The United State is the world’s biggest wine market by volume, according to Western Farm Press. In fact, somewhere in the neighborhood of just under four billion bottles are consumed every year in this country!
Wouldn’t it be nice if more of those wine sales were happening in your restaurant? While wine can be a delightful accompaniment to any meal, it can also make a pretty delightful contribution to your business’s bottom line.
Luckily, there are some tried-and-true things you can do to make wine a larger part of your operation. Read on for six strategies aimed at boosting wine sales in your restaurant.
1. Train Staff
Uncertainty among diners is one of the most common barriers to wine sales. If a server is unable to make a recommendation upon request or to answer questions about everything from food-wine pairings to the difference between a Merlot and a Syrah, how likely is that sale to happen?
While educating staff on the soup-to-nuts of describing, selling and serving of wine may seem like an undertaking, it’s well worth your while — particularly if your goal is to increase spend per ticket.
If wine sales tactics aren’t yet part of your training procedures, what are you waiting for? A structured, consistent training program which incorporates staff tastings ensures that your staff will be optimally prepared to help diners overcome any obstacles to wine ordering.
2. Create Displays
Wine drinking is no longer the exclusive domain of fine dining. As even casual diners become more acclimated to ordering and drinking wine in restaurants, wine displays offer a successful way to showcase your collection and spur consumer interest in the process.
When artfully executed, these displays move from the territory of mere marketing into the experiential — a critical component in satisfying contemporary diners.
Just how big of an impact can wine displays have? Restaurant Development & Design goes so far as to describe them as “eye candy for diners.” Still keeping your wine in the back? Consider moving it into your dining room and making it part of the dining experience.
3. Use Your Vendor
Wine vendors don’t just sell wine. If you let them, they can also be invaluable resources for restaurant managers looking for the best way to integrate wine into their menus.
Wine vendors wear many hats, from conducting tastings to proposing pairings to helping with merchandising. And the better your relationship is with your wine vendor, the more strategically he/she can help you work toward your wine sales goals.
4. Choose Words Wisely
Choosing the right wines is only part of selling wine to diners. Another essential element in the equation? Choosing the right words to describe your wine selections.
Types, regions, and years mean little to many people. However, descriptive words sell. From “earthy and bold” to “fruity and light,” diners respond to words which evoke both taste and feeling.
Suggesting specific pairings suited for a particular menu item further nudges diners to make the leap. In fact, research from the Food & Brand Lab at Cornell University links food-wine pairing suggestions with a 44.5 increase in sales of target wines and a 21 percent leap in total restaurant sales.
5. Embrace Bottle Basics
Did you know that in addition to being a greater value for consumers, selling wine by the bottle is actually more profitable for restaurants? It’s true that wines-by-the-glass may individually add more to your till, but bottles are what truly drive wine sales.
The takeaway? While wines-by-the-glass offers a comfortable gateway to entry for many diners, a by-the-bottle approach should be your ultimate goal.
Some simple tips to achieve this outcome? Servers should be taught to suggest bottles, up-sell two glass orders to bottles, and always ask if diners would like another as soon as a bottle is emptied.
Also, be sure to get to know your local wine laws. Many states now allow diners to carry out unfinished bottles of wine. Informing guests about relevant “wine doggy bag” laws may prompt them to splurge on the bottle over the glass.
6. Embrace Tastings
Who doesn’t like getting something for nothing? In the case of wine, tastings offer added benefits by educating consumers. In the act of doing so, they also increase the chance that on-the-fence guests will purchase a glass or even a bottle. Fail to offer a tasting, meanwhile, and uncertain customers are more likely to just go without.
While flights aren’t free, they also play to diner demands by allowing them a taste. Cornell’s Food & Brand Lab further reveals that adding five-wine flights to a menu increases sales of those wines by more than 47 percent.
Ultimately, selling wine is both an art and a science. And while learning and implementing the craft may take some practice, doing so is well worth the effort.
Not only will your restaurant enjoy a better bottom line, but your guests will enjoy the enhanced dining experiences they crave. And we call that a wine win-win.