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7 Proven Steps to Avoid a Failed Sting

As a retailer of age-sensitive products, the question is WHEN, not IF, you’ll face an enforcement sting. Since stings are part of the business for stores selling alcohol and tobacco products, you really need to know how to avoid a failed sting.


How to Avoid a Failed Sting


Here are 7 proven steps that consistently safeguard against failed stings:

  1. Have a company-wide carding policy.  Establish a consistent policy about who should be carded. Do you ID Under 35? ID Under 40? (see our recommendation here.)
  2. Communicate your policy to both staff and customers.  Many retailers have signs telling their customers to expect to be ID’d if they are under a certain age. They also need to have signage in the employee break room, on bulletin boards, and in other areas of the establishment as visual reminders to the staff.
  3. Make sure the policy is home-office driven.  The creation and communication of a company carding policy should be driven by the company’s home office.  In order to be consistent across every store or restaurant, the directive for selling age-sensitive products must come from the decision-makers running the company.
  4. Test the staff consistently. In-store compliance checks should be done monthly. Refresher training for alcohol sales should be done every year. Keep all training records on file for at least 5 years.
  5. Benchmark and keep score.  We all want to do our best, but we perform at a higher level when we know that others are keeping score. Set a compliance goal of 95% and track your performance to it, whether by store, region, or division. Then communicate how performance stacked up against the benchmark.
  6. Reward the performance.  We also perform better when there is the promise of a reward. If you reward employees for doing the right thing and achieving a higher standard (you can make it part of your bonus program). Make sure that all employees know how they can make money by hitting their compliance goal. Communicate, communicate, then communicate again!
  7. Brag about your commitment to compliance. When dealing with licensing and enforcement officials, make them aware of your carding policy and proactive training program.

Though selling age-sensitive products responsibly is not a mandate, it is an expectation. And when you avoid a failed sting, you protect your business from serious costs.


If you’re interested in joining the BARS Program to help implement these 7 proven steps, please contact us today at 1-877-540-5500 or at

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