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The Key to Wine Club Growth

Publish Date: May 8, 2017
Author: Nick Cugura


The Race is on to build a strong following of Wine Club members and the best way to do that is right under your nose: at your Cellar Door

If you want to build your list of wine club members, look no further than your cellar door, it’s by far the best way to build your all important database.

Really, there is no reason why smaller wineries can’t sell all of their wine through cellar door and the club – happy days because you get the margins.

Keep in mind that mailing list members will join on your website but most wine club members will join at cellar door. Members will be inclined to join your club if you give them a great experience at your winery, cellar door or event.

That is the key: giving visitors such a memorable time that they will readily give you their details.

It’s about focusing on benefits for your members.

One benefit could be invitations to tastings in the VIP Room at cellar door in a similar way to how airlines provide exclusive lounges for customers. Perhaps give it a special name and make sure the room is visible from cellar door. It’s not all about the freebies, it’s about feeling important and valued as well.

I recently met some small wineries in remote regions who mentioned that cellar door visitors had been declining, they attributed it to lack of events in the region. Events are vital for all wine regions of course.

To increase the chances of someone signing up to your club, discuss recent member only events with them. Show them where you held them and then ask them if they want to be informed about the next event.

You may wish to charge a tasting fee so as to help better identify potential customers and wine club members, make it refundable if they purchase. It could be $5.00 to $15.00 depending on the range to be tasted. Charging for tastings was considered a no-no in Australia not that long ago (apart from a few brave souls like Shaw & Smith) but now more and more wineries, especially smaller ones are doing it.

Consider removing the cheapest wines from cellar door if they are readily available at Liquor stores. And remind visitors that your premium wines are no available anywhere else (if that is the case)

Help the visitor identify which wines they should taste by asking them “red or white? Sweet or dry? Once you have identified what they like ask them where they going in their travels, to establish whether they need to purchase a six or 12 pack.

Hard copies of your newsletter should be available at cellar door and in the wine club room. Provide a tasting form for the visitors to record notes.

Building your database should not just be left up to cellar door staff, your accountant, management and restaurant, sales and marketing staff all need to work as a team for the wine club to be a success. All the staff need to understand the goals and support and embrace them. You should have a wine club mission statement: all staff should understand how it works including company objectives, member commitment options and member benefits including the gifting strategy.

But yes, cellar door staff have the task of actually getting details from people. They need to have good people skills and be able to upsell, explain how wines are made know which varieties grown and be knowledgeable about the winery history.

Make sure your cellar door is well staffed allow for new member sign-up as one extra sign-up each day could equate to $1000 a year.  There should be an incentive program for joining members.

The club manager should meet with cellar door staff regularly to discuss any suggestions or concerns.  Also consider using a mystery shopper to provide feedback.

Avoid consultants they cost too much, overcomplicate things and take too long to implement strategies.

Nick Cugura is a Director of Ezy Systems, an Australian software Company specialising in winery management since 1993. It assists more than 400 commercial wineries.

For further details email nick@ezysys.com.au or visit ezysys.com.au


Source: Australia's Wine Business Magazine

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