by Melissa Piper Nelson    
Take a look at the various tasting room manager job announcements and you will notice two skill sets which appear in almost every entry: Leadership and networking abilities. Along with guest service and retail managerial experience, leadership qualities carry a manager through the many aspects of hiring, training and supervising employees across a wide cross section of winery and beverage businesses. And, the ability to successfully network with hospitality, tourism and business leaders opens the pathway to joint promotion, advertising and sales incentive programs. The candidate with these skill sets then can provide the platform for quality customer experiences.
Of the many leadership qualities, at least two come to mind in the business setting — decisiveness and the ability to inspire others. With the tasting room setting being fluid and dynamic, decisions often need to be made quickly and commandingly. Well trained managers with supervisory experience set the tone for how employees can work cooperatively and effectively even in a fast-paced environment.
Business owners seek managerial candidates who can multi-task and keep an operation running smoothly, and in a winery or beverage business staffing and inventory often demand top priority. Attention is now focusing as well on what tasting room managers add to exceptional customer service and, in turn, profitability.
The ability to inspire and work well with others is often mentioned in managerial job descriptions, but it is often assumed that this means internal relationships (manager-employee). External relationships, those with colleagues, hospitality professionals and community business leaders are essential for continued success.
According to the Better Business Bureau, “What is the most important asset in your business? Your product or service? Your building? Your machines and other capital infrastructure? The money in the bank? A big fat nope to all of that. Your most important asset is the relationships you build along the way. Whether those be with customers, suppliers or others in your supply chain, these are more important than bricks and mortar. If you want to put it into business terms, it’s called social capital.”
When you nurture business relationships, you gain perspective on what is happening in your trade as well as with industry trends. Joint advertising and promotional ventures are also possible and profitable. The elementary school tag of “working well with others” is not so far off the mark, especially when it comes to working cooperatively to enhance business ideas.
Tasting room managers are expected to carry a good deal of responsibility across many platforms, that is a given. Great leadership skills and the ability to network and establish many different internal and external relationships are increasingly mentioned as important characteristics as well. Candidates, as well as business owners, are aware that exceptional customer service builds a loyal purchasing base and carries significant guest appreciation. The break-out managerial candidate should look to leadership and networking as the critical duo for tasting room success.