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Server training involvement does beer wholesaler good.

Server Training Involvement Does Beer Wholesaler Good

Wilsbach Distributors, through sponsorship of alcohol education programs such as T.I.P.S., demonstrates it's not part of the problem, but part of the solution.

Two men, one boisterous and swaying uneasily, amble to the concession stand. A round of drinks is ordered, but denied by the bartender, who explains he cannot serve an obviously-drunk patron. A free soft drink is offered, instead.

After little discussion and protestations of outrage from the intoxicated patron, the customer relents and accepts the soft drink. All went smoothly.

Realistic it may not be, but the aforementioned scenario has proven to be effective as part of a responsible drinking program aimed at servers of alcohol: T.I.P.S.

Training for Intervention Procedures by Servers of Alcohol (T.I.P.S.) was initiated earlier in the decade by the Washington, D.C.-based group, the Health Education Foundation, Inc., under the guidance of Dr. Morris E. Chafetz, M.D.

Chafetz has spent many years dealing with problems resulting from alcohol abuse. He was the founding director of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and in 1982 served as chairman of the Education and Prevention Committee of the Presidential Commission on Drunk Driving.

Skills and techniques

Chafetz explains on a T.I.P.S. educational video, "What T.I.P.S. does is not only give them (servers of alcohol) information, but teaches them skills and techniques that they can feel confident with and they can use.

"That is a major effort," he continues, "in the program that we have. It is person-to-person, we teach them people skills, and it isn't so much what they learn about alcohol that matters, but how they deal with other people that really makes T.I.P.S. work."

The T.I.P.S. program has been endorsed by the top two major brewers, Anheuser-Busch, Inc., and Miller Brewing Co.

"Anheuser-Busch's selection on what responsible drinking projects it selects rests on the program's quality and the quality of the people behind it," says Stephan J. Burrows, vice president of A-B's recently-formed Department of Consumer Awareness and Education. "Dr. Chafetz has great credentials and we liked the fact that T.I.P.S. could be applied on the local level."

Along with its other projects aimed at curbing alcohol abuse--the Buddy System, Know When to Say When, Pit Stop and the like--A-B has been assisting wholesalers in setting up funds and community backing to get T.I.P.S. and other programs like it off the ground.

In use in PA

One such wholesaler that has had the opportunity to take advantage of the program is Wilsbach Distributors, Inc., a Harrisburg, PA Stroh Brewery Co. and A-B wholesaler that serves Pennsylvania's capital and surrounding counties.

Crystal Hartz serves the wholesalership in a dual capacity; both as a sales coordinator and the company's Operation Alert coordinator. Operation Alert (Action and Leadership through Education, Responsibility and Training) is the umbrella head used by the St. Louis brewer to incorporate the responsible drinking strategies that can be implemented through the company's wholesalers.

As Operation Alert coordinator, Hartz deals with a disparate number of people, ranging from local DUI boards and members of Pennsylvania's Department of Transportation to waiters, waitresses and on-premise retail managers.

Wilsbach is currently backing three major programs offered by A-B: T.I.P.S., Alert Cab and I'm Driving. According to Hartz, T.I.P.S. receives the most funds and has been used by the greatest number of people. The program is broken down into three categories covering on-premise and off-premise accounts and concessions.

Hartz, who instructs in all three areas, explains, "The on-premise program is directed toward restaurants and taverns, the places where you can sit down and have a drink.

"Your off-premise accounts are your distributors," she adds, "places where you can purchase and carry-out alcohol, like a grocery store--which we do not have in Pennsylvania. The concession program is a two-to-three hour program where you go to the stadiums, horsetracks, or companies that do catering."

The dimunitive Hartz stated that 95 percent of the T.I.P.S. training that she teaches deals with on-premise accounts.

Hartz, who has been with Wilsbach for three years after "burning out" as a drug and alcohol therapist, had to complete a two-day, 12-hour course three years ago before she could be certified as a T.I.P.S. trainer.

"I went through (the course) three years ago with Nancy Lark, who is a master trainer with Health Communications in Washington, D.C.," Hartz says. "It consisted of a two-day training. Basically, on the first day you learn what you are now teaching in the classes. The second day you get in front of other members of the class and present a training course."

Trainer certification

A test is given and if passed, the trainer is certified for a year. At the initial renewal period a test is sent in the mail, which has to be passed in order to be re-certified. And every two years, the trainer has to complete another two-day course. Hartz completed her second course last October.

In her tenure as T.I.P.S. educator, the Wilsbach employee says about 15 percent of the wholesalership's 560 accounts have taken advantage of this responsible drinking and serving course. She estimates she has trained approximately 500 people in her three-year term as a T.I.P.S. trainer.

What does the T.I.P.S. training consist of? In uncomplicated terms, it is the teaching of skills that will help servers of alcohol recognize the intoxicated patron and have the ability to assist that person.

A principal factor in the T.I.P.S. program is the recognition of the four cues that will communicate to the waiter, waitress or bartender when a patron should be acted upon. According to the server manual used in T.I.P.S. classes, the four behavioral cues are: people's inhibitions, their judgement, their reactions and their coordination. Each one signals a greater degree of inebriation. Hartz describes them as "what to look for when someone is drinking."

After the introduction, which for Hartz consists of an "icebreaker" and the standard 30-minute video, the T.I.P.S. class is divided into three sections, each one centering around the cues. The first part is concerned with supplying information to the server, mainly regarding the signals and relaying effective responses.

The second and third sections pertain to skills training in evaluating these behavioral cues and gauging effective responses. During the course, the Wilsbach instructor also reports on dram shop liability, negligence statues, BAC information and what occurs physically when alcohol is consumed. Hartz also distributes and "goes over the actual Pennsylvania liquor codes that state that employees can be held responsible if they overserve someone." Hartz says this tactic is enough to make the class sit up and take notice."

Server certification

In order for a server to be qualified in T.I.P.S., that person must answer at least 28 questions correctly on a 40-question test given at the end of the program. The individual is qualified after three years, at the end of which he or she must enroll in another course to still be trained in T.I.P.S.

Although the feeling of accomplishment is present and immediate for Hartz when teaching the course, there are barriers and problems that must be faced and overcome.

"In the beginning of the program, I let the students know that I have been in the situation of having to `86' or flag people," says the former cocktail waitress.

Comments heard regularly by the T.I.P.S. trainer follow along the lines of "I've been in business 40 years, and I have all the same regulars. My regulars would never do anything to harm me or my business."

Hartz dispels this myth quickly, however, retorting, "They need to know that if their `buddy' leaves the bar, well, yes, their buddy would never hurt them. But what if that person gets into an accident and kills someone? (The victim's) family will be the one suing that bartender or manager, not the guy's buddy."

Hartz encounters this attitude frequently, she said, when dealing with groups like American Legion clubs, or organizations in which members pay a fee in order to join.

Mike Johnson, director of food and beverage at Cahoots, a popular nightspot in Harrisburg located in the Marriott Hotel, says the T.I.P.S. training that his personnel has completed has "definitely" aided his employees in dealing with intoxicated patrons. Johnson estimates that over 75 percent of his employees have passed the course and are certified in T.I.P.S.

Cahoots is also involved with Wilsbach's other two responsible-drinking programs, Alert Cab and I'm Driving. Johnson says, however, that neither of these is used often.

Alert Cab program

Alert Cab is used more frequently than I'm Driving, according to Hartz. Even so, Alert Cab is active in only 19 establishments within Dauphin County, the county where the money for the programs was allocated by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

For incompetent drivers outside of this jurisdiction, the Yellow Cab Co.--the local firm associated with the program in Dauphin County--and the retail establishments have agreed to pick up the tab if the patron is already in the cab.

"Yellow Cab has agreed to go outside the county limits if necessary, and pick up the cost, but we are hoping that that does not happen a lot," Hartz admits.

Appearances aside, Alert Cab has had a difficult time gaining acceptance. One lawyer in Pennsylvania has counseled retailers not to join the program because it is an indirect admittance to overserving. Other retailers who are part of this program refuse to advertise for fear of it being abused. The Wilsbach employee says ideally it should be the bartender who offers the cab, not the customer requesting it.

A Yellow Cab driver, however, said the Wilsbach-sponsored program is a "crock," before reciting the three reasons when a cab driver can refuse a fare; one being drunkenness.

"We want this program to be a last resort," Hartz claims. "Tavern owners must sign a contract stating that they will not abuse the program, and serve patrons to intoxication.

"There are times when the Alert Cab program won't work," she admits. "If (intoxicated patrons) refuse the cab there is not much you can do, but you're doing something to promote responsible drinking."

"Alert Cab really hasn't been used that much," Johnson contends, but his establishment does promote the program with a small illuminated billboard outside the nightspot's entrance.

To encourage participation, Hartz recently went in front of the Liquor Control Board for the State of Pennsylvania in an effort to rally support for Alert Cab.

Designated drivers

Much less criticized, but rarely initiated, is the I'm Driving project, which deals with designated drivers. Those patrons acting as designated drivers are entitled usually to free non-alcoholic drinks or food from an establishment partaking in the program. Hartz acknowledges that it is the least funded of the three plans.

The Operation Alert coordinator believes these responsible-drinking programs have been effective, but financial obstacles may prove catastrophic. The initial funds received by Wilsbach from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation are slowly running out, and Hartz realistically doubts if the program will receive anymore financial support. A-B, despite some monetary assistance, will not fund the program, according to Hartz.

"We make the programs available to the wholesalers," Burrows says, "but it is up to the wholesaler to be the turnkey."

Hartz readily admits that the programs are beneficial to the wholesaler, and the press has been mostly positive, but she is quick to point out, "We don't do the programs so that people can come back and say, `Oh, look at Wilsbach. They're feeling so guilty about selling beer to minors or whoever that they're promoting these programs.' That is just not true.

"The statement we usually fall back on is we know there is a problem out there with drunk driving and alcohol abuse and we don't want to be a part of the problem, we want to be part of the solution."

PHOTO : Crystal Hartz, Wilsbach Distributors

PHOTO : Anheuser-Busch's "I'm Driving" program promotes use of the designated driver.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:alcohol abuse education
Author:Pepper, John E.
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Sep 11, 1989
Previous Article:Brewers & wholesalers step up alcohol education efforts.
Next Article:Key indicators for beer wholesaling executives.

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