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 of ‘pour & ignore.’

Manage these cons by setting up incentives (beyond health care and other benefits) to overcome them.  Make people want to be career employees!

Part time:

  • Pros: Fresher, less burnout, no benefits, less expensive.
    Good sources: retired homemakers, students, and teachers. Be proactive. A happy staff will network for you.
  • Cons: Challenge of communication, hard to get entire team together. Forgotten methodology, procedures, etc.  It can be hard to get them to buy into company standards if they don’t really need or want the job or need the money.  Some have the attitude of guest stars: these can be volatile and hard to manage, often insisting on their own way, decentralizing authority and lowering group morale.

Manage these cons by 1) Improving communication during “down” times: email updates to “all employees” that require a reply, invitations to small events open to “all employees” that improve communication and morale.  2) Ad-hoc training.  Identify “experts” in areas for training new hires. Increase areas of responsibility, and also groom full-time staff, from this pool, making it a reward for high performance.  One sign of a strong culture is that it can effectively promote from within.


  • Pros: Hire on demand. No benefits.  No obligations.
  • Cons: In the end, it can be much more expensive. There is no loyalty.  No training. There is the potential of a culture disconnect.  Team doesn’t take them seriously.  Often much lower sales ability.

Manage these cons by creating mini-trainings for them on your wines, winery and procedures. Limit their responsibilities. Ensure they are WISE-certified (shameless plug!).

An Operations and Training Manual is a good way to ensure job responsibilities and communication across Full-Time, Part-Time, and Temporary Staff: when everybody knows who is doing what job, there are fewer opportunities for miscommunication, conflict, and poor service/sales.  Then, a manager can quickly identify and improve areas of weakness, stepping in at the moment, and then staffing and training for the future.