As restaurants hire new employees, it becomes more difficult for them to meet experienced workers who can train other team members as well. A major issue for our clients has been managing regulatory compliance issues such as updates from company executives, license and liquor license renewals, and training team members on the protocol. appropriate alcohol service.
For most restaurants, keeping their liquor licenses in good standing is critical, especially at this critical time, as the Small Business Chronicle reported that alcohol sales tend to have the highest profit margins. of everything on a menu, averaging between 75 percent to 80 percent.
Here, I’ll give you some practical tips to help you train your employees and understand the basics of alcohol licensing as your restaurant bounces back:
Renew your liquor license
The first step is to verify that your liquor license and business licenses are renewed and active. While there are fees associated with renewing, if you don’t renew on time you will face much higher penalty fees. Refills are processed through your national or local alcohol control agency, online, over the phone, or by mail.
Activating an offender’s license can be time consuming and expensive, and may not be possible in some cases depending on the length of the offender. Once a liquor license is revoked for non-renewal, penalties may prevent immediate application for a new license. In some cases, licenses may no longer be readily available. Particularly in Florida, the state has experienced a shortage of quota liquor licenses, where the number of people applying for a quota liquor license far exceeds the number of licenses to shop around. The 2020 registration period garnered more than 23,600 registrations for 62 licenses in 30 counties.
Know your protocol
One sure way to gain the trust of your employees is to provide them with the tools to be confident in their own abilities. You can ensure employees are familiar with the fundamentals of responsible service by requiring responsible training, which varies by state and local jurisdiction.
Then, define protocols that make it easy and simpler for systemic staff monitoring. For example, it is advisable to establish guidelines and procedures for serving alcohol to avoid overconsumption or service to intoxicated customers. Establishments should also create protocols to prevent patrons from leaving the premises with open alcohol containers or loitering in the parking lot.
There are stiff penalties for serving underage customers, including losing your liquor license and even jail time. Therefore, training of staff to properly verify identity documents is essential. Identity verification requirements vary by state and sometimes even by local jurisdiction. Having an open dialogue with your state or local alcohol enforcement agency can help you keep your team up to date with changes to ID verification protocols or recommendations. Many restaurants now incorporate electronic identity verification machines or point-of-sale reminders to specify the date of birth a guest must be born on or after to be served alcohol. Protocol guidelines should be readily available to all team members involved in the handling, preparation and sale of alcohol.
Promotions and discounts, like happy hour, endless brunch, or daily drink specials, are often popular ways to encourage customers to buy drinks and spend more time and money at your restaurant. . It is important to note that there are often national and local regulations on what establishments can and cannot do about these promotions and how to market them. For example, there may be limitations on how alcoholic beverages can be reduced or regulations regarding the days and times when happy hours or other drink promotions may be offered. Some jurisdictions prohibit this practice completely.
Take away cocktails
Amid forced closures, the pandemic influenced restaurant adaptations overnight. One of these innovations is take-out cocktails. Many lawmakers have allowed catering establishments to pack and serve alcohol on the go as a way for restaurants to earn extra income. After a successful experiment, restaurants were able to safely navigate take-out procedures and take-out cocktails appear to be staying there in most states. Currently, 16 states and Washington, DC have made take-out cocktails permanent, while 14 have adopted temporary measures extending their policies. Tennessee, for example, passed a new law allowing the transportation and delivery of alcohol that expires in 2023.
Take-out cocktails can open up a whole new source of income for restaurants and be valuable for recovery. The question is, are you ready to participate in this growing trend? In Florida, for example, all licenses must adhere to the following rules:
- The establishment must hold a qualifying liquor license and be duly licensed as a dining establishment with the Florida Division of Hotels and Restaurants.
- All beer and wine sold to take out from a restaurant must be in containers sealed by the manufacturer or must be sealed at the restaurant or bar so that the container cannot be opened immediately.
- Alcohol should be placed in an additional bag or container with a dated receipt. The bag or container should be sealed so that any soaking is visibly evident.
- Deliveries can only be made by drivers who are at least 21 years old and the customer’s ID must be verified at the time of delivery. Alcohol cannot be given or delivered to anyone under the age of 21.
While it is overwhelming for restaurants during the workforce shortage, the industry as a whole faces the same universal problem and allows leaders to come together and find solutions. Without managerial support, owners step in and tackle one obstacle at a time. One thing to keep in mind is managing your liquor license and proper liquor service, which can be quickly remedied by setting renewal reminders for your licenses and establishing clear guidelines for employees.