Top 10 Best Practices for Responsible Alcohol Sales


It’s no secret that full-service restaurants rely on alcohol sales to make a profit. Recent changes to state laws have allowed many operations to sell alcohol as part of take-out and delivery orders. No matter how you’re serving alcohol to your guests, follow these 10 best practices to do it legally:

  1. Understand the federal, state, and local laws about alcohol sales at your location, including new ones related to take-out and delivery. These laws are in place to protect the community from the dangerous, and sometimes fatal, consequences of illegal alcohol sales.
  2. Get serious about alcohol sales training. Some states require specific training for alcohol service, others even require that all servers maintain a state-issued certification. Online alcohol sales training is the best place to start. Online training ensures everyone receives the same message and allows for tracking through a learning management system.
  3. Write and maintain clear house policies about selling alcohol. Employees must be able to quickly refer to these policies if they have questions about when to ask customers for ID, hours they’re allowed to sell, and how to handle issues with customers.
  4. Remember that simply glancing at an ID does not fulfill the requirement of “checking ID.” You must ensure the ID is not expired, compare it carefully to the person presenting it, and check for signs that it’s a fake.
  5. Never accept excuses from guests who don’t have a valid ID. Underage people who will try to buy alcohol without an valid ID can be very convincing, but you must always follow the law and your company’s written policy for checking ID.
  6. Know how managers and servers can be held personally liable for selling alcohol illegally. The illegal sale of alcohol can lead to civil and sometimes even criminal charges being filed against the restaurant owner, manager, and server.
  7. Keep an eye out for guests who may be buying alcohol for a minor, such as by switching drinks or pouring a shot into a non-alcohol drink. Ensuring minors do not consume alcohol at your restaurant is your responsibility.
  8. Recognize the signs of an intoxicated guest. Remember, serving alcohol to someone who is intoxicated is illegal.
  9. Never argue with a guest after you have refused to serve them alcohol. Get a manager involved or, if you feel threatened, call the police.
  10. Always use excellent guest service skills when asking for ID and declining sales. Explain to guests that you’re not willing to break the law to make a sale. Offer non-alcohol drinks instead.

Alcohol Training for Restaurants

Training is the key to ensuring everyone on your staff knows how to sell alcohol responsibly and according to the law. Ready Training Online’s Responsible Alcohol Sales and Service Training Program includes real-world selling and serving examples to help your employees understand and implement what they learn. Click here for more information and watch a preview below.

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