Keys to Happy Selling
By HervÃ© Pennequin
How do you utilize a wine trainer to increase sales for your restaurant?
Your wine trainer should understand their students and their level of wine knowledge.Â The given message must also be simple, clear and easily remembered by the staff. Prior to training the staff, the wine trainer should determine some groundwork by examining the current activities of the restaurant and analyzing some basics; who are the restaurant patrons, are there more regular guests than transients, what is the type of cuisine served, what is the average price for food spent by the guest, what is the average price per wine served, is wine served more by the glass or by the bottle, is more white or red wine chosen by the guests?
Once the trainer understands these basics, it becomes very clear how to direct the training session. Based on the allocated time, the training must be compiled and aimed to review each key topic in an educational, informative yet fun way.Â A mindful trainer’s message should be entertaining and emulate the interest of all, with personal stories, experiences and anecdotes.
Training should start with a note of humor, followed by what interests the staff so as to include them in the session. The staff should be reminded what their restaurant is, what it represents, why they are working there and what “their” personal goal is – to make money. The trainer will bring confidence to the staff by giving them the tools to increase their check average, which in turn will increase their tips.
The next step of the session is to review the wines in the “By the Glass” program. A brief explanation of the region of origin and style of wine is given. Then two – three should be used, describing the taste of each wine.Â This should be followed by suggesting a dish from the menu to pair with the wine, or vice versa. A good trainer will get the description of each dish from the Chef in order to emphasize the elements that make the taste of the course adapt to the main elements in the wine.
After reviewing all wines by the glass and deciphering the list of wines that best suit each course, the trainer can review the bottle list and go over styles of regions before going through each wine’s specific taste characteristics.
If your restaurant has a wine steward, the trainer should explain how the wait staff should explain the guests chosen dish prior to the steward approaching the guest.Â When discussing wine with guests, the steward or server should then ask if the guest is looking for a white or a red wine, and whether the guest prefers a light or a richer wine. The answer to the latter should give an indication of desired concentration which most of the time will relate to the price of the wine. “Richer, concentrated” will lead one to an “oaky” wine that is higher in price than a non oak wine. After recognizing the guest’s taste, which should be respected at all times, the steward or wait staff can then make recommendations.
When suggesting wines, three wines of the same taste category should be introduced, starting with the lowest in price.Â Next, the server should introduce the most expensive wine followed by “the” wine the server originally hoped to sell. That wine should be priced in between the first and the second wine. Ninety percent of the time, the guest will chose the last wine for various reasons; he or she does not want the least expensive, nor does he wants the most expensive and the steward will guide him to his or her choice while allowing the guest to feel that he has made the choice. There are several “key” descriptive words used to sell wine which are very important and necessary. If there are only ladies at the table or if a lady chooses the wine, use key words such as “lovely, elegant, soft, smooth or sensual”.Â If only gentlemen, key words are more likely to be “rich, masculine, intense or full bodied”.Â Always try to read the guests personality so you can select the appropriate key words to sell.Â The wine trainer should stress the importance of keeping a positive attitude despite the guest’s final choice. A server may be tested at first and the more helpful they are, the more trust the guest will have over time.Â A good server can experience a guest giving them “carte blanche” once they have passed the guests’ test and earned their trust.
One final component is confidence. Confidence is as important to a server or wine steward as learning to listen and “hear” the guest. The employee may know more than the guest, but, in the end, the guest is always right (even when he is wrong)!
Anyone could be a good wine trainer or expert wine sales person. Knowledge is not everything, it takes years of experience to listen and speak with objectivity. A “great” trainer shares their passion and will generate passion in the staff too.