11 Dec Serving up TIPS – It Could Save Your Business!
You are in hospitality and you know that guests appreciate, and sometimes demand, alcohol service as part of their dining experience. Of course, viewing alcohol solely as a relaxing social lubricant is not the entire story – anyone in the industry can tell you that serving alcohol is a unique privilege that comes with a great deal of responsibility.
Take, for example, a patron who has consumed a few drinks before heading to your establishment. They carry themselves well, show no signs of over-intoxication, and continue to drink for the next few hours. They leave. What are you, the server, responsible for and is there anything you can do to reduce this risk?
“The Approach is really two-fold,” Says Tim McCarty, Director of Safety & Risk Consulting at Clark Insurance. “There is the fundamental training of servers that can prevent this type of loss from occurring in the first place and then the Liquor Liability Coverage that ultimately protects the business if the loss does occur.”
As a Certified TIPS Trainer, Tim focuses on the educational component. Here’s a taste of three key components of a TIPS course:
- Age. One of the first steps in serving is determining if the guest is of age. In a busy servicing situation or when there is a gathering, it can be difficult to control who gets served. Utilizing the TIPS program, it trains servers that the first line of defense is knowing how to evaluate an ID and if there are questions, how to validate the identification of the person.
- Over-serving. Whether a patron has been drinking at your establishment, or comes in with a level of intoxication, it is important for everyone on your staff to know the signs of overindulgence. The TIPS program allows participants to work through scenarios to make those judgement calls in advance, giving them the confidence to take customer friendly and appropriate actions. If an action is needed, documentation of the circumstances and steps taken is critical for defense of any potential legal actions.
- Complete Training. Having all your staff trained is critical to controlling the exposure that alcohol service presents to your establishment. From wait staff and bartenders to managers, this includes anyone who oversees operations. The TIPS program offers a structure from which your servers can confidently evaluate the many factors that come into play with alcohol service, make a reasoned decision about how to proceed and take appropriate actions that will keep patrons safe and protect your business.
What many don’t know about TIPS training is that it is often a prerequisite for Liquor Liability Coverage, as most insurers require the applicant’s servers to have completed such a course. Furthermore, it is a required training every three years in Bangor and Portland, ME.
“Liquor laws vary from state to state, but most include statutes that hold a business which sells or serves alcoholic drinks to a patron who is obviously intoxicated strictly liable to anyone injured by this individual,” says Joan Hopkins, Hospitality Specialist at Clark Insurance.
“Many establishments claim to have a ‘3 Drink Maximum’ as a risk management strategy, but unfortunately, this simply won’t hold up in most cases.”
At the end of the day, a server has no way of knowing or controlling the actions of a guest before they arrive or after they leave. It’s the combination of proactive education offered through TIPS training and having the right coverage that truly protects a business.