February 23, 2011 —
It’s February, you look out over your winery and vineyard. The landscape is brown, the wind is blowing cold, the vineyard is barren, tours are down and there aren’t any wine festivals. Winters can play havoc on your customer traffic and sales, causing you stress if you aren’t prepared and sometimes even if you are! So, what’s a winery to do?
Create a Wine Club!
There are few wineries actually doing this, and doing it well, but if done right, it’s a great way to build up a loyal customer base and develop reliable, steady cash flow during those harsh months.
Here’s a few ways to get existing and new customers interested:
- Discount your wines and/or a give smaller discount off reorders in the winery.
- Give members a first chance offering on your pre-release wines.
- Present them with your Limited Editions first.
- Free tastings for two if they visit your winery.
- Scheduled VIP tours and “Members Only” events.
- Enclose food pairing ideas for each wine.
- Discounts on events at your winery.
Those are just a few ideas for the “give-aways” for your members. Let’s look now at WHY Wine Clubs can work for you.
Sign them up for quarterly shipments. This guarantees sales for you from the customer every three months, plus it doesn’t come around so often that it gets in the way of running your winery or that the customer gets bored of your wines. One winery in the Texas Hill Country has over 1000 members in their wine club and has more credit card charges on the day they ship their wine club packages than they do for the entire rest of the month. You do the math…$15/bottle x 4 bottles x 1000 members = $90,000!
Create multiple membership levels. Based on the number of wines in each shipment (i.e. Gold receives 3 bottles per quarter and Platinum receives 6 bottles), make sure that the higher purchasing membership gets something in the shipment that the smaller membership does not, whether it is a special gift or simply “reserve” wines that are higher quality/priced wines.
Encourage your customers to pick up their wine at the winery. For one week each quarter, have your best customer service person on the floor greeting your customers (hopefully by name very soon). Have a cheese tray awaiting them or offer them a tasting of a new wine. By coming in, they pay no shipping and receive a discount off any additional wine they purchase that day.
Club members’ friends get discounts too. If the friend visits your winery and mentions a wine club members’ name, let them know you remember them. Then give the visitor their tasting for free or discount the wine they purchase that day. Think about this: Either way, what you are doing is (1) making the new customer feel special (2) your wine club member feels special too because you remembered him and (3) you impressed the member’s friend, thereby making your club member special in his friends’ mind too. Get it?
Don’t call your wine club a Wine Club! Why? Because this is not about ordering wine online and having it shipped. This is about creating long lasting customers and friends. People aren’t coming in to get the discount. They are coming in because they are “special” and are treated as such by you. So, call it something like Friends and Family Circle or Bill’s Best Friends – something that distinguishes them as being a part of the inner circle (hearing about new wines first, getting first choice at winery events, etc.).
Hopefully what you’ve gotten from this is that building up a loyal customer base is not about how great your wine is, but how great you treat your fan base! Now don’t get me wrong – you do need to have a good wine, but it isn’t the only reason your customers visit you. Your customers keep coming back because you make them feel special. It’s why people go to the same pub or restaurant over and over…it’s where “everybody knows your name.”
Let’s say your wine club is started, all the boxes are packed and shipped, and best of all, you have cash flow! Now, how about creating a new premium wine blend for those great customers? And as a nice side benefit to you, crafting a new wine will keep you excited through those quiet, wintry times.
If you want to learn more about setting up your Friends & Family Circle, let’s chat.
Premier Wine Blends provides custom solutions for your winery.
Finely crafted wine blends, consulting and
local premium bulk wine sourcing (because you’re not a Napa winery!)