- Silent Selling
The Pros, Cons, and Maintaining the Brand Voice
Pros and Cons
Staffing your tasting rooms or tap rooms is always a challenge – especially when trying to manage coverage during high and low seasons and maintaining budget. Having a good balance of full time, part time and temporary staff is going to depend on your company culture and policies. There are many pros and cons of tasting room staffing options:
Full time staff:
Pros: Easier to keep in the loop, better focus, more loyalty, easier to hold accountable, fewer people to manage.
Cons: Can be a burn-out job. It’s relatively low pay with the consequences of ‘pour & ignore.’ Manage these cons by setting up incentives (beyond health care and other benefits) to overcome them. Make people want to be career employees!
Pros: Fresher, less burnout, no benefits, less expensive. Good sources: retired homemakers, students, and teachers. Be proactive. A happy staff will network for you.
Cons: Challenge of communication, hard to get entire team together. Forgotten methodology, procedures, etc. It can be hard to get them to buy into company standards if they don’t really need or want the job or need the money. Some have the attitude of guest stars: these can be volatile and hard to manage, often insisting on their own way, decentralizing authority and lowering group morale.
Manage these cons by 1) Improving communication during “down” times: email updates to “all employees” that require a reply, invitations to small events open to “all employees” that improve communication and morale. 2) Ad-hoc training. Identify “experts” in areas for training new hires. Increase areas of responsibility, and also groom full-time staff, from this pool, making it a reward for high performance. One sign of a strong culture is that it can effectively promote from within.
Pros: Hire on demand. No benefits. No obligations.
Cons: In the end, it can be much more expensive. There is no loyalty. No training. There is the potential of a culture disconnect. Team doesn’t take them seriously. Often much lower sales ability.
Manage these cons by creating mini-trainings for them on your wines, winery and procedures. Limit their responsibilities.
Maintaining Your Brand Voice
Seasonal Temps or Permanent Staff – Do Your Guests Know?
Each one of your team members – whether permanent or temporary – represents your brand, your policies and your service standards. You will want these to be presented by different staff the same way, with the same vision or ‘voice’. Your guests aren’t going to know – and frankly shouldn’t know – what type of staff member they are interacting with.
We know that the livelihood of any hospitality company is the service that is provided by its employees. Your guests expect much from you and only the best hired, best trained and best customer service personnel can deliver it – even if they are only temporary personnel.
Guests expect value beyond price and product. Once a craft beverage company establishes what that value looks like, this vision must be engrained throughout all employment levels. Leadership drives culture, and it’s a culture of owning the customer experience, coupled with appropriate communication and ongoing training and coaching, that can create a successful workforce – seasonal or permanent.
So how do we ensure that our diverse staff has one voice?
Training. Every time a seasonal or temporary team member starts a new work assignment – no matter how skilled or unskilled – a certain amount of training is required in order for them to perform their assigned tasks to suit the specific needs of the craft beverage company.
Training should not just focus on the operational elements of their job function, such as stocking products and managing the register. It should ensure that seasonal employees understand and embody the brand’s commitment to their guests’ experience. Providing training that encompasses skills that build rapport and trust with our guests, skills that differentiate our brand, and skills that help them sell professionally and naturally, are all ways to prepare staff to own the customer experience.
Training is essential for all staff, whether it’s a refresher or new material for new staff. Create mini-trainings for staff on your craft products, company and procedures. Send team members to be WISE-certified (shameless plug!) or have onsite training.
Manuals. An Operations and Training Manual is a good way to ensure job responsibilities and communication across Full-Time, Part-Time, and Temporary Staff: when everybody knows who is doing what job, there are fewer opportunities for miscommunication, conflict, and poor service/sales. Then, a manager can quickly identify and improve areas of weakness, stepping in at the moment, and then staffing and training for the future.
Choreographing. Create ‘staging’ of the guest experience by coaching staff on which key brand points to cover at specific locations during the tour or at specific intervals during the tasting. This choreographing ensures every guest is afforded the same level of service, education, and experience.
Briefings. Use opening and or closing of the tasting room/tap room to gather the staff for the day and do a ten minute briefing on any winery updates, key points to cover with guests, or other ‘housekeeping’ items that help keep the team cohesive.
Always monitor your staff and catch them in the act! Praise them when they are doing a good job. Come up with solutions or alternatives for those who have challenges.
If our staff is the mirror of our brand – what is our reflection saying?
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photo credit: Jocey K
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