The final demographic that we all need to be super tuned in with are the moderators of this world. There is great opportunity here to bring new people into the wine category and grow average spends through excellent customer service and a good upselling strategy.
Mel and Mike are the moderators of this world. Pretty health conscious and are less likely to get out there this week for reopening.
These guys don’t get out too often. Maybe once a fortnight for a Saturday lunch or dinner treat. They are not hugely passionate about what they drink, and they tend to stick to what they know and like, within their comfort zone.
It is important to note here that these guys are also quite price conscious and don’t have a lot of disposable income to spend in the trade.
This is where having a clued-up team who can recognise these guys will pay dividends. If they go for the house wine, that is totally fine. I would say that you should still be offering them choice, but it’s unlikely they’ll go for it. In any case, make sure that their choice has been nurtured and recognised. At the end of the day, your ‘house’ wine is your benchmark wine, so it’s never a bad option, it’s just that there are so many better options on the wine list for your guests to enjoy.
One thing you might want to try with the Mel’s and Mike’s of this world, is offering them a taste of something you might have open. Don’t ask them, just bring it over. Perhaps you’ve had a staff training and there is a spare half bottle lying around. It’s all about a sprinkling of guest magic. If you can make your house wine drinkers feel a million-dollars, then they will be back, and that in itself is an upsell.
Understanding the different types of people that walk through your doors in hospitality is crucial to having a thriving wine category. Here is one demographic that you need to be making the most out of with a great wine list and staff training.
Whether we like him or not, we all need a bit of Ryan in our lives.
This guy is good for business, he will spend money, regardless of how much he can actually afford and will often overspend.
Him and his friends are out and about as much as possible and love a selfie to paste across their social media channels.
This group massively over indexes on population size versus consumption. They represent 11% of the consumer whilst chinning a whopping 26% of the juice in the trade (Wine Intelligence).
They might not always be the most pleasant for your team to deal with- especially after a few bevvy’s, but hopefully the above gives you an idea of how important Ryan and the Revellers are to business.
Keeping on top of social media is important, advertise your deals and offerings to make sure you capture this segment. If you can, take a couple of drinks off the bill at the end and make a point of it to ensure repeat business.
Always challenge the group on their choice of drink, look for the upsell where you can, more often than not it will bring value to their experience, your teams confidence levels and your bottom line.
After covering two potential approaches to beating volume and consumption decline in the UK, and realising neither are sustainable, here is the answer to having a thriving, not surviving wine list…
By now I hope it is clear. The only way to maintain a thriving wine category in the modern day is to sell better wine.
Cutting costs doesn’t work; we’d need to see house wine pricing drop to below the cost of duty.
Increasing your market share and growing by volume doesn’t work either. What’s the point in cannibalising your beer and spirit GP’s just to have stability, a pointless exercise.
The answer is quite simple and has been for some time, grow your category by value, not volume. Get those average spends up- the customer is willing to pay for it, believe me!
There are two ways businesses can go about this. Both are just as important as each other so I recommend operators consider both…
1.Wine List Engineering
Sounds glam, but it’s far from it. A good wine list will have an insane amount of thought, rational and strategy behind it.
Care needs to be taken with specific varietals. Is it the right wine, in the right position, at the right price? Should that wine be on your list in Newcastle as well as in Bristol? Do Bristolians even like that wine? – you get my drift I hope.
Having a well thought out wine list is the first step to a thriving wine category. If you get this right, you will start to see average spend growth overnight.
2.The Art of Upselling
I feel like a broken record, but repetition is a good thing. The best way to grow your wine business is to train your staff to sell better wine, more often. Get your best wines on to the table in front of the people who really matter, your customers. The reality here is, staff just aren’t confident when it comes to upselling wine.
“I’ll just have a glass of house rose please…” is taken at face value way too often. If we can put the power in the hands of our frontline staff, then we are on to a winner. Almost 50% of your customers will trade up off the back of a confident recommendation.
It’s time to get your wine list looking shit hot and your teams Wine Confident.
The wine volume decline is no joke. If nothing is done about this by operators then eventually, the profitability of your wine list will keep on sliding.
We have covered why cutting costs is a dangerous game and ultimately, not really feasible. So now let’s talk about another potential solution that some people might go for: increasing the market share of their wine list.
Growing the sales mix of your wine list might sound like a good idea, and a logical one… “if we are selling less wine, then we might as well try to counter that by pushing our guests to buy more, run some staff incentives and really get behind our wine volumes” …
Whilst this in theory would solve the wine category issues, for the short term at least, what will this drive do for your other wet categories?
Let’s not forget that beer and spirits tend to run at a higher GP than wine, so surely cutting into those volumes is essentially, making the business less profitable as a whole. On top of that, it’s just a hell of a lot of legwork for you and the team to grow your wine sales mix, just to bring stability to the category. Surely such an effort is more deserving of a thrive mentality, not a survive one.
If your team is ‘wine confident’, if you have wine legends in your business, then you won’t need to focus on growing your wine category by volume, and you certainly won’t need to cut into other, more profitable elements of your wet business.
In fact, you might even want to look at growing your beer/spirits category in what is a declining wine consumption market, not do the opposite!
There is only one way to fight this systemic issue…
There are a couple of ways that operators can look to fight against what has been a volume drop in wine consumption, here is one…
Cutting costs: a dangerous game.
For some operators it feels like the most natural route to take in a climate where consumption is dropping. Pent up demand post lockdown will probably see a boom in on-trade consumption after the lockdown, but that will soon level out.
My biggest fear for cost cutting is of course, the potential compromise of the quality.
But as my article with The Buyer suggests, no matter how much house wine costs are slashed, it still won’t be enough to mitigate for consumption after the post lockdown honeymoon period drops off.
Again, the solution must be to work on a premiumisation strategy. How do we take a guest through the wine list, grow their average spend and do it in a way that upholds great service?
A ‘wine confident’ team won’t need to work with a cost-cutting wine list.
If the right approach is taken and you have those legends in the business, they will grow your average spend.
Cost price cutting at the house end is impossible. To be effective pricing would have to come in less than the cost of duty on a bottle- not gonna’ happen!
Dropping costs is an effective way to increase business productivity in other areas. But for the wine category, investing in training, staff and good wines is the only way to thrive.
My article with The Buyer last week suggests that the more you keep in touch with your staff through lockdown, the happier they are. And happy staff means a happy customer.
It’s encouraging to see that 65% of business leaders have touched base with Furloughed staff at least on a weekly basis (source: CGA Vodcast), and that 92% now feel that they have ‘good’ employee engagement (VS 80% prior to COVID)- impressive all round, I reckon.
The most important type of communication here has to be wellbeing support. Job uncertainty and the associated issues around mental health places responsibility on business leaders to make sure their staff are keeping well.
But does your team feel like they are growing through this period of downtime?
And should the next most important line of communication be training and development?
A team that feels like they have been nurtured and motivated is one that we all want.
Personal growth and communication are so important at the moment.
It is great for mental health, for the CV, and it’s more likely to bring instant value to the customer experience and the business when doors open.
Ideas for staff communications that benefit the staff
Wellbeing & support
As frequently as possible.
Offer 1:1 chat/Zoom/Clubhouse outlets for staff to speak on- Clubhouse is great…
Training and development
Touch base with your suppliers and key producers- how can they help to engage your staff
E.g. I will soon be moderating a zoom call soon with a client and one of their producers to educate and engage the team about their wines.
Set competitions that can be done from home. Challenge the team to have some input into purchasing decisions and menu tweaks- “the best idea gets the listing”, or something like that…
Career pathway support
Management courses for the right candidates.
Keep your staff engaged, they need you and we all need them.
Motivating training and frequent communication with hospitality teams through lockdown carries a three-pronged benefit. This week’s roundup focuses on the customer.
Keeping your team engaged through the lockdown will be central to making sure that they are delivering a first-class experience for your customers who can’t wait for some service!
We should remember that many cautious customers will be choosing a venue according to their COVID compliance, so making sure that your staff are not only PPE’d up, but also know the COVID protocols inside out will be important.
There will be opportunities for the upsell, so making sure the team is well trained up on how to do this is key.
The most important factor has got to be the customer experience, service and safety. Touching base with the team on these three topics towards reopening will benefit the customer journey no-end. It’s current and relevant.
Ideas for staff communications that benefit the Customer
Making sure that the team knows all protocols inside out. Internally, you could promote staff up to COVID compliance officers (a great staff development benefit there too).
Revisit the wine list
Do you have cheat sheets to share with the staff? Focus on a red/white/pink wine of the week. Does your team know how to recommend and offer choice to customers? (They are screaming for that recommendation)
Steps of service
A huge part of the customer journey from first contact to the bill drop. These will have been forgotten by many. Make sure the team has been refamiliarised with these, find a way to quiz them, offer an incentive for those who perform the best.
So what is all of this magical training content about?
The launching platform will be complete with two modules. But we are hoping to grow by two more modules a year, so watch this space.
Module 1: Wine Confidence
Confidence trumps knowledge when it comes to service with guests. People buy from people, so module 1 helps to put your team in a ‘wine confident’ state of mind.
Tasting Skills: this is the cornerstone of Grain to Grape and what we quickly became recognised for. Wine tasting doesn’t need to be complicated at all. How many times have you read a tasting note and thought, “I have no idea how I would pick up those flavours”, or “what does rich and opulent actually mean in the context of a wine description?”.
Here we strip back this process, focus on the physical makeup of a wine, and build from there.
Key grapes, winemaking and fizz: wine confident teams need to know this. Having this core understanding of production and styles is invaluable when they come into contact with guests.
Module 2: Becoming a Legend
This is what sets Grain to Grape apart. Becoming a legend teaches your team the art of upselling.
There are a few psychological tips and tricks that need to be used here, and they work, trust me!
At a glance it looks commercial, but it will bring growth in wine spends and profitability and it’s a process that’s also crucial for the guest. A team that pulls customers through your wine list is one that brings benefit to the customer and the business in the long term.
If you sell wine, then the chances are that there is a bit of room for growing your average spends.
Frontline members of staff are best placed to benefit both themselves, the guest and the business.
The eLearning element of Grain to Grape is really there for your team and puts them in a great position to bring value to customers and the wine category at the same time.
The Cellar & NewsFeed Channels
Producers and suppliers are going to have to think about how they communicate with their customers post lockdown. The educational and commercial benefits of Grain to Grape are great…but the platform also doubles up as a highly effective communication tool. This will streamline communications between the team, the suppliers, and their producers. I believe that pulling these guys closer together in turn, pulls the producers closer to guests as well.
Communications can be measured and engagement can be tracked. The Cellar and NewsFeed will support audio and video content as well as written for anybody with great, educational and valuable content for our users.
Whether you are a small group with a couple of sites, a 20+ site pub group, or a 100+ site restaurant operator, there is always room for profitable wine training and measurable communications throughout your team.
We now operate in a market where the customer wants to spread their wings. They want to be challenged to try new things at the table, things that they might not go for off the shelf. So, we need teams that can take this challenge, thrive in this new environment, and become legends.
Who doesn’t want modern wine training that has an impact on the bottom line?
The wine training landscape in the UK and beyond is set to change.
New mindsets will see reduced travel and the increase of online and virtual communication and training.
Producers and suppliers should be starting to think about how they are going to communicate with, and train the on and off-trade going forwards.
Moving things to a digital, online medium makes sense. Not only does it cater for how we go about our new daily lives but eLearning provides invaluable data and insight that has been sorely missed in the training landscape for too long.
I have done it myself; got myself in front of a team of bartenders and servers, waxed lyrical about the wines on their list, soil types, barrel ageing vintage characteristics. One by one, I could see the lights switching off behind the eyes of my audience. How can we measure that engagement? What are the benefits to the wine list and the business? Is it a waste of time?
Sure, there will always be members of the team who want to champion the wine list (legends), and those guys need to be nurtured.
The days of ‘obligatory’ wine training that just ticks a box are behind us. eLearning that is modern, relevant and most importantly, inspires confidence is on the way.
It is trackable and measured. With Grain to Grape will know the engagement rates, we will know who the high performers and potential legends are and we will know where your team needs a bit of TLC on their knowledge journey.
· Wine Confidence
· Getting your best wines on to the table
· Motivated teams
· Happy customers
· Team and customer retention
… the list goes on
Aside from a long list of motivations for Grain to Grape, the pandemic has amped up the raw need for modern, profitable wine training that can be measured, analysed and fed back to those that matter: the team.