Posted June 1The last spring club shipment is finally out the door. Woohoo, it’s time to plan our summer vacation. Let’s have that well-deserved umbrella drink and relax for a while – at least an hour! …here’s what we want to do for our wine club this summer…
Posted April 1, 2017: High season is almost here! It’s time to hire our team of All Stars to care for our guests who will be arriving soon. Although it’s tempting to simply put out an ad like the one we ran last year, there is a better way…Here are the steps…
Posted March 1, 2017: Before we know it, busy season will be upon us. Most wineries will be looking to add staff to accommodate summer visitors. Now is the time to begin the planning process for hiring and onboarding an All-Star Team.
Posted February 1, 2017: Every customer is different in their relationship with us, and in their relationship with wine. But most importantly, each one is also different in terms of their own behavior and communication styles, irrespective of us. We get lots of visual clues about this when they are across the bar from us in our tasting rooms. But how do we figure this out when they call us on the phone?
Posted January 1, 2017: Cheers to 2017! A brand new year is ahead of us, and we vow to do all those wonderful, productive things we didn’t get to do in 2016. As we set our sights on growing our business this year, let’s fill up our calendars and to-do lists with the activities that will really pay off…Here are the Top 3 Resolutions on our list for 2017.
Posted December 1, 2016: Do you know what is really important to your customers? Surveys can be an important tool for gauging satisfaction with your brand, and for finding out what your customers truly value. They can be used to test loyalty and evaluate existing benefits, and the results can be used to drive program changes. Here are the top 10 tips for creating surveys.
Posted November 1, 2016: With a successful harvest now behind us, it’s time to focus on our customers’ needs and wants for the holiday season. While most retailers have been planning for months for this all-important period, it’s not too late for us to come up with the kinds of experiences we offer in our tasting rooms that will create and cement customer loyalty.
Posted October 1, 2016: Telesales is the fastest growing channel in winery consumer-direct-sales. Whether you choose to do this in-house or outsource it, we encourage you to take advantage of this sales channel – but be smart about it. Staffing for it requires special skills and training. As a result, many wineries have chosen to outsource this to a professional organization that deals specifically with winery telesales. Here are five WISE steps to remember to achieve the greatest success.
Posted September 1, 2016: If ever there were two teams who should be BFFs, it’s the Tasting Room and Wine Club staffs. Yet, far more often than we would like, we hear about the difficulties they have in communicating and working together to achieve common goals. These relationships seem to be Frenemies at best. As we head into our high season, let’s see if we can come up with some solutions to the big issues we hear about time and time again, so that these teams can work in harmony…Here are the Top 3 Beefs we hear about between Wine Club and Tasting Room Staff, and 3 WISE Recommended Tenderizers.
Posted August 1, 2016: One one-thousand, two one-thousand… it takes 7 to 10 seconds after walking through the door to positively impact a guest’s decision to buy. Everything they see, hear, touch, smell, and taste is a form of communication, creating tangible and intangible impressions of your brand. The cumulative effect of how their five senses are engaged say: “Here is what we have to offer. What do you think?”
Posted July 1, 2016: No one ever wants to hear what they can’t have. Guests feel more valued when they have choices. While we can’t anticipate EVERY request we may get, we will do a better job when we are prepared. Sometimes we do have to say no. The challenge is how to say no with grace, and how to elevate the guest experience in the process. We need to take it from a negative place, and put a positive spin on it.
Posted June 1, 2016: Debbi Fields of Mrs. Fields Cookies has this motto: Good Enough Never Is. In our world, great winery guest experiences are a well-orchestrated dance between performing the acts of service, and creating the feelings of hospitality. Customers want magic in the tasting room: the magic of wine, winemaking, the beauty of the wine country, the beauty of the tasting room, the joy of people coming together. This is where hospitality begins: seeing things from the customer perspective, understanding what they’re feeling and seeking – and providing that to them in a way that is personal, memorable, enchanting.
Posted May 1, 2016: Now that the weather is getting warmer in most of the country, it’s time to plant seeds in our gardens that will grow food and flowers in the months ahead. This annual ritual of spring renewal is a happy time for gardeners. For those of us who manage Tasting Rooms, it’s time to look forward to the coming busy season when many guests will visit. Just like the gardeners among us, we need to plant the seeds with our customers and staff that will bear fruit in the coming months. To reap the benefits of a bountiful harvest later, we need to get ready now.
Posted March 1, 2016: Increasing traffic to our tasting room is a goal we all share. Sure, we know that we can drive in lots of bodies by offering 2 for 1 tasting coupons and other similar promotions, but driving in just anybody is not ideal: We want qualified guests who will love our wines and our story, those who will become long-time customers and ambassadors for our brands. Developing proactive, more formal outreach programs is one of the areas that has changed the most over the past five years in our efforts to increase our direct to consumer business. It is becoming more and more competitive, so working smartly here is the key to gaining the referrals we want.
Posted February 1, 2016: We have learned from our seven years of teaching WISE Academy courses that training tasting room staff members pays off in big ways. It changes their behavior and moves the needle on our key metrics in the Tasting Room to increase sales, customer loyalty and profit.
Posted January 1, 2016: It’s a typical busy morning. You arrive at your winery to find that the dishwasher is broken, you have a large group arriving at 11am, and the key team member you had scheduled to host them just called in sick. Budgets are due in two weeks and you had been planning to spend the day working on them. Do you now need to put this important work on the back burner? Make it this year’s resolution to focus on the important things.
Posted December 1, 2015: Tasting Room Managers all know this drill. It’s been a crazy busy day up until now, and the staff is finally catching their breath. Or it’s been a very slow day with few visitors and our staff is simply standing at the bar. Of course, this is exactly when we will receive a surprise visit from our winery executives. General Managers go crazy when they see staff standing around. How do we reconcile our need to have staff present when customers are not there with the GM’s need to be sure we are productive? Use this time for more than just cleaning, buffing, and re-stocking. Here are some ideas..
Posted November 1, 2015: When we were young, one of the first things we asked our parents was ‘Tell me a story.’ After all these years, that hasn’t changed and we all are still entertained by great stories. Harnessing the power of a story to make guests fall in love with your brand is a WISE trait of successful tasting room employees.
Posted October 1, 2015: We can’t help but be constantly reminded that we aren’t the only winery in our region. We simply cannot get away from each other, but that’s actually a good thing. We don’t go to a mall because they have one good store, we go for the selection of many good stores. So as an industry, we’re stronger and more interesting together as a region, offering a delicious discretionary item to enhance the enjoyment of life. But how can we possibly stand out from one another, create a strong brand impression and make our guests remember us specifically? To do that, we must find our individual, truly unique qualities that differentiate us from each other.
Posted September 1, 2015: Picture this for just a moment – our tasting room team is rocking it and the Yelp reviews are glowing. Customer satisfaction, sales, and conversions to wine club and email list are off the charts. Is this our lucky day, just a dream too good to be true, or is it the result of our careful planning and impeccable execution?
Posted August 1, 2015: Magical moments happen all the time during WISE Academy classes. WISE instructors are privileged to hear the hopes and dreams and frustrations of our students. While we hold these specific confidences sacred (what happens in WISE stays in WISE), we encourage everyone to share the general lessons. With that spirit we want to share the key requests that we hear time and time again.
Posted July 1, 2015: By now, most wineries are fully staffed with not only year-round staff but also seasonal ‘temp’ staff. It’s a busy time in the tasting room and there are plenty of moving parts. Each one of our team members – whether permanent or temporary – represents our brand. We want it to be presented by different staff the same way, with the same vision or ‘voice’ and standards. Our guests aren’t going to know – and frankly shouldn’t know – what type of staff member they are interacting with. We need to help our staff be a successful, well-run team. Here are some ideas to keep the team working together and everyone paddling the boat in the same direction.
Posted June 1, 2015: While it might not be brain surgery, being a winery tour guide is still a pretty important and impressive job. Tasting room associates and tour guides are the ‘front line’, the face of the brand and often the first interaction guests have with our brand, wines and winery. A winery tour guide is seen as a professional wine educator and most people are not only in awe of all the knowledge a guide has, but they look to the guide as an expert. A tour guide is tasked with introducing – or reinforcing – the brand and being the go-to for knowledge while guests are visiting.
Posted May 1, 2015: Do you go to the beach and not bring a towel? We’re ready for summer – are you? After thousands of mystery shops, we’ve learned a lot (and are still learning). Based on our findings, we have come up with some best practices for the tasting room that can be used as a roadmap to success this season.
Posted April 1, 2015: It’s hiring season in the wine industry and it’s time to get all team members on board and ready for the high season. Ideally every winery wants to have an All-Star team, but how do you hire these superstars?
Posted March 1, 2015: Often we are asked about tasting room staff incentives for wineries and best practices for a program. An Incentive Compensation Program (ICP) is a tool used to motivate and compensate a sales professional to meet goals or metrics – over a specific period of time – to help achieve business goals. When well designed, an ICP should pay for itself. Based on the many conversations and our research, here are five tips for designing a program that works.
Posted February 1, 2015: In one of our recent tasting-room-staff onsite training workshops, a “coaching moment” customer-service issue came up: ‘What do you do with a group of 6 to 8 persons who come to the tasting bar and want to share one tasting between everyone?’ First reaction from even seasoned Tasting Room Professionals may be to get a little irritated. Why?
Posted January 1, 2015: One of the fastest growing DTC channels is phone sales, yet too few wineries are focused on this. Every time our phone rings – and not just calls to the sales team – it could mean money. Are we doing everything we can to turn an interested caller into an interested buyer? If not, why not? Our customers are interested in our wines – they called us!
Posted December 1, 2014: As the year comes to a close, if your fiscal year also is the calendar year, you are probably knee-deep in planning for 2015. Regardless, we’re about to begin a new quarter and a new year, so let’s plan for success! Remember, when you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Posted November 1, 2014: It’s our listening and speaking skills that make or break our careers. Whether you are an aspiring leader or in a support role, developing your communication skills can impact your success.
Posted September 1, 2014: After meeting someone for the first time and enjoying the experience, it’s natural to ask for contact information so that we can keep in touch and hopefully see them again. This is true in our personal lives, so why not in the tasting room?
Posted August 1, 2014: How many times does a wine country visitor hear: “Where are you from?” And how often does our tasting room staff ask it in a day, a weekend, a week…? It’s not that finding out where a person is from is not important; it’s all in the how we find out. Eventually we do need to find out where they are from – to see if they are from a state we can ship wine to – but everyone asks where they are from as an icebreaker so that gets old fast. And, we don’t want to sound like everyone else.
Posted June 1, 2014: It’s that time of year again. With Memorial Day behind us the busy season begins again. Visitor traffic will build each month from now through harvest. And if we are ready – really ready – more visitors will drive exponentially more sales through our tasting room. It’s the time to create lots of new long-term relationships. It’s time to shine.
Posted May 1, 2014: Successful wineries have learned that it isn’t enough to just be polite or helpful. With so many wineries for customers to choose from, how will your brand stand out in a market that offers a plethora of seemingly similar choices? The key is sell the experience, not just the wine, and make the service exceptional, the interaction unique, and the experience memorable!
Posted April 1, 2014: How do you know if your tasting room team is winning or losing? Are you even keeping score? How do you know whether you’re “meeting your numbers” if you don’t really understand what those numbers mean?
Posted March 1, 2014: What does our tasting room say about our brand? The tasting room is the mirror and reflects the company’s standards, brand, and image. Creating an environment that not only reflects this but also will attract, engage, and motivate the customer towards making a purchase is largely reliant on effective visual merchandising.
Posted February 1, 2014: Each one of our team members – whether permanent or temporary – represents our brand, our policies and our service standards. We want these to be presented by different staff the same way, with the same vision or ‘voice’. Our guests aren’t going to know – and frankly shouldn’t know – what type of staff member they are interacting with.
Posted January 1, 2014: Some say the quality and impact of the experiences you offer your guests matter more these days than having a best-in-class wine. Everything matters – from the moment guests drive onto the property until they leave. Successful wineries actually choreograph this guest journey experience.
Posted December 1, 2013: With the New Year fast approaching, we have a fresh slate and a chance to start the year off right. As the saying goes “If you don’t know where you’re going, any bus will take you there.” Even if our organization is clear on where we are going, we will still need a reality check and team buy-in about on how to get there. Strategic planning – or an annual strategic tune up – is essential and the foundation to this is an unbiased evaluation of our current reality.
Posted November 1, 2013: It’s November. Harvest is wrapping up. Visitor traffic is slowing way down. Now what? How are we going to drive winter tasting room sales with so little traffic? Remember the number of visitors doesn’t matter nearly as much as the quality of the traffic.
Posted September 1, 2013: We often talk about the Disney concept of “Everything Speaks” – a concept that suggests that service is manifested everywhere your organization touches the customer. These touch points affect the customers’ perception of your brand and puts them in a mood or a frame of mind that can affect their experience at your winery. Every minor detail within these touch points says something about you or your winery to your guests – ‘everything speaks.’
Posted May 1, 2013: When we think about increasing our tasting room sales, we often think about increasing the number of individuals coming through our winery doors. But does more traffic equal more sales? Surprisingly, more traffic can actually decrease sales – if we are not properly staffed and / or if they not the right kind of visitors. So how do we actually ensure qualified visitor traffic?
Posted April 1, 2013: What makes your winery different than your neighbors’? Your story? Your wines? Your location or venue? Making your winery stand out as different from the hundreds of other wineries is more of a challenge than you might think.
Posted February 1, 2013: When someone walks into your tasting room, everything within the room is a reflection of your brand which your guests are subconsciously sold on. This is called Silent Selling and includes everything from design, merchandising, collateral, to signage, and other items that encourage guests to purchase products. It’s more than pretty displays; it’s a subconscious emotional trigger to buy.
Posted January 1, 2013: Let’s face it. In most tasting rooms, the more things change, the more they stay the same. In a typical tasting room, there are always issues that require change management – labor cuts, changes in organizational structure or management, team turnover, changes to goals, pay or commission structure, and so on.
Posted November 1, 2012: 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.
Posted October 1, 2012: 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.
Posted April 1, 2012: 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.
Posted March 1, 2012: 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?
Posted February 1, 2012: 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.
Posted January 1, 2012: How do you know if your tasting room team is winning or losing? Are you keeping score – what numbers do you monitor on a regular basis? Because, guess what? People RESPECT what you INSPECT. So these are the numbers – the ones you poke at – that your team will be sure to focus on if you do. Make sure you are inspecting the metrics that really matter.
Posted December 1, 2011: From over 500 mystery shops in the last two years, we know that only 21% of tasting room professionals are telling a compelling brand story, less than 16% of tasting room professionals are profiling customers’ buying needs, and only 17% of staff people are effectively selling wine club memberships.
Posted October 1, 2011: Are you a boutique, family-owned winery that makes hand-crafted wines? That may be true, but it is not a unique brand story. What makes your brand different from your neighbors and other wineries sells the experience. What you and your team think of as your brand story may not be the message that your customers perceive.