In one of our recent tasting-room-staff onsite training workshops, a “coaching moment” customer-service issue came up: ‘What do you do with a group of 6 to 8 persons who come to the tasting bar and want to share one tasting between everyone?’ First reaction from even seasoned Tasting Room Professionals may be to get a little irritated. Why?
Let’s look at the scenario. A group of 6 or 8 come into the tasting room… Well, that’s kind of a win isn’t it? They want to share one tasting between them, and to make it more difficult, they want you to pour all five tastings in separate glasses so they can share the tasting. This is a bit more problematic, but still we can turn it into a win if we consider why the group is doing this.
Unfortunately, staff members often negatively profile (prejudge) and don’t try to understand the nuisances of this situation. In order to get through this quickly, some staff members will quickly pour the tasting, not explain the wines, collect the tasting fee and walk away. That is not a win. The staff member has already pre-determined that these guys are not going to buy wine, that they are cheap and that the group is not worth the effort.
Before negatively profiling, let’s look at this scenario as an opportunity and try to discover what their motivation is:
- Sometimes groups come from other countries and are not sure what how we do things here. They understand that visiting is the thing to do and they are here to learn.
- Some may not be accustomed to drinking alcohol, and their biggest fear is tasting wine and getting a DUI.
- They may be afraid to commit. They aren’t sure if any of them will like any wine since they normally never drink wine and they don’t want to spend money on something that will go to waste.
- Some people are doing a lot of tastings in one day – in order for them to taste wines from many places, they need to pace themselves accordingly so that they can enjoy the experience responsibly.
Make it a win situation and take the high road. If you have the opportunity, set up each glass and use this time as a teaching tool. Show them how to look at the glass, how to swirl, smell, sip and savor. Teach them why you pour the wines in the order you pour them. Explain that you pour 1 to 1 ½ ounces, which is just enough to taste the wine, but not over-consume. If they seem worried about over consuming, calm them by letting them know that an individual would have to consume three 5-oz glasses within 45 minutes to reach .08 and that they will never get close to that by having a standard tasting.
Present each bottle and explain the wines as you normally would in any standard tasting. Use your WISE training and build rapport through open-ended questions, analogies and storytelling. Find out their favorite foods and what products you have that will enhance the meal. Plant the idea for purchasing – or joining – throughout the experience, but be sure to close the loop with presenting the wine club, asking for the sale or getting contact info.
You have been trained to be a star performer and even if the group does not buy anything, you have made them feel welcome and they will be able to see that in the future they can taste more and learn more of the mysteries of why wines are so unique and special. They may even send friends. What do you have to lose? Make it a win!