Five Simple Tips to Stay On Course

There is no lack of data to review when managing a tasting room. How does all this help you reach your goals?

You likely have sales goals, traffic goals, and maybe wine club goals. You might also be responsible for managing your costs including salaries, wine pour and food expenses. And you may even have management meetings where short-term goals are discussed, like a backlog of a certain varietal, or wine club member sign ups in the weeks before the shipment.

With so many objectives, all the data can seem overwhelming and useless. Here are five tips to keep your tasting room on track.

1. Know Your Baseline

Wine glasses of degustation on the table

The overwhelming tendency is to focus on key buyers, and ignore non-buyers or non-tasters. But just like math class in school, you have to know your baseline before you can do any sort of conversion. This means attempting to count everyone who sets foot on your property. Your total traffic count should include both tasters and non-tasters. You can do this with a greeter, clicker, or even tick boxes at the bar. The importance of this is twofold. First, it helps you with staffing. If 1,000 people come to your tasting room on average, but only 700 taste and you count and report 700 to management, then you staff for coverage to handle 700. But what about those other 300 non-tasters who use the restroom, walk through your garden, ask for water and dirty a glass, and take brochures. In addition to your hospitality, your maintenance and supply budget are affected. Second, non-tasters are just as good to keep tabs on as tasters. What if you start a new partnership program with a limo or bike tour company, and then you see the total traffic increase, but the tasters don’t? If you just looked at the tasters, this influx of non-taster traffic might be missed and partnerships or referrers which may be best to discontinue might be overlooked.

2. Be Consistent

There are many different ways to count traffic in your tasting room. Some wineries count tasters by the glasses washed, some wineries count shared tastes as one and some as two. Whatever works for you, and your staff, is fine. There will be a margin of error, sure, but it will be equal across all employees in all circumstances. The point is, be consistent and train new staff in the same manner. If most of your staff does it one way, and another part-time staff member on Saturday does it another way, how will you know if there is an increase on Saturday because of the way it was counted or the actual number of new customers? Have a method, write it down in a manual, review it periodically and train all new tasting room staff best practices for data collection in your tasting room. And, if you’re currently lacking consistency, now is the perfect opportunity to involve the tasting room team by asking for their input to help develop best practices.

3. Have a Dashboard

We admit, we’re biased here. This is what we do. VingDirect integrates with your tasting room POS system to automatically download your data every day and provide you with a personal view of your tasting room metrics. In the event you aren’t a VingDirect member, we do hope you’re collecting and evaluating your data consistently.

In our opinion, these are the very basic metrics you should be consistently collecting, evaluating and setting goals for:

  • Total Tasting Room Traffic (Tasters and Non-tasters)
  • Total New Wine Club Sign Ups
  • Wine Club Conversion Rate (Total Tasters/New Wine Club Sign ups)
  • Total Wine Sales (Excludes Shipping and Taxes)
  • Average Sales Per Taster (Tasters/Total Wine Sales)

Depending on your objectives, you may also add in metrics such as number of new emails or merchandise vs. wine sales.

4. Focus on Your Objectives

Young friends drinking red wine in a bar.

Ensure you know your business and your objectives. Stay focused on the metrics you and your team can control. For example, if sales are the hot button of the moment, by focusing attention on the Average Sales Per Taster metrics you can add a little onto each order to show great gains over the course of a month. And if wine clubs are the bread and butter of your direct to consumer operation, then focusing on wine club conversion rate is a sure fire way to get your staff focused on the objective at hand. Think of the data as a magnifying glass to get your staff to focus on what is most important for this month, week or day, to accomplish your tasting room goals.

5. Communicate

And none of this will work if you keep the goals or data to yourself. Communicate the goals and data to your managers and your staff. Get creative! A whiteboard posted with the key daily metrics in the back, an old-fashioned chart with gold stars for achieving goals… it doesn’t take much to inspire and motivate teams. And, have weekly or monthly staff meetings where goals and objectives are openly discussed, successes are rewarded, and misses are analyzed without blame. The more top of mind the metrics, the more empowered and motivated your staff will feel to move the lever.

For more about tasting room metrics, or to set up a dashboard for your company. contact VingDirect. We specialize in measuring the data you can change, and training your tasting room staff.