If ever there were two teams who should be BFFs, it’s the tasting room and wine club teams. Yet, far more often than we would like, we hear about the difficulties they have in communicating and working together to achieve common goals. These relationships seem to be frenemies at best. As we head into our high season, let’s see if we can come up with some solutions to the big issues we hear about time and time again, so that these teams can work in harmony and be more proactive and productive.
Here are the Top 3 Beefs we hear about between wine club and tasting room staff, and 3 WISE Recommended Tenderizers.
Beef #1: Where the heck are you?
Tasting Room: Dear Wine Club Staff - We never see you. Must be nice to have your weekends off. Your free time is our busiest time. Can you please come out of your office and be on the front lines with us once in a while? Maybe even work the occasional Saturday in the tasting room? Then you can hear the questions and comments from our guests about our wine club for yourself, and see first-hand the challenges we face in signing up new members. Sincerely, TR Staff
ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) was my first introduction to a well-organized wine tasting group in the 1990s. Under the leadership of Rebecca Robinson, ZAP has achieved the cult level for a wine-related organization. The latest event was at the Trentadue Winery in Northern California showing more than 60 producers of the Zinfandel-based wines. The Zinfandel variety is well described in the Wine Institute article linked here. The photo below shows the result of many years of experience running professional wine tasting events. ZAP conducts events nationally and internationally. Do yourself a favor and learn from the best. Attend the next event in your region!
Wine Club: Dear TR Staff - Did you even look at that completed wine club application? If you can’t read it, we can’t either. Would you please come sit at my desk once in a while and help call these new members to get their information? Maybe even help answer the phone when members call and tell us about how they didn’t get special treatment on their last visit? Maybe review the mystery shop report that shows guests aren’t being invited to join the club? Sincerely, Wine Club Staff
WISE Tenderizer Point of View: We all talk the talk, so now let’s all walk the walk as well.
Wine Club, have you provided the tasting room with a great brochure, signage and other silent selling tools? Is there a wine club binder with all the key information so that the tasting room can answer all questions from guests when you are not there? Do you go to team meetings? Are you proactively working together to make each of your job tasks easier?
Tasting Room, have you properly onboarded and trained new staff and temporary seasonal staff on selling the club and taking care of these VIPs? Do you and the team clearly understand the features and benefits of your wine club offerings? Are you proactively working together to make each of your job tasks easier?
Both of you need to claim ownership in this process since 98% of our new club members join in the tasting room. Let’s be sure we give the TR team the training and tools they need to make this process easy. Make sure that the incentives awarded for new member sign-ups are appropriate, even generous, so that everyone has something to gain. Time spent working together to better understand each others’ roles is really important, so carve out a few precious hours each week to do that.
Beef #2: Whose sale is it anyway?
Tasting Room: Dear Wine Club Staff - We take care of wine club members at the club pick-up parties and other events, so we should get credit for the extra sales at those events. Sincerely, TR Staff
Wine Club: Dear TR Staff - Really? We did all the work of scheduling the events and sending the email invitations to get them here, and so those extra sales belong to the wine club. Sincerely, Wine Club Staff
WISE Tenderizer Point of View: Common goals, with incentives for both teams, is the way to tenderize this beef.
Yes, staff from both departments should attend wine club functions in the tasting room. The resulting sales are a boon to both. Work together to come up with a way that both teams benefit from these extra sales. We believe in open book management that turns employees into partners, and setting goals based on both individual and team contributions. Post the numbers, teach the numbers and reward both teams for these extra sales. Your club member is multi-dimensional, so we need to be able to provide superb service in a multi-channel environment.
Beef #3: Sure is dark in here…
Tasting Room: Dear Wine Club Staff - Please let us know what is in the next club shipment, when to expect club members who will be coming in for shipment pickups, and what promotions are going out in emails. We are embarrassed when our guests tell us about a special offer that we should have heard about from you, and embarrassed when our POS system isn’t ready for these promotions. Sincerely, TR Staff
Wine Club: Dear TR Staff - We did create a calendar but no one is paying any attention to it. What else do you need? Sincerely, Wine Club Staff
WISE Tenderizer Point of View: It seems we all have good intentions to create a calendar of events and promotions. The challenge is to create it, and then keep it current and top-of-mind where it is accessible and available to all.
Is the calendar posted where all tasting room staff can see it? Are there regular team meetings to review the club shipment information, events, and website and email promotions? How is temporary seasonal staff made aware? And as for that POS system, we must test, test, test to be sure promotions are working as expected.
In summary, with some extra effort from both tasting room and wine club, this sometimes difficult relationship can become a satisfying alliance that benefits everyone and results in what both teams really want: happy club members who bring their friends to see us, buy a lot of wine and stay with us for the long run.
Source: WISE Academy,
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Jacques Brix is vice president and director of sales, West Coast, for Wines & Vines. This column is based on his personal experiences at winery tasting rooms and events.