Innovating Change

Innovating Change Managers versus Leaders Good managers are leaders. Great leaders are innovators. When people are empowered to be innovative, their commitment increases; they have a chance to take new actions and be proud of their accomplishments. Are you an innovator?  Are you really committed to overcoming deeply rooted tasting room traditions and misconceptions regarding selling and customer acquisition? Are you prepared to go to the mat to support best practices around lifetime value?  Think about it. Here’s a quick self assessment: Do you… Administer? or Innovate? Accept the status quo? or Challenge the status quo? Imitate? or Originate? Maintain?… Read more »

Staffing Up

Staffing Up! Justifying more Tasting Room labor hours. How to justify more Tasting Room labor hours. This conversation is a constant struggle between too many tasting room mangers and winery executives.  To be able to deliver a knock-your-socks-off, WOW guest experience requires a little over staffing.  Maximizing wine sales and new wine club member sign-ups does too.  But no one wants to over staff, to pay too much in labor costs.  And nothing drives winery management crazier than seeing tasting room staff standing around twiddling their thumbs. So how can you identify you labor sweet spot and justify staffing up… Read more »

Organization Strategy

Organization Strategy Tasting Room Staffing Options – Pros and Cons Staffing your tasting room is always a challenge especially trying to manage coverage during high and low seasons and maintaining your budget. Having a good balance of full time, part time and temporary staff is going to depend on your company culture and policies. There are many pros and cons of tasting room staffing options: Full time staff: Pros: Easier to keep in the loop, better focus, more loyalty, easier to hold accountable, fewer people to manage. Cons: Can be a burn-out job. It’s relatively low pay with the consequences… Read more »


Make room for superstars Over lunch last week I asked a vintner friend of mine if he was hiring any new tasting room sales people and he informed me that no, they were “fully staffed.” I said “That’s too bad.  I know a young, bright, polished, certified WISE Tasting Room Professional graduate who just moved here from another wine region.  At her last winery she was selling about 4 times what your top sales person is currently selling.  Her conversion rates for wine club sign-ups were about 5 times your current run rate.” Of-course my friend practically jump out of… Read more »

Hiring Tasting Room Superstars

Hiring Tasting Room Superstars Most winery tasting rooms are in the process of staffing up for the high season. Now is the time to carefully consider how to build out a superstar team. First consider your winery’s unique culture. What fits your brand?  Do your team members need to have a formal, elegant demeanor? Or should they be approachable, flexible and folksy?  Do they need to juggle large crowds? The perfect employee would be very different for each of these scenarios. Having a clear picture of your specific cultural needs will help you find the right employees who will enjoy… Read more »

Selling Wine Clubs

Selling Your Wine Club Is your tasting room one of the 20%? Our mystery shopping benchmarks show that only 20% of local tasting room staff is effectively selling wine clubs. Eventually, someone on your team needs to seal the deal by asking for the wine club sign up. But the real work begins earlier. From the moment a guest enters your tasting room, you can be selling wine clubs – without saying a word. Have you got signage that designates a special area for wine club or VIP members only? Does your price list include regular and “club member only”… Read more »

Open Book Management

Open Book Management If you don’t know where you’re going, any vehicle can take you there. If your team doesn’t know where they’re going, how will you move your business forward? Owners are always looking for great employees – the kind of team players who act like owners. No matter what role they have, these employees walk around with an entrepreneurial eye, constantly on the lookout for ways to improve the business. Rather than walking by that piece of trash on the ground, these are the kind of employees who pick it up. These employees could be right under your nose. If… Read more »

Buyer Continuum

The Buyer’s Continuum  Do you treat the person you have just been introduced to in the same way you treat your Mom?  Well of course not, you reply, what a silly question.  And yet, many wineries do that very thing without even realizing it. The Buyer’s Continuum is a core marketing concept that begins with the premise that all guests or customers are not equal.  In fact, each one is at a different stage in their relationship with your winery.  Some guests are customers you’ve just met.  These are your prospects.  At the other end of the continuum are your… Read more »

Platinum Rule

Embrace the Platinum Rule We are all familiar with the Golden Rule – Do unto others as you would have others do unto you; in other words, treat others as you would like to be treated.  But in a high-touch service industry like wine, is that really the best we can do? Successful wineries have learned that it isn’t enough to just be courteous. With so many wineries for customers to choose from, how will you distinguish your brand? The key is to make the service exceptional, the interaction unique, and the experience memorable! For an extraordinary customer experience, upgrade… Read more »

Monologue vs Dialogue

Monologue vs. Dialogue  From over 500 WISE mystery shops over the last two years, we know that only one out of six tasting room professionals actually assesses customers’ buying needs and then adjust the conversation accordingly.  Too many of your team members get stuck in “monologue mode” and miss the unique preferences, needs and buying signals of the person in front of them.  Research shows that this trap is significantly holding back both tasting room sales performance and guest satisfaction. Is your staff talking at your guests or with them?  Do you really know? In a monologue, you talk at… Read more »