• Grain to Grape’s Harry Crowther: how to maximise wine profits

    “This isn’t a romantic approach to wine training, instead an unashamedly commercial one that nurtures company profit, team confidence and happy customers.” That’s how Harry Crowther sums up his new Grain to Grape wine training programme that he has devised after years of experience selling wine and creating wine lists for a wide range of restaurants, bars and pub groups. Here he sets out some of the steps that all operators should be looking to take in order to maximise their wines sales and profits when they finally get to re-open their doors, back gardens and front terraces next month.

    “This isn’t a romantic approach to wine training, instead an unashamedly commercial one that nurtures company profit, team confidence and happy customers.” That’s how Harry Crowther sums up his new Grain to Grape wine training programme that he has devised after years of experience selling wine and creating wine lists for a wide range of restaurants, bars and pub groups. Here he sets out some of the steps that all operators should be looking to take in order to maximise their wines sales and profits when they finally get to re-open their doors, back gardens and front terraces next month.

    mm By March 30, 2021

    To really make the most of your wine sales, on-trade operators need to be thinking beyond traditional wine training courses that are often a switch off for staff, but make it 100% commercially focused on the trading and profit needs of their outlets, says Grain to Grape’s Harry Crowther, in a new series in partnership with The Buyer.

    Wine consumption is down, tell me something I don’t know…

    The reality is, regardless of 2020, people just aren’t drinking as much as they used to. But that’s not anything very new. Imports have been sliding since 2015. If you’re an operator who keeps just half an eye on your wine category then you will probably have noticed less wine flying off the wall and into glasses over the past five years or so.

    Who’s to blame?

    Careful now, Harry. I don’t want to go pointing the finger at movements like organic and sustainable wine, they are only a cause for the good – in particular sustainability, and I’ll explain why in another insights post on The Buyer. Whilst green credentials definitely contribute to the less is more mentality, they also present wine buyers and operators with opportunity.

    Associated themes come hand in hand with increased health, awareness and transparency, so less consumption of alcohol is a natural by product. Throw everybody’s favourite pandemic into the mix and turn up the volume for health awareness, and operators (maybe you) who once relied on selling high volume at the low end of the wine list, have a problem that needs addressing, fast.

    Solutions please, Harry… 

    Cut Your Costs

    Cut your costs if you can. But the reality is… you can’t.

    2015 to 2018 saw a year on year 6% drop in wine import volumes into the UK. That’s around a 17% profit drop. In context, we’d need to see a 61% drop in average costs just to keep profits stable. £2.50 cost price for house wine? Has anyone seen the price of duty?

    Increase the market share of your wines.

    Change up your sales mix and sell more vino. Based on the above numbers, you’d need to grow your wine category by around 20% just to stabilise your margins. Firstly, that’s a LOT more work for no profit gain. Secondly, you’d be chipping into beer and spirits volumes and margins by doing that, weigh up the GP’s, pretty pintless (oh dear).

    As commander Spock would say “whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”.

    The Answer: Sell better.

    Enough said, case closed… almost. Selling better wine is relatively straightforward on paper – and if you’re an outfit with a trained, engaged team of sommeliers then it’s second nature to your business. But what if you’re a national operator with 20, or 100 plus sites, hundreds of staff and a wine list that tops out at £35? How do you champion that culture of successful up-selling and average wine spend growth throughout your team? More importantly, how do you do it in a way that brings added value to your customer?

    Introducing Grain To Grape 

    I started Grain to Grape to bring relaxed, engaging wine education to my peers in the hospitality game (hopefully, we can continue these sessions safely soon). But now it is growing.

    Reinvent the way you sell wine

    Harry Crowther has used the years of experience working in restaurants selling wine to create a new commercially focused wine training series for all staff

    This isn’t a romantic approach to wine training, instead an unashamedly commercial one that nurtures company profit, team confidence and happy customers. I am going to offer a tool to guide your bar, pub or restaurant team. If you operate in the on-trade then the chances are you could be doing more to improve your average wine spend per head when things start back up again in April and May.

    Maybe you don’t have the time to do it because you think it takes too much time and resources, not anymore.

    Modern wine training teaches your team to sell better and faster, without making your customer feel like you’re squeezing them for everything they’ve got, and gets your best wines on the table and into their glass.

    Something really cool is forthcoming this spring as I take the leap into the eLearning sphere. Stay tuned for next generation wine training that is focused on getting your team wine confident and creates legends within your business.

    Until then, I’ll be pinging out more Grain to Grape Insights in partnership with the team at The Buyer. This should give you a flavour for what we are doing, and how we can help your wine profitability grow through modern and engaging training.

    The relevant, current insights that follow will touch on themes like (in no particular order):

    • Why they want that weird wine, they just don’t know it… yet.
    • Why telling a story is so powerful and leads to better wine sales.
    • One stat that explains why bars might be the best placed to see wine category growth.
    • Five ways to capture spends when we reopen.
    • Who are you serving? How understanding your customers will help you serve them better.
    • Why asking questions is the best way to sell wine.
    • Why sustainability in wine is now more important that organics.
    • Why repetition is your friend at the table.
    • Why rapport building is key to profitability growth.
    • For more information about Grain to Grape and the training that Harry Crowther offers then get in touch at cheers@graintogrape.co.uk or check out www.graintogrape.co.uk for further insights and information. The Buyer will be working with Harry in the coming months to share the commercial insights that all on-trade operators will need post lockdown. 

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