It is no secret that we Americans like our drink and the statistics for alcohol consumption say we drink on average 27% more on a holiday. Pubs, bars, and restaurants provide a fun place to enjoy the holiday spirit and it remains the responsibility of businesses in the hospitality industry to keep their customers safe. Excessive drinking can lead to verbal arguments that can quickly escalate to physical altercations and more problems once your patrons get on the road.
No one wants to think about the scary stuff when they are enjoying a drink but as the owner or manager of a nightclub or restaurant, you have to think through every scenario and prepare your staff for them.
7 Things to Consider to improve bar safety during busy holidays
The alcohol consumption statistics for America say that men drink about 3.8 drinks at a regular bar and up to 6 drinks at an open bar. Women usually average 3.1 drinks and this can go up to 4.6 drinks at an open bar. On holidays, the national average will get bumped up. These statistics encapsulate why holidays can be good for business but tough on the staff.
Here are some specific measures with supporting data to maintain a safe bar environment on busy holidays in America:
1. Staffing and Crowd Control for a Safe Bar
Ensure you have an adequate number of well-trained staff members to handle increased crowds during holidays. In anticipation of larger crowds during holidays, bouncers may collaborate with bar management to install additional security measures. This could involve hiring extra bouncers, deploying temporary metal detectors or bag checks at the entrance, or setting up surveillance cameras to enhance security and deter potential incidents.
Bouncers are trained to quickly respond to any disturbances or conflicts that arise. During holidays, when tensions may be higher, bouncers maintain constant communication with each other and the bar staff using radios or other means. This ensures swift intervention and resolution of any issues that may jeopardize crowd control.
Bouncers should have had training in how to approach people in a non-threatening way. The training helps them detect early signs of negative behavior and also learn both criminal and civil laws applicable and the limits of force they can use.
Spiked drinks – watching out for suspicious behavio
You might have the safest bar in town but anything can happen in a crowded, dimly lit space. It is not possible for the bartender and servers busy with a demanding clientele to keep a watch for suspicious behavior. Drinks can get unattended, a busy bartender can leave a drink in front of a customer and move on without the customer noticing. Once again, the industry statistics say 4 out of 5 victims are women and usually below the age of 24.
It is essential on a holiday to have additional security staff. All staff should be educated to recognize the symptoms of spiking which can include confusion, nausea, slurred speech, memory loss, and unconsciousness. It can rapidly escalate within 10 minutes of having a spiked drink.
3. Designated Driver Programs
Promote designated driver programs to encourage responsible drinking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 10,142 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes involving a driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher in 2019.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), holidays often see a spike in drunk driving incidents.
Provide your staff with responsible beverage service training, such as the Aim To Serve program in Tennessee and California. Aim To Serve is far superior in customer satisfaction than TIPS (Training for Intervention ProcedureS) or ServSafe Alcohol. The ServSafe Alcohol training program is developed by the National Restaurant Association, while the Aim To Serve program is developed by leaders in their fields of expertise and the responsible sale or service of alcohol. These programs teach techniques to prevent intoxication and handle difficult situations.
One of the best parts of the Aim to Serve Program is that you can opt for either ABC Permits online training (for those who like to learn at their own pace) or ABC Permits classroom training for a more hands-on experience.
We also have a California Responsible Beverage Service Training (RBS) Program. In this program, you’ll learn all you need to know about responsible alcohol service and how to safely serve alcohol to customers.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, establishments with certified responsible beverage service training programs had a 57% reduction in the likelihood of a patron leaving highly intoxicated.
5. Monitoring Intoxication Levels
Train your staff to monitor patrons’ intoxication levels and intervene when necessary. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) recommends using observable signs like slurred speech, impaired coordination, and changes in behavior to identify intoxication.
6. Offering Non-Alcoholic Options
You don’t want your client’s designated driver sitting morosely while his or her buddies are getting tipsy. Provide a variety of non-alcoholic drink options for patrons who choose not to consume alcohol or are designated drivers. The NIAAA reports that offering non-alcoholic alternatives can help reduce alcohol consumption and promote responsible drinking.
7. Get Liquor Liability Coverage
If your establishment serves alcohol, liquor liability coverage is advisable. In many jurisdictions, businesses that serve alcohol are legally required to have liquor liability insurance. Alcohol-related incidents can result in substantial financial losses for businesses, including medical expenses, property damage, or legal fees.
Liquor liability coverage encourages businesses to implement effective risk management practices. Insurers often assess the establishment’s safety protocols, staff training, and responsible serving practices before providing coverage. This promotes a safe bar environment, as businesses strive to reduce the likelihood of incidents and claims.
Implementing these measures can significantly contribute to a safer bar environment, particularly during busy holidays when alcohol-related incidents tend to increase.