for overserving or for serving impaired or poly-impaired customers. Know the penalties for the business. Know the penalties for the patron and explain the liability to the customer if they look like they may consider drinking and driving.

Most of the time, overpouring is tied to how many drinks the patron has had, the duration of their drinking, and gender, which determines their rate of metabolism. It can also be easy to overpour if the customer is tired or in an upset, emotional state. These all have bearings on their possible impairment, and if the patron is tired, it means they can become impaired on much less alcohol than the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) charts state. The BAC charts are guidelines and are not absolute in determining the customer’s level of impairment.

Impairment, by its legal definition, is not just tied to being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it can be the simple act of being too fatigued to get behind the wheel of a car. Many states have broad definitions of impairment. Please make sure your employees are aware of this fact and that they also convey this to patrons who claim ‘they are fine.’ It’s a judgment call, and the laws of the land will back the business and their discretion not to serve a patron if they think the patron is impaired. We mention this quite often; drinking is a privilege, not a right.

You are also monitoring the behavior of your patrons. If a customer’s behavior becomes disruptive, politely but firmly address the issue with the patron. If the behavior continues, bring over a floor manager to explain the likely outcomes if they don’t modify their behavior.

Make sure that your bartenders are aware of your overserving policy and that they feel comfortable enforcing it. Consider using a system for tracking customers' alcohol intake to help bartenders know when it's time to cut someone off.

Safety Hazards in Bars/Restaurants

There are a number of safety hazards that can be present in any bar establishment. These can include slip and fall hazards, broken glass, and crowded dance floors. To minimize these risks, it's important to have a solid safety plan in place.

Make sure that all employees are trained on safety procedures, such as how to handle broken glass and how to respond to emergencies. Regularly inspect your establishment for safety hazards, and make repairs and improvements as needed. Consider installing security cameras to deter criminal activity and provide evidence in the event of an incident.

In conclusion, safety should be a top priority for any bar establishment. By training your bartenders on responsible alcohol service, having clear policies in place for overserving and checking IDs, and addressing safety hazards, you can create a safe and enjoyable environment for your patrons and employees. By prioritizing safety, you can help to prevent incidents and ensure that your bar is a welcoming and enjoyable place for everyone.


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