Creating Good Relationships at Work

An article in Mind Tools reported that Gallup published a study about the value of having good friends (or at least one good friend) at work. The poll showed that people who have a friend in the workplace are more likely to be satisfied with their job, be more positive and work harder. As humans, we want friendships and positive interactions with co-workers. If we are happy we are also going to be more productive.

That being the case, it’s important for businesses to foster good relationships between workers. Managers should be aware of employee differences and make every effort to understand and deal any situations with the employees involved. If not, minor disagreements can blow up out of proportion, affecting more employees than those originally involved, making the workplace uncomfortable for larger groups.

As employees or managers, it’s important that you look at all sides of the problem.  Sometimes people who have to work together are not drawn to each other’s personalities or managers may prefer one employee over another for any number of reasons. At these times, it is easy to criticize the person you don’t see eye to eye with rather than trying to find the positive things that this person brings to the group or department. Granted there can be co-workers that you just don’t get along with. It’s rather like an AM/FM radio; the AM stations can’t play on the FM channels and vice versa. It doesn’t mean that either AM or FM is wrong, it just means they are different.

If you are working with or managing someone who you are not in sync with, try getting to know the person a little better. Find out more about them before making your final decision. If you still don’t care for them, be polite, professional and offer them the same courtesies you would offer to anyone else. Conversely, if you are a manager and realize you have one person who is upsetting the whole team and have talked to them once or twice with no result, don’t sacrifice your whole team to one person. Remember the one dysfunctional person can easily drag the rest of the team into being dysfunctional. It is very rarely that a functional team is able to bring a dysfunctional person up.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Be Different And Make It Count

Before we talk about what can make your brand and products stand out in the crowd, let’s start with why they need to. According to an article by Samuel Edwards originally published on Entrepreneur.com, “…there are almost 28 million small businesses in the U.S…”  And while roughly 90% of startups fail, 543,000 new businesses are launched each month. That’s a lot of competition.

Look at your industry and see how many new businesses have popped up since you started yours. Nothing is static and as industries expand, you need to make sure your brand is noticed by the people you want to attract.

There are different things that make your brand stand out, though before you start it’s important to know whom you are trying to attract. If you don’t know your audience you cannot create the differences that are important to them. First, create a list of the people you want to attract to your business. When I ask businesses the question of what type of customer they want to attract, say “Everybody.” This is not a good answer (although amusing). List the demographics of your perfect customers and then broaden your search from there.

You can look at brand differentiation from a number of angles. You may start with where you want to be in the market. Are you striving for the high-end customers, medium or everyday? Once you know where you want to be from a price standpoint that helps you, create marketing and sales programs to differentiate yourself from other similar businesses.

Another way to differentiate is through your customer service. There are companies who have become very successful by offering the best customer service and quality (Nordstrom for example). Customers will pay a higher price to receive the best customer service as part of the package.

You may also consider creating strategic alliances with businesses that are looking to attract the same clientele. A cross-industry partnership can be beneficial to both businesses in many different ways (referrals, joint events, etc.). Find other businesses in your area that would attract the people.

Keep thinking about what makes your business different and how you can make those differences count.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Why Employees Leave Jobs

Of course, there are many reasons why people decide to leave their jobs. However, according to an article by Brigette Hyacinth, published late last year,

A Gallup poll of more than 1 million employed U.S. workers concluded that the No. 1 reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or immediate supervisor. 75% of workers who voluntarily left their jobs did so because of their bosses, not the position itself.

This interesting information, which should make us pause.  As a manager how do you treat your employees or, as an employee how do you feel you are being treated by your manager and, just as importantly, how do you treat your manager?

Many times people are promoted from within. Someone who, for example, has been on the sales floor and been successful may be promoted to sales manager. However, while s/he may want the promotion, it may not be the best thing for the company or for other employees.

When someone is promoted to management (even at that first rung of management) they need the know-how how to do their new job properly. Being a great salesperson does not necessarily mean you are automatically a great sales manager. Training should be readily available for the employees being promoted. This is also true further up the line. An owner who started a small business because s/he was passionate about the product may have put all his/her time into production and be a terrible manager. Not because s/he is a terrible person but because managing is not within their skill set.

To be a great manager you need to know what your employees want and need to be successful. Feeling a part of the bigger picture is one thing that makes employees feel as if they are contributing to the success of the business. If the employees and managers feel successful then the business will be successful.

I leave you with a quote from Richard Branson (who has been amazingly successful):

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Creating Value

What is it about your products that make consumers want to buy them?

The answer is value.

Many times when we think of value we think of price. However, value does not necessarily mean price. Consumers want to know they are getting value for their money, but value means different things to different people. There are people to whom exclusivity, scarcity uniqueness, timeliness or good service are much more important than price.

Value is one of the primary emotional triggers that make people want to buy. When consumers purchase your products they do so because they consider the product has value to them. The idea of what that value is differs from customer to customer and differs according to the situation. For example:

  • If my water pipe springs a leak, the value to me is that the plumber can be there in 20 minutes.
  • Or I may be trying to find the perfect gift and finding something that will have value to the person who is receiving the gift also has value to me.

In those instances, price is not the foremost thing on my mind.

When determining if you have created value you should be asking yourself the following questions:

    • WHY should consumers buy my products or services?
    • WHY should the media promote my products or services?
    • WHAT is the story that will drive interest?
    • HOW is the value of the product or service perceived in the minds of potential buyers and the media?

And if your answer to the question of why potential buyers should buy your product is, “We are a family business that sells high-quality products,” you are already in deep trouble.

Why should consumers value your product? Because you have:

    • Clearly and concisely provided the information they need to recognize the value of your product and form a perception of value.
    • The products and services are packaged and promoted well.
    • The staff transfers the perception of quality and value of the product or service to the customer.

Knowing the audience you are targeting is also important when creating value. If you know what customers want you can deliver the information that is important to them.

Write down three things you want consumers to know about your products.

Put them in order of importance and ask yourself:

  • Do the points adequately convey a sense of value?
  • Does this information provide a benefit to the customer?
  • Are the points easy to read and absorb in a short amount of time?
  • Is the meaning clear, even to people who do not know anything about your product?

Then ensure that everyone who works in the business knows these value propositions.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

 

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What You Should Know About Wine Customers

Interesting article in Wine Business.com last week by Cyril Penn about how big data can unlock direct-to-consumer (DTC) potential and boost sales. There was a lot of good information in the article, some of which I will go into at a later date. Today I am focusing on some of the statistics about wine consumers that were discussed in the article.

1. Wine consumers are dramatically more affluent than the average U.S. consumers.

  • 57% of wine consumers have a net worth of over 1 million dollars, compared to 12% of the average U.S. consumer.

2. 71% of DTC revenue comes from 30% of the customers.

  • …Every customer matters but a lot of money is coming from the very top segment.

3. Younger women gain parity with men in wine purchasing.

  • This information should get you thinking about who your marketing and how your promotional materials are geared to. Historically wineries focused their marketing on male customers.

4. 42% of DTC customers live less than 150 miles away from the winery, most live farther away.

  • Are you analyzing your customer base by zip code to find out where most of your customers live? Do you have concentrations of customers in certain areas or zip codes? This analysis will affect your marketing and event planning? It is a great tool for planning more successful and profitable events, promotion and advertising.

5. Discover the other interests of your customers.

  • Wine consumers are more likely to be skiers, play tennis, support the arts and they tend to subscribe to financial newsletters. This should also affect your marketing and events.

These few statistics can lead you to many more questions, generate analysis and marketing ideas that can make your winery grow. Whether you are a large or small winery there are things you can put into play that will make your business more successful and your customers feel more connected to your winery.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Differentiation

I have been reading a lot of winery newsletters recently and have noticed that many of them are very similar to each other. Taking into consideration that most wineries have the same goals and are interested in the same things (primarily growing grapes, making wine and selling wine) it is hard to stand out and be different. How do you differentiate yourself from others in your industry? There are ways to differentiate your business; you might differentiate by price (at either the low or high end), or create a niche for your company through innovation (wine available in disposal, sealed, individual, plastic glasses). There is differentiation through by convenience (think of Amazon’s one-click purchase) or through service, which should be one that most companies could work on and do well.

If a consumer came up to you and asked you why s/he should choose to do business with you rather than your competitors, what would you tell her/him? I suggest this as a great question to ask each one of the employees and then listen to their answers. I would then go on and ask the same question to your customers. There are reasons that people do business with you and you may not know what they are. Another good question to ask your customers would be what they value about your company, products, and services. In short, what brings them back.

As the number of wineries continues to increase (according to the U.S. Tax and Trade Bureau there were 11,496 wineries in the United States in 2016 ­- a 7.6% increase from 2015), I believe we will see the same growth for 2017. This doesn’t take into account the wine coming into the U.S. from the rest of the world.

As Entrepreneur magazines states, The majority of businesses in crowded industries fail to stand out because they don’t do anything to differentiate their brands. They simply do what everyone else does, content with scraping by and ignoring the scary proposition of taking a risk.”

The easiest way to differentiate your business is to focus on customer service. According to an article in Entrepreneur magazine, “Long-term loyalty of a customer base is the best way to guarantee profitability for years to come.” Stand out from the crowd by focusing on what your customers want. That means, asking questions, listening to the answers and putting into play the procedures the processes that will make your customers feel important to your company.

Be daring… be different.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Creating A Recognizable Business Culture

With the great number of brands these days, it is getting harder and harder to differentiate your brand from those of your competitors. A lot of that has to do with the fact that many who start businesses do so because they are passionate about the product, not because they are passionate about marketing, branding or creating the culture of the company. This is very evident in the wine business. Most winery owners are passionate about growing grapes and making wine, they are not, necessarily passionate about the culture of the company.

As you are developing your business, the grapes you shall grow, the wines you shall make, also ask yourself, “What culture do I want to create for my business?” Creating the culture will give you a template for many of your other decisions. For example, what are the traits and qualifications you want in your employees, how will you create your customer service guide and your plans for advertising, marketing, and public relations?

When developing some of your cultural items, consider the things that make your business recognizable, such as your logo, the colors you use and your tagline. Think long and hard before you choose those, as they are the things that define your company in the mind of many consumers and you don’t want to change them too often. It’s fine to tweak things to keep them current but wholesale changes make it difficult for consumers to remember you. For example, look up online the portraits of Betty Crocker, a brand that has been in existence since 1921. While Betty has changed over the years, she has always been a brunette, she is always wearing a red jacket or sweater with something white underneath, mostly a blouse, one time pearls and now a tee shirt and the drawing is always just head and shoulders. If you look at all the Bettys together you can see how much they have changed, but you would recognize every one of them as Betty Crocker. That’s the point.

Try and create a culture through everything that you do from in-person communication, visuals, and written communications, to how you deal with customers on the phone. You want to stand out from your competitors. This is a way to do it.

Finally, be patient. Creating the culture is not a sprint it’s a long distance race where you keep reinforcing the same lessons and methods.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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