The Merchant23 Blog

What Restaurants Want

Sep 23, 2019 5:00:00 AM / by Cyrus Azari

Close up of human hands reaching each other with fingers

Getting in touch with God can be easier than some of these Restaurants...

The cook didn't show up, the health inspector is on their way, and these !@#$ing vendors are driving me crazy! Not to mention the party at table 10! AHHHH!

Above is the average day in a restaurant. It's chaotic, fast-paced, and you have to deal with the public.

So how are you going to approach them and stand out, so they buy from you? Well, I got 6 tips for you.


Before embarking, I encourage you to be ready to go to market! We have a checklist here for you...


1. Seasonal Offerings

One of the best ways to increase your odds of a restaurant placement is by offering a seasonal wine. Getting close to the summer months? Pitch a lighter white wine or a rose. Winter? Go for the fuller-bodied red. You have to understand what the restaurant's most profitable needs are, and then cater to them. 


Confused on what to promote in a particular season? Check this article out, it goes through each season and the best wine to pair with it. 

2. Cross-Promote With Partners

Work with your partners! Be it an exciting wine by the tap or by the glass program, or custom glassware or coasters, a day at the winery with the staff, these can be avenues to increase your presence and rapport in a location.

If you’re a really savvy businessman, you should also highlight the program in your sales pitch. Showcase how you intend on being a fantastic partner that is going to care about keeping their business.

3. Keep a Check on Depletion Reports

One of the best questions you can ask the restaurant. Ask them how you’re wine is doing, and if it is selling.

Nobody likes being stuck with a product that's not going to sell. If your product is not moving as fast as you anticipated, then work with the restaurant. Lower the wholesale price, offer in-store tastings, do SOMETHING to help your clients out if they are not manifesting success.

An approach like that, while tedious, can pay massive dividends long term as it will forge the bonds of trust.

4. Leverage "Restaurant Proof"

Secret technique: get a more prominent, branded restaurant to take on your product. If you have a placement in Saison (a fancy, 2 Michelin star restaurant in the Bay Area) you should be flexing that with your other accounts.

Think about it:

Why wouldn’t you want my wine, mom and pop restaurant? I’m in friggin Saison! Don’t you want to have that level of sophistication in YOUR restaurant? Who can say no to that? (Of course, don’t come off a cocky, but you get the point. Use your industry credibility, AKA social proof.

5. Build National Accounts

Use the winery office to help create opportunities for your brand. National chains like Capital Grille are best pitched not by going to the brick-and-mortar location, but through office outreach.

These companies don’t operate like small and medium restaurants. You want to start the conversation with their office. Work with clearing distributors to get your product to where it needs to go.

6. Make Sure Wine Experts Know You

This is a little bit harder than the other suggestions we have here, but valuable nonetheless. I would encourage you to invite sommeliers and wine beverage directors from local restaurants to your tasting room and give them a fantastic experience.

Don’t forget their staff either. Holding training programs for your wine is an excellent way to build rapport rapidly.

The wine industry is surprisingly well connected and small. If you can get the right people to get behind your brand, it will pay MASSIVE dividends. So, get to networking with those experts! You do know how to create life long customers, right? 



Topics: sales strategy wine distribution on-premise sales sommeliers

Written by Cyrus Azari

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