152: Tips to Train Your Staff from 3 SIP Certified Members | Marketing Tip Monday

With over 250 members in our SIP Certified program for sustainable winegrowing, it's no surprise that there are many tried and true methods for keeping staff informed and up to date on matters of sustainability. For this last Marketing Tip in the Train Your Staff series, we talked to a few of our members about how they make sustainability a familiar and comfortable topic among their sales and hospitality staff.

Welcome to Marketing Tip Monday with SIP Certified. We know customers are looking for wines labeled as sustainable. While our longer-form episodes help you learn about the latest science and research for the wine industry, these twice-monthly micro podcasts will help you share your dedication to sustainable winegrowing so you can show your customers that you share their values.

Today we share three ways our members keep their team up to date on their sustainable practices so that you can use these methods at your winery.

The Key at Jackson Family Wines

Jackson Family Wines supplies its staff with Trade Sustainability Resources through an online platform. Staff can use this site to view photos from the properties that document specific sustainable practices, study aesthetically pleasing and descriptive infographics, and go through PowerPoint presentations that summarize sustainability initiatives at specific properties.

There are also charts of the brands' certified sustainable wines, a variety of sustainable-themed POS materials, and documents with statements, stats, and goals pertaining to the company's dedication to sustainability.

A JFW Sustainability Stats table shows an annual comparison of various sustainability metrics, including gallons of water used per gallon of wine produced, kilowatt-hours of solar energy produced per year, percentage of winery energy offset by solar, and more. Each metric is also given a summary explanation below, so their staff knows exactly what the data means and how progress is measured.

Take Home: Using a platform to house your brand-specific sustainability information provides staff on-demand access to current and chronicled sustainability initiatives, and is a great way to educate your staff on current sustainable practices as well as what sustainability means in the context of your company's identity. 

Maverick Farming Bridges the Gap

Jim Stollberg, owner of Maverick Farming, consistently updates the staff at the many properties he manages. 

He bridges the gap that sometimes exists between the vineyard and the tasting room by attending staff meetings and talking with the staff. Here, he shares what is currently underway and upcoming in the vineyard, and answers any questions tasting staff may have. Plus, Jim is only a phone call away. If the staff person has a client with a question they do not know to answer to, Jim is there to assist. This access not only increases staff's awareness of what is happening outside their windows but also provides them with plenty of sustainable conversation material to use while conducting tastings!

Jim also sends monthly emails to tasting rooms that provide a summary of what's going on at the property, and what to expect in the coming weeks. He tells his clients what the Maverick team is observing in the vines and fruit, as well as what projects they are finishing up, working on, and planning to start.

Take Home: Email updates from your vineyard manager are easy to access, share, and refer back to when you're looking for current topics to focus on while conducting staff meetings or tastings. Inviting your vineyard manager to your tasting room staff meeting provides an opportunity for staff to learn about what is happening in the vineyard directly from the source! 

Face to Face at Niner Wine Estates

Anyone familiar with Niner Wine Estates knows that sustainability is at the heart of everything they do, from the vineyard to the winery, and from the garden to the kitchen! Craig Macmillan, Critical Resource Manager, is communicative with his staff on a regular basis:

Craig takes the opportunity at regular tasting room staff pre-shift meetings to present topics, give updates, and address recent questions staff may have received from customers. The pre-shift meeting conversations ensure staff go into their shift prepared to engage with their clients with the latest information from management.

The importance of each individual staff member's knowledge can't be understated. That's why Craig takes the time to pass through the tasting room to talk briefly one-on-one with members of his staff to make them aware of what's going on, and give them the opportunity to ask him questions -- a method that has received positive responses from his staff!

Afterhours events are a great opportunity to build a sense of togetherness within your company. At Niner, staff gets together every couple of months for a family meal and educational conversation about what sustainability is and why it is important, and to discuss the practical aspects of implementing practices to achieve sustainability goals. Craig says these events are well attended and are effective in instilling an understanding of sustainability at Niner Wine Estates.

Take HomeTeam-building events like pre-shift meetings and afterhours events build a sense of togetherness among your tasting room staff, and provide an opportunity for group discussion about what sustainability means to your brand. Regularly connecting with the individuals on your team is crucial for ensuring each one of them is familiar with your brand's sustainability initiatives, and has the knowledge necessary to give educational and accurate information while conducting tastings.

Take Advantage of these Resources!

Here are some SIP Certified sustainability resources for you to share with your staff to supplement your staff trainings:

Electronic resources

Check out the show notes for links to this article, PDF downloads to help you talk about sustainability with your customers, an educational game of Jeopardy, and sign up for our biweekly Marketing Tips newsletter. Until next time, this is Sustainable Winegrowing with the Vineyard Team.