APB trains staff across 500 coffee shops on responsible alcohol sale

Yesterday Asia Pacific Breweries (Singapore) announced, during a press conference, that it has trained more than 80% of its 580 beer promoters on how to sell alcohol responsibly.

This comes as the talks between government bodies and breweries continue on whether or not retail hours of the selling of liquor should be extended.

APB highlighted that its promoters at over 500 coffee shops and hawker centres across the nation have been trained to recognise customers who are drunk or underage. This has been taught to them through a three-hour training session called ASSET ( Alcohol Sales/Service Educational Tools ). The training is delivered primarily in Mandarin, given that it is the language of choice for front-line staff at coffee shops and hawker centres.

Shannen Fong, head of corporate relations at APB Singapore, said it is critical that customers speak the same language as brand promoters regarding responsible alcohol service and sale. She added that APB was “mindful that brand promoters are its immediate touch-points to consumers and can be a source of positive influence.”

The ASSET training aims to empower consumer-facing employees with the knowledge and methods to detect and prevent alcohol intoxication, underage drinking, and drink driving, as well as equip them with strategies to mitigate alcohol-related issues onsite and in real time.

To sustain training internally, 33 APB sales and promotion employees underwent a ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop to become ASSET Trainers. APB also added that it customised the ASSET programme to reflect the local context and build in a complementary locally-designed role-playing module to better cater to the unique environment of coffee shops and hawker centres in Singapore. The role-playing module aims to further aid trainees’ understanding of RSA and provide them with practical know-how that is relevant to their daily work. The training programme also includes theory and other forms of responsible sale discussions.

“It is essential that our customers’ outlet managers and supervisors are also trained on ASSET, so that they understand why it makes more business sense to turn down alcohol sale to an intoxicated customer than to profit from him. To us, RSA is both exercising alcohol responsibility and good customer service,” said Fong.

She added that it would be unrealistic, however, to expect that RSA or ASSET Training will rid alcohol-related issues or social disamenities at coffee shops or hawker centres totally.

“The training never set out to eradicate but to mitigate such problems. In fact, we expect issues related to alcohol to continue. The only difference now is that our promoters and trade customers’ front-line staff are better trained and empowered to more confidently intervene, manage problematic consumers and address the situation on hand more effectively,” she said.

All APB brand promoters who are ASSET certified wear a badge that indicates, “I’m A Responsible Server”.The training sessions kicked off in January this year and APB said that all of its promoters would be equip with the training skills by next month.

Meanwhile, reported on Today, Fong was also quoted saying that what APB was trying to achieve with this initiative is “demonstrate to the government that operators, largely, are responsible.” She added that the brewery wants to be able to sell alcohol in a responsible manner and it is when there are gaps in knowledge that there is a breakdown in responsibility.

Currently the ASSET Training programme is supported by the Foo Chow Coffee Restaurant & Bar Merchants Association. e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) is subsidising and supporting the training of APB’s brand promoters, sales and promotion employees in ASSET with the commitment to upskill workers.

Outlet managers and supervisors at Kopitiam Investment, S-11 F&B Holdings have joined the training programme, but APB is trying to get more coffee shops and hawker centres to come on board, said the brand.

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