There are many intervention techniques and systems to count drinks and evaluate customers. Establishments and servers develop techniques that are effective and appropriate for them. The following guidelines will help you develop successful intervention practices.
Keep two principles in mind in choosing your words:
- Avoid “you” statements that sound accusatory or judgmental, which are likely to offend and provoke the customer. (e.g., “You’re drunk,” “You’re cut off,” “You’ve had too much to drink”).
- Use “I” statements instead that put the focus on you and why you’re refusing service. (e.g., “I’m concerned for your safety”).
- Get defensive
- Give lengthy explanations
Every situation is different and every difficult customer is unique, but here are examples of phrases you can use when you have to tell a customer you cannot serve him/her another drink. Variations of these statements may also work when you have to make a good-faith effort to remove a drink or when you are dealing with a minor. Modify the details to fit the specific circumstances of your place of business and its customers.
Do make statements that focus on the law or house policies. What are some examples?
- “It could be against the law if I serve you more alcohol. How about I bring you a cup of coffee and get you something to eat?”
- “Our company policy doesn’t allow me to serve you any more alcohol. We could lose our liquor license. I’ll bring you a Coke, and how about a basket of french fries or a plate of buffalo wings?”
- “Listen, I could get fired if I serve you another drink. I’ll bring you a soda or a cup of coffee instead.”
Do make statements that express concern and focus on the customer’s well – being. What are some examples?
- “Look, I’m concerned about your safety. I want to be sure you get home ok tonight. Why don’t I bring you a glass of our fresh lemonade while you look at our appetizer menu and choose something to eat? Customers tell me that our chicken strips are the best in town.”
- “I know this is frustrating, but I want to be sure you don’t get into trouble tonight. The cops have been patrolling the area a lot the last few weeks and pulling over people for DUI. I don’t want to see you get arrested. Instead of another beer, I’ll bring you a glass of ginger ale.”
- “Legally, I’m not allowed to serve you another drink. This glass of water will help you avoid getting a hangover tomorrow and, in the meantime, I’ll bring you a bowl of peanuts and some bread sticks.”
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Slide 31: Intervention Techniques