The rigorous education and extensive knowledge required of Sommeliers offers businesses more than just a wine-connoisseur. These professionals are expected to understand every imbibe option on the menu and lead service from extensive staff training to inventory and pricing. All of these factors contribute to one thing – the bottom line – and with a solid bottom line comes the top three reasons why Sommeliers are good for business.
Food drives people but beverages keep you in business: Beverages make up 20-40 percent of a restaurant’s revenue because of their large profit margin and the low labor costs compared to food preparation. The industry standard mark-up for wine is 300-400 percent and restaurants rely on this to offset fluctuating costs of food, labor, venue and utilities. With a Sommelier on staff to keep the wine list alive and the drinks pouring, a business owner can sleep easy.
Beyond the wine list: A Sommelier’s role is much more than recommending wine – they are also expected to specialize in beer, sake, cider, spirits and even coffee and tea, plus they need to select these beverages at a variety of price points based on the target clientele, type of cuisine and location. Sommeliers are also tasked with educating and training servers about beverage offerings on a weekly basis.
For example, in Kendall College’s Le Vin Gourmand (LVG) Sommelier certification class, Beverage Management students are instructed to create and train servers to ask a list of questions, or a “script,” targeted towards giving consumers the right beverage recommendations based on preference and price range.
Loyalty Pays Off: Through the trust of a Sommelier’s knowledge, customers tend to feel comfortable in their choices and spending. Sommeliers heighten the overall dining experience and contribute to an increase in customer loyalty, which plays a huge role in profitability with repeat customers making up 51 percent of total sales at fine-dining restaurants (restaurant.org).
Some would say the role of the Sommelier is changing, as it has become more inclusive of all libations offered within a restaurant’s beverage program. This evolving role presents an opportunity for businesses to increase their competitive advantage and gain market-share in the crowded Restaurant Industry. With an increased interest in the Beverage Management concentration and our Le Vin Gourmand LVG sommelier certifications, Kendall expects a strong future for those with the skill-set of a Sommelier and would advise businesses to look into the benefits as well.
John Laloganes, M.Ed, Sommelier III, is Assistant Professor of Hospitality Management Kendall College