Getting The Most Out of Your Events

As event season is already upon us, it’s important that we are ready to ensure the success of the events we work hard to produce. Here are a few tips when hosting events.

Create An Atmosphere

You want your guests to associate your winery with good wine, pleasant people and a great atmosphere. Guests attend your events to taste wine in a comfortable atmosphere.

Owners and staff – to create atmosphere:

  • Keep smiling
  • Be real
  • If you don’t like people, stay in the cellar.

Think About Your Attitude

  • If you are in a bad mood or impatient with guests, even if you try to hide it, your guests will feel it.
  • It’s okay to have an attitude as long as it is a good one.
  • Practice being patient for three weeks before the event.

Sales Tips

  • Spend 18 seconds with each guest (or group) giving them your full attention. It may not seem like a long time, but it is longer than you think.
  • Tell guests you are glad they came to the event.
  • Give each guest or group a snippet of information that gives them reasons to buy the wine.
  • Have plenty of staff on hand. Waiting makes people irritable…
  • Irritable people usually don’t buy wine.

Things to Remember

  • Smile constantly even if you think no one is looking.
  • Keep the bathrooms clean.
  • If there is a problem with a guest handle it quickly.
  • Keep the grounds and winery tidy.
  • Don’t put the food next to the bathrooms and don’t put the wine tasting next to the band.

Other tips

  • Consider giving each attendee an order form. It saves time at the cash register. Your guests can decide what they want and complete the form (with their name and phone number before they get to the cash register. They give the cashier the form to ring up the wine they have ordered.
  • The guests then take the form marked paid and their receipt to where the wine is being distributed. The packer packs the wine and keeps the order form (they keep their receipt.) If there are any problems you have a record of their order.

Have great events and sell lots of wine.

A tip of the glass from me to you!


D.A.R.E. To Sell: Tips to Increase Sales through the Tasting Room

As it is already May and wineries throughout North America are getting busier and busier, it seems like a good time to remind you of methods of interacting with guests that can and will increase sales in your hospitality center.

Many people who work in wineries do so because of their own interests in wine, their desire to be in the industry and of course the advantage of being able to buy wine at less than full price. Conversely, many of your guests may not know a lot or anything about wine so their level of interest in wine may not be as deep. This disparity between what guests want to experience and what we think they want to experience can, many times, lead to a disconnect, which it turn leads to guests leaving without buying anything.

Over the years I have created many handouts to use in my winery training seminars. This handout, D.A.R.E. To Sell is one of my most popular with winery staff. 

D.A.R.E. is an acronym for:

     ● Don’t Assume • Ask Questions • Reach for the Sale • Explain Benefits ●

Don’t Assume … 

   •       …Your guests remember everything you have told them during their visit, even before they leave.

   •       …Guests know a lot about wine in general or your wine in particular.

   •       …Your guests feel comfortable asking questions about the wines or prices of wine.

   •       …Every guest has read the tasting notes or wine club information.

   •       …Guests have faith in their abilities to judge that your wines are worth the price you are charging.

Ask Questions…

•       Questions should be asked of your guests as their visit proceeds. Long before the end of the visit you should know their interest in and relationship with wine .

•   Establish a rapport with guests along the way by creating a personal relationship. People connect first with people, then with the product or company.

   •       Discover what is important to your guests; what they like and what they know.

People come to wineries for all different reasons. Some may be very wine-savvy while others have never stepped inside a winery before.

   •       Allow for a two-way conversation.

   •       Use the information you have collected from your guests to help them create a    closer relationship with wine and your winery.

Next week, part two of D.A.R.E. To Sell: 

Reaching for the Sale

Explain Benefits

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Searching For The Lost

If cases of wine were missing from your winery, would YOU start a search to find out what happened to them? Of course, you would. The idea of cases of wine disappearing without a trace is not good. After all, you have a lot of money tied up in the product.

So… what do you do when customers are missing (i.e. no longer buying from you)? Do you go searching for them to find out why? Customers may stop buying from you for many reasons. It may be that they have been busy and just haven’t had time. It could be that they were not treated well on their last visit or they may have been ill. There are many reasons for customers to stop buying, though if you don’t follow up to find out why you won’t get them back.

Fortunately, with CRM systems it is easier to research who is buying what, when and how. Use your CRM system to regularly check your customers and see who has stopped buying, lately.

If they are regular customers, pick up the phone and call them. You may say that you hadn’t seen or heard from them lately and wanted to check that everything was well. Your customers will appreciate the call and tell their friends that you called. One of the reasons that your regular customers are regular customers is that they like you. They will be gratified that you called.

If you don’t like the idea of picking up the phone, send an email or contact them through social media; you can private message them through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn.

You might even want to send a personal note. As hardly anyone does that anymore, it certainly will be memorable.

Once you find out why they no longer visit or buy from you (perhaps they have moved and cannot get wine shipped to that state or country), you have the option to offer an incentive to come back.

Whatever you decide to do, do something to re-engage with these customers.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Lessons To Be Learned

We visited the Department of Motor Vehicles last week. We had made an appointment as there are almost 500,000 people in the county in which we live and two DMV offices, so they tend to be busy.

We arrived, twenty-five minutes early and got into the appointment check-in line. By the time we got to the person whose job it was to check us in we were already ten minutes past our scheduled appointment time.

Spending as much time as we did in line gave me lots of time to observe the person working reception. A couple was at the counter while I was standing in line that was having difficulty understanding what the DMV employee was trying to explain.

Lesson One:  Vary your language

If you are talking to people who are having a hard time understanding what you are saying, do not keep repeating the same phrase over and over again. It may be that English was not their first language or that the terms used were not familiar to them. Telling them in the same words is not going to help.

The next person to go up to counter said something to the employee at the desk about why it was taking so long as they were worried about missing their appointment. The clerk’s snappish and loud reply, which could be heard by everyone in the long line was, “Because no one wants to work here… we have nine vacancies.”

Lesson Two: Need to know

As a customer, I don’t need to know that employees do not like their jobs. Truly, I did not want to be there either. If we could have taken care of everything online we would have.

After twenty minutes in line, we approached the counter and explained that we wanted to register a vehicle. We were given a number and told to wait until called. We also said we would like to change our address (which involves completing a form and getting a little card that we wrote the new address on). We were curtly informed that changing the address was not stated as part of the reason for our appointment and that we would have to wait in another line to get the form.

Lesson Three: Streamline systems so they work for the customers

If you can simplify your procedures to the advantage of your customers, do so. It would not have been difficult to have a stack of the change of address forms at the check-in desk to hand to the customer, letting them know at the same time where to return them.

I understand that it cannot be easy to work at the DMV and hope that if I have to make another visit that they have managed to hire more and lessened the stress level of their employees.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Small Investment… BIG RETURN

The Facts

Is going to be an interesting year for the wine sales in the United States. Reports are saying that wine production is increasing in the U.S. with more wineries opening every year and wine imports to the U.S. are increasing. A May 2018 report from the Wine Institute noted that wine available for sale in the U.S. from all U.S. production sources and wine imported to the U.S. by foreign producers — grew 1% to 403.4 million cases in 2017.

As of 2018, there are 9,654 bonded wineries in the United States. This number does not include the virtual wineries without a brick and mortar winery. These producers make their wine at host facilities (i.e. custom crush facilities) and sell through mailing lists, retail stores, email, and over the phone.

It is also expected that individual wineries will see fewer people as wine consumption slows in the Boomers and Matures’ generations while, at present, Millennials and Gen Xers consume more liquor and beer than they do wine. It is expected that Millennials will be the largest group of fine wine by 2026 (only 7 years to go).

What does this mean to you as a winery? 

It means that the majority of wineries have put more effort into selling wine to the guests and customers who take the time to come to the winery or have signed up for the email list.

The Problems

1. In many wineries I visit, I find that people who are supposedly selling wine were hired because they know a lot about wine and want to have a spotlight to talk about what they know. Owners and/or winemakers, who started a winery or make wine, also got into the business because of their love of wine.

Unfortunately, knowing a lot about wine, is not a great recommendation for a hospitality/sales person. While it is important to know about the wine you are selling; it is more important to know about the people to whom you are selling.

2. Guests are overloaded with jargon that they may not understand and probably won’t remember by the time they have made a left-turn out of your driveway.

The Result

Guests leave your winery without buying any wine and without a story to tell their friends about your wine. I doubt that this is what you want.

The Solutions

The solution to the problem is two-pronged:

  1. Change your hiring practices, so you are hiring employees who like people even more than they like wine.
  2. Training your hospitality staff is a small investment with a Big Return.

I guarantee that a staff well trained in customer service and sales will sell more wine and create a loyal following for your brand.

If you want more information on training your staff, drop me an email:

A tip of the glass from me to you!

Customer Engagement Reminders

Black Friday and the December holidays are quickly approaching, which means you are busy, busy, busy for a couple of months. As most people seem to be rather stressed at this time, it helps if you go out of your way to be patient, polite and professional with all your customers. Here are a few tips that may help in the busy times.

The Customer May Be Wrong

However, if you have to tell them so, do it in a pleasant way.

Ask Questions

If you know what your customer wants, you are better able to meet their needs quickly and accurately.

Understand the Customers Make Buying Decisions Emotionally

It is easier to think that buying is an intellectual process, though the actual decision is made through the emotions.

Listen More Than You Speak

Let the customer do most of the talking. Try not to interrupt, as it will take longer to get to the root of the request or concern.

Customers Should Feel Appreciated. 

Customers are happier if they feel, Important… Liked… Right. If you can manage all three that is fantastic, though any one of the three will help.

Saying Yes has great power

When you can say Yes to customers, even when the request is simple, the customer feels as if s/he is important to you. Sometimes you have to say no. At those times, find an alternate solution.

Give More Than Is Expected

When you go that extra mile (or even an inch) you receive in return the appreciation of the customer. This means the customer is more willing to buy your products.

Promise Only What You Can Deliver

Don’t overpromise. Better to let customers know if you can’t meet their expectations. However, promise that you will do everything you can to make it happen.


An apology goes a long way to keeping a customer happy, even if you are not at fault.

“I am so sorry this happened, let me see what I can do.”

“I don’t think we can have it (the requested item)  to you by Monday,

but we will ship it to you as soon as it comes in.”

Don’t Forget To Smile

Your smile helps smooth any transaction. So keep smiling and mean it, even when you don’t feel like it.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Ramifications of Bad Customer Service

As I was wandering through the Internet, I found some great information on customer service on Help Scout. The article was actually a compilation of quotes, facts and statistics from different companies and individuals focused on the ramifications of bad customer service and the benefits of positive engagement with customers. I thought I would pull some of these out for this week’s blog.

American Express Customer Service Barometer (2017)

“More than half of Americans have scrapped a planned purchase transaction because of bad service.”


“74% of people are likely to switch brands if they find the purchasing process too difficult.”

New Voice Media

“After one negative experience, 51% of customers will never do business with that company again. “

“U.S. companies lose more than $62 billion annually due to poor customer service.”

Those are some powerful numbers and some amazing findings, showing that the attitude companies have towards the importance of positive engagement with customers can seriously affect the bottom line.

It’s important to spend time accessing your company’s customer service through all lines of communication: in person, via email, phone, mail, on social media and in any other ways that you are in touch with your customers.

Every person who works for the winery, no matter what their job, is responsible for being available to help customers if they come into contact with them. Each and every employee should have some customer service training. Though employees who work in the cellar or in the back office may not encounter many visitors, if they happen to run into a visitor, they should make eye contact, smile and be available to help if needed (even if it is merely directing someone to where they want to go).

How long has it been since you did a customer service review in your business? Are you overseeing at least one customer service training session per year for all your employees and offering more training for those who are on the front lines of customer interaction?

Good customer engagement will raise your sales, according to the 2017 Customer Service Barometer from American Express:

7 out of 10 U.S. consumers say they’ve spent more money to do business with a company that delivers good service.

A simple upgrade to your customer service should mean more wine sold, more return customers and a strong uptick to your bottom line.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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