Establishing a Comp’d Drink Policy

A clearly written and communicated policy about who can give out complimentary drinks (“comps”) — and to whom — is always a good policy to have in place for a bar, nightclub or restaurant, and is absolutely critical when using a Liquor Inventory Management System such as  TavernTrak.

The first part of the bar’s Comp’d Drink Policy should clearly spell out to whom comp’d drinks are afforded — and the number and type of drinks which may be comp’d.  You can define multiple “classes” of people who are to receive comps and the number of drinks each class can receive.  For example:

  • The bar’s owners and general manager can be defined to receive unlimited comps
  • Full-time (off-duty) employees can be defined to receive up to three well or call liquor drinks.  Note that if you allow your off-duty employees one or more comp’d drinks, the drink count is across the entire bar — they wouldn’t receive three well/call drinks at each station on a given night!
  • Each on-duty bartender can be allowed to grant up to three comp’d well or call liquor drinks throughout their shift — so that their best, regular customers can be shown appreciation.

The second part of the bar’s Comp’d Drink Policy would define the mechanism and procedure by which the comp’d drinks are documented. It is also an absolute necessity that a clear procedure for documenting those comp’d drinks be in place. Since the liquor poured into comp’d drinks will be counted by TavernTrak as “Usage”, then there must be a way to account for this Usage to preserve the balance on TavernTrak’s “Usage vs. Sales” report.

For a bar not using POS registers, this procedure might just consist of a markdown pad onto which these comp’d drinks are logged. The information to be logged for each comp’d drink — at the time the drink is made — would include the following:

  1. The person to whom the drink was comp’d
  2. The Product that was comp’d

For a bar that does use POS registers, the procedure might look like this:

  1. A check/tab should be opened for each person who orders a drink that is to be comp’d.
  2. On this check, each drink comp’d to that person throughout the night would be entered.
  3. At the end of the night, the Manager-on-Duty would discount the drinks on the check to $0.00 (so that the cash in the drawer balances with the POS-reported sales revenue) and then close the check. The comp check/tab remains open until the Manager-on-Duty closes the check.
  4. All drinks paid for by the same person would be entered and rung up in the usual way.

Note that this procedure applies equally to all comps—regardless of whether the person receiving the comp’d drink is an on-duty employee, an off-duty employee, a bar’s owner, a VIP, etc. In this way, every drink served is accounted for — regardless of whether that drink is sold or comp’d.

By having a well-documented Comp’s Drink Policy in place, you can accurately define who can receive comp’d drinks and how many drinks can be comp’d, you can control the flow of free liquor, wine and beer from your bar’s stations.  By using an Liquor Inventory Management System such as TavernTrak, you can accurately enforce this policy.

To find out more about how TavernTrak can help your bar control costs, increase revenue and prevent your liquor, beer and wine inventory from walking out the door unpaid for, visit our website at or contact us directly.

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