Incentive Compensation Program

Incentive Compensation Programs 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. Reward the Right Things – Tie incentive compensation to all the key performance aspects of the Tasting Room Professional’s job. A… Read more »

Down Time

The Lowdown on Down Time 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 – they see it as a cocktail party. But the correct perspective is they should be thinking of it as a fire station.  We need our… Read more »

Does Your Team Deal a Win?

Does Your Team Deal a Win? 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? Let’s look at the scenario. A group of 6 or 8 come into the tasting room… Well, that’s kind of a win isn’t it? They want to share one tasting between them, and to make it… Read more »

Phone Sales

Phone Sales

Is the Phone Ringing but Nobody is Home? 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! Inbound phone calls can be a real money maker for wineries if we are smart about it. It’s an under-utilized sales channel with many wineries…. Read more »


What’s Your Plan? 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. Planning is not a job to be left to the winery owner or CEO – every department lead should have a part of the planning process. If you’re on a ship, wouldn’t you like to know where the captain intends to head? If you’re part of… Read more »

Better Communications

Better Communications Best practices in business communications tell us that the most frequent form of communication for managers should be (in this order): Listening Speaking Writing Reading 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. It’s more than the words you use. Consider the following five points when planning a speech/ presentation or meeting. These are things you should consider as you strive to improve your interactions with others: Know the Outcome. What is the goal of… Read more »

Above & Beyond

Above & Beyond Our research at WISE, especially emphasized by our 1,500+ mystery shops in tasting rooms, is that when a guest has a great experience (the customer satisfaction is high), then they are more likely to purchase. In a nutshell, the better the guest experience, the greater potential for sales. Sounds easy, right? Except, there is a lot that can affect the guest experience and if we aren’t managing it, we may unknowingly be setting ourselves up for failure. Guest Journey Map One WISE concept is to use a Guest Journey Map (January 2014 e-newsletter WISE Bites), to plot… Read more »

Data Collection

Is Data Collection a Priority? 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? When guests come to our winery, our intention is to make sure they have a good experience, learn about our brand and our wines, and make a purchase. If we’ve done our job right, they’ve had a great time and want to become a customer, so why wouldn’t we invite them… Read more »

Where Are You From?

So, Where Are You From? 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… Read more »

Leveraging your Wine Club

Leveraging Your Wine Club Benefits into More Sales Is your tasting room staff missing more than half of their opportunities to make a sale? From over 1,500 mystery shops conducted by the WISE Academy over the last five years, we have seen some major progress in the wine industry Direct-to-Consumer guest experience – which is often a winery’s fastest growing channel with the highest profit margin. Five years ago, when we first started tracking mystery shopping results, only 20% of the time did Tasting Room staff ask for the order, make an attempt to sell wine.  Today on average 50%… Read more »