Launching this year’s We Don’t Serve Teens campaign, the FTC and a coalition of private and public groups have materials available for businesses, parents, and others that support the legal drinking age of 21. If you’re an alcohol retailer — or have clients in the industry — you know that underage alcohol sales are illegal. But how can store owners and managers build compliance into the day-to-day operation of their business? Here are some tips from the FTC:
1. Create and maintain a written policy that lists steps your staff has to take for every alcohol sales transaction. Subjects to cover: when an ID check needs to be done, what a valid ID looks like, and when — and how — to refuse a sale.
2. Train all managers and staff on your alcohol sales policy. The best training includes role-playing on how to ask for an ID and how to deny a sale in a non-confrontational manner.
3. Use tools that make it easy. Program cash registers to recognize alcohol sales and prompt cashiers to require ID. If electronic ID verification isn’t possible, use a specialty calendar showing birth dates eligible to buy.
4. Monitor staff conduct through review of point-of-sale videos and private “mystery shopper” inspections.
5. Keep records that show training dates, unusual occurrences, and the results of compliance checks. Use these records during employee reviews to prevent recurring problems — and to give credit to employees that follow company policies.
6. Communicate with the public. Alcohol retailers help their communities when they post information about the legal purchase age and the importance of preventing teen access to alcohol. Free signs in English and Spanish about the legal drinking age are available from the FTC’s bulk order site.