Allocation Manipulation is one surefire way to accomplish the sales destruction trifecta; alienating customers, destroying trust, and building future bear traps for yourself.
The power the industry has given allocations is staggering. It is intoxicating to all parties when the phrase “it’s allocated” gets thrown into the mix. These two words magically imply that the wine (or wines) offered have other interested parties. Not unlike “best and final” in real estate, it’s a dynamic that plays on the urges to compete and not miss out.
What’s vital to understand is that Allocation Manipulation can put you in sales jail (the no trust zone, allocation management purgatory, or both…) if you do it. So here are a few guidelines on approach.
An allocation fulfills a promise.
In most cases an allocation implies a yearly reservation. If you offer, you should honor. And you need to keep track…
The most effective allocation offers are truthful.
Be genuine, communicate clearly and do it with good intent. State the facts. This is especially important when the amount of wine you can offer is lower than the previous year.
Most allocation offers look the same.
Come to terms with the fact that there may be no clear and visible difference to most buyers between the genuine offer and the allocation manipulation offer. Time will tell. Treasure the easy sleep you have because you don’t take the manipulative path.
There will most likely never be enough.
For wines that are in high demand, unhappy customers are a certainty. This is not the time to blame the manager, say that someone doesn’t know what they are doing, or hide. If you can find more wine, great. If not, it isn’t the end of the world. Aim for dialogue. Many a great relationship began with an allocation conflict.
Educate whenever you can.
I am still shocked at how much we know as an industry about terroir, winemaking, and culture and yet, how little we know about how the business works.
Allocations from producer to importer do not always translate to allocated wines from distributor to retailer/restaurant. They aren’t the same thing. Also, if a customer only takes allocated items from you, cool. Just know that at some point a tough conversation is coming. It’s better to weave this conversation in sooner rather than later.