One Blog |January 10, 2011 | POS Tracking Software

Wine Menus - A Powerful Tool for Driving Wine Distributor Sales

Mark Fullerton

Better Times Ahead

Instead of adding to the clutter of Top-10 predictions for 2011, I will make just one prediction for 2011:

2011 will see a return to ‘dining out’ that will accelerate in step with the economic recovery

This after more than two-years of increased ‘stay-at-home’ dining

As consumers become willing to spend more of their precious, discretionary income on dining out, they will likely take a more selective approach to their choices than they did in 2008 to 2010. Restaurant patrons will only dine out if the restaurant experience offers something different or extraordinary. The “same ol’ same ol’” won’t cut it in the new year - If it ever did.

Opportunity and Risk

You may now have a golden opportunity particularly, if you distribute wine, to make a significant, positive impact on your customers, their customers, as well as your distribution business.

Imagine yourself as a restaurant patron. Ask yourself; is the restaurant’s wine menu exceptional? Does the menu define the restaurant, educate its patrons, or complement the cuisine so perfectly it “makes the meal". Or is it just like other menus found in establishments everywhere?

If the wine menus you provide to one customer are no more than a restatement of menus you provide all your customers, then your business may be at risk of losing the menu creating privilege.

Remember the saying within the wine distribution industry, “The distributor who controls the menu, gets the lion’s share of business.”  

Where’s the Profit?

Most of a restaurant’s profitability comes from alcohol beverage sales – driven largely by the wine menu. While your company has taken over the burden of creating the wine menu, you must respect the amount of trust your customers have in you to create the menu.  Consider that your customers have placed the most profitable part of their business in your hands. Today, more than ever, your customers must believe your primary interest is in their success; not just in selling more of your products.

Ask Yourself

Do your wine menus help your customers differentiate their restaurants from their competition? Do the menus you supply look like the local grocery’s “Wine Aisle” top-picks? If you were the customer, would you feel good about the menus you were supplied? 

Remember, these menus are placed in front of every restaurant patron, and may be the most powerful, point-of-sale influencer, often leading patrons to purchase the restaurant’s most profitable brands. If your wine menu does not distinguish your customer from their competition, then you have not done your job as a wine distributor. Bottom line you are at risk of losing your customer to another distributor who understands this key point.

The restaurant business is risky – many go under every year. You should be doing everything you can to help your restaurant customer succeed, to stay in business, and to be able to buy more from you as a result. If you will take the time to create a wine menu that strives to those ends, you too have a much better chance of succeeding.

If you are not producing wine menus that stand out in this crowded market, then 2011 is the year to step-up your game.

Keep in mind: You’re not just selling your products; you’re selling your company as a resource. Let your customers know your commitment to helping them be successful. Work with restaurant owners to consult, not simply ‘take over their menus.’

And now a word from our sponsor 

OnTrak’s family of Marketing at-Retail applications – particularly MenuTrak –  are powerful tools to help both wine distributors and their suppliers provide a competitive advantage when it comes to the tasks of Managing, Controlling and Measuring the impact of Wine Menus – for both your customers and your company.

– Mark Fullerton

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