Hotel and restaurant managers know that alcohol-related sales offer healthy profit margins, but complying with the confusing maze of licensing laws can be challenging. However, careful planning and execution can help you protect your licenses.

That planning begins by auditing your licenses and operations at least once a year. For example, do not assume that all licenses have the same renewal date. Also, your alcohol license may restrict the movement of drinks: a guest who brings a drink from the bar to the dining room could be putting you in violation of regulations. Given such issues, you should examine your licensing options and instruct employees to not only keep a close eye on what comes into your service area, but also on what leaves it.

Establishing a good working relationship with the state alcohol agent in your region is prudent. Agents are usually open to conducting seminars about enforcement and taking other steps to help you stay current on regulations. Learning what agents are looking for in an investigation allows you to address those issues in a proactive manner with your employees.

Your establishment should also have written procedures regarding customer identification. You do not want to alienate a 70-year-old customer by asking for proof of her age, but you do want to establish standardized guidelines and ensure that employees are following them.

Maintaining accurate and current inventory records is also important. Most states require written records and many jurisdictions levy taxes per-drink-served. Good records also help minimize employee theft and other loss.

An attorney experienced in alcohol regulation can help you establish and update these procedures. The medley of regulations can appear intimidating, but good counsel will walk you through them and help ensure that you are in line with state and local requirements. Taking the proper steps now to protect your alcohol licenses will save you a lot in the future.

Source: In The Mix Magazine