If you are setting out to get a reputation as a specialist liquor store, there are a number of steps that you will need to take to allow your business the chance to be recognized in this category. It won’t be easy, but with hard work and dedication, your reputation will rise and this will have two direct positive effects.
First of all, your takings and turnover will progressively increase and your profit will rise too. Secondly people will spread the word that your premises should be an absolute must for those who can get to visit you; they will pass other liquor store premises in order to reach your shop.
The reasons are simple; they trust you to only stock good quality products carefully selected. Your prices are reasonable and not exaggerated and your visitors, who are looking for advice and assistance, will find your staff is knowledgeable and friendly; they will be able to happily deal with even the most naïve questions.
Across the globe, in countries where alcohol sales are permitted, the buyers for the liquor retailers compete to find the best products. Then they need to secure the supply line to make sure the production and delivery to their premises is guaranteed and no other competitor, even from another country, can come in and take the available stock away.
So the buyers, even if they are agreeing terms with the wholesalers who are more local, they must ensure that the purchase orders and supply contracts are rigorously respected and adhered to. The most successful professional buyers are able to take time to go to the centers of production in order to find new products or secure better business terms with existing producers. From Chile to Australia, to the US, or from Mexico to Scotland and Ireland, the buyers will need to trot the globe to find the best of breed brands.
The best specialty liquor store owners often have more than one buyer as they prefer to use specialists to cover each liquor sector, beer, wine, and whiskies, champagne and so on. Having a team of specialists is a great advantage as these people know where to look and what to pay. The buyers should have an agreed budget with the company owner. They should be able to place orders without obstacles or red tape from “HQ”. This is particularly important if, for example, they are presented with a great deal in France for a top quality wine at an auction and they need to bid in real time to buy it.
What do the customers want?
Did you know what a growler was 15 years ago? Probably not. Today, to not know about growlers will cause other people to ask “Which planet have you been living on?” For the specialist liquor store that is highly successful, the owners will explain that every member of staff who talks to the customers listens carefully to what they are looking for.
If they can’t find it in the store, the member of staff should take note and report back to the management. Why is this important? Today liquor store customers are far more well-travelled and informed about wines and spirits and even beers than their parents’ generation. They could ask you if you would have a particular beer they enjoyed in Germany or a particular type of wine they found in Spain. Your staff should take note and feed information back to you about what your customers are looking for. Following this through will please and delight your existing and new customers.
Tasting and market research
As a way of promoting your store and at the same time pleasing your customers and potential clients, a tasting session is a great idea. It allows you to collect really useful market information about what your buying public are looking for. Before you place an order with a new supplier for their liquor you can get excellent feedback about what your valuable customers are really looking for.
Teaching your staff to think as you do
The owners of the most successful liquor stores stock products that they appreciate or enjoy. The choice of stock is highly personal, but conducted in an objective way. Every item in the store needs to have satisfied the owners that it passes muster in its class and the choice should be able to be easily explained. For example, the store’s wine list should only include wines that the owner or owners would drink themselves and explain why.
Inform the staff and inform then well so that they can advise, guide and help buyers to make the right purchase. Returning customers should be asked for feedback. Make sure that you have set up a system, with the customers’ permission perhaps a loyalty card program, so that you can understand what each individual customer buys from you. Use this information to find out why they are not buying what they did before, or use the data to suggest new products that they may be interested in.
Liquor stores are aplenty the world over, but to succeed as a reputable specialist liquor store is never an easy thing to accomplish. But as long as you keep the passion alive for liquor and beyond, it is more likely than not you will achieve success!