Servers in the areas we polled are upbeat and positive about their work. But when it comes to wine knowledge, they also offer important insight an entire industry stands to gain from.
Casual fine dining restaurant servers in BC, mainly around the Metro Vancouver area, rate their knowledge of their wines, on average, 5.96 points out of 10. However, senior staff who have been with the same restaurant for multiple years and hold relatively senior roles, have a relatively high level of confidence. The opposite extreme applies to junior and younger staff who are new to serving.
Servers also believe that mobile technology designed to assist with wine service would be very helpful in the workplace.
Our findings show that:
- The tenure of a service staff member directly affects their knowledge of the restaurant’s wines and their confidence.
- Senior serving staff and those with either a manager or bartender position have significantly higher confidence in their wine knowledge.
- The majority of servers today have very low confidence in their wine knowledge.
- Relatively junior servers need mobile tech as an aid to assist them with wine service.
- Virtually all casual fine dining restaurants in BC and the Metro Vancouver area today do not offer technology to assist junior servers with their wine service.
“Servers are telling us two things. That they don’t really know their wines, and that they can deliver an even better guest experience with technology to help them.” Roger Noujeim, Quini CEO
Wine Server Self Evaluation Shows Large Opportunity Gap for Restaurateurs
The casual fine dining scene in the areas we polled shows a consistent trend of low confidence in wine knowledge among new and junior servers, and non-managers or bartenders. This group rates their wine knowledge 38 percent lower than their senior peers, at an average of 4.95 out of 10.
31 percent of the servers in this group (12 out of 38), rated their knowledge of their wines at 4 out of 10 points, or lower.
Conversely, senior servers, server/managers and bartenders rate their knowledge of their restaurant wines at an average of 7.97 out of 10.
Wine Service Mobile Tech Aid Matters
According to our poll, young and junior wine servers strongly indicate that access to mobile technology to assist them in recommending and upselling wine would be very helpful to them.
This group rates access to such technology at an average of 8.88 points out of 10.
The group’s senior counterparts, managers and bartenders, view such technology tools as less helpful to them personally (avg. 6.74/10). However, they frequently suggest such systems would be very helpful to their new and junior colleagues.
Overall, the combined group of junior and more experienced staff members suggest technology would be helpful for staff to recommend the right wines and upsell, rating this option at an average of 8.17 on the 1 to 10 scale.
Methodology & Recommendations
We conducted a two-question random poll in BC, with most respondents being in the Metro Vancouver area, between June and November 2017. The poll included in-person and telephone-based short interviews, focused on restaurants in the casual fine dining full-service segment.
More than 20 household brand name restaurants were picked at random and mainly concentrated in the Vancouver area, with some locations on the North Shore, in Burnaby, Coquitlam, Surrey and Kelowna also included.
Servers were randomly chosen for the poll. The base included 57 respondents in total, including 38 junior servers and 19 senior servers, server/managers and bartenders, giving us a margin or error of 10.9% on the data, for the combined base.
We asked poll respondents two research questions:
1- With no right or wrong answer, on a scale of 1 to 10, how well do you know your wines?
2- If you had a tablet or smartphone that guides you with two or three quick questions to ask any guest, and hit enter to see the perfect wine to recommend and upsell to them, how helpful would that be for you, on a scale of 1 to 10?
For the combined base averages, the scores from all respondents were added and divided by the total number of participants. To generate the averages for the two server sub-groups, the total of all respondent scores in each sub-group was generated and divided by the number of respondents within that sub-group.
Recommendation: Selecting servers at random, run the same two-question Quini poll in your restaurant(s) to establish your organization’s need for technology to supplement server wine knowledge and training.