10 Ways Your Pub Will Sell More Wine (Part 1)
More than ever, wine is playing an important part in a pub’s gameplan. A recent survey reported in the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) found that wine and spirit sales in the on-trade increased by £280m between 2013 and 2014. So if you take your business seriously but have let wine fall by the wayside, then here’s my top ten ways to get your pub back on track and sell more wine:
1 – Be Smart When Choosing Your Wines
Choosing wines can be difficult, especially if you like drinking wine but haven’t really tasted extensively. The best way to learn about wines quickly is to drink them – but even if you know your stuff the best way to go about this is in a group. Whether you choose to take yourself and some trusted family and friends who love wine, or your staff members, the key point is that you’re going to end up with a range of opinions and come to a better informed decision.
But don’t just walk into a wine merchants and pick the pretty bottles off the shelf, and don’t pick the famous grape varieties just because they sell either. Meet a wine merchant and, if they’re worth their salt, they’ll let you taste a range of their wines before you make a decision. This provides you with an excellent opportunity to choose wines that taste excellent, look great, and also to hear what the wine merchant says and use some of his or her passion to sell the wines in your pub.
If you’re really serious about wine and seek to get some of the best wines on your list for your budget as you can, then you may consider hiring a wine consultant.
2 – Build a Working Relationship With Your Merchant
Want to ensure you get the best support continually? Pick a good wine merchant. Like anything in the hospitality trade, trust is a difficult thing to earn, but as soon as you find someone who you mutually trust, the rewards can be staggering. A good wine merchant will inform you about his latest wines, value every order you place, and be on-hand to give you information about any wines you source from them.
Likewise you, as a landlord or landlady, should be keen to talk up your wine merchant with fellow businesses (naturally not your competition though!) and be understanding if your merchant runs into any difficulties with supply, as long as it does not effect your business too badly. If the working relationship does start to damage your business then it’s time to move on and find a new wine merchant.
3 – Introduce a Range of Wine Suited to Your Pub
Most of you will know your pub well, and it’s important you choose wines to reflect your pub. The thing you need to ensure is that you choose good wine. So while you might think your customers won’t pay more than £20 a bottle for your wine, then you need to be especially good at sourcing excellent quality and good value wines. Eastern Europe will provide you with some outstanding reds, while Germany today is producing world-quality dry and sweet white wines. However, a popular pub will naturally need to feature some of the Noble big-seller grapes like Sauvignon, Merlot, Rioja Tempranillo, and Chardonnay (to name a few). You need to make sure you buy in wines with these grapes that are superb quality because there’s lots of competition.
What about number of wines by the bottle and number available by the glass? You need to know your markets here. Wine may be evergrowing but an overlarge wine list can be fatal just as much as restricted choice can put off a customer. It’s better to have fewer wines of better quality than lots of plonk. Ideally, about 20-40% of your total wine list will be available by the glass if you sell under 20 wines. Over 20 wines and it’s good to have anywhere from 5-7 wines of each variety (white, pink, red) by the glass and 1-2 sparkling wines by the glass.
4 – Be Goal Driven
The ultimate goal is to keep your business sustainable and make enough money for you to continue doing what you love. That means it’s impossible not to improve your wine sales without thinking financially – as much as people huff and groan at sales projections, targets, and keeping an eye on how you’re doing. So when you alter or start a new wine list, or even if you just keep your current list but change the way you sell, you must set targets. Are you selling more wine? By how much? By what time of the year? How will you respond to the demands of seasonal events like Christmas, Valentine’s and Easter?
Set your targets and see if you reach them. Respond to your market and keep costs down and profits up.
5 – Write a Good Wine List
You can have the best wines in the world but the only two things selling them are your staff and your wine list. If they’re not both polished to a tee then you’re always going to sell less wine than you could potentially manage.
Writing a good wine list is about knowing your customers and your wines. How do you communicate how good the wine is to every customer from the average joe to the wine connoisseur? It’s always a good idea to write out 2-3 versions of a wine tasting note and get a second opinion or just compare them yourselves. Just adding this extra layer of thinking helps. Also, keep them short and sweet – one line tops – and if you’re going high end find out a bit about the wine producer too – it always helps you sell the wine!
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