- Posted by Danielle Gillespie
At CorkGuru, we LOVE wine and we want the whole world to love wine! It’s probably not the first time you’ve heard that from me and it certainly won’t be the last. I want drinking wine to be fun, easy and even spontaneous. At CorkGuru we’ve made it our mission to relentlessly strive to drink BOLDLY and to get others to do the same.
But, here’s the thing: I also love technology and the exciting possibilities that open up when it is put into action.
Your Wine Program is Ready for Take Off
Let’s say you’ve built a great cellar, maybe you’ve also amped up your by the glass program and have possibly scheduled some wine dinners. What now? How are you actually going to get your guests to order and drink the juice?
Can technology help?
We believe that, YES(!), technology can help your wine program take off and reach it’s full potential. Technology can provide a consistent framework that will help you deliver more discovery and better experiences. Without a consistent system, you may be winging it, and the results that you achieve might even be pretty good. But with a system, even a simple system, your results can be boosted.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about technology that may be preventing you from taking the plunge.
Myth: Technology is Not Important to Restaurants
Really great restaurants are well-oiled machines…or at least they put off that appearance. The staff greets you warmly, the answer to any request is “sure, no problem” and the experience is awesome.
So, saying that technology is good for restaurants may sound counter-intuitive. But technology is really a mechanism that allows your staff to achieve optimal and consistent professional performance. As a result, they have more free cycles to focus on guest experience.
Consider the practical example of your “86” wine list. You may have an outstanding dining experience but if your “86” wine list is out of control, what are you losing in frustrated guests and wasted server time?
The 86-list becomes out of control because it takes time and money to reprint menus, stuff the folders, run the menus around to the various locations where they are stored and upload new menus to your website.
Technology, on the other hand, allows you to keep your information up-to-date from a single point of access. So, the job of chasing paper inventories suddenly becomes a 2-minute task. What if you could free up some time for one of your staff members to proactively work on your wine menu? For example, researching new wines on your menu for descriptions, anecdotes or suggested pairings will ultimately translate into increased wine sales.
Technology can change your behind the scenes from reactive to proactive allowing you to focus on your guests and their experience.
Myth: Technology is Too Expensive
You’ve built a killer wine program but how are you going to get the word out to your loyal guests? And, how are you going to leverage your program to attract new guests? How do you build trust in your program?
You can do this by adding some technology. I’m not talking about a crazy amount of technology but some strategic modifications that will make a difference.
Attract New Guests and Inspire Loyal Guests to Return
A paper menu is seriously one-dimensional and serves exactly one purpose: to provide a list of your wines to your guests. You hand the list to your guest, the guest chooses their wine then hands the list back to the server and that’s the end of the show for the paper list. But, electronic wine menu solutions go much deeper. By using a platform that includes website publication and a companion guest experience, people who love wine will be more likely to find and become interested in trying your restaurant.
Bring Staff Up to Speed Quickly
You can use an electronic menu to help bring new staff members up to speed quickly. Many restaurants have a well-established staff and with deep training initiatives. Other restaurants find they have a more transitional staff. In either case, even though staff training is important to you, sometimes it is just not possible to get a new server quickly up to speed with your wine list.
A solution like CorkGuru can help. By providing descriptions, label images and an easy to decode wine list, you will ensure that even staff with limited wine knowledge can be instantly helpful to your guest.
Ultimately, creating a wine menu with reliable information that your guests trust and can become excited about will make your guests want to come back to try new things. Provide a great experience and you will start to benefit from more referrals as well.
What if you could attract one extra guest per week or, welcome one of your loyal guests back to your restaurant more times per month?
Myth: Technology Will Replace Conversation
I’ve got some news for you: people are already not talking!
This is crazy but, when dining out, 70% of people will simply order a wine brand that they purchase at retail. They would rather make a safe choice than take a chance on a wine they know nothing about…and most people won’t ask questions because they are timid, embarrassed or think they will be pressured to spend a lot of money.
We actually hear this a lot:
“I have a pretty great staff that is eager and well intentioned, but my food and beverage manager or I can’t be everywhere at the same time, so the information about our wines is inconsistent – which means I’m losing out on selling as much wine as I could. I’m guessing our revenues would be at least 20% higher if one of us interacted with each of the guests.”
How can you share your wine knowledge with all of your guests so they can make more satisfying choices? Especially during peak times or with people who won’t ask questions?
I would argue that using an iPad wine menu will become a conversation starter. With a wine menu platform, you can put your guest at ease, invite questions and liken what they already know to something new. With the technology, your guests know exactly what YOU want them to know about your wine, even if you cannot be at the table.
Myth: Technology Doesn’t Belong at the Table
Personally, I 100% agree with this statement…it is truly unfortunate to look over at a table full of people with their noses buried in their electronics.
But, technology is invading our lives, there are millions of mobile users and people are doing everything with their phones. There is a noticeable transition underway whereby consumers are making more and more decisions via mobile.
And because there are a myriad of wine apps on the market, people are taking their phones out during dinner to check out wines on paper lists anyway. This occurs because people feel better about their choices with more information. And guess what? People will upsell themselves with more information!
So, by adding an iPad wine list, you can stop the phone sneak and gain full control over the wine conversation. Use the technology to provide your guests with the information that you want them to hear instead of relying on unknown internet resources with varying degrees of accuracy.
Let me ask you this: is there anything worse than a guest quoting the retail price of a bottle of wine? Technology gives you the opportunity to change the conversation!
And, while you’re changing that conversation, why not take it one step further by starting to build custom experiences for your loyal and potential guests? Suppose your guests were able to start saving wine histories and wish lists of what they drink both at your restaurant and at others. This information could then potentially be used to personally draw people into your restaurant.
A robust mobile wine platform like CorkGuru will give insights into what guests are looking at on the menu, buying habits and their price point comfort zones. All of this information can be combined to provide powerful personal messaging and personal experiences.
Think about how much email you receive each and every day and how much of it you simply delete without reading. For me, it’s only those messages that are directly related to something that interests me that I read. This is true of most people: if you receive a generic email from a restaurant about upcoming events versus an email that specifically targets something that interests you, which one do you respond to?
Take control of the technology and use it to your advantage.
Myth: Technology Won’t Work for Us
Technology isn’t for everyone…and that’s ok!
But before jumping to conclusions about whether it’s for you, consider all sides of the argument! Check out our infographic to help you decide if it is for you.
Whether you think technology can or you think it can’t help, you’re right (riff on Henry Ford quote)!
At CorkGuru, our primary goal is to inspire more people to discover and endeavor to drink more wine! Technology can help your staff deliver consistent messages about the wines on your list and you can use it to draw more people into your restaurant.