Mary Cressler is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, a Wine Location Specialist through the Center for Wine Origins, and proprietor of Vindulge Wine Education & Consulting; a wine consulting company focusing on enhancing the consumers wine experience through classes, seminars, private buying in addition to commercial consulting. A frequent tasting panelist and judge for wine competitions, Ms. Cressler also writes about wine. Her writing has been featured in various publications and on her own site.
Your company, Vindulge, offers an extensive list of events, classes, workshops, and consulting. Why choose front of house training as your talk topic?
I began my wine career working for wineries and several years as a General Manager at a winery. My time spent managing people (including hiring, training, and developing tasting room employees) helped me realize not only the value, but also necessity of having well trained employees. All too often managers don’t recognized the value in training and developing their most important asset – their people. It does not need to be difficult, nor expensive to develop their employees, but it vital for success. These are the brand ambassadors for wineries when owners can’t always be there to tell the story. Training and developing people is so critical to growing revenue through repeat business and first impressions.
In your experience, what is the typical percent sales gain most wineries will see from training their staff well?
This question comes up often. The best response is to self-benchmark over a period of time. When working on training programs and implementing that for staff, the best result is to look at the sales from a same period that did not have the training program over time. This allows for seasonal adjustments to volume to normalize. It’s also important to focus on long-term development. Keeping your staff focused on emerging trends and hospitality are just as important as the onboarding period over the first few months of employment.
Is there a secret to getting employees to engage in front of house training?
If I told you now nobody would come to my presentation…
Kidding aside, for starters educating them on your brand and your story. People visit wineries not just to taste wine but also to learn your story and to have an “experience”. It is your tasting room employees’ job to provide that. Sales incentives can also be a powerful tool in getting front of house employees to sell more wine. Making them feel as though they are a part of a “team” – including inviting them to meetings and keeping them updated on any news or changes going on at the winery.
As a wine blogger, why is it important to attend the IWINETC event?
It is an excellent opportunity to meet professionals in the wine and tourism industries, learn, and network. As a wine writer I find the greatest sources of knowledge of any region come from when I have had the opportunity to travel to those regions, and meet with the people who make the wine and operate the businesses I write about. Better stories emerge from that personal level of engagement.
Fill in the blank: The media trip to Friuli is an exciting opportunity to__________.
Experience and learn more deeply about a region I have never visited.
Mary Cressler will be talking about Training Front of House Staff on Friday, March 15th at 12:30 in the Paris Suite.
View the IWINETC Programme of talks.