Category Archives: Operations

Serving a Minor: Who’s at Risk and What’s at Stake?

Serving a minor is a costly mistake — one that can shut down your business entirely. After spending months of time and thousands of dollars to obtain your liquor license, why risk it all at the hands of busy stressed staff? Without the right tools and processes in place, this is exactly what you’re doing every night, even with the best of intentions.

Who is legally responsible?

It is illegal to knowingly serve alcohol to a minor, and anyone who does can be held responsible for any injuries or damages that result from the minor’s impaired state. But it’s not always black and white in pinpointing the exact person who is responsible. There are several factors that go into determining the exact person, which is oftentimes the reason why separate penalties are given to the person who holds the liquor license (the owner of a bar) and the person who makes the sale (the bartender who serves a minor). Depending on the severity of the situation and state laws, the penalties can range from a fine, to jail time, to a temporary suspension of the liquor license, to the liquor license being completely revoked.

What if someone else checked the ID?

The seller is the one liable for serving the minor. As a bartender or server, you are responsible for checking the ID of your customers even if another person has previously checked it. That’s why it’s particularly important for a validating process to be instilled within venues that have a person checking IDs prior to going to the bar.

What if a minor uses a fake?

When a minor is served, you need to show that you did the steps to the best of your ability to not purposefully serve that person. That means in most cases, you’re only liable for selling to a minor if you didn’t ask for identification or if you looked but didn’t use your best abilities to detect the minor. If the guest presents a realistic ID that says he or she is of drinking age, no charges will be filed against the establishment. However, if it’s obvious that the ID is fake or if that ID clearly does not belong to the person presenting it, then the establishment and the person who served that minor becomes liable.

What if it’s a planned sting?

When authorities are checking to make sure you’re compliant, they legally cannot do so by using a fake ID or purposefully deceiving you. They’re typically checking to make sure you’re properly asking for identification. Most sting fails are a result of not asking for identification, or asking for identification but incorrectly calculating someone’s age based on their date of birth. When these human errors happen, you’ll fail the sting and both the server and the establishment will be presented with the ramifications.

How to mitigate the risks?

Between human errors, miscommunication, inattention to detail, and simply not checking an ID, there’s a myriad of factors that can put you at risk for being liable in serving a minor. The first place to start is having a policy in place that requires your staff to check IDs of anyone who enters your venue. The second step is to go further by equipping your staff with an ID scanning system.


Having an ID scanning system essentially acts as an insurance policy that guarantees you’ll be covered when a minor is accidentally served. The system will reduce the chances of honest human errors, such as incorrectly calculating someone’s age based on the date of birth. It’ll confirm all IDs are reviewed in the case of planned stings. It’ll act as your paper trail to prove you didn’t purposefully serve a guest who presented a realistic fake ID. And it can act as your digital 86 list or even your digital loyalty program. It’s one of the most cost effective and worthwhile investments you can make to protect yourself from losing the license you worked so hard to obtain while growing the business you worked tirelessly to build.

Bar Crowd vs. VIP Crowd: Which is Better?

I was recently in an online discussion with industry leaders about which business model is best for nightclubs: bottle service or bar service. It seems there’s not one simple answer to this question, and everyone has a different viewpoint. However, most resonated with the idea that it doesn’t have to be one over the other; that they’re both critical to the success of a venue.

I believe treating the two as exclusive parts of your venue hurts you more than it helps. Both bottle service and bar service are important aspects of your club’s performance. The bar crowd controls the atmosphere and ambiance of the venue, which attracts the bottle patrons who bring in the revenue. Having a strategy to blend the two together is what makes the biggest impact as a whole.

The most successful clubs are those that integrate both areas with a similar level of priority, and treat all customers – whether bar or bottle service customers – on a personal level. Not only do guests prefer to go to these venues, but they’re the ones that are advancing their business most rapidly. When everyone in your venue (including your bottle service staff, your security, and your bartenders) is focused on a level of personalized service based on that guest’s past habits, that’s when you truly win. That’s when you start building loyalty, organic word of mouth growth, a higher spend per person, and your next wave of bottle service customers all in one.

While it’s true your big spenders at the VIP tables deserve the ultimate personal service, your bar crowd deserves some personal touches, too. And in the age of big data, people are used to being treated as an individual by brands more than ever before.

So how could this work?

With the combination of an ID scanning system that’s tied to your POS system, you get insight on every guest that walks through your door. You’ve likely had this level of insight on your bottle service guests already with your reservation management system. Now it’s possible to tie it back to the general bar crowd.

Every guest needs to have their ID to drink, so it’s an easy thing for you to leverage. You scan their ID and notice it’s their 10th time coming in a month. Use that information to personally greet them and cover their first drink. If your ID scanner is tied to your POS, you also get insight on spending habits. Notice they spend a lot each time they come? Offer them a VIP table instead.

It’s the small details that make a person feel like you notice them, and that’s what makes the biggest difference. This is true regardless if they’re a bar customer or a VIP, it’s just that historically there hasn’t been enough information on the bar customer to provide them with that level of service. So even though it’s natural to want to pour your energy and resources into your VIP section, don’t forget about your bar crowd. They’re an important aspect of the entire atmosphere of your venue and, with the right tools, can be persuaded to spend even more.

Two Birds, One Stone: Reduce Liability & Increase Loyalty

Checking IDs is commonly considered a necessary evil of serving alcohol.

It’s not sexy. It’s not exciting. It’s just a step in the process. But this step can actually be turned into a huge asset to your bar or nightclub, especially with the right technology.

When you shift your thinking and equip yourself with the right tools, this very basic step becomes both your internal liability program as well as your external customer loyalty program.


The Legal Aspect

The liability and security side of checking IDs is always the most top-of-mind, particularly when it comes to verifying whether a guest is of age to drink. And from that aspect alone, having your staff manually review IDs is sufficient. But your liability decreases drastically when you equip that staff member with an ID scanning system. Here’s why:

  • It reduces the chances of honest human errors. Humans make mistakes even with the best intentions, such as incorrectly calculating someone’s age based on their date of birth. Having a quick license scan double verifies the guest’s age with a simple color coded alert of whether they’re over 21 or under 21. It makes it foolproof even under high stress situations.
  • It assists with easily passing stings. When authorities are checking to make sure you’re compliant, they legally cannot do so by using a fake ID or purposefully deceiving you. That means most stings are a result of incorrect math or laziness. Having a policy with an ID scan system corrects any mental mistakes and confirms all IDs are reviewed.
  • It aids in detecting fakes. Fake IDs are getting more complex, so having an ID scan system is just one more layer in the process of detecting a fake. Plus, in a worse-case scenario when you accidentally serve a minor, having a digital system is your paper trail to prove to authorities you didn’t purposefully serve that person and did the best of your ability to be compliant.
  • It digitally tracks your 86 list. Your seasoned staff may know immediately if a guest is banned and shouldn’t be let in, but your new employees likely won’t. Rather than memorizing a photo book of those who aren’t allowed, an ID scan system will automatically alert your employee if a guest is banned from the venue. Plus, if an incident occurs during the night, your staff can easily add that guest to your ban list so you always have the most up-to-date information to maintain a safe environment.
  • It alerts you of potentially unruly patrons. Some ID scan systems, like us at Vēmos, allows you to opt into a city-wide ban list. This means you’ll be alerted if a guest is banned at a nearby location along with the reason they were banned. You then use this information to make educated decisions on whether or not you want to let that guest into your venue.


  • Maintaining a secure environment minimizes costs associated with insurance, repairs, fines, and enforcement. What’s more is it provides an enjoyable atmosphere for your guests, which translates to a more profitable establishment. Which leads to the next aspect: loyalty.


    The Loyalty Aspect

    The not-so-obvious side of an ID scanning system is that it can become your loyalty program. And it can serve you better than most standalone loyalty programs can. Why? Because every guest needs to have their ID to drink. Not every guest is going to have your loyalty card or app. In fact, few consumers today want to have a separate loyalty card for every establishment they ever visit, so you’ll only capture a small percentage of your daily patrons.


    With an ID scanning system, you’re able to collect data on all of your guests. This goes well beyond their name, age and other demographic information. We’re talking behavioral data — how often that guests comes, what time of day they check in, how many visits they’ve had this month, what types of events or promotions drive them there, the list goes on. And when you connect your ID scanning system to your point of sale system, you unlock a whole new layer of behavioral information. Not to mention you get a ton of invaluable insights on what factors drives your business and which triggers to pull to repeat that business.


    It’s with this information that you’re able to reward your guests for doing what they’re already doing — simply showing up — and begin to offer them personalized service based on their habits. Notice it’s their 5th time coming in this month? Comp their first drink. Haven’t seen them in a while? Reach out to them about a special you think they’d enjoy. It’s these types of actions that build connections between consumers and brands, and drive true loyalty to your establishment.



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    Use Insights to Boost Profitability

    Can you confidently say your night is going to be profitable? Do you know how you’re trending this month based on results last month? Is your average cost per transaction lower than normal? These are valuable answers to know, yet most venues don’t have the resources necessary to uncover them. What’s even more frustrating is all of this information is right at your fingertips. Fortunately, there are solutions built for the nightlife industry that help you get a hold of your business to make you even more profitable. Here’s how you can do just that.

    1. Become Interconnected

    Running off pen & paper isn’t helping your venue in the long-run. Having different systems for different sections of your venue isn’t helping either. The way you truly understand how your venue is performing is by being interconnected across all areas of your venue. Think about the different solutions you use in your venue. There are point of sale systems, reservation management software, event & ticketing software, employee scheduling programs, customer relationship management systems…the list goes on. But unless these technologies are programmed to connect to each other, the data and processes will ultimately be useless. Why bother with 5 different technologies if it’s going to add 5 different processes? That’s wasted time with duplicated effort, wasted time with manual data entry, and lost data between the systems.

    The key ingredient to a successful platform is one that’s integrated into all areas so you can be fully interconnected. Look for a comprehensive venue management platform, like us at Vēmos, that automatically has integration functionality built within it. This is what allows you to manage, understand, and grow your business from a single dashboard.

    2. Use Data to Become Predictable

    Once everything is connected in the right system, you have access to all your data in one place. This means you’ll be able to predict how your night is going to go based on historical data. Do you consistently get slammed around the same time? Staff accordingly. What issues have you experienced in the past? Fix those issues with processes. How many people have signed up for your guest list, made a reservation, or indicated they may be a general admission walk-up? What were the results of past nights similar to this one? This all helps you predict what your night is going to be like. Pre-selling inventory is another great way to make your nights predictable. It also helps you to understand how far in advance people tend to pre-purchase and whether you’re on target to hit your numbers.

    3. Decrease unnecessary costs

    Just as your past data helps you understand if you need to boost staff and processes, it also tells you when to decrease unnecessary costs. Do you need to have as many servers as you do working at 8 pm when you consistently don’t get busy until 11? Do you need to pay your promoters a per-guest fee when the guests they bring in don’t end up spending anything once inside your venue? Know where you’re over spending and cut costs accordingly so that the money you are spending is going toward better ways to increase your profitability.

    4. Turn Marketing into an Investment

    Speaking of knowing where you’re over spending, marketing is one of those places you’re likely throwing money in the wrong places. But when you track your marketing efforts, you’re able to see exactly what drives traffic and results. So while a third-party website may claim to have garnered you 100,000 impressions, you know that it actually only got you 3 clicks and $0 in return. Now you know not to spend money there in the future and redistribute those dollars toward activities you know work for you. Having a system that tracks it all allows you to easily see what you get in return of what you put in. This not only saves you from wasting your dollars, but helps to bring in more money than before, turning your marketing from an expense and into an investment.

    5. See it All Come Together

    When you use one system to track all areas, you have a clear understanding of exactly what’s happening in your venue without having to log into multiple data systems. Now, you can easily track:

    • How much money you made over a given time period
    • How many customers walked through your door over a given time period (and who they were)
    • How many table reservations you booked, and how much you earn on average
    • When your customers start buying tickets to your event. or start arriving to your venue
    • Which staff members are bringing in the most guests (and biggest spenders)
    • Which marketing channels are and aren’t working for you

    You can experience a huge uptick to your bottom line after switching to a system backed by data. That’s because you know exactly what’s working and what doesn’t, which allows you to spend their money more wisely. You also improve your operations to get your guests in the door faster to get to the bar more quickly, resulting in increased bar sales. When you have absolute clarity on your venue’s performance, you can do even more to increase your success. Without data, you’re simply just guessing and could be leaving a lot of money on the table.



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    The 3 Things Your Bar or Nightclub Needs in 2018

    Here we are already in 2018, which means it’s prime time to reflect on the past year and gear up for an even better new year. This could be daunting, time-consuming, and overwhelming, which is why we want to take a step back and make things simple by focusing on one theme: knowledge.


    We believe every bar and nightclub should have the knowledge of who their guests are, how they got there, what they’re doing, and how they’re affecting your business. That’s why in 2018, we’re putting our focus on gathering as much information from as many places as possible and presenting it in one concrete area. We want to do the complicated part so you have simplistic knowledge. We’re doing that by ensuring our customers have their three core data hubs set up:

      1. ID Scanning to get knowledge from the first point of entry
      2. POS Integration to gather knowledge on what’s happening inside
      3. CRM System to make that knowledge actionable and profitable



    We understand there are many things you need to run your venue, but these three are the core of what you need to have the knowledge to be successful in 2018. Here’s how.

    1. ID Scanning

    You already ID and verify each person that walks through your door. Take this a step further with license scanning technology that not only scans and verifies each person, but also collects data on each person to build your guest database. This is the only way to know who came into your venue each and every night, complete with your gender breakdown, where your customers are coming from, your age breakdown, and which customers are repeat vs first-time customers. You also have access to your digital 86 list as well as a city-wide ban list to keep your venue safe. This tool acts as your guide in better decision making for a process that was already mandatory. And with a solution like Vēmos – ID Scan, all of this is combined with your CRM system and analytics section to truly have that understanding of your whole business.

    2. POS Integration

    Speaking of uncovering your true performance, having your point of sale integrated into your operations system is an extremely powerful move. Now, not only do you have the ability to track your VIP table spend automatically, but you also gain insight on your entire bar. “But I can already do that,” you say? Sort of. The reality is POS systems are not in the business of providing their customers with great analytics; they focus on providing a great user experience for your bartenders during the night. Integrating your POS system takes that data and provides you with true analytics that allow you to better understand how your entire venue did rather than just a segment. It can also tie to your CRM system to give insight on personalized spending. With Vēmos, all of this data is automatically collated to show you where you won and where you missed.

    3. CRM System

    All of this comes back to individualized data. After all, the new name of the game is experience, and personalized experience at that. You can’t provide your guests with personalized experiences if you don’t know who they are. Sure, you may know your top regulars who always come in. And while they’re important, the other hundreds of guests are equally as important to your business. The only way to capture this information is to have all your data tied back to your CRM system. This is what allows you to know each of your customers on a personal level — from how often they come, to how much they spend, to their specific preferences. You can then use this data to filter your guests into like-minded groups to send targeted messages specifically to them. Now you’re able to provide a complete circle of personalized service both online and in-person.


    These three tools are the core of what accelerates your capabilities. Having technology a part of your venue is no longer just about a reservation management system. It’s about a comprehensive appraoch that provides you with the knowledge of your venue as a whole. With ID Scanning, POS integration, and a CRM system at your core, you now have the capabilities of providing that personalized service previously only available to the likes of Amazon. Safeguard your venue, target sharper, spend smarter, and create an unbelievable experience for every person walking through your door.

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