New Video: How to pass my VA ABC inspection!

Crystal Stump - ABC Consulting - New Video You Tube

Crystal Stump (owner and CEO of ABC Consulting and former Virginia ABC Special Agent from the Alcohol Beverage Control Authority) shows you, in this video, how to prepare you for your on-site inspection.

Pour yourself a drink; you’re going to need it!

Before we get started, if you haven’t subscribed to our channel, please do! And if you are already enjoying this channel, please click the bell notification – so you’ll get notified of new videos. It will also help other people browsing YouTube to see our channel. ABC Consulting’s channel is for anyone unsure of how to navigate ABC regulations or for anyone who needs to know all the steps of the process. ABC Consulting was created in 2009 after my retirement from the VA Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Enforcement Division, to help businesses such as yours to run a successful and compliant business. In fact, ABC Consulting was created because of my expertise with alcohol regulation (I am a former ABC Agent). This business provides as much help and information, as possible to current and future VA ABC alcohol licensees. If you need an ABC license (or if you want to keep your ABC license), SUBSCRIBE to this channel!

So back to the content of this video:

During the licensing process, your business applies and has an inspection.

BEFORE YOU START — all businesses have to go through an application process – and if you want to learn more about how to apply for a license, watch this video. AND, as you are applying for your license, make sure you select the correct license to start with – before you get to the inspection stage! As a part of the application process, you’ll have an ABC inspector come out and do an on-site inspection of your business and if you have not applied for the correct license type, you’ve wasted 45 days! So, to prevent this, make sure you have the right consultant in your corner, right from the beginning – where you choose and qualify for the correct license type.

Once you’ve applied, each license type is assigned to a specific agent. All applications go through this same process – at the Richmond headquarters – and once it has been approved, it will be assigned to the correct regional ABC office (there are nine of these, in the state of Virginia).

Your assigned ABC agent will set up an inspection date, with you, so that they can come out to inspect your business and property. As already stated, the first thing you should make sure of is that you have the right license type and that you are qualified for that license type.

At your inspection, make sure you:

  • Make sure that your ABC Manager is available and at that inspection.
  • Make sure each ABC manager should be listed (first and last name), on your license.
  • Make sure that all ABC managers are listed in a 1-inch font, on your license.
  • Make sure that all ABC managers have no felonies, no DUIs and are 21 years or older. Make sure to interview your staff to ensure no surprises show up on the date of your ABC inspection.  
  • Make sure that the license is posted, in a public place.
  • Take the inspector to the license and show them where it is hanging and is displayed. 
  • Make sure that you have no alcohol on the premises, at all, during a pending application.  Even if a previous owner left alcohol, the alcohol has to be inventoried, transferred to you and approved by ABC, before the inspector sees it.
  • Make sure that you have file cabinet set up with printed record keeping for the inspector to see, at the first inspection. Your record-keeping files are so important to the ABC Authority and your compliance and they will be important, forever. Make sure your file cabinet is in place (and is a file cabinet) with food vendors, liquor store receipts, food invoices, uniform invoices, alcohol vendors, beer vendors, etc. Put in a policy and procedure for keeping your records organized, right from the beginning, because this will not be your last proof of record keeping. There will be another one in 90-days and then, annually. In fact, there could be a surprise inspection, anytime, and they will need to verify that you are operating in a compliant manner – and they do this through your record keeping. All your sales have to be categorized: entre sales, other food sales, wine & beer and mixed beverage and To Go sales. Each report should show a categorized report of your sales, in this manner. If your cash register system does not have a way to pull a daily report, that shows those categories, fix that before the inspection. Show cash sales, from the beginning. Each daily report should show cash sales, credit card sales and show all the categories discussed. NOTE: If, at your inspection, the inspector finds out you have no records printed and no way to categorize your sales or show your cash and credit-card sales, there will be an immediate audit. That means that you have to print all records within 24 hours. Audits happen all the time – so make a plan, right from the beginning, to help with any inspection or audit (initial inspection, 90-day inspection, annual inspection, MBAR [Mixed Beverage Annual Review] reporting a flag), in the future. You can organize your reports in any way – by vendor or by month, but print those reports out, before your inspection. If you start your inspection out with no records printed, you risk an audit, immediately. As long as you know that an audit will happen, at some point, you might as well start with proper record keeping, kept in a file cabinet, and categorized properly. Make sure that the report is easy to understand and is printed in English. Even if your business is a Spanish-speaking business, make sure the reporting is kept and printed in English.
  • Make sure your seating and licensed area is set up, properly. Make sure that you have the correct number of seats on your license type on the premises. The inspector will count your seats, as a part of the inspection, so make sure that you have the number of seats that you paid for. Don’t have more seats at the bar than in the dining area.
  • Make sure your patio is set up, properly, if it was added to your license. Make sure it has the proper number of seats (the number you paid for). If the patio will be used to serve food and alcohol, that area needs to be set up, with a barrier around the outdoor dining area. This barrier can be fencing, rope, planters, but it cannot be easily accessible to the parking lot or the public.
  • Make sure you have a copy of your property map. The inspector will be looking at your property map, the number of seating areas and the number of seats on the license request. There shouldn’t be any confusion between the application and the property, itself, on that day.

If you’ve aced this inspection, you should be good to go at future inspections, but know that at future inspections (at the 90-day inspection, for instance), the inspector will be verifying that your liquor is properly purchased. All the liquor that is purchased need to be purchased from an assigned ABC store and these sales are regulated by the state and you (as a licensee) cannot just go pick up a single bottle and start reselling it. You need to place an order with your ABC store and that bottle is stamped. At all future inspections, your agent will be looking for that mixed-beverage stamp and if you don’t have the ‘stamp’ that is from your assigned ABC store, that is a $500 fine, per bottle.  

Finally, a great way to learn more about serving alcohol, compliantly, is to take our online training, at Our training is very comprehensive and covers DUI’s, ID’ing, how to apply for an alcohol license, how to properly manage a license location and how to do your MBAR’s –  in fact, it even explains that if you receive a violation and take the online training, you can reduce fines by 50%. This seller/server training is appropriate for anyone managing or serving – in fact, we recommend that you re-certify, annually. The cost of our training is only $29.95 and is available, immediately, self-paced and online. All employees should re-take the training, annually.

Please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for the most common discussions and mistakes relating to Alcohol Licensing in the state of Virginia. We welcome the call to walk through this with you, over the phone, if you are still confused, but this is the most common hold up in VA ABC applications. Let’s talk: 800-785-0161

*Disclaimer: This article and its contents represent the opinions of the author only and is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice. ABC Consulting is a private consulting firm, in way do we represent the VA ABC Authority. You should not act upon any such information without seeking qualified professional advice based upon your situation.

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