Whether you’re a brewpub or a production brewery, educating your tasting room employees is an important part of the customer experience.
Seven-year growth of microbreweries and breweries in the United States.
Educating your tasting room employees has a positive, two-fold effect. Not only does it have an effect on direct interaction with customers, but it can have an impact on your bottom line. As the number of brewery taprooms increases the competition locally can increase. Diversifying yourself from others through you customer experience can mean higher volume of customers, and more repeat customers.
Educating employees can boost craft brewery sales sales in several ways. On one hand, a knowledgeable staff member can encourage people to try new beers based on what they’re currently drinking, which can lead to higher volume sold. Educated employees can also create a positive environment that turns first time customers into regulars and increases the likelihood of positive reviews and recommendations. As “locality” rises in importance, so does your local reputation. One Neilson study from 2015 showed that over half of 21-34 year olds consider “local” as an important factor in their beer purchase. A negative local image of your tasting space could lead to a drop in visitors.
The importance of local beer is clear in buyers in the age range of 21-34.
What you choose to educate your staff on may depend on what responsibilities they hold. Training all levels of your staff to some degree helps encourage their investment in their position or future positions within the tasting room or brewery. That being said, there’s certainly a monetary investment from the business side, so knowing your education options is important.CraftBeer.com’s Beer 101 Course
CraftBeer.com has a Beer 101 course that is completely online, and covers beer styles, the brewing process, the history of beer, beer glassware, tasting techniques, and pairing basics. This is done through a 60-minute webinar and a printable certificate is given if the participant passes at least 75% of a 21 question test. The benefit of this course is that it comes with a certificate, and you ensure that each employee taking it will receive the exact same information.
The Cicerone Program’s Certified Beer Server is level one of four within the program. This test covers the “basics” of beer, including keeping and serving beer, beer styles, beer flavor and evaluation, the brewing process, and pairing with food. There is no set materials that need to be read, but a syllabus is available on their website. This is best for servers, managers, and people who are interested in remaining in the industry, and are willing to study on their own for the exam.
Cost: $69 (discounts on bulk pricing)
The benefit of providing one of these books to your staff as a resource is that it is by far cheaper than the Cicerone exam, however, you do lose the test and certificate element, which can be an asset in talking publicly about server education. Only self-motivated employees will take advantage of a book resource without any incentive or test to prove that they completed the book.
Cost: $16.95 - $19.95
Rather than rely on an electronic Beer 101, it may make sense to gather your employees all at once (or in a few groups) and give your own quarterly education. This ensures that they are being given the same information, and also allows for you to use your own beers as educational samples. If you’ve got the time and resources, it may also make sense to put your tasting room staff in the brewery for a day, so they learn first-hand how the brewing process works. This is a great way to encourage self-motivated employees to further their education, by giving them a starting point to work off of.
Training your tasting room employees not only can have a positive effect on your tasting room sales, but it can also demonstrate to your employees that you care about them, which can lead to dedication from your employees and higher workplace morale. It can also spark an interest that can lead to tasting room employees being able to move within the brewery to production, or sales.
While cost is definitely a factor in whether or not you can implement education programs, there are incremental steps you can take to encourage employees to self-educate by starting them in the right direction.
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