Pushing your business to a point where it can stand out in its own sector is downright hard, but it’s possible with persistence and outside-the-box thinking.
Suzi Devine, having held demanding Senior roles in Tier 1 organisations for years, did what many of us do on a Friday evening after a hard week’s work: visit a liquor store for a nice bottle of wine.
As many entrepreneurs would recognise, Suzi’s drive to business came from finding a gap in the industry. In her case, it was the wine industry.
“I started recognising that big chains were saturating the marketplace with generic labels and I couldn’t find the right wine for me,” Suzi tells Dynamic Business.
“All the bottles looked the same. I was overwhelmed by rows and rows of labels without clarity or understanding as to what I was buying – and when you have had a hard week at work, are you’re tired and want to get home and relax, you don’t want to make a mistake in your wine selection.”
With a passion for wine and a handle for business, Suzi formulated a plan to not only make a wine label that stood apart from the rebranded labels owned by chains themselves, but that carried wine sourced directly from family-owned producers. Winephoria became that brand.
Stocking boutique Australian wines, Suzi says she travels and meets winemakers face-to-face.
“They are not suppliers, they are our preferred partners. Usually they are 3rd or 4th generation custodians of their land, take huge pride in their work and struggle through the elements nature throws at them to deliver a product they love. It’s usually without great financial return, but a wonderful investment of love. We take their product to the consumer with the same enthusiasm they have when creating their wares.”
Winephoria drives home products by matching them to their customers. Through its ‘Wine Concierge’ service, customers are able to speak with wine professionals in order to find that bottle that suits their tastes. It’s a personalised system, one that Suzi says “puts the consumer first”.
“It is not about a call centre churn-and-burn mentality. We don’t time calls, we don’t sell just anything to get a sale, we have a real conversation, and we offer a 100 per cent money back guarantee. We want the customer to be happy. If this means a 45-minute conversation to nail down the best bottle for the consumer, we’ll do it.”
It’s a business approach that has no doubt helped put Winephoria on the right path. The business has grown from three staff members to seven since June 2014 and Suzi says the days of knocking on doors are coming to an end; producers are calling them now.
One of Winephoria’s most interesting moves, especially for a wine company, has been the creation of an app. As Suzi explains, this is no simple sales app.
“The Winephoria Personality Matchmaker is a tool to empower our customers to understand wine and their preferences. We got the support of renowned Psychologist Dr Tim Sharp to help us develop an app that, by answering a series of lifestyle and preference questions, delivers a user their ‘Wine Personality’.”
This “Wine Personality” helps customers decipher what their wine of choice is. For example, a Bold Spice is a gentleman that prefers strong reds, where as the Fruity Vixen is a woman who prefers fruity white wines.
“It takes the industry jargon and complication out of wine and allows people to understand their preferences, then delivers suggestions around what they like. It makes buying good quality wine fun.”
Suzi says the creation of the app has allowed Winephoria to reach thousands of customers that the Wine Concierge would not have been able to reach alone.
“People are time poor,” Suzi says. “People want answers, to have fun and, of course, have a great customer experience. The app does all of that.”
When asked if she believes many businesses should be embracing “different” ways to tackle growth, such as apps, Suzi thinks back to words of wisdom that she has used on her business path.
“My mum always said, ‘Suzi, don’t throw an event unless it’s going to be a fabulous party. No one wants to be hungry or unhappy at a party.’ “