StateWays Nov/Dec 2015

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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35 StateWays ■ ■ November/December 2015 BEST PRACTICES AWARDS fi nes and criminal charges, the mystery shop has no penalties or fi nes associated with it, just feedback for managers. As an added incentive, each licensee was mailed a notice about the mystery shop program with a special card (the mailing also detailed mystery shoppers' fi rst and last names and date of birth). If a staff member recognized the mystery shopper and gave that person the special card when handing their ID back, they received $100. "We've had so much positive feedback from licensees who thank us for making them feel like a partner in this program," DeTitta says. "Usually when they see inspec- tors it's with the threat of a violation, so they're happy to get feedback and free training, as well as the ability to incentivize their staff. It's a win-win for licensees and the department." Compliance levels have increased dramati- cally since implemen- tation, from 69% in Bethesda during the an- nual compliance checks before the mystery shop program, to 89% in the checks immediately following the mystery shopper visits. "The program by itself didn't boost the levels by that much, but it's defi nitely a piece of the success," DeTitta says. Grant funding was also provided by the NABCA for the fi rst round of the program, and a supplemental grant has been issued for a second round of mystery shopping visits early next year. "We've already contracted for another round of the pro- gram," DeTitta adds. "It's been very successful for us." In an effort to raise alcohol compliance in a positive way, the Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control part- nered with the Responsible Retailing Forum to conduct a mystery shopping program. The program provided alco- hol retailers (who are independent in that jurisdiction) with detailed feedback on employee age-verifi cation compliance, recognizing businesses whose staff properly check IDs. "The program was brought to us by the RRF, a non-profi t that we've worked with for years," says Licensing and Outreach Manager, Emily DeTitta. "They were looking for a test market for a specifi c kind of mystery shopping program that had incentives attached, so we were a natural fi t for them as a control agency." The DLC runs an- nual compliance checks in conjunction with the county's police depart- ment. During those checks, an underage volunteer (19 or under) attempts to purchase alcohol using their vertical ID, which indicates they're underage. Over the years, compliance percentages have declined despite continued server and seller training. As a result, the agency implemented the mystery shop program in Bethesda. Each mystery shopper is of legal age and in their early 20s, which is young enough to trigger an ID check. Servers or sellers who check the shopper's ID are given a green card, those who don't are given a red card. Unlike the compliance checks, which often result in monetary WINNER CONTROL STATE BEST PRACTICES AWARDS BEST ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM INCENTIVIZING ID CHECKS By Jeremy Nedelka We've had so much positive feedback from licensees who thank us for making them feel like a partner in this program – Emily DeTitta Thank you to all the agencies who entered the awards, and we look forward to seeing the new innovations you're working on for 2016!

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