Note: Please make sure you review all sub-section to the right before proceeding to the next section.
Employees and employers who serve alcohol in Newfoundland and Labrador need to understand their role in response to this new business environment. We are pleased to offer It’s Good Business Online to meet the needs of busy tourism and hospitality industry professionals.
To get started, please select the Server or Management Program course option. Once you have reviewed what will be covered in the course, please register and make your payment. When you have completed reviewing the modules of the course please complete the test associated with the course.
To complete the It’s Good Business (Newfoundland and Labrador) Management Program, you will need to complete the following steps:
Review the course content by clicking through the modules associated with this course, the links to these modules are on the top of this page in the header section.
- Know how to maintain profits by discovering strategies to benefit from the market segments that are tending towards reduced alcohol consumption and more health-conscious alternatives.
- Learn the strategies that industry leaders are using to keep their alcohol service responsible and safe while maintaining or increasing profits.
- Know how you can bolster public and customer relations with the majority of people who applaud efforts to reduce impaired driving.
- Learn about the Duty of Care and your role in ensuring that customers do not harm themselves or others by unreasonable or inappropriate alcohol sales practices or procedures.
- Understand the effects of alcohol and recognize the signs of over-consumption.
- Know your legal responsibilities in the service of alcohol.
- Understand new approaches to alcohol sales and service in relation to the changing consumption trends and regulations.
When you are confident that you are ready to take the test, please proceed to the registration page to register and make your payment.
When you are confident that you are ready to take the test, please proceed to the registration page to register. When you have registered and completed your profile you will be asked to submit a test code that may have been provided to your buy your employer or you will have to purchase one in order to access the on-line test. If you have any questions about this process please contact HNL at 1-800-563-0700 or 709-722-2000.
When you have completed your test and the site administrator has verified your payment you will receive an email with your test score. Upon successful completion of the test you will be emailed a certificate to recognize your completion of this program.
About the Program
No doubt you are a busy person. Running a business in the tourism/hospitality industry can truly mean “being on the run”. So why should you be interested in a training program that talks about responsible alcohol service and shifting attitudes towards alcohol?
This program blends good business sense with good corporate citizenship. In putting this program together, we talked to a wide range of managers, bartenders and servers. Many of them find themselves in a dilemma. They know the benefits and enjoyment that good food and drink can bring to the people they serve; however, they live in a world full of messages about impaired driving and other problems related to alcohol.
The It’s Good Business (Newfoundland and Labrador) program is about changing views of alcohol service in the tourism/hospitality industry. The consumption of alcohol has changed. Public attitudes have changed. Laws and regulations have changed.
Employees and employers who serve alcohol need to understand their role in response to this new business environment. Many establishments have chosen to move towards more responsible alcohol service.
The goal is to run a profitable business while reducing alcohol-related problems. The main concerns are impaired driving and alcohol-related lawsuits against both servers and licensed premises.
The It’s Good Business program presents an opportunity and a challenge. The goal is to plan and implement ways of reducing alcohol-related risks while maintaining or enhancing profits. It gives you a chance to put together new operating strategies for an environment where there is a shifting view of what is considered acceptable alcohol consumpution.
Note: The terms patron, customer and guest are used throughout this manual and all refer to a person who visits your establishment.
Getting the Most Out of This Program
Alcohol is sold at restaurants, lounges, nightclubs, country clubs, conventions, special functions, sporting events and bars. The places are different. The people are different. The circumstances are different. Each person who owns or manages one of these facilities faces his or her own special set of challenges.
These differences mean that you have to use your own judgment and experience to get the most out of this program. With the possible differences in mind, here are some suggestions to make the most of this program: Remember that your goal should be to pull out the ideas that will work for you and your establishment.
A number of strategies for profit maintenance and enhancement and responsible service will be covered in this manual. Think of them as items on a menu and choose the best ones to tailor-make your own practical policies and plans.
If an idea strikes you as not being useful, don’t discard it immediately. Often it can be adapted. Instead of thinking ‘this won’t work’, consider ‘how could this be adapted to my situation?’ Use this manual and the ideas to brainstorm with your management and service teams. Look for other chances to discuss and firm up your strategies.
This program is not intended to be an exhaustive review of The Liquor Control Act or the regulation requirements for different types of licensees.
Responsibilities and Risks
Note: Please make sure you review all sub-section to the right before proceeding to the next section.
In this section you will review:
- Legal Responsibilities
- Duty of Care
- Case Studies
- Implications of the Case Studies
- Reducing Your Liability
- The Importance of Documentation
- Sample Incident Forms
An important change facing the industry is an increasing number of successful liability suits against licensed establishments. These cases arise from an individual being served alcohol then injuring or killing someone (or themselves) while under the influence. Courts are deciding that the people serving the alcohol may share some of the blame in these incidents. Some court cases have led to settlements for large sums of money. Even when no blame is found, servers and owners must endure a court hearing and related costs.
Many factors make this a frustrating problem; however, while arguments rage over the fairness of the whole issue smart operators and servers are acting to reduce the risk of a court case. This is the goal. You may not be able to eliminate the risk any more than you can eliminate the risk of a fire in your kitchen. You can, however, take effective steps to manage and reduce the chances of a lawsuit. Fortunately, this action will also reduce the risk of your patrons being involved in mishaps and accidents, and allow them to continue visiting your establishment.
Those who serve or provide liquor (bartenders and servers) may be held civilly responsible for negligent liquor service.
Those who are in control of licensed premises may be held civilly responsible for problems arising from improper or illegal service, or dangerous patron behaviour(owners, managers).
Any questions you have regarding your potential civil liability should be referred to a lawyer.
The marketing and selling of alcohol is governed by laws and regulations set by each province or territory. Here in Newfoundland and Labrador, the governing body is the Newfoundland & Labrador Liquor Corporation.
Duty of Care
Duty of care is the responsibility you have for your customers’ safety. Ask yourself:
- Did I know or should I have known that a person was intoxicated or becoming intoxicated?
- What steps did I take to prevent a person from increasing or maintaining his/her level of intoxication?
- What steps did I take to protect a person once he/she was or apparently was intoxicated?
Prevention – Your First Duty of Care
To exercise reasonable care to ensure that persons are not served alcohol, such that they become a danger to themselves or others.
Preventing Intoxication Means:
- Monitoring a customer’s actions and behaviours.
- Being aware of factors that affect intoxication.
- Being prepared to refuse service to a customer who is at risk of becoming impaired.
- Eliminating inducement (attempt to persuade people to purchase and consume more liquor than they normally would).
Protection – Your Second Duty of Care
To take reasonable steps to protect persons who have become intoxicated: to ensure that they do not harm themselves or others.
This may include:
- Arranging for an impaired customer(s) to be placed in the care of a responsible (and sober) person
- Arranging rides.
If a customer leaves your establishment and is in an accident or injured, you and your establishment can be held responsible.
Chain of Responsibility
Was the intoxicated person placed in the care of someone else? An intoxicated driver may have been ‘picked up’ by the police or placed in a taxi or put into the care of a designated driver.
Any actions the intoxicated person takes after this type of intervention could be judged to be so remote from your care and control that you will not be held liable. However, the fact that he/she managed to drive a car for two hours or 100 miles before an accident may not remove you from subsequent liability or damages. Nor does the mere fact that “they drank somewhere else after leaving us” remove you from the ‘chain of responsibility’.
“He/she was negligent so I can’t be held responsible!” It doesn’t work that way. In fact, because he/she was negligent, you may be held responsible: if you did not demonstrate your duty of care. For example: An intoxicated driver loses control of his car resulting in an accident involving injury.
- Was the driver negligent? Yes. Failure to control the car.
- Was alcohol served by you a factor? Yes. Contributed to his negligence in failure to control his car.
- Were you negligent in the service of alcohol? If you had a duty of care and breached that duty, you could be found negligent.
- Could you end up paying damages? Yes.
- How much? More than you may realize.
Joint and Several Liability
Courts will determine different amounts of liability. What percentage of blame is given to each party is for the courts to determine, based upon the facts of the case, and the chain of responsibility.
The cases below contain discussion of an alcohol provider’s liability under common law.
1. Jordon House Hotel Ltd. v. Menow and Hosberger (1973)
The Supreme Court of Canada recognized that a tavern owner had a duty to protect intoxicated persons from injuries that they might suffer on or off the premises.
Menow (the defendant) drank to visible intoxication and was ejected from the Jordon House Hotel. As he walked along the highway, he was hit by a car. Menow successfully sued the driver and the hotel. Menow, the driver and the hotel were each held one-third at fault.
Cases following this landmark decision have placed a duty of care on establishments. Establishments must be sure people are not harmed when they leave an establishment in an intoxicated state.
2. Hague et al v. Billings et al (1989)
The issue was whether either of the defendant taverns would be liable to the plaintiff for damages that happened as a result of an accident caused by an intoxicated driver.
Billings (the defendant) killed J. Hague and seriously injured her daughter. Billings had been served at two taverns before the accident. The staff at the Oasis Tavern refused service after one drink when they agreed that he was intoxicated. The staff at the Ship and Shore Hotel served several drinks to the Billings party.
Action against the Oasis Tavern was dismissed. Billings and the Ship and Shore were found equally responsible. The Hague family was awarded damages of $1,890,000.
3. Whitlow v. The Cross Eyed Bear Tavern (1995)
Mr. Whitlow consumed alcohol at a Legion. He left and shortly after entered the tavern where he consumed more alcohol. While there, he went to use the restroom located down a stairwell. Shortly thereafter, he was found unconscious at the bottom of the stairs. No one saw him descend the stairs. No one saw him fall. He died shortly thereafter. The staircase had a protruding bulkhead. There was a sign on the bulkhead “(Watch your Step/Head!!!)”.
The court found that the bulkhead was one of the causes of Mr. Whitlow’s fall. Mr. Whitlow was found to be extremely intoxicated (18-21 drinks) from the drinks served in either the tavern or the Legion. The warning sign had a reduced effect due to his intoxication. The tavern failed to adequately monitor his consumption of alcohol.
The court found:
- Mr. Whitlow 80% at fault for his own “damages”.
- The Tavern 15% liable.
- The Legion 5% liable.
Condition of the premises is unsafe for use of customers when it is foreseeable that customers may be intoxicated. It is interesting to note that the Legion’s liability was based on “foreseeable danger” to an intoxicated person and a duty to take some active steps to protect them.
4. Jacobson v. Kinsmen Club of Nanaimo (1976)
At a “Beer Garden” held in a curling rink by the Kinsmen Club attended by approximately 2000 people, a patron decided to “entertain” the crowd. He climbed to an I-beam supporting the roof and dropped his pants while hanging from the beam. A little while later he and a friend repeated the performance. Nothing untoward happened and the crowd seemed to enjoy the “show”.
Another guest then attempted the same act, unfortunately not as successfully. He fell 30 feet and landed on another guest who was injured. The court made some interesting comments. It stated that, had the first guest fallen, the court would not have held the Kinsmen Club liable. “Who could foresee that someone would attempt this activity, and how could they have effectively intervened.” However, after the first event it was foreseeable, and what did the Club do to prevent a reoccurrence? Nothing.
After the second occurrence, the event was not only foreseeable, it was an ongoing activity. By this time, the Kinsmen should have intervened, warned the patrons that this activity would not be tolerated, and even posted members by the I-beam pillars to prevent anyone climbing. The Kinsmen did none of these things and by failing to take more effective measures to prevent a recurrence, the Club breached its duty and was found to be liable.
Implications of These Cases
- It is illegal to serve alcohol to anyone who is intoxicated.
- The licensee has an obligation to ensure that the physical condition of the premises does not pose an undue risk of harm to those who enter.
You are responsible for your customers, regardless of their level of intoxication.
The following suggestions help reduce the risk of breaking the law and being found liable.
You need to:
- Ensure you do not serve alcohol to intoxicated patrons.
- Ask for ID from anyone who looks under 25 and do not serve minors (under 19 in Newfoundland and Labrador).
- Watch for and be able to recognize intoxication.
- Make sure customers do not hurt themselves or others.
- Take reasonable steps to reduce and contain your risk (duty of care).
- Act quickly to control disturbances such as fights or groups talking too loudly and annoying other customers.
- Refuse service and remove customers who are involved in illegal activities (such as drug dealing) or who are creating disturbances.
- Make sure everyone on staff works together to stop aggressive or illegal behaviour before it causes a problem.
- Use only reasonable amounts of force to control disturbances.
- Consider that it may be preferable, in many cases, to have police attend to the removal of persons.
It may be tempting to think that the odds are in your favour, that lawsuits will only be against other people. In these changing times, however, all servers, bartenders, managers and owners are at higher risk.
You can reduce liability by:
- Having clear policies and procedures that are understood, followed and are consistent with what is permitted by rules, regulations and laws.
- Documenting your actions and communicating effectively with other staff.
- Maintaining a safe environment.
The Importance of Documentation
Proper documentation and communication helps everyone understand what is going on and allows them to support each other’s actions. These steps make it easier to prove what actions were taken if a problem does arise. A logbook provides a physical record, in which any staff should be able to verify actions taken. Good documentation can also discourage people from bringing a lawsuit against you and your establishment. Discuss this with your manager or supervisor.
You should fill out an incident logbook entry whenever someone is:
- Refused entry
- Refused service
- Cut off
- Asked to leave the premises
- Hurt on the premises
These are examples only. There will be other incidents you and your manager may feel should be documented.
It is important to record incidents with customers in a notebook or logbook. Record the events while they are fresh in your mind; as soon as possible after the incident has taken place.
Include details such as: time, place, date, nature of incident, description of parties involved, action taken, witnesses, whether police were called, and any other pertinent information.
Retain all sales slips pertaining to the incident.
Filling out log entries is one way of protecting yourself. Make a note whenever you think and issue could arise regarding your actions, or those of your patrons.
Note: Please make sure you review all sub-section to the right before proceeding to the next section.
In this section you will review:
- Blood Alcohol Concentrations (BAC)
- Factors that Affect a Person’s Blood Alcohol Concentration
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
- How to Recognize the Signs of Intoxication
One way to reduce risk of injury and thereby reduce liability is to recognize signs and to respond responsibly to prevent problems before they start. If you can spot trouble signs before a problem occurs and act to avoid it, you have taken the most important step to reducing liability.
Alcohol is a drug that slows down the central nervous system.
Drinks which have the same amount of alcohol will have the same effect on the drinker (standard drinks).
Alcohol acts on the brain to alter a person’s mental and physical condition (slows down reaction time, impairs judgment and reduces inhibitions).
A drink is a drink. Any type of drink that contains the same amount of alcohol will have a similar effect on the drinker. When these beverages are served in specific amounts, they contain exactly the same amount of alcohol.
12 ounces Beer (5% alcohol volume) = 1.5 ounces Highball (40% alcohol volume) = 5 ounces Wine (12% alcohol volume)
All contain approximately 0.6 ounce of alcohol and will have an equal effect on the body.
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) or Blood Alcohol Level
Blood Alcohol Concentration or BAC is a measurement of the level of alcohol in the blood stream. BAC is the measure in milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. This is written as milligrams percent, mg%. In Canada, it is a criminal offence to drive with a BAC of over 80 milligrams percent (.08)
People with alcohol in their systems are less alert. Lowered inhibitions and impaired judgment causes intoxicated people to do things they usually would not do. They do not notice warning signs (like their body telling them they have had enough) and they do not react as quickly to things around them.
Many factors control BAC. The two most important factors are:
- How much alcohol is consumed and
- Over what time period.
Factors that Affect a Person’s BAC
The more alcohol consumed in a specific period of time, the higher a person’s BAC will be (shooters, drinking games, etc. will heighten a person’s BAC).
Alcohol is absorbed very quickly into the body, but it takes the body approximately one hour per standard drink to break alcohol down. The body starts to break down alcohol the moment it enters a person’s system, but it will not break down alcohol any faster just because there is more of it.
Size and Body Build:
The larger and more muscular people are, the less effect alcohol will have on their BAC. Fat cells do not absorb alcohol very well, so try to judge a person’s size by their lean body mass.
Gender and Age:
Because of size and build, women are often more susceptible to alcohol. Because of biological differences, a woman will also become impaired quicker than a man the same size who drinks the same amount of alcohol.
The effect of food can be deceiving. Food will not prevent the absorption of alcohol, but it will slow it down. The BAC will rise more slowly if a customer consumes food with alcohol. Customers may drink more than they intended because they do not feel the effects as quickly.
Other things may also affect a person’s behaviour and impairment when he/she consumes alcohol. These include:
Prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, and illegal drugs can enhance the effect of alcohol. If you notice customers taking medication of any sort, watch them carefully. Also watch for signs of drug-related impairment such as a customer who is easily distracted or who has difficulty concentrating. If you suspect illegal drug use, you need to take further action.
People often learn to disguise the more apparent signs of intoxication. However, their central nervous system is still affected by the alcohol they have consumed which, therefore, affects reaction time and judgment. A customer who can disguise intoxication in this way should be watched more closely because he/she can reach dangerous levels of intoxication with little warning.
The way the body adapts to the repeated presence of a drug, meaning that higher doses are needed to maintain the same effect.
Setting or Atmosphere:
Many things including the lighting, décor, music, type of clientele, and seating pattern, will affect a customer’s behaviour and consumption of alcohol. A person drinking alone may consume more alcohol for something to do, whereas people drinking with friends may drink less because they are involved in conversation. On the other hand, friends may encourage more drinking by peer pressure urging their companions to drink more or play drinking games.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a birth defect caused when a mother consumes alcohol while pregnant. To raise public awareness of this issue, each licensed establishment has been provided with FAS warning signs and labels.
Servers, of course, care about all their customers, but should pay special attention to pregnant guests. The server may wish to offer non-alcoholic beverages as an alternative for the guest.
Visual Signs of Intoxication
Loss of Inhibitions
- Being overly friendly
- Loud speech
- Change in speech
- Volume: voice may go from low to high with no reason to suggest that a change is necessary?
- Rate: changes in rate of speaking
- Complains about the strength of drink
- Changing consumption rate
- Ordering doubles
- Careless with money
- Irrational statements
- Lighting more than one cigarette at a time
- Eyes blood shot, lack of eye focus
- Decreased alertness or loss of train of thought
- Easily muddled
- Slurred speech
- Sweating for no apparent reason
- Slow, shallow, or weak breathing
Loss of Fine and Gross Motor Coordination
- Unable to pick up change
- Fumbling with cigarettes
- Difficulty removing cards from wallet
- Spilling drink
- Stumbling, has trouble moving around objects in path
- Unable to sit upright, ‘nodding off’ then jerking upright
If you observe signs of intoxication, you should adjust or stop your service.
1. Does it matter whether the stomach is full or empty?
Yes. A full stomach can slow the rate of absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream.
2. Is the size and body build of a person a factor?
Yes. Normally a heavier person will not become intoxicated as rapidly as a lighter person even though they might have consumed the same amount of alcohol.
3. Can servers offer shooters to customers from a server tray?
No. A licensee may not allow a server to carry alcoholic beverages in licensed premises before receiving orders for those beverages.
Identifying Potential Alcohol Issues
In this section you will review:
- Assessing Customers’ Level of Intoxication
- The Traffic Light System
- Responsible Service Procedures
- Refusing Service
- Getting Guests Home Safely
- Reasonable Force
One of the goals of responsible service is to keep people from becoming intoxicated (markedly diminished physical and mental control resulting from consumption of alcohol and/or other drugs). Preventing intoxication among your customers requires understanding how alcohol affects people and having procedures in place to check and pace service.
A change in behaviour is more meaningful than a specific behaviour.
By being attentive to the behaviour changes of individuals you are able to identify potential alcohol issues more confidently.
Assessing Customers’ Level of Intoxication
1. Initial Condition
The first thing you should note is your customer’s initial condition.
- Has the customer been drinking before arriving?
- Does the customer exhibit behaviours which may indicate the person is taking medication/drugs?
- Is the person in a good mood?
- How has the customer behaved in previous situations (if known)?
This allows servers to set the pace and tone of service, to avoid trouble as well as to make note of customers who are depressed, impaired, aggressive, or out to get drunk.
Listen closely and intently to what the customer says. Show that you are interested by making eye contact.
3. Observing Behaviour and Noting Body Language
In many situations, observing people and reading body language are more important than listening.
- Loudness or quietness of conversation and orders.
- Facial expressions and gestures.
- Tone of voice.
4. Asking Questions to Clarify
In some situations, you will have a chance to make small talk with customers. This is an opportunity to pick up information and clarify things heard. Find out:
- How the customer is feeling.
- Who is driving?
- What the intention is for the evening.
- If he/she had been drinking prior to arriving at your establishment.
The Traffic Light System
It is often impractical to count drinks for every customer. One way to monitor your customers (and service) is by using the traffic light system. This system is based on your assessment of patrons and what they order, and is meant to be an internal guide for monitoring your customers.
Customer is in good mood; not impaired; has had a few or no drinks; is not out to get drunk.
Customer may be:
- drinking quickly, but not yet intoxicated.
- out to celebrate and drink heavily.
- showing signs of intoxication.
- pregnant women who drink would be considered in the yellow zone.
Caution: This person is not intoxicated but you should be alert!
Customer is likely showing several of the early signs of in intoxication and may be:
- drinking fast.
- intent on becoming drunk.
- aggressive or unreasonable.
Stop! The person appears intoxicated and should not be served alcohol. Offer food or other alcohol-free alternatives. Good rating means constantly assessing the guest and rating by keeping track of drinks and changes in behaviour.
Responsible Service Procedures
- Make sure you know the liquor laws, regulations, and house policies on alcohol service.
- Be well informed of the non-alcoholic, low-alcohol and specialty drinks available for service. Offer non-alcohol beer, wine or alternatives.
- Take a few moments to talk with your customers throughout their visit to assess their service needs.
- Serve one drink at a time. Remove glass before serving the next drink.
- Wait for customers to reorder. Don’t encourage them to reorder when the drink on the table is still part full.
- Slow the rate of service for borderline (YELLOW ZONE) patrons.
- For steady customers who tend to drink too much, discuss and set a limit with them personally, with input from your manager.
- Promote non-salty food and snacks.
- Do not serve a patron previously served by a coworker without checking with the coworker first.
- Backup and support the decisions made by staff and managers.
- Work as a team by relating information about the customer’s drinking situation to other staff.
- Make sure backup staff is available if needed.
- Assist coworkers to prevent problem situations from occurring.
- Be observant of the behaviour of patrons in your establishment.
- Complete incident reports as needed.
- The Manager or Owner should have a policy for reporting in place and ensure all staff members know the policy.
- Consider the factors that affect a person’s BAC to adjust and prevent over-service.
Refusing Service (Red Zone)
Even with good prevention procedures in place, there will be times when you will have to deal with an intoxicated individual or refuse service. This can be a difficult situation, especially for new staff or with regular customers. It is important that staff and managers make plans and prepare for this situation.
Any intoxicated patron is a potential source of risk for you, the other staff, customers and the patrons themselves. Make sure you know the procedure for dealing with such a situation.
- If you feel a customer is approaching intoxication, remember what is needed most is TIME. Employ stalling tactics. Keep in mind that you are trying to get the patron to stop drinking and accept a safe ride home. Don’t try to out argue or put down the patron, or cause any more negative feelings.
- Alert a backup. You may need help dealing with the customer at the time, and you may need a witness later (don’t forget to note this when you complete the incident report).
- Talk privately and directly to the customer, using his/her name (when possible) when you have to refuse further service.
- Express regret. This is not your choice – it’s the law.
- Explain that you are concerned for his/her safety.
- Be courteous and avoid words that trigger emotions like ‘drunk’ or ‘loaded’ or ‘cut off’.
- Do not argue or bargain. Use closed statements and cite a higher authority. Do not reverse your decision.
- Listen and empathize. Acknowledge his/her anger, frustration and disappointment.
- Remind him/her that this refusal only applies for the night and you would be happy to serve him/her at another time (provided they are not repeat problem patrons).
- Ask for help from a friend of the customer. The customer may listen to a friend if not you.
- Be ready to call the manager or police.
- Ensure all other staff are notified.
If the patron is allowed to remain, all staff must be alerted and be responsible to make sure no more alcohol is served. Allowing someone else to buy for an intoxicated person is also illegal. Keep an eye on tables where a customer has been cut off. You can confiscate drinks and ask customers to leave if they are buying for someone who is intoxicated (or under age). You might also want to warn customers of their personal liability.
When you explain that a customer will not be served any more alcohol, do not allow yourself to be drawn into an argument.
Try statements like:
- I can’t serve you another drink.
- It’s against the law for me to serve you another drink.
- If I serve you another drink, I’ll lose my job.
- I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do. It’s out of my hands.
Getting Guests Home Safely
You are responsible for making sure your intoxicated customers get home safely.
You can be just as responsible for an intoxicated customer who is injured while walking home, as for one who gets into an accident while driving in an intoxicated state.
In many instances, it will not be practical to allow the patron to remain on the premises while he/she sobers up. Your only option is to get your patron home safely.
Know your house policy for taking care of impaired guests.
Offer to enlist a sober friend to drive or walk the intoxicated person home. Ask the customer for the phone number of a friend or family member who can come and pick him/her up.
Use holiday-specific or other safe-ride programs.
Call a cab to take the customer home. This could mean picking up the cab fare depending upon house policy. Arrange for safe storage of the patron’s car.
Keep a ‘safe ride home’ fund or a ‘ride jar’ where customers can leave spare change in case the customer does not have cab fare.
If the establishment is part of a hotel, arrange for a room for the guest.
Promote the use of a ‘designated driver’ program, where one member of the group abstains from drinking alcohol and agrees to drive the others home. The ‘designated driver’ program is used to support your responsible service program. Over service to patrons with a designated driver is still unacceptable.
If a guest refuses your help, make sure to note it in the incident logbook. If he/she insists on driving while impaired, call the police.
Sometimes you will have to ask an angry or violent customer to leave. The management must provide a level of safety and protection to the patrons, and the staff. It may be necessary to move the intoxicated person to another location.
If you need to remove a customer from the premises, or prevent entry of intoxicated or potentially problem patrons, make sure you only use reasonable force. Any unnecessary force, especially that which results in injury, leaves you open to liability.
Make sure you know the procedure that management wants carried out should you decide to remove a patron. It is important that you understand what to do so you can act quickly and decisively.
Remember these points:
- Identify yourself as a person who has the authority to ask a person to leave.
- Always ask the customer to leave.
- Give the person reasonable time to leave.
- If the customer does not leave at this stage, he/she may be charged with an offence.
Refusing to Leave
It is at this point that the police may be called and a charge laid. Where you cannot guarantee your safety or the safety of your customers, this may be the preferred option.
If reasonable force is necessary:
- Be reasonable and calm.
- Make sure the amount of force is appropriate to the situation.
- Do not use force intended to injure. Try to hold, rather than hit.
- Do only what is necessary to subdue a customer who is attacking you or other people.
- Never use force to ‘teach a lesson’ or ‘send a message’.
- Never ‘invite’ a fight, e.g. ‘Think you’re tough, let’s get it on’.
- Make sure you follow your house policy when using force and record the incident in the logbook. You may also want to discuss this further with your local police or law enforcement detachment.
Minors and Identification
In this section you will review:
- Valid forms of identification
- Checking ID
- When to refuse service
- Second Party Sales
Some establishments deal with the issue of underage consumers constantly. Getting into a trendy bar is a major goal for some young people. Other establishments may only deal with the problem occasionally. All licensed premises need to have clear and effective procedures to deal with underage consumers. In Newfoundland and Labrador a person must be 19 years of age to purchase and consume alcohol.
Checking ID (identification) is your first line of defence. Check the ID of anyone who looks younger than 25 or who may be a minor. Refuse service to anyone who does not produce valid proof of ID when requested.
PHOTO ID is mandatory as proof of age by virtue of The Liquor Control Act.
Valid forms of identification
The following are acceptable Photo IDs:
- Government issued photo IDs
When checking ID, make sure it has not been tampered with or altered in any way.
- It is valid and not expired.
- The picture and description on the ID match the person producing it.
- Lamination has not been tampered with.
- There are no bumps or irregularities which may indicate tampering.
- The photo is genuine and has not been substituted.
- The lettering that provides information on name and date of birth has not been altered.
If you suspect a piece of ID is false or has been tampered with, ask for a second piece of ID or request that the person verify their signature.
To test the signature, have the person sign and date a piece of paper, and compare it to the ID. Also, write the person’s driver’s license number (and other ID information) on the paper and keep the sample in the logbook.
When to Refuse Service
If the ID is not reasonable/believable, refuse alcohol service. If the ID is suspicious, quiz the person on the details (eye colour, height, weight, etc.)
Second Party Sales
Allowing someone else to buy for a minor is also illegal. You can confiscate purchases or refuse to sell to someone if you suspect he/she is buying for a minor. If a customer buys a drink for, or shares with a minor in an establishment where minors are allowed, you can:
- Remind the customer of the law regarding minors and request he/she not provide the minor with alcohol.
- Confiscate the drink.
- Ask the party to leave.
In this section you will review:
- Alcohol Service in Changing Times
- Strategies for Business Success
An Important Perspective
This program talks about managing your bottom line, and about managing your practices for alcohol service. You will be asked to think about factors like the types of beverages you promote, your pricing structure, your food menu, your image with the patrons and the relationship between your staff and the people they serve.
You will be looking at your overall business plan, and at a specific plan for responsible alcohol service.
Your Responsible Alcohol Service Plan should interlock with your Business Plan. This program provides a unique opportunity to stand back, examine your operation, and set new directions, as needed. These directions will benefit your business, your clientele and the people your clientele interact with after visiting your establishment.
Changing Liquor Liability Risks
A significant development in the industry is an increasing number of successful liability suits against licensed establishments. If an individual is served alcohol and then injures or kills someone while under the influence, courts are deciding that the establishment serving the alcohol shares some of the blame in many of these situations. Settlements often are for large sums of money. Your investment in this program for yourself, and others in your organization is a step towards reducing your liability in these situations.
Many factors make this a frustrating problem for owners and managers. However, while arguments rage over the fairness and sensibility of the whole issue, smart operators are taking action to reduce risk. That is the goal.
You may not be able to eliminate risk but you can take effective steps to manage and reduce the chances of a lawsuit against your staff and your business. Fortunately, this action will also reduce the risk of your customers being involved in mishaps and accidents.
Alcohol Service in Changing Times
The business of selling alcohol has changed in the past few years. You see it in your bookkeeping, and in the volume and types of alcohol sold. You hear it in your customer’s comments. They talk about health issues, impaired driving and have made changes in their beverage choices. Different establishments in different locations will feel it in varying ways, but the net result is the same. The times are changing, and the successful operator will adapt to, and take advantage of, the changes.
Consider the following changes:
- Profits are dropping due to a trend of reduced alcohol consumption.
- The public is focusing on alcohol-related problems, particularly drinking and driving.
- Young people are more aware of alcohol-related problems and taking action to be more responsible (Safe Grads, Designated Driver Programs, etc.).
- A more health and weight-conscious public is changing eating and drinking preferences.
- Establishments and servers are increasingly being held responsible for injuries related to intoxication.
- Liquor Laws and regulations have been amended in response to the changing environment.
- Costs are rising: taxes, overhead, insurance.
- Which ones have affected your business the most? How have you taken steps to address them?
Strategies for Business Success
One of the managers consulted in the development of this program put it this way… “You just can’t sit back any longer and expect alcohol sales to automatically keep your bottom line in good shape”. Even in a bar where alcohol sales are now 90% of the revenue, there is a need to be in tune with the new trends, and to be innovative in marketing. The good news is that industry people are finding a large number of profit-generating strategies that are in harmony with the goals of avoiding over service, intoxication and the risks of impaired driving and liability.
This section looks at a number of these strategies. Managers are using new approaches to attract customers and to increase profits while achieving responsible service. Take a few moments to think about what you are currently doing, as well as what could be done in the future: Promote lower alcohol products.
- Some establishments carry brands of wines, spirits, and beers of lower alcohol content.
- Make the drinks appealing by introducing a touch of the exotic to both their names and ingredients.
- Promote alcohol-free beverages such as non-alcoholic beers. Promote food alternatives.
- Have staff suggestively sell food items, or have a food menu visible to guests. Food slows the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. It thereby produces a lower ‘peak’ amount of alcohol in the blood than if the guest were to drink on an empty stomach. Food must be attractive, well-priced and well-marketed.
- Using new strategies to increase sales of specific products and serving sizes with a higher per unit profit (Up-selling to Premiums. Train your staff to suggest and sell).
- Replace bar or ‘rail’ brands with brand names or ‘call’ liquors.
- Offer more expensive wines.
- Dry and imported beers are becoming more popular.
- Carry premium and select brands of spirits.
- Upgrade standard drinks such as a Bloody Mary by going to a larger presentation or using an interesting garnish. The presentation affords the customer a higher perceived value for the product. You charge more, increasing the margin of profit.
- Adjust pricing policies. Review your pricing and determine necessary adjustments to maintain profitability.
- Sell better wines by the glass. Your margin of profit will increase for each glass sold.
- Publicize a safety and/or health conscious point of view. This can be done by displaying policies about your commitment to responsible alcohol service. Include this on your tent cards, menus and billing systems.
- Promote special events that provide interest and entertainment for certain customer groups.
- Get staff input and encourage them to become involved in planning, as well as, execution.
- Develop theme nights, celebrity nights, or invite ‘celebrity servers’ with a special drink named after them.
- Dance, trivia, dress to look like, and other contests (but not drinking contests).
- Host fashion shows or work with a local charity to stage an event that exhibits your social and charitable support.
- Darts, shuffleboard, pool and video games are popular. Introduce backgammon, crib, scrabble or other games that may catch the imagination of your market.
- Select new beverages and promote taste. Provide a variety in products and stay up to date on consumer likes and trends.
- Organize a wine-tasting event for new products and have a knowledgeable wine expert discuss the products.
- Imported beer tastings can be accompanied with food tastings to suggestively sell your food menu as well as the new beer.
- Have a visible control point at the main entrance. It sends the message ‘This establishment cares who its patrons are and what they do’.
- Promote a professional atmosphere with courteous, efficient and knowledgeable staff and managers.
- Publicize a Designated Driver or Safe Transportation plan. Contact the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation for more information about the Designated Driver Program for operators. Post the signage throughout your operation and ensure your staff knows their role in promoting it.
- Build these strategies into the orientation and training sessions for your management and service teams.
- Develop in-house policies and plans using the tools at the back of this manual.
- Recognize and thank staff members who demonstrate their duty of care and reduce the risk of liability.
- Share the details of the situation with other staff, who can learn from their coworkers.
Duty of Care
In this section you will review:
- The importance of Policies and Procedures
- An Effective Intervention Strategy
- Areas for Policy Development
Examples of House Policy
This program has asked you to think about the role of alcohol in your business plan, and the need to set up special policies for responsible alcohol service. You now have a number of ideas to experiment with and shape into a comprehensive set of plans and policies.
Importance of Duty of Care
It is important to:
- Put your policies and plans in writing.
- Communicate them clearly, consistently and repeatedly to staff.
Writing things down forces you to think them through. Is this just a vague idea, or will it really work? It is also a way of committing yourself to action. Written guidelines for staff convince them that you are serious and make their role much clearer. They will understand the reasons behind the guidelines after they complete the It’s Good Business: Server program.
Even if you are not able to carry out the policy yourself, you can create draft statements to discuss with colleagues and superiors. If you already have these policies and procedures in your business and training plans, we applaud you. Take the time now to review them, in light of the information you have gained and add any ideas you have gained through this program.
Control Through Intervention
When you are dealing with an intoxicated customer, you are dealing with a situation that extends beyond your premises. You may be vulnerable to a lawsuit, hearing or suspension. Your staff and customers, who will assess their level of safety through your actions, are also observing you.
Remember, even if the situation has gotten out of control, you can still manage it responsibly with swift and appropriate action. Should an accident, injury, damage, or death result despite your best efforts, your liability in the situation may be considerably reduced if you can demonstrate you made every reasonable attempt to take appropriate action.
An intervention strategy has four key steps:
- Assess the situation.
- Delegate specific responsibilities.
- Take action.
- Follow up with staff and incident logbook.
Assess the Situation
When you or your duty manager are called to assist in such a situation, your first task is to assess the situation. Don’t jump to conclusions. Ask for vital information about the patron(s), and determine what other information, if any, is needed. It is important to decide how to handle the problem before you get directly involved in it.
Delegate Specific Responsibilities
Decide at this point who does what. What parts of the problem will you handle (such as going to talk to the patron), and which parts of the problem will the server handle (such as calling a taxi, friends, or the police). What is the role of the bartender and doorman (if you have them at your establishment)?
Using the statements and techniques in refusing service to patrons that were reviewed earlier. Do not use emotionally charged words, and do provide reasons for your actions.
Follow up with Staff
Follow up with staff and record the actions you take in the incident logbook. Record the sales slip (if available). Review the incidents on a regular basis during staff meetings or with staff before their shift. This helps everyone learn from the experience. It also gives you an opportunity to reinforce or improve policies and procedures from time to time.