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  • Writer's picturePaul Thienes

Boost Tasting Room Traffic, Purchases and Club Signups through Referrals

Updated: Jan 22, 2019

Customers that trust your brand based on a recommendation are more likely to purchase wine, join the club and praise their experience to others.

A good referral network consists of nearby hotels and restaurants, concierges, tour guides and private drivers, and other wineries that you personally trust and enjoy.   Network contacts are organized and easy to access anytime, with all contacts in your CRM database making them available to everyone in your winery no matter where they are; in the back office, concierge desk or in the tasting room can access contacts in the referral network.

To track the success of your referral network, you need to collect the data and measure the results. Gathering meaningful data allows you to discover what information is relevant, interpret the results and tell a story, and implement tactics to improve the outcome.  Look for meaningful data that provides actionable insight into performance metrics.

The 3 rules to follow are: 

1.)  Data collection must be easy.

Collecting referral data begins with the reservation. This is your first engagement with the customer and a natural time to ask if they were recommended by someone.  Or, to really WOW the customer, invite your referrers to personally call and set up the visit.  Even if your tasting room doesn't require reservations, this is a really nice way to regularly communicate with your network too.  You likely are using a calendar system to track daily appointments, tasters and visitors; be sure to track the referrer every time.  In eCellar, referral tracking is built directly into the Reservation information with an auto-search field that leverages the customer database, which can be later summarized in a built-in monthly summary report showing visitors and actual revenue gained by referrer.  For walk-in guests, train your tasting room staff to ask every guest if they were recommended to visit; and of course - TRACK this data.  If you don't have a system to log this information, create a notebook with a few columns and gather information through the day. 

2.)  Measuring results must be easy.

Decide which metrics are important for you.  I recommend tracking data for each referrer; number of guests, total spent per visit, average sale, and conversion to club and mailing list signups.  If your POS/Reservations system does not have built in referral tracking, try using order tags or the note field to add tracking codes for each referrer in your network. Regularly and often (at least once per week) review your referral metrics.  Who is sending customers your way? Are these guests converting into buyers and members? Are there significant sales performance trends for each person in your network?  What is the average sale for all referrals, and by each contact?  

3.)  Follow up actions must be easy.

Review the results of your referral performance tracking each week and each month.  The benefits will directly reflect the time and energy that has been invested in building these relationships.  Look into each metric for clues to take new action.  Who do you need to reach out to?  Is there someone to reconnect with?  Are you honoring the relationship and producing in-kind referrals to their business too?  And, who do you need to thank for their trust and relationship?  Look for opportunities to communicate with each referrer, and take action.  Don't wait a week or until the next time you see them; feedback to your network is most relevant when it's timely and genuine. 

In addition to communicating personally on followups, regularly update your network with any promotions, news and events happening at your winery.  A weekly email with information and availability would be a helpful way to provide reliable information that can be shared with customers.

Lastly, if you are already using or considering eCellar, here are some proven tips & best practices for referral network data collection, metrics, and communication:

1.)  Create unique customer types for each type of referral. 

It's helpful to have them listed all together, and with the added ability to segment each referral type, it's easy to create customized email campaigns that are targeted to their specific industry.  Network: Lodging Network: Winery  Network: Driver Network: Tours

2.)  Create the customer records for your referral network contacts.

Develop a system of using the 'First Name' or 'Last Name' field as the name of the business, and the alternate field as the contact name, or role; such as concierge. These should match the customer type, or be a segment within the customer type.  For example, at a single hotel, you many have several different contacts; a concierge, a front desk agent or a valet. This will become VERY helpful when it comes to reporting - to easily compare metrics within each referral type, because results are sorted alphabetically.

3.)  Track all visitors in Reservations Manager.

If they have an appointment, gather the referral information right away.  If they're a walk-in guest, create a generic reservation block and later convert this to their customer information.  Add the referrer to the reservation too!  Any mailing list sign up cards should also include a referral question. Referral reporting is automatically reflecting customers with a reservation and a sale on the same day. As long as the referral contact is added to the reservation, reporting will be intuitive and easy.

4.)  Create target customer groups for each customer type in your referral network.

And build simple, personal emails campaigns to send out each week with availability and upcoming events or promotions.  And don't forget to send occasional invitations to your network too!  There's no better recommendation than a first-hand experience. 

5.)  Record all communications and personal visits.  

Each time you call or visit a referral network contact, make a note in their customer record, creating a log of your efforts and relationship building.  

Interested to learn more best practices in eCellar?  Want some help creating referral tracking tools to improve your business relationships?  Send me an email:

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