Seasonal Temps or Permanent Staff – Do Your Guests Know?

Staffing a tasting room is always a challenge as is getting the right balance of full time, part time and temporary staff. There are many pros and cons of tasting room staffing options, but chances are, you will have a mix of staff at any given time based on your company’s goals, visitor traffic and policies.

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.

We know that the livelihood of any winery is the service that is provided by its employees.   Our guests expect much from us and only the best hired, best trained and best customer service personnel can deliver it – even if they are only temporary personnel.

Guests expect value beyond price and product. Once a winery establishes what that value looks like, this vision must be ingrained throughout all employment levels. Leadership drives culture, and it’s a culture of owning the customer experience, coupled with appropriate communication and ongoing training and coaching, that can create a successful workforce – seasonal or permanent.

So how do we ensure that our diverse staff has one voice?

Training. Every time a seasonal or temporary team member starts a new work assignment – no matter how skilled or unskilled – a certain amount of training is required in order for them to perform their assigned tasks to suit the specific needs of the winery.

Training should not just focus on the operational elements of their job function, such as stocking wine and managing the register. It should ensure that seasonal employees understand and embody the brand’s commitment to their guests’ experience. Providing training that encompasses skills that build rapport and trust with our guests, skills that differentiate our brand, and skills that help them sell professionally and naturally, are all ways to prepare staff to own the customer experience.

Training is essential for all staff, whether it’s a refresher or new material for new staff. Create mini-trainings for staff on your wines, winery and procedures. Send team members to be WISE-certified (shameless plug!) or have onsite training.

Manuals. 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.

Choreographing. Create ‘staging’ of the guest experience by coaching staff on which key brand points to cover at specific locations during the tour or at specific intervals during the tasting. This choreographing ensures every guest is afforded the same level of service, education, and experience.

Briefings. Use opening and or closing of the tasting room to gather the staff for the day and do a ten minute briefing on any winery updates, key points to cover with guests, or other ‘housekeeping’ items that help keep the team cohesive.

Always monitor your staff and catch them in the act! Praise them when they are doing a good job. Come up with solutions or alternatives for those who have challenges.

If our staff is the mirror of our brand – what is our reflection saying?