Have You Identified Your Organization’s Wine Pain?

This is a reproduction of the LinkedIn article I wrote a while ago, for the benefit of followers of this blog.

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painpointFollowing my last post – 5 Key Ingredients That Make Great Restaurant Wine Lists, one of my LinkedIn contacts very rightly observed that in spite of having the best wine lists some F&B establishments fail to create the necessary buzz around their wine programs and struggle to stay relevant in highly competitive markets. So what else could be the reason for them to lag behind? Let’s explore…

Businesses exist not only to make money but more importantly to solve problems faced by its current and prospective customers. In fact they make money and thrive because they clearly identify the problems and solve them. In business jargon these problems are referred to as pains or pain points. Simply put they are the shortcomings which prevent organizations from achieving business excellence.

Although at a micro level among larger scheme of things, wine offerings and services related to them in the hospitality sector also address many of its guests’ needs and issues they face regularly. So it is critical that such pain points are identified as early as possible and solutions found with equal urgency.

During the course of my wine and hospitality career, I have come across a number of issues which afflict the hospitality industry’s wine and beverage operations. Some of these are generic, but most are specific with a direct bearing on guest satisfaction, their expectations and in turn the success (or otherwise) of the wine program.

Generic pain points:

1.) Lack of a strong wine culture: Although highly subjective and abstract, it still occupies the top of the list of wine pains of many organizations. A ‘wine culture’ is typically intangible in totality as it comprises of many related factors. Most of us in the industry know that there is no short cut to improve the wine culture of an organization, but the good part is that if you have devised a clear and definitive wine roadmap/vision, it will not be an uphill task either.See which of the following points mentioned below applies to your organization’s wine pain.

2.) Maintaining guest loyalty: Hotels and restaurants go to great lengths to retain customers, and in today’s fiercely competitive environment it is not surprising that guests have become more adventurous in their choices. Unless the wine offerings and service standards related to them are continuously upgraded and refined, scoring high on guest loyalty would be a challenge.

Those who have been successful in creating a niche for themselves in wines have done so by making it as one of the key features of their overall hospitality profile and important differentiator from the competition. Why not adopt a similar approach when it comes to your wine program?

Specific pain points:

1.) Inadequately trained and skilled wine team: It is a no brainer – behind every successful wine program there exists a team of highly skilled professionals. This is probably also the most common thread which links top food & wine destinations around the world. Conversely, lack of adequately trained manpower can spell doom for a wine program, irrespective of
how refined every other component of the wine initiative is. It is therefore of utmost importance that your frontline wine staff are empowered with all the knowledge and skills expected of a professional cadre.

2.) Lack of quality wine infrastructure: To ensure flawless and highest quality service delivery a robust wine infrastructure is must. Whether it is advanced storage and cellaring facilities, variety of glassware, service equipment, assorted accessories or a highly user-friendly POS system, a shortcoming in any of these components could pose a negative effect on the overall wine operations thereby jeopardizing the organization’s business objectives.

3.) Lack of innovation and imagination in wine offerings: Today’s wine drinkers are some of the most aware and informed consumers, which in turn have led them to be more expectant (rightly so) of the quality of wine offerings. This genuine need of your guests calls for out of the box ideas to drive your wine program. Luckily, wine offers so many options for innovation that one may never run out of ideas which will keep you ahead in the ‘race’.

4.) Lack of focus on technology: Wine is all about ‘personal touch’ but that does not take away the complementary role technology can play in enhancing both the guests’ wine experience as well as streamlining operations. Right from incorporating state of the art automatic wine dispensers and storage systems to having POS (Point of Sale) software integrated with latest CRM (Customer Relationship Management) options or highly efficient cellar/inventory management tools, technology can play a vital role in making your wine program that much more competitive.

5.) Poor inventory management: One of the most overlooked pains, poor inventory management is at the heart of many woes that affect F&B establishments. While most of it concerns back-of-the-house operations, on many occasions substandard stock management also affects guest dining experience. They lead to erratic availability, and in worse cases non-availability of wines, poor stock rotation, valuable cash-lock-in, oversupply or supply crunch and many other issues.

6.) No auditing, performance tracking or improvement mechanisms in place: Smart businesses, especially market leaders, have one thing in common – they all excel in identifying areas of continuous improvement in their products or services. The systems to locate problem areas may differ but the ultimate aim of achieving excellence through refinement remains an universal success mantra. The F&B service sector is no different. You simply cannot afford to maintain ‘status-quo’ in your service offerings. From creating best-in-class audit check lists to employing cutting edge training methods, every wine program should endeavor to continuously improve and upgrade their products and operating procedures.

Have you come across any other wine pain points in your organization or during your career? Let’s hear about them.

Cheers,

Niladri (@Niladri_Dhar)

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