Serving It RightServing It Right

BC’s Responsible Beverage Service Program

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Implementing Responsible Beverage Service

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Create and Implement a House Policy

1. Create and implement a house policy

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The first step towards demonstrating a professional environment is creating and implementing a house policy. A house policy provides licensees, managers and staff with the procedures and practical tactics that can be used in different alcohol-service situations. The success of your efforts to promote responsible service depends largely on these written policies.

A written policy is a serious document that should be read and discussed by staff. Written policies should be implemented and enforced by all personnel including licensees, managers and staff. A written policy can also help in understanding specific roles and responsibilities for ensuring responsible beverage service.

To develop a house policy, you need to assess the risks associated with the establishment and tailor the policy to the specific needs and circumstances of your establishment. When developing a house policy, specific procedures are created that help ensure that everyone can satisfy their work duties. A good house policy includes instructions from management and input provided by staff and guests. Important topics in a house policy include ways to prevent underage drinking, intoxication and overcrowding.

Following are the top tips to implement a house policy:

Top 10 tips for effectively implementing house policy

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Tip 1

Engage employees and valued customers in developing the house policy.

Tip 2

Introduce written policies to employees in a structured, positive environment. Organize a staff meeting to introduce the policies. Post notices about the meeting (date, time, place, etc.) on bulletin boards in advance, or include a notification in pay envelopes. If employees become aware of the policies at an orientation meeting, instead of through the grapevine, the new rules will be easier to accept and implement. Hold meetings during working hours and make attendance mandatory.

Tip 3

Brief the management team to ensure they are fully aware of all policies. Engage their support prior to introducing and explaining the policies to the general staff.

Tip 4

Have management and staff sign a statement indicating they have read and understood the policies.

Tip 5

Have copies of the BC Liquor Control and Licensing Act, Liquor Control and Licensing Regulation and relevant Licensee Guide available for employees, and review these documents to underscore your own establishment's policies regarding the service of alcohol.

Tip 6

Ensure that staff understands the particular requirements for the specific class of licence.

Tip 7

Set a date for implementing any new policies and stick to it.

Tip 8

Reinforce the house policy at regularly scheduled staff meetings. Reflect any changes or additions in the written house-policy manual and share the updates with staff promptly and in an organized fashion.

Tip 9

Provide cross training so staff can learn and understand the different roles in RBS. In addition, support your staff when they apply the house policy.

Tip 10

Make your customers aware of your policies by posting your policies where guests can read them.

In order to be effective, a house policy must be written, communicated to and understood by staff, and supported by management. Staff members must know and feel confident that the management will support their decision to deny service to an intoxicated customer or ask an unruly guest to leave.

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Effective enforcement of a house policy increases an establishment's potential for success and decreases the risk of legal action. The key to success is to take all reasonable precautions to care for your customers by maintaining control over activities in your premises.

Keep in mind what you learned in Section 3 about your legal duties in serving alcohol. It is only by proper and consistent implementation of the house policy that you ensure responsible beverage service and protect your establishment from unwanted lawsuits.

Guidelines for writing a house policy, a list of suggested topics and a sample house policy are contained in the Resources section.