Monday, February 24, 2020

Culture Club Part 1: What to look for when meeting a potential employer

Determining the culture at a new company can be quite tricky.  When you are interviewing, you are presenting your best self and hoping to get an offer.  How can you figure out what a company's culture is like?  There are a lot of things you can do as an interviewee.  Let's start by looking at how a company and an interviewer interacts with you.

I work with a lot of different companies.  I am often an outsider looking in.  As that outsider, I share a lot of similarities with a job seeker.  For me to place the right person in each job I am recruiting on, I want to learn as much about the culture at each of my clients.  Here are some of my pointers to learn about the culture at a company.

Company Website:  The very first thing I do when interacting with a new client is to review their website.  I look at it like the company's resume.  It should list the important information about the company and highlight the people at the business.  The "About Us" or "Our People" section often will show who is there, and give their backgrounds, job responsibilities, and if I'm lucky, some fun facts.  Now, fun facts can also be wacky, which tells me a bit about the company's perspective on itself and its people.  The website should also tell me about the company's vision and mission, and most likely some history about it.

Parking Lot:  Rolling up to my client's property, I am paying attention to everything, down to the signage, parking lot and cars in the lot.  This is my first view of how the company presents itself physically.  I'm looking for tidiness, good directions for visitors and an attractive view of the vineyards and the hospitality area.  I'm also making sure there are cars in that parking lot.  If a company is supposedly super busy and there are only a few cars in the parking lot, is this company really as bustling as my contact says it is.  And if there are people in the parking lot, how are they acting.  Are they complaining about their long hours?  Are they rushing to get back to work?  Are they engaging with me and asking me if they can assist me in anyway?  These all give me little hints about what the company is like.

Front Door and Reception Area:  Does the company think about the image it is presenting from your first step on the property?  Walking up to a winery, good signage is important.  Often I am meeting my client at the winery offices.  Good signage should get me to the right spot.  Once inside the door, my first impression counts.  Is there a sterile unmanned front desk or is the waiting room well appointed for visitors, inviting with someone there to welcome you?  The vibe you are getting here may tell you something.

Greetings, Introductions and Staff Interactions:  When I meet a new client, I'm paying attention to how they interact with me and others.  Are they professional, poised and engaging with me?  Are they kind and considerate to their coworkers?  Do they value my time and those of others they interact with?  Is the atmosphere light, friendly or quiet and stark?  Are they being secretive, disrepectful or rude to anyone?  Reading this you might think that every potential client I meet is super professional.  Oh no, I can see a lot of telling behavior in these first few minutes and also during my tours of companies.  Pay Attention!

Work Space:  Getting a tour of a winery can involve touring the office, the tasting room, the production area, the vineyard and possibly the kitchen.  Frequently tours include a wine tasting.  During these visits, I'm looking at how every physical area of the company is maintained.  While the tasting room may be beautifully appointed with friendly faces greeting me, I may turn a corner and see broken down office chairs and dirty drains in the production area.  This is a flashing warning light for me.  My instinct is telling me this company is putting money strictly on the tasting experience, and not where it may matter most--employee facilities and quality winemaking practices.

Information Exchange:  During my visits, I'm frequently getting information from my potential client.  This information could include job descriptions, salary ranges, interview plans, pricing and programming and employee benefits.  I look for easily accessible information, free exchange of information and how the information is shared.  Are they making a copy of a copy of a copy of a document and handing it to me?  Are they swiftly sending me the information in an email attachment?  Are they sharing Google Docs with me?  All of this tells me how they run their business and how they share information.  I don't expect every company to have their information quickly found and shared via the most advanced technology.  It simply conveys their communication style and relationship with technology.  It may tell you more, and if you would be a good fit at the company, so pay attention.

Follow Up:  After these meetings, I also look at how my contact follows up with me.  Are they quick to respond.  Do future correspondences have a sense of urgency, good communication style and additional information that is helpful for me.  If I was in a meeting where my potential client said they need someone yesterday, and then they don't return messages and act harried when I'm requesting additional information I think they don't have their act together.  If on the other hand my client quickly sends me additional information, gives me clear outlines of our engagement going forward and follows up on any of my requests quickly, I feel that this is a great client to work with and I get to work on the search.

Look at the Whole Picture:  Looking at these things when I'm going into a meeting, I get a full picture of the company, and it gives me an educated guess on how this company will be to work with.  When you are going into an interview, use a critical eye and note things that are right and wrong.  These points can help you when you are determining if it is a company you want to work at, or not.

Coming Up:  Culture Club Part II:  Digging into a Company's Culture

Saturday, February 22, 2020

WineTalent Classifieds: Hospitality Manager for Long Meadow Ranch in St. Helena, CA

WineTalent is working with our client, Long Meadow Ranch, to find a Hospitality Manager to join the estate winery's hospitality team.  

About the Company:  Long Meadow Ranch is a family-owned agricultural enterprise producing grapes and wine, olives and olive oil, grass-fed beef and lamb, fruits, vegetables, and eggs in the Napa Valley, Anderson Valley and Marin County. The Long Meadow Ranch operations also include an acclaimed farm-to-table restaurant, a general store and wine tasting bar in the historic Logan-Ives House, an outdoor cafe, a farmer's market, a working garden and a variety of unique event spaces all located at Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch
About the Position:  We are seeking a Hospitality Manager to oversee the hospitality experiences at our Mayacamas property. The Hospitality Manager will be primarily responsible for managing the hospitality team ensuring an unforgettable experience to our guests and promoting our wines and wine club. The ideal candidate will be engaging and knowledgeable about Long Meadow Ranch, wine, food and also the Napa Valley. Interacting with guests from diverse backgrounds and experiences, the Hospitality Manager will strive to create a unique and personal experience with each guest.
About the Job Responsibilities:
  • Actively engage in hosting visitors for the majority of working hours by leading winery visits and tastings that are unique and memorable, delivering a customer experience that provides world-class customer service and tells our winery history, mission and philosophy.
  • Ensure positive guest experience in all areas, responding promptly to customer feedback and take action to resolve guest issues.
  • Manage proper execution of daily hospitality procedures, including tasting protocol, point of sale operations, order processing, on-site hospitality inventory control, signing up wine club members, opening and closing, and daily upkeep and maintenance of the tasting areas.
  • Manage all aspects of the reservations platform, including maintenance of customer information records, review and approval of special visit requests, monitor system performance and identify problems.
  • Develop standard operating procedures; determine and implement system improvements as needed.
  • Develop and maintain a work schedule that allows regularly scheduled times at our other hospitality locations.
  • Oversee the recruitment, selection, training, scheduling, counseling and discipline of front of house staff, communicating job expectations and assign accountability to staff for priorities and tasks.
  • Demonstrate leadership and  provide personal support to staff by coaching, guiding and developing staff into a strong sales and service focused team.
  • Train new and existing staff on onsite wine sales including customer interaction regarding the wine club and related activities creating opportunities to present and sell wine and acquire club memberships.
  • Collaborate with the Director of Destination Operations to generate and execute ideas to build traffic, and develop compelling and unique visitor programs and experiences.
  • Develop goals for sales, wine club sign ups and data collection goals; plan properly, generate performance metric reports, monitor on a regular basis, and motivate the team to reach these goals.
  • Meet financial objectives by helping to prepare forecasts and budgets; analyzing variances; initiating corrective actions; developing and implementing strategies to increase average order values. 
  • Manage the weekly scheduling of hourly staff, review and approve time off requests.
  • Review and approve payroll, approve hourly rate and status changes for employees.
  • Plan, coordinate, and execute hospitality events with collaboration with the LMR Events Team.
  • Submit all reports to accounting and management as required, including daily sales, monthly inventory, and monthly performance analysis.
  • Collaborate with the Marketing team to develop effective outreach programs, marketing collateral, and marketing plans to support budgetary goals. 
  • Manage regularly scheduled outreach efforts, maintain updates of the outreach database, measure effectiveness of programming, and make suggestions to improve.
  • Work collaboratively and effectively with other team members at the winery as well as other departments, such as Consumer Sales, Marketing, Facilities, Production, and Private Events.
  • Keep the Director of Destination Operations fully informed of all issues and take prompt corrective action where necessary or suggest alternate courses of action.
  • Ensure that all food safety, food quality standards, workplace safety standards, customer service standards and company policies are met to comply with all Department of Environmental Health food safety regulations.
  • Maintain a facility that is safe, secure and healthy as well as consistently “inspection ready” in all areas including front of house and back of house.
  • Maintain a favorable working relationship with all company employees to foster and promote a cooperative, positive and respectful workplace culture.
About the Requirements:  
  • Bachelor's degree in Marketing, Communications, Hospitality or related experience
  • 2+ year of hospitality experience with strong proven experience in direct-to-consumer wine sales
  • Knowledge of organic and sustainable farming and food production
  • Strong interest in the farm-to-table movement and culinary pursuits
  • Effective communication and sales skills
  • Must be able to work Saturday and Sunday
  • Customer service experience with a genuine desire to provide exceptional service
  • Proven experience in direct-to-consumer wine sales
  • A valid California Driver’s License with a safe driving record
  • Ability to lift and carry up to 50 pounds
  • A pre-employment background and physical is required
About the Benefits:  
  • This is a full-time salaried position.
  • Competitive compensation depending on experience plus medical, dental and vision benefits and 401k
About WineTalent: WineTalent is a wine industry focused recruitment company. We work closely with our clients and our job seekers to find the right fit of talents, experience and work environment. All inquiries will be kept strictly confidential.

WineTalent: The Right People for the Job

If you are interested in this position, apply online here: