Finding the Best MAST Class for You

by | Aug 1, 2023 | Craft Serving, LLC | 0 comments

THREE TYPES OF MAST CLASS PROVIDERS

For many of the online MAST class providers, it’s difficult, if not impossible to find out who owns the company or even, where the company is located.

The good news is, we’ve done the research, so you don’t have to. From the mainstream to the marginal, MAST class providers generally fall into one of these three categories:

The Corporate Overlords

The majority of MAST class providers fall into this category because they don’t just offer alcohol server training in Washington, they have courses up in states all over the country. Due to this, their courses tend to be overly generalized and wordy in an attempt to fit their content into each state’s unique requirements (e.g. saying “license to sell alcoholic license” instead of simply “liquor license”, saying “management/hospitality policies” instead of simply “house policies”).

Rather than teaching state-specific laws upfront, they often include them in “addendums” that follow each lesson (and sometimes contradict what was previously stated). This might be the most efficient way of developing courses for multiple states, but it’s not the most effective way for a student to learn the information.

Some of these “Fat Cats” are part of eLearning conglomerates that aren’t limited to alcohol server training. For this reason, they typically employ doctors, psychiatrists and other non-industry related professionals to write their course content for them.

This is demonstrated by their tendency to provide facts without context. As a student, this leaves you wondering how much of the content applies to you as an alcohol server.

The Retired “Professionals”

A surprising number of MAST class providers are former software developers and IT professionals who decided to jump on the mandatory alcohol server training bandwagon as a means of supplementing their early “retirement.” A handful of MAST training providers are also former state employees who left positions in law enforcement or administration.

Since they are in it to make money, it’s not surprising that their naming strategy suggests both a lack of creativity and a desire to appear at the top of the list. Along those same lines, their courses don’t offer original content and often include embedded links to YouTube videos they did not create.

Real Life Bartenders

The unicorn of MAST class providers are actually former alcohol servers themselves. Imagine that!

Teaching a MAST class is about more than just knowing liquor laws. It involves understanding how those laws affect alcohol servers.

Because we have years of experience working in the service industry, we can approach MAST training reasonably and practically. We don’t just tell you what not to do, we are able to provide helpful tips on what you can do!

Our course also demonstrates that we don’t underestimate the level of skill and professionalism required to uphold liquor laws while simultaneously delivering excellent customer service, making guests feel welcome and working in a fast-paced environment.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE PERFECT MAST CLASS

Let’s face it, when the government tells you to do something, it’s probably not going to be fun.

Since getting a MAST permit is mandatory in the State of Washington, many people view it as a tedious obligation. For that reason, they tend to look for a MAST class that meets the following criteria:

  1. The cheapest MAST class.
  2. The fastest MAST class.
  3. The easiest MAST class.

We get it. You have priorities. That is why our MAST class is affordable, concise and totally user friendly. But we encourage you to go one step further – consider your learning style when choosing a MAST class.

Reading vs. Listening

Many other courses employ an auditory strategy. On each topic page, the student must click play to initiate an audio clip of a monotone, lifeless narrator.

We realize there are different modalities for learning and we employ a good mixture of graphics, video case studies and interactive elements. However, our course is somewhat more text-based.

There is a solid basis for this!

  1. Reading is faster than listening. While the average adult can read 250 to 350 words per minute, the ideal talking speed is 150 to 160 words per minute.
  2. Reading is better for comprehension and retention. Why? Because it maximizes mental focus. You can’t multitask when you are reading, but if your mind does start to wander, it’s easy to go back and find the point at which you zoned out. It’s not as easy if you are listening to a recording. Not surprisingly, studies have confirmed that students do more mind-wandering when listening to audio than reading and students that read lessons score higher on comprehension quizzes than students that listened to the same lesson.

Additionally, we felt the auditory method has some very specific drawbacks for both those brand new to mandatory alcohol server training (MAST) as well as seasoned servers renewing their MAST permit for the 3rd or 4th time.

In courses with reading narrators, the student is forced to wait for the timed, video clip to finish before progressing. This can slow things down for experienced alcohol servers that have taken training multiple times in the past. With our course, servers that are already familiar with the information may feel more comfortable speed reading or skimming and consequently, are able to complete our course VERY quickly.

On the flip side, courses with narrators tend to be oversimplified and provide less information. Because it takes so long for a narrator to read, the information has to be condensed. This is a drawback for brand new alcohol servers that need a little more context on the information being provided so they can determine how to apply it at their new job.

Interactive vs. Timer

Have you heard? Staring at the clock makes time go by slower! If you take your course from a MAST provider that has a timer on each page, you will know exactly what I’m talking about.

Because our course is interactive, we are not required to have a timer on each page. We worked with the state to develop an interactive course with activities and videos that our students must complete to progress. For most of our users, this results in a better course experience.

We weighed the pros and cons and decided to structure our course this way, but we also appreciate that there are many different learning styles. What works best for one person, might not be what works best for another. 

WHY CHOOSE CRAFT SERVING’S MAST CLASS?

In addition to the great reasons listed above, we want to give you MORE compelling perks for choosing us as your MAST class provider.

1. We are local!

Washington born and raised, baby! We live for mountains, breathe pine, eat morrels on toast, dream about cocktails and we absolutely LOVE Washington’s food and beverage scene.

When one of our favorite bars closes, a little piece of us dies (R.I.P. Lucky You Lounge), but when a new spot opens (Hello 👋 Donna’s), hope springs eternal and the cycle continues.

Our state’s local restaurants, bars, microbreweries and wineries are the heart and soul of each community. Because we truly believe that, we are here to raise the bar on responsible alcohol service.

2. We support the local bartending community.

You might not run into us at your local pub, but you will probably see us at a Bartenders’ Guild event or two. We also attend Seattle Cocktail Week each year.

Our mission at Craft Serving is to advocate for alcohol servers by connecting them with resources to help them learn and grow within the hospitality industry.

We do this by staying connected to the community, keeping up with trends and donating to organizations that that give back to workers within the food and beverage community.

3. We listen to our customers.

We love feedback! So, at the end of our course, we ask our students to let us know if there is anything we can improve on.

We take everyone’s concerns to heart and make changes when possible. For example, a few years ago, after one customer complained about the pronouns used in our course, we listened.

When we were in school, we were taught that he or she should be used in the third person (since our language lacks a gender-neutral third-person singular pronoun). But thankfully, times have changed and so have the rules for technical writing.

We think copy editor Bill Walsh of the Washington Post said it best. Using he seems sexist, using she seems patronizing and “alternating he and she is silly,” he wrote, “as are he/she, (s)he and attempts at made-up pronouns.”

After completing our research, we realized that updating the third-person pronouns in our course to they and them not only simplified it and made it less clumsy, it also made it more inclusive!

OUR COURSE USES THEY/THEM PRONOUNS

This is just one example of how listening to our customers has made us a better company. (Of course, we are only human, so we appreciate the occasional sprinkle of praise as well! 🙏)

4. Our course teaches to the final exam.

While we try to use our lesson quizzes to reinforce important aspects of the material, we also use them to train for the final exam.

The state writes and provides the questions for the final exam and we don’t have the ability to change those questions, even though we sometimes would like to. 

We want our students to pass the final exam with flying colors, so we try to prepare them for it with leading quiz questions. Sometimes this works towards our detriment, but we do it anyway to benefit our students. You might find a few of the questions to be ambiguous, but hopefully the explanations are helpful.

5. We advocate for the environment and YOU!

No offense to cows, but we have BEEF with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB).

While many other states have embraced technology and gone paperless, the WSLCB has yet to modernize the MAST permit process.

As a provider of the online MAST permit course, we have seen the significant environmental impact that the current physical printed permits have. For example, each individual requires not only a printed paper permit, but the associated envelope, stamp, and subsequent cost and environmental impact associated with the actual delivery.

In addition to benefiting the planet 🌎, going digital would also have significant benefits for alcohol servers:

  • Alcohol servers will have greater personal security. Currently, there are 20 different MAST providers that are each individually responsible for collecting sensitive user information from their students, such as SSN, DOB, address and physical identifiers. Upon course completion, MAST providers must submit that information to the WSLCB. By modernizing the MAST Permit process, users would only have to provide sensitive personal information on a state-managed online portal , such as the ones that exist in Oregon and California, and redundancy would be eliminated.
  • Alcohol servers and their employers will have easy access to MAST Permit information. Some MAST Permits go missing in the mail, but even when they arrive at the correct destination, alcohol servers still must wait up to a month to receive them. Digital permits would arrive instantly and could be accessed online at any time by both alcohol servers and their employers through an account.
  • Alcohol servers won’t have to pay a fee to replace lost or damaged MAST Permits. MAST Permits are valid for five years. Keeping a small piece of paper around that long can be challenging and many servers inevitably end up requiring a replacement.

In a world that has gone digital and needs to go greener, we regularly advocate for the WSLCB to help do its part as well. You can help too!

Each year, the director of the WSLCB asks staff to suggest a WAC that could use revision.

When evaluating which issue to put forth, the staff considers suggestions received through their online “complaint” form.

If you’d like to join the effort, you can access the online Policy Suggestion form here. Alternatively, you can submit your suggestions via email directly to [email protected].

MAST CLASS RED FLAGS

Okay, so you are finally ready to choose a MAST class. You go to the Washington State Liquor & Cannabis Board’s website and find the list of online MAST class providers.

You click on the first few listed at the top, but they all look kind of the same. Is one really better than another?

Keep in mind, if the website looks outdated, the MAST class will be too. If the website has typos, the course probably does too. These are indications of how much care has been taken by the MAST class instructor.

If you picked the wrong course here are some red flags that you will notice along the way:

How You Know You Picked the Wrong MAST Class:

  • The course is corny as hell.
  • The course starts quizzing you on topics that have not been covered yet.
  • The course copies state laws verbatim and relies heavily on legalese without making any effort to simplify required course content.
  • The course is too ambiguous and vague to actually be helpful. (Many MAST course writers are overly cautious to allow for interpretation in different situations, but this often leads to confusion.)
  • The course blurts out random state laws in no particular order and without context just to “cross them off the list.”
  • The course uses terminology that applies to other states or areas of the country (e.g. Dram Shop Liability).

At this point, it’s too late. Better luck next time! 😉

Did you enjoy this article? Check out our other related posts!

Thanks for checking out this article!  If you found it helpful, feel free to share it or leave us a comment.

Below are links to some of our other Alcohol Server Education related news posts. Check them out and be sure to let us know if there is a topic you are interested in learning more about. We will try and cover it in our next news update!

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Sarah Travis
Co-Founder and Bon Vivant
Craft Serving, LLC

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