Today we're talking with Kirsten Fox from the Culinary Wine Institute in Utah. The wine capital of America! I've known Kirsten for a while now. She's been part of our Email Mastery program, so we've had chance to work with her on some email case studies she’s been creating.
She has a really great business that trains the staff of resorts and hotels, helping their servers become more knowledgeable about wine, so they can pass that knowledge on to diners and ultimately impact the amount of wine sold.
We had a really great conversation and I think you're going to like where it went, because we ended up talking about something that could have a really great impact when we started talking about creating custom metrics.
A metric, a proprietary metric that’s unique to your program, that you can wrap your training around, becomes a proof element of both their need for you, and the impact of working with you.
I am excited for you to hear this episode. This is something that so many of you can leverage.
Want to be a guest on the show? Simply follow the 'Be a Guest' link on the left & I'll be in touch.
Download a free copy of the Breakthrough DNA book all about the 8 Profit Activators we talk about here on More Cheese, Less Whiskers...
Transcript - More Cheese Less Whiskers 081
Dean: Kirsten Fox.
Kristen: Hello, Dean Jackson.
Dean: How are you?
Kristen: I am well, here in Park City as the Sundance Film Festival gets into its second weekend, which is a lot calmer for the locals here.
Dean: Oh, is it?
Kristen: Yeah, it's really fun.
Dean: What a cool thing.
Kristen: Yeah, it is.
Dean: Do you go?
Kristen: I do, actually. I go. I'm a member of one of the little theaters in town, and they're one of the key marquees for the event so we get some tickets associated with that. They have a really fun app system that allows you to sync up with friends and meet them in the waiting list line.
Kristen: Yeah, it's really. They've done a great job.
Dean: How long have you lived in Park City?
Kristen: I've lived here for 24 years.
Dean: Oh, wow, so have you always gone? Sundance was a whole different thing 24 years ago, wasn't it? It's really become-
Kristen: Yeah, you're right. Yeah, you're so right, Dean. I didn't really know about it. I didn't really understand what was going on in town for a while, and I had little tiny children back then so really did everything I could, as many locals do, to avoid it. It's been fun since. Even my youngest daughter, they have special screenings with the filmmakers and directors and things that go into the schools now, and actually they're doing a lot of more outreach into the community. It's been really fun to see that evolution of it here in town.
Dean: Right on. Well, cool. I am very excited today. This is our chance to hack some evil schemes for you. The interesting and different thing is that you and I have had some interactions with you through Email Mastery so I know the back story on what you do and what's been going on. Most of the time when I'm doing this podcast, it's the first time we're meeting, so for the benefit of other people listening, maybe you could share a little bit about who you are, what you do. Then maybe we could build on the stuff we've already been working on. Maybe just set the stage and catch up on where we are right now.
Kristen: Great. Thank you, Dean. I own two different wine education companies. They are directed at different target markets, which is why I have two different companies. One is a local company here in Northern Utah called Fox School of Wine. That is directed at the public. It's fun, playful classes. We do corporate events, that kind of thing, and then I have a company called the Culinary Wine Institute. That company partners with resorts around the country to increase profits from their wine program. I have a three-part system that we use to work with the resort to basically increase the success from that profit center.
Dean: Okay, perfect. The revenue that you bring in for the company is really about the education stuff and not selling wine or not as a wine wholesaler or distributor or anything like that?
Kristen: Correct. Yeah, and what I wanted to talk with you about today, and I'm so fortunate and excited to talk with you, is specifically about Culinary Wine Institute because it's got really more bandwidth to be systemized, to be really retooled. I also went through a ... I started it in 2012, and I was focusing primarily on independent restaurants. That market is a very challenging market to work in, which I had been told, which unfortunately I typically don't listen to advice like that. It's more of a dare then that I can do that, if nobody else can. I did that for four years. I pushed the boulder up the hill and had a few successes, but as I worked with the independent restauranteurs and managers, they just end up being an emergency-focused type of personality. They have to be in that industry.
My system that I've developed, which is a three-part system where we've got online, videos, training, testing, and certification for the servers. Then we have wine list analysis, and then we have actually a customization where we'll do live events or live classes based on the specific resort restaurants. The systemization of this and the tools that I have, reports, that kind of thing weren't attractive or effective with the independent restaurant market for one reason or another.
One of my friends ended up being promoted to a food and beverage director at a very beautiful resort here in Park City called Deer Valley Resort. They're number one in food and beverage, year after year after year in terms of all the ski resorts in the United States. She knows of my program, and she brought me in and said, "We need this. I want it systemized. I want this taken out of the personality-based, whether I have a manager over here who implements something. I have a manager over there who doesn't. I want it to be systemized." With that, they were the first client last year of a resort nature. They have five restaurants.
Then this year, I was able with their success in increasing sales and then as one of the key people under her said, "Setting increased revenue aside, saving the server and the resort embarrassment in front of the guests is primary." With that, with those great testimonials, I was able to then go out and get other area resorts, so this year, right now we have Snowbird, and we have Vail, Park City. They've just purchased this huge resort, two resorts and put them together here in Park City. I have a big golf resort, and then I have a Southern Utah resort. We're starting this process of the resort model.
Dean: I like it.
Kristen: That's where I am right now, so in light of that, I have some information about what I think is going to happen, some information about what has happened, which has been a little more random than I would have liked, and then we can move forward. Still, it's such a small test group here. Almost every one of these resorts has had an individual model because I'll work it for them like, "What do you need? What do you want?" It hasn't gotten into a systemization for resorts yet, aside from the delivery of the education online.
Dean: Right. That's fine. As you're going, you're going to learn what are the things that are universally true across-the-board, as far as resort wine programs go. You'll develop your own contextual program to overlay, just like I have the 8 Profit Activators that are universally present in every business. They manifest differently in all kinds of different businesses, so they'll manifest differently as we discuss them here for your business. The same kind of thing will apply.
Now when you take a context like the 8 Profit Activators, you've got the opportunity to work with a fixed operating system that you can then develop the actual protocols for a specific resort. When you look at it, what's the best thing that you can do for the resort? Like what's the outcome that you end up creating for them? Just to give me a sense of where this fits for what you're doing, are you helping them get more wine sales? Are you helping them operationally? I guess, my interpretation of what you're doing is that you're giving them a context within the during unit of their business but I'd love to hear from you what the outcome would be for them.
Kristen: Okay. Certainly at the bottom line is the bottom line. They want to increase the profitability from that part of their resort. The wine program, it tends to be run slightly separately from other parts of the restaurant because it can be such a high ticket cost and such, so certainly increase wine sales is key. On the same coin, and maybe not the other side of it, but on that same coin is the fact that most food and beverage managers at resorts are working with a population of frontline staff who are not interested at this point in their lives. They tend to be young. Excuse me. There are definitely some very professional servers in resorts, and they are absolutely studied and care about their profession, and they're amazing. They are peak hospitality professionals, but for the most part, the resorts are faced with every year, either once or twice a year getting a team of new employees up and running as quickly and easily as possible-
Dean: Each season, yeah.
Kristen: ... into their jobs. With a restaurant that has a wine list, the job not only incorporates what is the gluten-free option of the salads, and do we have a vegetarian this or whatever as they're describing the food. It obviously is helpful if the servers can talk about the beverage options, which include wine, which is such a huge subject that it's hard to almost distill it into simplicity, but there are some things you can do to make that experience for the servers so they understand what they're doing. I would say the double goal is money on the bottom line increasing profitability from wine sales and then also helping the servers be confident in front of the guests, so that they're effective at selling.
Dean: Yeah, there's the thing. How much can the frontline make an impact on the wine sales? I imagine it would be-
Kristen: It's actually huge. It's a huge impact.
Dean: It's a pretty big number, right?
Kristen: Yeah. A third of the guests sitting down at a table, about a half of the guests will actually intend to drink something, an alcoholic beverage of some kind. About a half of that so then you've got a third of that group that are debating what it is they'll be. Do they understand it well enough, or are they going to just defer back to a Diet Coke? There are some people who are walking in, and they're going to drink a glass of wine no matter what. In that case, the server can actually, based on what they're ordering in terms of the food, they can really impact a person's experience with the food. I would say an experience between let's take a beautiful chocolate chip cookie. It's right there in your hand. You bite into it, and it's just, oh, my gosh. The chocolate, it's amazing. Then picture an ice cold glass of lemonade, and take a big swig of that, and it's horrible. It's just not a good combination.
Dean: Right, yeah.
Kristen: When we can teach the server about suggesting wines that become more of that nice cold glass of milk with that cookie, then they are empowered, and the guests have a better experience. It's really great all around. They can impact it in a huge way, in a huge way.
Dean: Now if you look at this, how much of an impact do you think you could have on somebody? That's a question I always ask people. Knowing what you know now, knowing what you do, putting aside how you actually do it or how much you charge for it currently, what would be the best outcome that you could create for somebody if they would just get out of the way and let you do what you can do?
Kristen: Are you talking about on the macro level, like for the resort, or are you talking about with an individual server?
Dean: You tell me, so on a macro level for a resort that would go all the way down. Like if you look at it as the resort is the umbrella. They've got five different restaurants. They've got 150 servers or whatever that ends up being. How would you look at it in every element that the wine education component could make a difference for them? Yeah.
Kristen: At the resort level, a food and beverage director is looking for an increase in sales with a minimal increase of expense. They are also looking for a guest experience that is remarkable enough that their guests are out chatting about their experience at the resort, so that then they start getting the word of mouth if they don't already have it and also certainly social media. Those kinds of effects on a resort are huge, so we want it to be profitable for them, and we want it to be effectively training their servers in a consistent way.
Then at the restaurant level, you have the manager who has to implement this program. That manager is looking for something that is not just the same old thing that they have to then make their servers do because they're going to hear complaints from the servers. They want to be able to say, "Hey guys. It's not that bad." This is going to be a pleasant surprise, and by the way, maybe there's a competition, or maybe there's a prize over here. They want it to be a really pleasant experience for their servers because they have to manage them.
Then at the server level, I'll tell you exactly because I've interviewed servers in regards to this. I had a server who I called after she'd been through the program. She had worked at this American Grill at this point, for 15 years. She doesn't drink wine, and every time someone would ask her at her table if she could give them a recommendation, she would say, "Let me go find someone to help you," and she would go find someone that drank wine, bring them back over to the table. The person would explain it. This is a horrible feeling to be a server and not be able to help your guests.
She said to me after she went through the online training and testing and certification in that, she had a table of three people the following evening after she had completed the program. The guests asked, "What do you suggest we get? We want a bottle of wine. We've all ordered X, Y, and Z." She said, "I had enough confidence from what I learned that I made a suggestion as to a bottle of wine that would go with everything. They liked it so much," she said, "They ordered a second bottle. They doubled my normal tip at my table." She said, "And that's my water bill." That actually still chokes me up, man.
Dean: Yeah, right. No, I get it.
Kristen: It's so awesome. To take someone who literally has run away from this, to take her into a place where she is confidently referring a wine to people and seeing the positive results of her risk, it's just, and she gets the financial reward then. That's like all three levels there.
Dean: When you look at that, it's really sold on that frontline level. I was thinking about the other thing that it may be, that it may impact is on an event or groups, weddings or whatever functions that they're doing, right?
Dean: That would be a sales function that the wine is already preselected for the function, not on the frontline in the moment.
Kristen: Right. Yes, that's true.
Dean: Let's look. A typical resort situation like this, would they sell more wine to individual diners or to functions, as included as part of a wedding or a conference or banquet?
Kristen: Typically, in the banquet department, they are dealing with conference services managers. Those people are in an office. Yeah, they're not that frontline employee.
Dean: They're not that concerned.
Kristen: Yeah. They're doing, "Okay, what's your price point? Do you want the bronze, silver?"
Dean: "Do you want wine? Do you want the red or the white?"
Kristen: Yeah, bronze, silver, or gold package. "These are the wines that we include in each one of these levels," and it's just done. Now, not to say that it's a better experience for the guest if the server is saying, "Would you like a glass of the Sauvignon Blanc or the Malbec tonight?" I mean, but it typically comes out red or white so that piece of it is a huge moneymaker, but it's not where my training specifically is right now.
Dean: Okay, that's great. I love it. That's what I wanted to do is narrow this down, so literally the biggest impact that you can have is on the frontline because all the wine is being sold at individual tables to individual diners?
Dean: That is being influenced in a number of ways. I mean, you can certainly influence it environmentally, meaning on the tables, on the menu, in that kind of thing, if you were to coordinate with the ... Do most of these, would they have a sommelier, or would they have somebody? Would a chef?
Kristen: Typically, at the resort level, they often, as I'm sure you see at resorts when you're traveling, they'll have a casual grill. Those servers, they won't have a sommelier there. Then they'll have the wood-fired pizza place, and then they'll have the Mexican restaurant, whatever. Often at a resort, there will be either a sommelier at the top restaurant at the resort or there will be a manager that is trained at a higher level or cares about wine, that kind of thing that will carry that top restaurant. Usually below that top restaurant, there aren't sommes on staff working. It's just too expensive to keep them around.
Dean: I got it. If you think about, would there be the possibility to have a consulting sommelier from the top, where at the grill for instance if they're talking about this great wood-fired pizza that is a spicy sausage pizza or something that is paired with this Spanish wine that's not going to be overpowered by the spice or whatever, that's going to enhance it, just like you were saying. It's funny. I had a friend whose uncle is and was for years the main wine guy for the Four Seasons Resorts so Paul used to get to go on these trips to all these vineyards with him as they're tasting and testing wines for the resort, for the whole organization level.
Kristen: Sure, wow.
Dean: It was an interesting thing, but he was sharing the things that he learned, like with steak that has a rub that is a more flavorful steak rub would overpower most red wines, but if you pair it with this ... It was a Spanish wine that was a bold red that was really an enhancement. It was amazing. I see what you're saying with the cookie with the milk compared to lemonade, that it makes a difference. Yeah, so that type of thing, I wonder if-
Kristen: Dean, let me ... Go ahead.
Dean: On that level, like on the casual grill, the secondary restaurants are probably where most of the food is going to be consumed, even more than the fine dining restaurant per se, right?
Dean: If you looked at it, they've got one tippy-top place, but then the others just by volume probably would make up more actual diners.
Dean: That could probably be a situation where they collectively may drink less wine per diner than somebody at the fine dining where it's more expected in the environment that you're going to have wine in a fine dining restaurant.
Kristen: Correct. There will be a higher percentage of beer or hard liquor drinks, those kinds of things, right? Yes?
Dean: Mm-hmm (affirmative), as opposed to at the secondary places, right.
Kristen: My training, it's called ... Right now, I have this level produced, Silver Level 1. It is extremely basic, at the bottom level of literally, how is red wine red and white wine white? What does the word dry mean? These are concepts that are super. I mean, "Dry, it's a drink? What are you talking about, dry?" Then you overlay the word dry on fruity and sweet and all this, so it's a very low level, very basic. Then I have two levels projected when I can get some ... I really wait till there's that tipping point of okay, I've dialed this level in. Now let's move it. Now I can add the next level, so then there will be two other levels. Level 2 will be Gold. Level 3 will be Platinum, and that will be it.
All of this education is under. It is not for a sommelier. This is all completely for a wait staff person who is from the lowest level to maybe intermediate high level, and then you'd be looking at a sommelier after that. We are in that sweet spot between nothing and somme, right there in terms of the level that we'll be training. Tell me what you were talking about, the somme consult at the grill, can you?
Dean: I'm wondering, and here's the thing. If the servers had, but it's not their confidence that they're drawing on to make the recommendation. It's that the somme has consulted with the menu and makes a suggestion that these are three wines that I would recommend with this entrée, so that the servers just know what to say. They don't have to know. I get this idea that if they did have the basic understanding of what makes a dry wine and understanding tannins and maybe just the basic things about what wine is, but it would almost be from memory in a sense.
They have the servers' addition of the menu that if somebody asked, "Well, what wine do you recommend?" "Well, what are having? The sommelier recommends this, this, or this," so there's the three levels. If there's an expensive wine, that this would be one, or this one or this one, that they can give somebody specifics because if you really look at that dynamic, I don't know what the right word is, but the special dynamic if we just isolate in on it between the diner and the server, that the diner doesn't want to look stupid in front of the server or the people that they're with. You know, if you just take it, most people, myself included, know really nothing about wine. I mean, we know just enough to know the basic things, but I wouldn't be able to make any distinctions among varietals or among the different regions or anything like that, but it's almost like there's this soundbite culture around it, that you can sound like you know what you're talking about.
Dean: Like, "Yes, I prefer dry, a dry wine."
Dean: Yeah, so there's a thing about that where you know that's going on. If the server has had any amount of training, there's a really good chance that they know more than 90% or more of the diners that are coming in there anyway.
Kristen: Absolutely, yes.
Dean: When somebody asks, if they just say with confidence, "Oh, you're having the sea bass. Well, this is the popular pairing with that," or just giving somebody options, and they're going to say, "Oh, that sounds good." They're typically less secondarily going to ask about the price, or they're seeing it on the menu, the price per glass or bottle.
Kristen: This is very effective. You're right, yeah. That's very effective.
Dean: Yeah, just giving somebody the confidence to say that if it's just like, and it really is. That's all people are looking for is just that little boost of confidence, right?
Kristen: Absolutely, yes.
Dean: Yeah, and I'm saying on both sides. It's a codependent interaction. It really is, honestly.
Kristen: Yeah, you're right.
Dean: Kirsten, I'm not kidding, right?
Dean: They're looking to the server, and the server just needs to play the role of, I'm an authority. I'm standing. You're sitting. You're looking up at me. I am supposed to know this for you, and if I say with confidence, "Well, this is a popular choice with that or this." Even if I just point to two of them, it's a win.
Kristen: What's interesting is I do this for my clients when we move into the wine list analysis and that. I actually do exactly what you're saying. I take a menu, and we make a red and a white pairing for each of the entrée options and any of the popular salads in that, but that interestingly has been subsequent to the team going through the online training.
In fact, almost like, "Hey, you guys, this is required. I want your team to at least understand tannin, acid, dry, sweet, blah, blah, blah, and then I will work with you on your list, and I will work with you with your menu, and we will customize it. I'll come in and do that, exactly what you're talking about, for your team," but what I'm hearing you say interestingly is the entire educational component of this could be optional and the menu wine list suggestion part that has previously been secondary, actually that could be the primary. Technically, if I walked away, if that is the only thing I'm leaving the team with, "Here's a menu, and here are the wines that I suggest based on your wine list for this," it's enough to make that server confident. Okay, but then I am-
Dean: Even if there were a way, it would be an interesting thing to even talk about. I don't know whether. I've never seen anything like this, but it might be an interesting thing if there were some sort of even an infographic or a graph or something that showed what types of wines go with what in a way, you know?
Kristen: I have one of those for you, Dean. I will send you one.
Dean: Perfect, okay.
Kristen: I will gladly share. It's a system that you can. In fact, if you want you can print it out, and it will fit inside a check holder for you. I do have a pairing system of food and wine that I use. It's a free tool off my website if you want. That's one of the things that I offer, but yeah, there are different systems that are developed with that in mind. Make it easy. Make it systemized, but every menu is different.
Dean: Yeah, so that kind of thing but if that was part of the process in your selection that that is ... I talked about it as like the teacher's edition of the textbook or whatever. The server's edition of the menu includes what the right choices would be for them. That could be a help or even on the front level. If you look at it from even setting the environment, like if it were celebrating some of the wines or highlighting some of the wines or educating even the people about the wines, especially in the more casual grill type things. Nobody wants to go, like this wouldn't fit in a fine dining restaurant where you're creating some educational thing around it, but in a casual grill, it could be an interesting thing tableside or in the menu or in some way that there is some highlighting of or featuring of different wines or how to choose a wine, something where it's educating the diners, as well.
Most people, let's face it. They don't need much encouragement to order wine. If it's written down, and there's something there, they'll, "Oh, that sounds. Oh, let's try this," or even if there was a special wine tasting course or something. I mean a course just like a flight, I guess, paired with appetizers or something. It could be a mini wine tasting course while you're waiting for your meal. Then whatever one they really loved, then can get when the meal arrives. That'd be an interesting concept, but that requires more involvement.
Kristen: Actually, Olive Garden. I don't know if you've eaten at Olive Garden lately, but they do that exact thing. They have the menu. After each entrée, actually for the diner, they have suggested wine pairing.
Dean: Yeah, I'll tell you what. You look at this. Olive Garden that is a major conglomerate, when you look at it. I often use restaurants as the illustration of the during unit, because it's such a clearly defined experience. The during unit of a restaurant is I take it from the moment somebody makes a reservation till they leave the restaurant. That's the entire during unit experience. You go into an Olive Garden, and they have it dialed in on every level. Last time I was in Olive Garden, everything is automated. You pay your bill, you pay and go, swiping there at the table. You play all the video games or the trivia games and stuff in between. They've jam-packed that dining experience. Yeah, I didn't pay attention to the wine situation. We were with a couple of families, so it was more like just a family dining experience, but I seem to remember there was something where they bring a jug or something of wine.
Kristen: They do.
Dean: Yeah, okay, I think by the glass or whatever.
Kristen: Yeah, they bring a wine bottle. Now I'm even in Utah, which is pretty alcohol-
Dean: Yeah, right.
Kristen: They actually bring a bottle of wine in their arm, here. I don't know what they do in other states, but here they bring an unopened bottle of wine. They put it on the table and welcome you and, "What can I get for you, if there's anything besides water?" All it is subliminally putting that wine right in front of you.
Kristen: Yes, but now Dean, you're killing me here because you're basically ... I am trying to get to a systemization. This is part of the challenge in this world that I live in is the systemization of making a suggestion on an entrée. We're talking about in such minute, like the spices in the dish, and depending on what wine is available in that location, it is such an individual. Let me tell you. I've got your productivity. I've got a whole graph. I've made a spreadsheet of your highest use of my time and that, what we're talking about right here, is the worst. It's a one-time shot. It's my work. It's not automated. It's far from what I want, so help me. I'm like, Uh, no! That's a lovely idea, and that would be great service for the client, but I can't do it.
Dean: Yeah, yeah. Okay, so when you look at this, what could you do? It's not based on individual spices but certainly if you had a simplified matrix, spicy, sweet, savory, right? Three basic things, that's pretty easy to categorize, right?
Kristen: Yeah, okay.
Dean: Right, so now you're saying, does that mean, like what would be, and this is where I won't say ignorance but my not understanding, my depth of knowledge is out of the region now, that if there is a sweet dish versus a savory dish versus a spicy dish, what would be in the red family or white or whatever? What would go into, like what are the basic rules of this? What's the equivalent of knowing that you don't pair chocolate chip cookies and lemonade?
Kristen: Right, okay.
Dean: What's the wine equivalent of the milk for the cookie by that flavor profile?
Kristen: That can be systemized to a point. I'm going to give you an example. You know how say chickpeas can be savory?
Dean: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kristen: That's a savory experience in your mouth, but then you also have say a piece of marbled meat that is also savory. We don't need to go into the wine education piece of this, but the savory piece of the chickpea doesn't have any fat in it so it doesn't stay on your palate long. The marbled meat literally covers your taste buds with the fat, so in the chickpea example, if you want a red wine that's going to go with a savory thing, you would take something that's very light red wine. Then the other case, you would take something with a high level of tannins because tannin acts like sandpaper on your tongue. In my videos that I have people going through and getting tested on, this basic information about fat and tannin is included at that lower level basic, so let's just say this same example. Then all you need to know from your team at the restaurant is, "Is this a high fat dish, or is this a low fat dish?" Because now I understand that I look for a-
Dean: That's what I'm saying is getting it to be very simple.
Kristen: Okay, so that's what the videos are. They're literally to a level like that.
Dean: When you look at it that all of this, this is a classic. You're intervening. You're helping out in the during unit of the resort dining experience here. You're truly only dealing with the core portion of that where they're making the wine decision, right?
Kristen: Uh-huh, yeah.
Dean: When I look at the during unit experience, I look at it as a timeline. We've got everything that the client actually experiences. The things that they see and interact with are the above-the-line experience, and everything else that happens below the surface is the below-the-line experience, right?
Kristen: Wait. Which client? The resort or the guest?
Dean: No, I'm talking about the guest.
Kristen: Oh, the guest. Okay, got it.
Dean: Yeah, yeah, where you're focused on everything that you're doing with your client is below the line in the actual guest experience of the resort, right?
Kristen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dean: The thing where the real focus is that whatever training you do, whatever method you use, whatever knowledge you impart to the servers, the frontline servers, because they're the only ones who are going to be interacting with the diner. Even when you look at it that the food and beverage director is not going to have any interaction with the diner. The restaurant managers themselves are going to have limited interaction with the diners, if any. The frontline servers are the ones. Every order for alcohol, every order for wine is going to come through the pen of the server, right?
Kristen: Yes, yeah.
Dean: That's really how it's going to happen so the only thing that matters is this interaction between the server and the diner so any of the training and stuff really needs to be supported by just that communication skill, that confidence skill, the ability, if they know the answer sort of thing. Once you know something about something, like once you get a new piece of knowledge, when that situation comes up again, you feel great because you know the answer.
Kristen: Yes, right.
Dean: Somebody else doesn't, and that raises your status in the herd, in a lot of ways. You get the squirts of dopamine that you feel good because you knew something that they didn't, so much of that is because of understanding that it's a codependent interaction, that you're each bolstering the other's fear and sense of hoping that they don't get discovered. That's why when they bring the wine and they pour the tasting portion for the person. Everybody at the table waits for whoever ordered it to swish it around and look at it and taste it and go, "Oh, yes. This will be fine." Everybody cringes if they say, "Oh, no. That's off," or whatever, you know?
Dean: Everybody is embarrassed. They don't want to send the wine back. You look at that as that's really what it comes down to is what's going to make the impact. That's the reality of it, it seems like.
Kristen: Absolutely. Yeah, that's the absolute reality. Yes.
Dean: When you get that absolute reality and then you can also wrap it in what feels like a more official training for your clients, so that they feel like they're equipping their servers with the knowledge that's going to impact the bottom line, that can make a big difference. How much of a difference have you seen? How do you measure the success? It seems like wine sales is the bottom line of all of it.
Kristen: Yes, right.
Dean: Before training? Before training X? After training X plus what or 2X or 3X or 4? How much of an impact can you make?
Kristen: The resort, Deer Valley, which admittedly I was a little bit worried because they are so already at the top of the food and beverage game in the resort industry, at least in the ski industry. I was worried about them setting a benchmark for me, which in my opinion I was worried about being too low. They came back. One of the restaurants increased sales by 26%, wine sales.
Dean: 26% of wine sales, yeah.
Kristen: Yes. Then another of their restaurants doubled the number of full bottles sold. It took people out of the by-the-glass into full bottles so those were the two. As we've just discussed, the level of assistance that I can provide at the restaurants, those are the two lowest level restaurants at the resort. The other three, I would call into the fine dining category and won the top restaurant in Utah, so literally of the ones that I could make an impact at with this training, one was 26% increase, and the other doubled the number of sales of wine bottles. I felt very good about that, but I don't have now data from these new restaurants yet. I will get that after.
Dean: How much money would that be for them? What was the dollar amount that a 26% improvement would be?
Kristen: They wouldn't disclose that.
Dean: Okay, they just shared the ... Yeah. What would you guess, though, just to get a sense of how much wine a resort like that would sell?
Kristen: Well, we're in Utah so with a big caveat.
Dean: Right, exactly.
Kristen: They are actually, and this is part of the challenge with getting actual numbers is the state of Utah regulates the percentage of alcohol to food sales at a restaurant.
Dean: Oh, I got you.
Kristen: Your liquor license is based on a percentage that then you can't get over or you have to position for a different license. I really can't even begin to tell you what. They're into the millions of dollars. I don't know where in the millions.
Dean: Okay. That's all I was looking for, just the scope.
Kristen: Yeah, this isn't small change. This is millions of dollars, not my increase. Please, I didn't increase their bottom line millions of dollars.
Dean: Maybe you did.
Kristen: I don't think I could do that, but I can tell you that their liquor sales are into the millions. That would be about where I'd say I could confidently talk.
Dean: Okay, there you go. Okay, perfect. Now if you're armed with this sort of knowledge, and I understand that you're starting out in that program, that now becomes your baseline, where you're showing. You need to be able to document and show these as case studies, in a way, right, so that you know?
Kristen: Okay, yeah.
Dean: If you own, if you have a set of metrics that you look at, that you can establish what the metrics are pre-you and what you can show as the metrics post-you, that that becomes your calling card, in a way. How long is your engagement with a resort to do a program like this?
Kristen: At the beginning, when I'm first starting to work with them, I offer them a 30-day jumpstart program, which gets the entire team up and running within 30 days. Then what I do is I give them reports along the way about who is registered, who is completed, blah, blah, blah. Then at the 28th day, I say, "Hey guys. You're getting close to the end. Make sure everybody gets through it. You've got two more days. Then don't worry. We're here for you after this," but I'm not going to talk to you about that till you get the team through. Then I follow up, and they know. At the beginning, I will ask them. I will say, "If you wouldn't mind sharing your percentages of sales from a test month." For example, with Vail, they are finishing their program the 31st of January so I will say to them, "I will be looking for your numbers from February of '17 compared to February of '18 and to see what has happened to the wine sales."
Dean: That's what we're looking for, yeah.
Kristen: That's my only metric right now. I wish I could measure some other metric, but that's the only one I can think of that's somewhat easy for them to find and speak for the effectiveness.
Dean: Yeah. No, you want to make it easy. Right. You want to make it easy. That's the thing. When you take a metric, and I understand why it's important to say February over February, but if you can have a metric reduced down to an index where you can say per 100 diners, that makes a metric easier to impact faster. You could say no matter what time of season, because you're looking at it in a ski resort. January, February are the peak, peak times, right?
Dean: When you look at that, if you're comparing that to October or to April or whatever, you're going to see that doesn't have the same relevance as confining it to an index that is broken down to per 100 tickets.
Kristen: Yeah. That's a great idea because certainly once I prove this model, I'm going to be reaching out quickly to other ski resorts because it's so easy to do that. Then the whole beach, Florida resorts that are ramping up in February for spring break, so then if I'm looking, that's great. The per 100 diners is across-the-board any season.
Dean: That way you can create a proprietary index. This is something that when you're talking that way, you're the only one. You own that number. You're the only one that talks about it. On the real estate side, for instance, I've created a series of metrics that I look at that I'm the only one that talks about these. This program is associated with me, so I have for instance on the real estate side, we calculate something called the listing multiplier index.
That means that every time a real estate agent gets a new listing to sell somebody's house, how many transactions do they turn that opportunity into? Each time they get a listing, they've got five opportunities that go with it. They've got the opportunity to get that listing sold. They've got the opportunity to find the buyer themselves. They've got the opportunity to find the buyer who buys another house. They've got the opportunity to get the next listing in the neighborhood, and they've got the opportunity to get a referral from the seller. There are five transactions that could happen as a result of getting that one listing. Most of them do not focus on anything other than put it in the MLS and hope that somebody brings a buyer for it, right?
Kristen: Yeah, yeah.
Dean: We have them go back over their last 10 listings and we look at how many points out of a possible 50 did they get on their last 10. We look at it that when I present this to them for the first time, typically they're going to be somewhere between 8 and 15 because sometimes out of 10 listings, 2 of them don't sell so they end up maybe they got 8 out of a 50 possible points. Let's say they got 15, where they got all their listings sold, and a couple of them they found another buyer who they worked with to find another house. Then one or two they found the actual buyer for the house themselves, so they got 15 out of 50. That when we divide it by 10 becomes their listing multiplier index. That means that their current system every time they get 10 listings, it's going to turn into 1.5 transactions per listing, right?
Dean: We try and get that number up, so now by focusing on it, by me inventing that metric, talking about the system to reach those other objectives and showing people how to do it, in my world it's not uncommon for people to have a listing multiplier index of 3.5. When I share this with somebody the first time, and I have them do their listing multiplier index, and then they see that the people that work with me have a listing multiplier index of 3.5, they automatically see that that can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of the next year for them, right?
Kristen: Dean. This is brilliant because based on my knowledge and based on my experience with the resort, the experience with the restaurants, experience with the servers, and then my wine education and that, I could develop an assessment tool for a resort that would allow them to, like you're saying, analyze each of their restaurants individually, then themselves as a resort, and then-
Dean: And their servers individually, so imagine if there's a leaderboard for servers that each server has a wine multiplier index or whatever you decide to call it. Sarah, out of 100 diners, has a wine multiple index of X, that she brings this many people or this many bottles or this many ounces or however you would measure it. You don't want to necessarily. You could have different divisions of it for dollar volume or points. You could just have three different point levels, but certainly when you think about what the dollar volume could be would be one, but also then just the unit number so that out of 100 diners, that she has 25 or 50 or whatever, however that number works out.
If you can establish what that number is beforehand, that could be your signature index. That becomes a very easy then presentation to food and beverage directors. "This is what we do. Here's the problem. You've got servers," and whatever it is right now, and you ask them. "What's your umpty-umpth number?" Name the number. When I say to somebody, "What's your listing multiplier index," they'll say, "What's that?" "Oh, okay. Let's take the last 10 listings."
Kristen: I love it.
Dean: Right, so you just say to that, "What's your diner?"
Kristen: "What's your wine multiplier?" Yeah, your server wine multiplier index? What I like about that, as well, is I think that could be something that I could automate online and that would pull in. If I was on Facebook and I saw, "What's your resort team's wine multiplier index," I would be like, "Wait a second." That's candy because it gives me some kind of benchmark, which in this industry is so hard to find comparisons, benchmarks. It's so elusive, and I think I could probably come up with something like that. That's great.
Dean: I think you could. Absolutely, yeah.
Kristen: Yeah. Do you have something somewhere that shows what your listing multiplier ... I love using analogies from other people's examples. Do you have something where I could see what your listing multiplier index is so I could look at it and go four parts, da, da, da, da?
Dean: Yeah, sure. I have a podcast called Listing Agent Lifestyle, and that's at listingagentlifestyle.com, so that's where we talk about that.
Kristen: Okay, awesome. I am not familiar with that because I am not an agent. I have heard your stories on many things. That is so cool.
Dean: That's a big idea, Kirsten.
Kristen: Yeah because, Dean, when I filled out the Profit Activator scorecard on this business, I scored worst in compel your best prospect because everything I've done up to now has been personal relationships, in-person meetings, listening, customizing. Getting that initial, "Will you see me? Can I talk to you? I've got something for you that you would love," is this right there. You know what? If people aren't interested in the metric, they're not going to be a good client of mine.
Dean: No. Food and beverage, but there's the thing where now you get it up there. The food and beverage director is, especially if they've never heard of a metric like that, you know?
Kristen: Yes, yes. Just out of curiosity sake, I'd click on it.
Dean: Of course.
Kristen: Gosh. Oh, that's so awesome. Okay, thank you. I am going to put that into my craw and let in marinate for a while. That's great.
Dean: I love it. I think that's awesome.
Kristen: Thank you so much.
Dean: Yeah. When you start working on that, then with the email campaigns, we can connect in Email Mastery on that, too.
Kristen: Yeah. That Email Mastery program is so helpful. It's so nice to be able to touch base and just touch in, ask a question, go work on something. Wow. Thank you for this opportunity.
Dean: It's been great.
Kristen: I really appreciate it, and I will keep you informed through the Email Mastery program how this works. How fun!
Dean: Awesome. Thanks, Kirsten.
Kristen: Thank you, Dean.
Dean: There we have it. I really enjoyed that. Kirsten has I think a really, really great opportunity with this proprietary metric. Now we just need to figure out a name for it really so that it makes sense to a food and beverage director and all the way down to the servers. Imagine if we could gamify the process of their wine multiplier index or whatever it ends up being. That's what's really going to drive everything is the self-interest of the servers on the front line, if they see that they're making more money and they're having more fun and more confidence in those wine conversations. That's going to make a difference on the bottom line, so I hope you enjoyed that one.
If you'd like to continue the conversation, you can go to morecheeselesswhiskers.com, and you can download a copy of the More Cheese, Less Whiskers book. If you click on the Be A Guest link, you can be a guest on the show, and we can hatch some evil schemes for your business. Kirsten, I mentioned is part of our Email Mastery program, and I've gotten to work with her on a couple of different email case studies that she's been working on. She's gotten tremendous results, so if you would like to be part of our Email Mastery academy and work together with me to create some email case studies for your business, send me an email. Send an email to email@example.com, and put Email Mastery in the subject line. I'll get you all the details for our next case study group, which is coming up very shortly. That's it for this week. Have a great time, and I will talk to you next time.