Portland Business Journal's Take on OR Competition

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by writer, Jon Bell, for his Portland Business Journal piece.  I spoke with him about the importance of recognizing the extremely competitive nature of the industry and subsequent need for a strong business plan and marketing effort in addition to great wine that over delivers on value.

Read the full article by visiting my website's News page in the Published articles section.


What Winery Operators Can Learn from Casino Management

Why look to gaming to provide best practices for the wine industry?  Because we're all in the hospitality industry first.  Many in wine prefer to focus on the product attributes (variety, oak treatment, aging time, etc.), but given the tremendous competition, it is much easier to differentiate and sell profitably given a winery's service attributes (customer experience, club member benefits, etc.). 

Oregon provides a great example -- there is a lot of excellent Pinot Noir produced here.  It tends to be costly, relatively scarce and quite similar from a broad consumer perspective.  It is much easier to differentiate based on the winery's story, tasting room/ customer experience and overall brand sentiment and loyalty.

Just like casino hosts, tasting room staff are on the "front line", dealing with customers daily.  Despite excellent training and customer focus, there will always be problems needing solutions and situations needing service recovery.  To achieve a better return on service efforts, a recent Harvard Business School Working Knowledge Casino Payoff piece recommends "freedom within a framework" approach.

Author Dennis Fisher reports that giving casino hosts more autonomy to make customer service and recovery decisions results in better return on investment and enhanced staff knowledge. For example, a host with five years of experience working in a loosely monitored environment gained 32% better return on comp investment than a counterpart working in a tightly controlled environment ($1.82 versus $1.38 for every comp $1).

Therefore, the researchers found that staff who have the opportunity to learn in a more loosely monitored environment encouraging experimentation with reason make better service decisions leading to bottom line profit.

What types of service policies are in place at your winery?  Do you encourage knowledge acquisition through experience realizing that mistakes will be made, or focus too intently on singular experiences and individual one-time errors?  Do your incentive policies encourage innovative thinking?  Do you recognize and reward customer service recovery efforts?