Every year during this week I fill my wine bag with treats handmade by yours truly for my favorite and/or most supportive Dear Winebuyers and sprinkle my territory with a little holiday cheer. This is the third year I’ve used the winebag to transport said treats, and it still catches my buyers off guard when I walk in the door…
“Um, did we have an appointment today?” They ask, nervously eyeing the winebag. Or some of the less graceful will blurt out something to the effect of, “SERIOUSLY, DON’T EVEN COME IN HERE WITH THAT WINEBAG!”
And then they feel like an ass when I dig out their treasures. I live for this shit. C’mon, man… this ain’t my first rodeo. I’m not putting anything in that bag this week with a cork in it unless you specifically ask me to.
Inevitably, I get comments from the other reps. Monday, this comment came from a SWS salesperson: “You’re making me look bad.” Dude, I make you look bad every single day. It’s one of my raisons d’etre. (Again… LIVE for this.) And then: “I didn’t get any of my accounts anything…”
I’m sure some of these other reps like the SWS guy think it’s a fairly brown-nosed move on my part. But my reasoning makes sense in my eyes. That SWS guy doesn’t HAVE to give his buyers anything. With the exception of a few smaller places with very strong morals, most accounts have to work with Southern for one reason or another. His company makes everything too easy on Winebuyer. In fact, many establishments use EXCLUSIVELY SWS for all of their liquor and winebuying needs. Sure, their wine programs suffer as a result, but they only have to make one phone call each week for their order, and most likely for these guys, a great wine list is not their primary goal. My accounts, on the other hand, certainly don’t have to order from me. It won’t make or break their business if they go without that boutique Sonoma Coast Syrah or that Austrian Sekt that one customer keeps coming back for every week (thank you, loyal customer… if I ever meet you, I owe you a Schnitzel). And although I try to make things as easy and effortless as possible for Winebuyer, I’m a pain in the ass to work with. I carry more than one portfolio, so shipping minimums and discounting is just a nightmare. Take this conversation, as an example:
“I’ll take 1 case of the Pinot Grigio and 2 cases of the Dao. Will that get me best price?”
“Er… um no… you need to order at least 3 cases mix of the Italian stuff for best price and 3 cases solid of the Dao… What about a case of that Vermentino? Or the Barbera you pour by the glass? No? Hmm… The Chianti Riserva? You really liked that one Aglianico from last week… and that Langhe Dolcetto…”
“Hmm… dang. I just don’t have room for all that this week and I’m at the end of my budget. Let’s just keep it at the 1 and 2. I’ll eat the margin.”
“Okay… well in that case, the Italian stuff ships from a separate warehouse and is from a different importer and there’s a $300 minimum order… that Pinot Grigio order brings you to $156…”
…. and it goes on from there. See? A Pain In The Ass. I’m highly aware that any winebuyer who works with me and works with me often is choosing to do so based on not only the quality of my wines, but also the quality of my service. And so, I give thanks. Every other account or so, the buyer suddenly remembers that they need a few cases of something added to the order they phoned in to me earlier that week, but that’s just a bonus.
Happy Holidays, dear Winebuyers. Thank you for all of your support.