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House Policies

A policy is a written plan or a course of action that guides and supports your staff and management by giving them clear and consistent guidelines to carry out your establishment's philosophy of responsible beverage service. Here are some guidelines to follow when creating a written policy:

Conduct a Risk Assessment.

This will help you identify problem areas and incidents that could happen so you can set policies on how to handle them.

Develop a goal statement. Developing a goal or mission statement for responsible alcohol beverage service can help you achieve your establishment's overall commitment to responsible beverage service.

Develop your establishment's goal statement together with staff.

Post the goal statement in a visible location as a reminder to staff and guests of your commitment to responsible beverage service. Here is an example of a goal statement:

"This establishment supports the Smart Serve Training Program. The goal of our establishment is to serve our guests in a responsible, friendly and professional manner. Our staff will assist guests to drink in moderation and provide a safe and enjoyable atmosphere."

Prepare a list of all the policies you think your establishment may need.

Most establishments will create two types of house policies – one for guests and one for staff. When developing either policy, ask yourself whether your document promotes responsible alcohol beverage service principles. Your House Policies should be:

  • Positive, simple and easy to update
  • Simple and easy for guests, management and staff to follow
  • Realistic for the size and style of your establishment
  • Posted in a visible location for all guests, management and staff to see
  • Implemented, enforced and reviewed regularly during orientation and refresher training

Get input from staff and fellow managers.

Seek and share ideas with your fellow managers and employees when writing a House Policy. Employees will be more supportive of the policies they helped to create.

Communicate your Server House Policy to all staff.

A Server House Policy clearly spells out a server's responsibilities and your expectations so that servers do not have to make difficult judgment calls about who to serve or how to handle a challenging situation. Make sure you clearly communicate house policies and procedures to your staff. Here are some ideas for communicating your message:

  • Post on the bulletin board or staff room
  • Provide new employees with a detailed explanation of your House Policy – Include it as a sign-off sheet in Orientation packages
  • Regularly review your Policy at meetings or training sessions
  • Integrate the standards included in the House Policy into performance reviews. Reward employees who meet or exceed the standards set out in the house policy.

Communicate your Guest House Policy to your guests.

Post your house policies where guests can see them. If they know the rules, they will also know when they have broken them. At the same time, it allows servers to reference the House Policy as a reason not to serve an intoxicated guest.

Review your House Policy with your liquor inspector, the police and your insurance company.

Sharing your House Policy with these groups shows your commitment to safe alcohol service and meeting the requirements of the law.

Review your House Policy on a regular basis.

Your policies should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that they are updated to reflect changes in your establishment and the legislation.