Serving It RightServing It Right

BC’s Responsible Beverage Service Program

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Implementing Responsible Beverage Service


Creating a Pleasant Environment

Project a positive staff image
To ensure an effective RBS program, it is important that management and staff be trained in customer service and responsible service of alcohol. A visible and engaged shift supervisor or manager on the floor shows customers that the establishment is well-controlled and well run. Friendly, courteous, efficient, and knowledgeable staff members project a well-managed and responsible environment. Staff must project a positive image, genuine interest and patient understanding towards guests.

Prevent intoxication through customer service
One of the goals of responsible service is to prevent guests from becoming intoxicated. Keep in mind what you learned in Section 2 about how intoxication happens and its effects on the body. The role of staff is to focus on hospitality and protect the safety of everyone in the establishment.

Following are the top tips to create a pleasant environment for guests and help prevent intoxication:

Top 10 tips for creating a pleasant environment:

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Tip 1

Establish a dress code.

Tip 2

Foster a calm culture among staff and patrons.

Tip 3

Monitor the door in a friendly and courteous manner and use the opportunity to set the tone for expected behaviour inside the establishment.

Tip 4

Ensure that minors and intoxicated patrons are not allowed entry.

Tip 5

Prevent overcrowding and encourage a good gender ratio among patrons.

Tip 6

Always treat patrons in a professional and knowledgeable manner.

Tip 7

Encourage patrons to respect the establishment, other staff, other patrons and the community.

Tip 8

Refuse to accept inappropriate behaviour by patrons. Intervene early to avoid problem situations. In case of a conflict, act firmly but fairly.

Tip 9

Be respectful and allow patrons to withdraw from a conflict without losing face.

Tip 10

Create the right environment by ensuring adequate lighting and providing activities like games, contests and other entertainment that may be permissible under the licence.

Provide quality, good-value beverage alternatives
The pricing strategies that management and staff use to encourage moderation and non-alcoholic rounds are important. Customers often quietly balk at paying the same price for a non-alcoholic drink as for an alcoholic one. Offer a range of non-alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, juices, coffees, and teas at slightly reduced prices as an alternative to alcoholic beverages. Some establishments have had favourable results with patrons by having the house policy include no-charge soft drinks or free food for designated drivers.

B.C. has minimum drink prices for all establishments that serve liquor for consumption on the premises. The minimum drink prices are in place to prevent aggressive pricing strategies that may lead to intoxication, and are calculated based on a minimum price per ounce of alcohol sold.

Actively promote and market food
Management and staff should encourage patrons to consume foods and snacks that slow the pace and amount of drinking and reduce the rate of alcohol absorption into the bloodstream. As you learned in Section 2, food slows the absorption of alcohol. During service, ask customers whether they would like a light snack, and direct their attention to menu cards on the table. Food that is high in fat and/or protein is digested slowly and helps slow the movement of alcohol into the blood system. Food that is high in sugar or carbohydrates is less effective in this regard, and food that is salty may defeat the purpose by making guests thirsty and increasing their drink consumption.

Avoid over-service
Be aware of the amount of alcohol being served to customers and if required, talk to customers to determine how much alcohol has been consumed already. Look out for other intoxicants in addition to alcohol, particularly cannabis. This will include observing patrons through speech, behavior and smell. Always serve drinks in standard sizes and promote the service of one drink per customer. Avoid over-service by monitoring and limiting the number of standard drinks that patrons are permitted to drink. Take observed prior cannabis or other drug use into account in limiting the number of standard drinks. Monitor and refuse further service to patrons who appear impaired even if they have had little to drink. Ensure water is provided alongside an alcoholic beverage and promote non-alcoholic alternatives.

At times, certain drink options can lead to irresponsible drinking patterns. For example, guests may initiate drinking games that involve shots or shooters. Binge drinking, where guests consume too much alcohol in a short duration, can be dangerous and can lead to intoxication. As a part of responsible service, the house policy should include specific procedures to discourage binge drinking and overconsumption.

A licensed establishment may offer games of skill and hold other contests. However, the premise cannot offer or give liquor as a prize, and the games or contests cannot involve the consumption of liquor.

Reducing drink spiking
There is increasing concern about the dangers of drink spiking by patrons in licensed premises. Drink spiking happens when alcohol or illicit drugs are added to the drink without the knowledge of the person who will be consuming it. Any drink can be spiked including soft drinks, juice, water, or alcohol. It is important to develop procedures in the house policy to reduce the likelihood of drink spiking occurring on the premises. Some best practices to prevent drink spiking include:

  • Removing unattended glasses
  • Serving drinks to guests who will be consuming them
  • Declining requests from patrons to add extra alcohol to drinks served to their friends or other guests
  • Noticing changes in behaviour of guests

The effects from drink spiking depend on the type and quantity of the additive. The effects may include poor coordination, loss of consciousness, poor balance, slurred speech, loss of control, etc.