How to Handle Drunk Customers as a Bartender – Refusing Service the Right Way

Handling Drunk Patrons Doesn't Have to End Poorly

In almost any state in America, there are laws governing alcohol establishments that place responsibility on both the servers and the establishment if a customer causes an accident that results in a loss of life or injury due to excessive drinking. This means that the manager and the owner of the pub along with the bartender who served the customer will be held responsible for the incident of violence and might have to share the sentence or a fine. Beyond the issue of violence outside of the bar is the customer who causes problems within the establishment due to intoxication. This elevates the establishment’s responsibility for serving excessive drinks to those who are clearly over their limit. Thus many of states advise training for bartenders on how to properly recognize and respond to drunken patrons.

Stop Service to the Individual

Though identifying a drunken patron can be an easy task with education and practice, the issue of how to respond to and prevent excessive consumption takes further studying. Though the obvious solution to this problem is to refuse service to people who are on the edge, it’s easier said than done. There is also the issue of individuals who arrive to your establishment already over the limit.

Removal From the Bar is Your Last Resort

In the past people employed the most effective means to prevent further consumption by simply throwing them out. Owners created their own standards by which they could handle disorderly conduct. But the modern bartender doesn’t have this option. Today, laws have been established over manhandling in a bar. You can also get in trouble for simply forcing someone out of your establishment. This can also hurt your business.

Talk to The Customer

The best option, and the one you should always opt for, is to inform the customer before it gets completely out of your hands. You want to politely mention to the customer that they will only be served one or two more. Then you should inform other servers as well as any bouncers or security along with your manager that a particular patron is close to their limit. It is much easier for a customer to understand this news before they are extremely intoxicated and unmanageable.

Call a Cab

The problem then becomes an issue of transportation. You will want to verbally recommend that they avoid driving. Recommend cab companies and possibly call to request the cab yourself. Be assertive and proactive about the issue. Once the customer chooses to drive home you no longer have control, so be diligent.

Keep a Record

Finally, you need to record the issue in your establishment’s logbook or with occurrence forms. Protecting yourself and your place or work comes by creating written records of what took place and how you attempted to prevent further danger to the public.

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