What’s your suggestion?

On my mind now

17 December 2010 | 15 Comments

Yesterday I met a woman in a seminar I attended in the city.

She’s a seller of wine, spirits and liquor.

But she has a problem: competition is as stiff as the drink she sells, and at the end the price war just eats up on the margins, leaving very little in the end, if at all, depending on the credit granted to the customer.

In our conversation, I inquired from her if she has any plans. She’s said, she’s in a bit of a limbo for now and would appreciate ideas. She also asked me how much would my idea cost her, to which I replied, ‘oh, lesser than you think’ and we left it as that. I did however promise her that I would be in touch with her after the new year so that we can speak further on her issue.

In the meantime, I would like to invite all BNI members to suggest a plan for her. What can you or your Chapter or a PowerTeam inside your Chapter can do for her to help bring desired results in her business?

May I request that you please post your suggestions here in the Comments section?

The member with the most effective suggested solution for this person, would be privileged to invite her to visit your respective Chapter with the view of possible membership. And yes, you probably guessed it right, this is perky person who is as spicy as some of her fine wines, I reckon.

Let’s get the ball rolling?


Tagged in



15 Responses on “What’s your suggestion?”

  1. Grace Chin says:

    Perhaps she can research what kind of wine is popular, bring in some really good wine. There are still people out there who are willing to pay more for a bottle of good wine.
    She can have wine testing session maybe once a month or when she have new wine arrived. Every time when a customer purchased a wine, she can ask them to leave their contact number so that she can invite them for a wine testing later.

  2. riyazadmin says:

    Excellent thought, Grace.

    Well articulated. Yes, wine tasting sessions are always good. And in this case, we can always refer wine lovers to the wine tasting sessions.

  3. Thomas Cheah says:

    This is a common problem in today’s business, especially one has been in the business for too long, where you stick to the old ways for too long and never realize market might be changing as well. Here are my 2 cents:

    1. The idea is to stand back relook into her market positioning and product strategy, and possibly try to invent new business model.

    2. A good framework that I often like to refer to is the “Blue Ocean Strategy”, where you apply 4 steps to find your new competitive niche to create a new product / service experience to your market.

    3. In the process of finding a niche and offering new experience to your market, you (1) Eliminate those values that are not crucial to the market but industry players often take for granted of its importance; (2) Reduce those values that is not so important to your customer; (3) Focus more on those values that the customers value very much where other industry players neglect; (4) Create and innovate new business values.

    4. To give a concrete example, I will pull the case study from the book.

    The wine industry in the US dominant was growing towards premium wines, i.e. more complexity, better image, more prestigious vineyards, number of medals won at wine festivals. But there is also a latent market where they think wine is too confusing and complex and intimidating, which constitute the large majority of the US population who were not wine drinkers.

    YellowWine try to create a new product position to tap into this market. Their strategy is aiming offering wine experience to the non-wine drinkers, by simplifying the process such as offering only 2 types initially (Chardonnay and Shiraz), fruity, soft on palette, sweet-ish (great for those who had not drunk wine before), same bottle for red and white (low logistics costs), and simple vibrant packaging (lower case letters/kangaroo).

    5. When reflecting to the Blue Ocean framework, they

    Eliminated: Oenological terminology and distinctions, Aging qualities, Above the line marketing

    Reduced: Wine complexity, Wine range, Vineyard prestige

    Raised: Price versus Budget Wines, Simplicity of retail store environment, Enthusiasm of Sales People

    Innovated: Easy drinking, Ease of selection, Sense of fun and adventure

    6. Among the 4 key elements to carve a niche, innovation is the most challenging, as it requires a lot of out of the box thinking. But a simple way is try to think of using technology as part of your business strategy, not just a tool. For example, Amazon.com business model is purely based on e-commerce and efficient supply chain management, that gives them a perfect competitive advantage over the traditional bookstore in terms costs, as they don’t need to keep stocks of books and paying ongoing cost for warehousing, etc.

    I really love to share more… perhaps I will write an article on my blog on this. :)

  4. riyazadmin says:

    Excellent thought, Thomas. Yes it seems that a comprehensive strategy is needed.

    Oh, I can only imagine how engaging our wine tasting session is going to be with this lady.

  5. Roy says:

    To add on to the wine tasting sessions, if there’s space in her store or even the sidewalk, she could start a small dine in corner with 2 or 3 tables and a fridge stocked with cheese and cold cuts and serve the cheese and/or cold cuts platter where customers can order bottles of wine and drink at retail prices.

    This will also create a bit of a buzz and attract customers into the store.

  6. Thomas Cheah says:

    Not to criticize any inputs, but IMHO, wine tasting is merely like a short term marketing strategy to boost the sales, but it does not actually ensure long term sustainability of the business. I still believe the best way is to innovate new business model to get out from the head-to-head competition.

  7. PEGGY CHO NG says:

    I don’t have much product knowledge in this case but perhaps can tie her with our Suria Chapter member
    DJ Lee who is a wine and liquor wholesaler! May be they can share and work together.

  8. riyazadmin says:

    Good suggestion, Roy.

    Peggy, she’s also a wholesaler, so she’s a competitor to DJ, only now she’d need an edge over her competition.

  9. Wong Chee Meng says:

    I recently received an email of which the following is a link to the website: http://www.wavemailengine.com/uploads/freeshopconcept/freeshopconcept.html

    I did not contact them but I believe this establishment is into profit sharing, providing the funds upfront. No harm checking them out.

    Joining BNI may help her in the long run but certainly will not bring her the desired result in a short period.

    To echo what Thomas wrote, I look at what our Supreme Chapter members can offer. We have Hayati, Miin Wei and Ronald who are most apt to look into her current predicament. Miin Wei can focus on giving prominence to her shop and Hayati can suggest improvement into her current deco to make it comfortable for customers while Ronald can improve her business modus operandi. As in a Chinese saying “if small fortune does not go out, big fortune will not come in”.

  10. Hayaaty says:

    She needs to differentiate between sales and marketing. It is important to study the market. In her line, customer service is the key factor. You may be carrying the best wine in the market but, if your customer service, public relations, promotional activities effort is dull, this is where competition becomes stiff and client just find excuses to turn you down with small petty issues. Despite the price war, good customer relations can just overrule the minor things like price war. When customer satisfactory is fulfilled, word of mouth can spread quickly and the products will sell itself.

  11. She can join our Alliance Chapter to tie with Angline Tan as a Power Team, our florist. Today, she wrapped an X’mas present for Ricky Yip using wine and she is specially selling at RM50.00 to all BNI members. You may not need to know how much the cost of the wine but together with Angeline Tan’s effort, its become a valuable item.
    Nowadays, business is all about the values of it. The value include your customer service, prompt delivery, meets customer budget, your attitude to customer & etc. Think that you are selling a valued item not a product, i believe customer would like to pay you more even though he/she knew you are a bit more expensive than others. All because they like your service and they are buying not only your product but your service too!

  12. Ian Tan says:

    one quick idea is to find out who is buying wine on regularly basis; if it is an individual who appreciates wine, then improve your customer service to these loyal customers – send them gifts on their birthdays, invite to the an exclusive wine-tasting session (as mentioned by Grace), make them feel special, then they will come back for more. If your customers are corporates or F&B business owners, start to network with them, as most F&B outlets which serves Western food (e.g.steak, fish, etc) on their menu will want to provide good wine selection too. As such, these F&B outlets will most likely need to find reliable wine wholesalers who can provide great service, good range and competitive pricing. If all else fails, consider tie-up or venturing into the complementary F&B industry which can give you additional revenue streams, if wine industry become too saturated or too competitive.

  13. Jon says:

    To achieve short term gains, I would recommend teaming up with people in the event management industry (someone like Michael Fernandez*). A mid-term plan could encompass using Mac’s* business incentives packages to help boost sales.

    Thereafter, she could just follow any of the above excellent suggestions or get a personal business coach like Jaswinder* who can help create strategies and plans to achieve the desired goals.

    *BNI Ampang members

  14. Strategies are all fine and good but what what is so interesting about all these strategies? Others are using them as well!! What is needed is a very simple, crystalline concept that flows from deep understanding of these 3 key intersecting dimensions:
    1. What you can be the best in the world at (and, equally important, what you cannot be the best in the world at). This discerning standard goes far beyond core competence.
    2. What drives your economic engine. You must have a piercing insight in how to most effectively generate and sustain a robust cash-flow and profitability. So, what is you profit per X going to be??
    3. What are you deeply passionate about. The idea here is not to stimulate passion but to discover what makes you passionate. Once you have discovered that, then, focus on those activities that ignites your passion.

    Right now it is not possible to advice the wholesaler of wine until the tough questions have been out to her. I personally will be happy to help her by giving here a free diagnostic on her business and who knows she might be able to get 4 or 5 ideas to start with.

    Meanwhile retain absolute faith that you can an will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties. AND at the same time confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

  15. riyazadmin says:

    Well said, Jaswinder.

    Oh, didn’t you just love the Jim Collin’s book, Good to Great?

    Yes, finding a niche most likely helps clarify directions.

    I am going to forward all the responses to this lady, and it will surely inspire her to meet all of you.

Leave a Reply