Let’s get right to it.
No. 1 Your Guests Must Get A Great Wine Recommendation Early
A key opportunity to increase wine sales is to start your guests with their first glass or bottle, as soon as possible.
This strategy allows customers enough time for seconds. The later the first round arrives, the more likely an offer for more wine will be turned down. Soon enough your guests will begin to think about driving, contemplate dessert, or simply look forward to whatever else they had planned for the evening. Like getting to the theatre on time.
To make the most of this strategy, make sure your servers know their stuff. Wine is a complex subject. Even better and easier, give them an effective software tool to guide them through the process. No matter the server’s level of wine experience, a good system will do magic for your sales.
No. 2 Your Wine Menu Should Always Be Up To Date (To The Minute)
Not only will this push your wine sales up big league, it will save your brand and servers unnecessary embarrassment. If waiters have to tell guests that a wine has run out, after the customer has made their choice. Even worse, if the decision was based on their server’s suggestion. The idea will save your team many back and forth trips that cost your business valuable time and money. The team should be using this time and energy to tend to more customers and to sell more.
This, for you, is sales productivity and staffing costs being flushed down the drain, right before your eyes.
The time saved can also be the difference between your guests having enough time for seconds or not. That’s losing the chance to double your wine sales. Yes, double. Multiply this event by 20 tables, 5 servers and 2 or 3 rotations for the night. It’s easy to see how significant the opportunity cost is. Plug this hole and your P&L, your owners (and your spouse) will thank you.
If your wine list is still stuck in the era of the PDF, and printed on paper, it’s time to get unstuck. We are in the 21st century. Today your floor manager should be able to tap a tablet to remove a wine from your wine list, in milliseconds.
No. 3 Feature Wines
Tell a good story about a wine, and it’s a sale. Feature wines that have been sitting in inventory for too long, higher margin wines, new wines you just brought on, or wines your chef or sommelier recommend with today’s specials.
When your staff are sold on the feature wines, know how to pitch them, and, most importantly, remember what they are, you’ll be pouring profits right from your wine bottles, into your balance sheet.
One challenge restaurant owners are familiar with, is the rush time syndrome. That’s when a restaurant gets so busy, staff begin to take orders, instead of selling and upselling.
The right technology can play a huge role in addressing this issue and moving feature wines. An effective technique is to put the feature wines list directly in the hands of your guests.
Try publishing your feature wines list on your website, and give your guests the hyperlink to access on their smartphones.
Nowadays, people look at their phones a million times during dinner. They relate to technology and like using it to get information. Use this trend to your advantage.
No. 4 Make Upselling Wine Mandatory
Train your staff to upsell. Let servers partner up and role play before every shift.
Yes, every shift. This is what professional, serious sales people do. Help your servers to understand, appreciate and internalize their role in making every guest experience an exceptional one, with a good wine recommendation.
Upselling wine also requires that staff know what to upsell to. With a relatively large list, it gets difficult. Even for the smartest ones out there. A good digital list, listing wines from lowest to highest in price, allows servers to suggest a better pinot noir, without hesitation. Knowing that their guest will likely enjoy the wine more, makes the suggestion even more rewarding.
No. 5 Use Wine To Incent Guests To Return
When diners see that you truly care about your wine program, they are more likely to return, recommend your restaurant to others and even give you a great review online.
Ask guests to review the wines they had that evening, on your website. Attach a card to the bill featuring the URL, and give them an incentive in return for their feedback. Maybe a wine-related incentive?
A good wine feedback system shows that you are serious about wine. It should offer to your guests a sophisticated wine review process. A simple, or a star rating tool, does not leave as good of an impression. Nor does it provide your business with very useful details.
This takes us again to the idea of leveraging technology to engage guests and offer a better wine experience than the restaurant across the street.
After all, we are in the 21st century.