By now there isn’t much you can do but process holiday orders.
Emails should be sent, websites updated, cards mailed. And shortly, sometime about December 10-15, your shipping deadlines will have passed and it will be like a faucet shut off at the winery.
Have no fear, in this eerie and quiet time from mid-December – Valentine’s Day there is plenty you can accomplish and when buds break and tourist appear, you’ll be glad you did.
Compared to other industries we’re a pretty friendly group. We have Facebook groups to share tips on vendors, meet at conferences and share experiences on technology, and sometimes even recommend customers. When you’re doing your best tap dance to delight and charm a customer in the off-season, it is always helpful to have a couple other business cards under the bar to send them along their way. Set aside a particularity slow day – like Tuesdays this December and January – and assign a tasting room team member just go out and network. Pass around tasting mats and business card. Share wine. Invite your neighbors over over. This is also a great time to host a hospitality party or invite a winery to close down the tasting room one morning and have a tour. And don’t forget about our friends at the hotels and livery services – they need some attention, too. And believe us, in June you’ll be glad you did.
It is always good to secret shop the competition to see what you can learn from those around you. And remember – your wine is different than your tasting room and it competes in a different category. One is a product and is compared by potential buyers based on product characteristics. Another is a vacation destination – and is looked at with entirely different criteria To make sure you’re competitive as a destination, it’s good to see what is going on around you. Ask your visitors where else they go…and then go there. Or if you’re afraid you’ll be noticed, hire a consultant to do it and report back to you. It is always helpful to take a step back periodically and look at your offerings objectively and now is a great time to do it.
December and January are good times to review the programs just finished and see what went well, and what didn’t.
In addition to looking at benchmarks, budgets, and ROI, you can also do some exploring to see what can be added for the next year. Where are you on data hygiene or other tedious tasks that might be tackled? Have there been vendor capability meetings you have been putting off? Now is the time to accomplish some of these nagging tasks.
So, enjoy your downtime, but keep your employees and vendors busy working for you during the “off” season, so that when the valley is warm again, you’ll be hot!
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