March 15

Five Tips for Cutting Off a Customer

With St. Patrick’s Day here, you might need to cut off a customer or two. Here are a few things to keep in mind!

With COVID-19 cases on the decline, states removing mask mandates, and other covid restrictions lifting — this St. Patrick’s day is ramping up to be a doozy. Not only is it a holiday with a focus on drinking, but it’s been three years since people could mingle in a large group setting for any kind of celebration. While St. Patrick’s day can be fun and bring in a lot of revenue, it can also bring on unwanted intoxicated customers. You and your staff must know how to cut off a customer in a way that keeps everyone safe and avoids a big scene.

So to prepare you for the big day, here are a few tips to keep in mind when cutting off a customer.

Stay calm and firm
Keeping your cool is one of the most critical steps when cutting off a customer. Not every customer will become heated or overly offended by being cut off. Still, when dealing with an intoxicated customer, you do run a higher risk of needing to de-escalate the situation.

When you’ve decided to cut off a customer, calmly yet firmly let them know. Try to keep the conversation as private as possible and stand your ground in the decision. A good way to maneuver the conversation to avoid embarrassing the customer is to make the decision more about you, and less about them — rather than telling them straight out that they’re too drunk, let them know you don’t want to put the restaurant at risk by over-serving.

Offer solutions
When de-escalating a situation — seek solutions to counter your decision. This could be offering them to come back tomorrow, a glass of water, or even suggesting some food. If the customer isn’t causing issues, let them know they can continue to enjoy the celebrations, but you won’t be serving them any more alcohol.

These can be the best solutions if you’ve cut someone off early enough, but if they are causing issues or disturbing other customers — the only solution might be offering to call them a taxi, and escorting them out of your establishment, or if you have a bouncer, having them escort the customer out.

Inform your employees 
Probably the second more important part of cutting off a customer is to inform all staff members on the clock. You don’t want to run the risk of an employee serving a customer after you already had a conversation cutting them off.

It’s best to let your employees know of your decision before informing the customer. This way, your staff can watch the situation and step in or call for backup if things get out of hand.

Log any incidents
Whenever something of note comes up in a bar setting, like cutting off a customer or escorting them out of your business, it’s wise to keep a log of the incident and the steps taken during the interaction. In the case of something unfortunate happening after an intoxicated customer leaves your establishment — you will be thankful to have had some form of record.

It’s also wise to train your staff to report nightly events or lack thereof in a logbook so that if a customer comes back to complain, they’ve already explained the situation in the log.

Trust your instincts
If the situation becomes escalated, trust your instincts. Dealing with intoxicated people has the potential to get heated quickly and can require more severe steps, like calling for backup or help from your staff in getting someone out of your establishment.

We recently published an article with steps from ServSafe’s training video on de-escalating customer scenarios and one important step is that if you or your staff feel threatened, then create space between you, or remove yourself from the situation and call for help.

St. Patrick’s Day should be fun and a welcome opportunity to gain some extra revenue for your business. One way to ensure the celebration stays in hand — is to be prepared and support your team with the knowledge and procedures approved by you, for cutting off customers.


About the author

Ashley McNally likes to cook, loves to bake, and is always dreaming of her next meal. With over 13 years of experience working in various roles within a restaurant — McNally has made a home in hospitality.

About the author

Ashley McNally likes to cook, loves to bake, and is always dreaming of her next meal. With over 13 years of experience working in various roles within a restaurant — McNally has made a home in hospitality.