Monthly Archives: September 2012

Hiring Process: Not About Who, but About Why?

Although the Selection and Hiring Process may seem time and step-intensive, hiring the right person for the right job is one of the most important responsibilities a company has – one that has far reaching and long lasting effects.  Investing the time at the front-end of the process by selecting the right recruiting firm and carefully and thoughtfully deciding with them what functions the person must perform and the skills necessary to successfully perform those functions, will help you attract, hire and retain your human capital.

A small to mid-size business invests 30%of budget dollars in humans – that is why recruiting and retention matter.  When we think of our people as an investment, it begs the question, what are your expectations for the dollars spent? What do you want to see as a return on that investment?  Before making that next investment, take a moment to determine what you truly need and then make your plan.  Take a sufficient amount of time to outline each step by beginning with a solid recruiting and hiring process.It is important to develop a recruiting process that suits the needs of your company, one in which you are comfortable enough to use routinely.
Often, when an employee leaves, it feels natural to want to replace the person and hire for the same role when, in fact, the situation presents a great opportunity for you to assess your current staff.   What are your teams strengths and skills?  Where are the gaps?
Perhaps the position previously held was sufficient at the time, however now we have a chance to add skills that are more in-line with the company’s needs and vision.
Once you have identified the skills present, you can now define the essential skills and functions needed to fill the opening.  This brings us to the next step, defining the position.
 Capturing the essential functions, experience, knowledge, skills and abilities in a job description will provide a guide for us as we begin the quest toward filling the position.  Job descriptions play a key role to not only define the position initially, it is used to craft job advertisements, to set expectations both during the interview and post-hire, support for daily coaching and, if necessary, as a document for disciplinary actions.In addition, the job description is a terrific place to begin when crafting your interview questions.  Begin with the essential functions.  Take each function and create behavior-based questions designed to get the candidate to describe how/when he/she performed such a function, what tasks were involved, what actions were taken and what were the overall results. Using a standard list of skill-based and behavior-based questions provides an equal assessment field for which you can evaluate candidates.Additional tools are available to assist with the decision-making piece of the equation.  Consider, for a nominal amount of time and money you can incorporate reference checks, assessments and telephone screenings.  These tools, although helpful, do not provide the answer; these tools provide insights and additional information for consideration along with the other critical pieces.

Recruiting best practices includes taking a holistic look at all information available to make the best selection for your company’s needs.

How to address "Your Overqualified"

With downsizing and reorganizations happening more than we would like to admit in the wine industry..everything from sales to production.  Looking for a job has changed. And taking a step laterally or down is becoming more of the norm than the abnormal.. talking to folks I frequently hear this, “They aren’t hiring me because I’m overqualified.” One man e-mailed me about this problem:

“I have a lot of incredible extracurricular professional activities, publishing expertise, project management experience, board leadership skills, etc. I have an MBA, and am a CPA. All of this info is on my  resume because it sets me apart. However, I am concerned that people are viewing me as overqualified for lower-level jobs and eliminating me. Yet, the jobs I am truly qualified for are fairly high up and there are only a handful of openings. Help!”

So what should you do if you’re credentialed with good experience and advanced education, are looking to become re-employed and are even willing to take a lower-level position? Here are a few tips:

Don’t Be Tempted to “Dumb Down!”

This strategy moves your career backward. You typically end up frustrated, not hired or worse — you find a new job you can’t wait to move out of. Most employers today actually want you working at your highest ability level since productivity is key to everyone’s success. They also want to retain you past the many months it takes to train you for the job, so you can begin to make a contribution to the company

Do Some Soul Searching and Savvy Preparation.

Acknowledge that employers are reluctant to hire a person who is overqualified because they think the person is unlikely to be happy, won’t stay long, might want the interviewer’s job or may expect fast promotion. Remember that you can be threatening to the interviewer, especially if you are truly suited for the interviewer’s job! He may think you aren’t seriously interested in doing the job for which you’re being hired — nor do employers want someone who’s burned out or sees the job as an easy paycheck.

Examine why you want the position. “I need a job!” is not a response that will endear you to him. You must use your communication skills to convince him why a demotion is a good option. You must create a reasonable explanation. Try this:

My current position as Regional Sales Manager requires me to cover 14 states, and the job had grown into 15 nights of travel per month. This has become an increasingly difficult sacrifice for my family. I have decided to seek a major accounts-rep position that allows me to focus on my strengths — selling, sustaining top-notch client relationships and up-selling — but also allows me to go home most evenings. This is not an option at my current job. It requires a lot of out-of-town travel to do the job, which I am no longer willing to do. I believe my extensive marketing and sales skills would greatly benefit your organization in a positive way. I see this as a win/win situation for both of us.”

Don’t Show Desperation.

You may feel it, but it will work against your getting hired if you show how frantic you are to get a job. Too often an executive says, “I’ll start at any job just to get my foot in the door.” That won’t work — it’s an outdated strategy. Being willing to take any job often makes the interviewer disqualify you. She needs a competent person to perform the specific job she’s hiring for.

So, you must show not only that you can do it but also that you want to do it. You can offer some advantages, gained from your experience, such as: “My ability to solve problems and train others would be a major plus in the position.” Many employers are slow to hire, yet pay well when they select someone for the position, so patience is essential.

Look Harder for Positions for Which You Are Qualified.

Employers want a good fit and an individual who delivers results. Customize every cover letter you write and tweak your resume to match the opportunity. Be sure to address the major needs required and demonstrate results you’ve achieved in line with the level requested. A former CEO at a smaller company might only be a midlevel executive at a larger organization, so be clear as to how you’re leveraging past experience and leadership to help a potential employer excel.

Networking Is Key to Hearing About and Landing a New Job.

Ask colleagues, friends, former employees, college alumni, and other contacts for referrals to new people who can help you uncover unadvertised positions. An introduction to a senior executive can open new doors and even create a job when no advertised one was available. Department of Labor statistics reveal that 63 percent of all jobs last year were found through contacts, so network, network, NETWORK! and call Benchmark…

Personal Branding Tips

Personal Branding is a critical component of any career. No matter what your occupation, it’s important to create a “stamp” of who you are professionally so others can identify you as a prominent thought leader or trusted expert in your industry. Your skills, personality and values all tie into your personal brand and help others — particularly, employers — know what’s important to you, what you’re good at and what you’re able to give back.

Many professionals and job seekers have crafted excellent personal brands that have helped them to land a job or simply become successful in their chosen field. Although everyone’s personal brand is different, there are a few things that all successful “branders” do to maintain their identities. The most effective personal branders:

  1. Express genuine interest in their profession or industry. Great personal branders know passion is one of the most important aspects to creating a convincing and compelling professional identity. Before you even begin to brand yourself, make sure you’re focusing on something you truly love to do, or risk coming across as insincere.
  2. Know the importance of clarity and consistency. Communicating your personal brand clearly and consistently across all outlets ensures your audience knows exactly how you mark yourself. Great personal branders make this a habit so they can clearly demonstrate what they are and aren’t about.
  3. Know their values. Another key component of an effective personal brand is identifying and communicating your values. Great personal branders have already asked themselves, “What is it that’s truly important to me?” Maybe you value environmentalism, empathy, honesty, innovation, individuality, boldness or volunteering. Those with great brands know their personal values provide the foundation upon which their entire brand can be built.
  4. Identify their audience. Knowing what your audience wants from you is important to maintaining a relevant professional presence. For instance, a professional who’s branded themselves as an expert on the economy might confuse their audience if they suddenly start sending out tweets about pop culture. The best branders identify what their audience wants from them and delivers consistent, timely, and relevant information to meet those expectations.
  5. Position themselves as experts. You can’t create a great personal brand without being dedicated to learning all there is to know about your industry, and then demonstrating that knowledge. You can do this in a number of ways, like keeping a blog or creating and sharing email newsletters. No matter which outlet they choose, the best branders always work to deliver reliable and compelling information to keep their audience engaged.
  6. Keep their online presence up-to-date. Great branders know anyone can be Googling them at any time, and they know the Internet is usually the best resource for anyone who wants to know more about them and their career. Keeping social media profiles, blogs, and websites clean and updated with the latest information is a key way to ensure others can access and understand what you’re all about.
  7. Keep learning. Continuing to learn and grow is crucial to ensure your brand never falls short of expectations. The best personal branders stay on top of learning and developing their skills — and that doesn’t necessarily mean going back to school. Great branders simply seize every opportunity to try new things and advance themselves professionally and personally.

Following these seven habits of effective personal branders can mean the difference between showcasing yourself as a competent and valuable employee versus someone who places no importance on their personal values and professional goals. Take these tips with you as you craft your personal brand, and others will pick up on your commitment to professional success.

Wine Executives Reveal Optimism and Concerns

Napa, Calif.—Each year, the Wine Industry Financial Symposium presents the results of a survey of wine industry executives conducted by Dr. Robert Smiley of the University of California, Davis, Graduate School of Management. Smiley shares the results of the study, completed with graduate research assistant Nicole Pedro, on Tuesday morning. Smiley and Pedro interviewed 24 executives—most of them winery leaders including Joseph Gallo of E. & J. Gallo and Jay Wright of Constellation Brands—but also a few others including Mel Dick of the major distributor Southern Wine & Spirits and William Deutsch of WJ Deutsch & Sons. Fully 85% of the respondents are from the coastal region, with 58% from Napa and Sonoma counties. Interesting quotes from the respondents (given anonymously, of course) comprise much of the presentation, with numerical summaries included for some topics. Survey results Most respondents are observing grape shortages and dealing with them by paying higher prices for grapes, establishing and/or extending grape contracts with growers, sourcing wines or grapes from offshore and/or utilizing a broader appellation. Some are planting (and buying) new vineyards. Most survey respondents say they are observing margin compression. They are attempting to improve margins by increasing wine prices where feasible, reducing operating costs, improving operating efficiencies and emphasizing their relationships with growers. Respondents have varying opinions about whether consumers will return to buying high-priced wines at the levels seen in 2006-07. Many believe consumers will slowly increase purchases of high-priced brands as the economy recovers with an increased focus on quality and authenticity. However, others feel that the previous levels of conspicuous consumption will not return. Many respondents note that consumers have traded down and may have “reset” their wine preferences at lower price points Nevertheless, some respondents note that they already are seeing improvements in sales of high priced brands. None of the survey respondents claim to be experiencing winery labor shortages, but most respondents are observing vineyard labor shortages. In response, they are increasing wages and benefits to attract employees, using labor contractors and increasing the use of mechanization. Hottest issues for the future The executives’ top concerns (in order) include globalization and competition from imports, government regulations (especially of labor and environmental issues), availability of water and distribution and retail consolidation. Respondents also are concerned about taxes, competition for land, climate change, packaging innovation and supply cycles of shortage and surplus. Among the issues Smiley quantified, 87% of the executives predict improving growth and profitability, a decrease from 92% last year. Many (63%) think consumers are looking for values and deals, while 61% believe consumers like to try new things—varieties, tastes, regions and other brands. About half of respondents find consumers looking for affordable luxury, while 42% see less brand loyalty. Only 40% think consumers are using social media to make purchasing decisions, with the highest impact among the cheapest wines. Top varieties The respondents continue to see strong Cabernet Sauvignon sales, followed by Pinot Noir and red blends; surprisingly, red Zinfandel comes next, followed by sweet reds. Merlot and Syrah trail the pack. Likewise, Chardonnay is strongest among whites, followed by fast-rising Muscats, then Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. White Zin is seen as the weakest among white wines. Respondents also believe the strongest growth will be in the $10-$14 and $14-$20 segments, with $3-$7 the slowest growing category. Three-quarters are focusing more on consumer-direct sales, while almost as many are investing in infrastructure, reducing costs of operations and investing in more technology. Two-thirds are increasing grape contracts, while 55% are looking for alternate means of distribution and 34% are buying vineyards. Most don’t find social media very important to their companies. Asked to rate the importance from one to five, they rate Facebook at 2.5, with Twitter and their company blog at 2.27.
Copyright © Wines & Vines

How to Ace Lunch Interviews?

How to ace lunch interviews? You made it through your first interview!  Your second interview is over lunch with your perspective new boss.  It is at a great restaurant near their office and you have been there before.  What do you need to know?  What will the employer look for? And this is the wine industry so??? wine with lunch or not?

The Legend

Henry Ford invited job candidates to lunch with him.  He would observe if the candidate would salt his food before tasting it.  If he did, he would not hire him.  If he tasted the food first, he was a person who evaluated situations before taking action.  Henry Ford believed in testing his candidates and this was it.  Many employers evaluate candidates during lunch interviews for things you never think of.

The Test

Are you ready for your test?  You expect hard questions, but many employers want to see how you act in different situations such as a lunch interview.  A lunch interview means you need to juggle a meal, good manners, answer questions while eating a meal, and still be persuasive.  You still need to be aware of being observed while you answer or ask questions.

What is the test?  You may not know, but employers are looking for certain traits.  It could be character, integrity or certain personality!  You cannot prepare for this part so just be natural.  Would the employer do something to see how you would react?  It is possible.  It is more likely that during the meal, he may describe a scenario and ask for your opinion.  Remember, they want to see how you think.  There is no right or wrong answer or is there?

About five years ago I read about how CEOs evaluate candidates based on how they treat waiters in a restaurant.  Some may call it the unwritten rule of lunch interviews.  Would an employer be above staging something and seeing your reaction?  You may never know if it was staged or not!  Handling mistakes, poor service or an accident provides insight into the candidate.  A person who is nice to the employer and rude to the waiter or to others is not a nice person.

Personal

This an interview and you should dress for it.  You never go wrong with a great suit and good grooming. But again the wine industry as a whole is not corporate. If everyone at the first Interview was in fuzzy vests and jeans …then you can tone it down but never to their level.  Always collared shirt, jacket and khakis for the guys and a nice tailored dress & or slacks for the gals.

Do your research and have questions for the employer.  Bring along your questions, a portfolio of your best work and anything else you think is important.  Manners are important, but you need to juggle that and trying to impress the employer too.  Order something simple so you can eat and answer questions without difficulty.  You want to appear confident and at ease with the situation.

The Interview

Arrive early and wait for the employer.  Allow the employer to lead, wait for him/her to sit, take the napkin and order.  Drinks??? You can keep it nonalcoholic such as ice tea, sparkling water or perhaps even juice, but remember this is the wine industry…follow your potential bosses lead… Ask him/her what they would like then order accordingly.  Know what you will order from the menu before you get there.  It takes the pressure off, if the employer makes a quick selection.  Be polite to the server.  Don’t make a big deal about a mistake.

Remember the employer sees how you handle everything.  Don’t eat too fast, or eat and speak at the same time.  Eating too fast or not at all looks as though you are nervous.  Small bites will keep you ready to answer or ask questions.  Never order dessert unless the employer does.  The interview is not over until you are gone.  He may observe you waiting for your car or how you handle a problem.  You are always being evaluated.

Simple things will prevent you from getting the job.  How do you finish the interview?  You should have questions or sample of your work to demonstrate your interest in the job.  Be conscious of the employer’s time.  Make your points and avoids mistakes,  how you handle things will either help you get the job or keep you from it.    What are you going to do?  When you are finished with your meal fold the napkin and leave it by the plate.

Final Thoughts

Lunch interviews put you on the spot!  Keep in mind that the employer is observing you eating, answering questions and how you deal with problems and people.  You can only prepare so much for this type of interview.  You can practice the questions, work on your manners and even work on your people skills, but you need to act natural.  Most experienced managers or executive see right through someone who is not genuine.  Being genuine and confident is important.

5 ways running a winery differs from a Silicon Valley startup (or doesn't)

Ever wondered how running a Silicon Valley startup differs from starting your own winery? Sarah’s Vineyard owner Tim Slater has experienced both worlds as an engineer and a winemaker. These, he says, are the five differences:
1. Being in a Silicon Valley startup generally means living within a shoestring budget. You earn little or no income while working 12-hour days. It’s a life of late nights and early mornings — and occasionally no separation between the two.
2. You spend months wrestling with borrowed equipment that doesn’t do what you want it to do, and weeks trying to “kludge together” a workable solution from what you’ve got on hand.
3. You have frequent interaction with local officials, who throw every possible roadblock in your path.
4. There is a high probability of failure, and the outcome is dependent on whimsical events completely out of your control.
5. And once you get venture capital, it gets a lot worse.
“Farming,” he says, “is about the same, only a lot dirtier and with a lot less income.”

2012 wine grape harvest predicted to be a bumper crop

Dawn Bardessono Uncategorized September 18, 2012

While the wine grape harvest is still underway and expected to last well into October, early predictions are showing an especially bountiful crop for 2012.

According to Allied Grape Growers, a Fresno-based growers association, the 2012 wine grape crop is expected to reach 3.7 million tons. That amount would tie the second-largest crop ever, and provide some balance after two consecutive years of smaller than usual harvests. 3.7 million tons would be a 10 percent increase over 2011’s harvest, and a significant increase from the some 3.1 million tons harvested in 2010. Allied Grape Growers consider 3.5 million tons an average sized harvest.

After talk of supply shortage in California’s wine industry, the 2012 crop could offer some relief. Wine shipments meanwhile were flat for the first six months of 2012, according to the Gomberg Fredrikson Report. California bulk wine exports meanwhile fell by 13 percent, while bulk wine imports were up a whopping 164 percent.

Look for the final numbers related to shipments and the 2012 crop to be announced at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, which is set for theSacramento Convention Center from Jan. 29 to Jan. 31.

 

 

Read more here: http://blogs.sacbee.com/dining/archives/2012/09/2012-wine-grape.html#storylink=cpy

The bankers’ view of wine

Banks are important to wine companies, as they are to other businesses. How the banks see the industry is important, for it determines how much money they will lend to those companies.

In the past few months, two major bankers to agricultural companies — including wineries — have disclosed their views.

In its 2012 Annual State of the Wine Industry Report, Silicon Valley Bank forecasts long-term steady growth in the fine wine business. It expects 7 percent to 11 percent sales growth in 2012.

Dan Aguilar, senior relationship manager for the wine division, said wine inventories are evolving into a state of shortage that will last for some time domestically. Meanwhile, prices for grapes and bulk juice are increasing as growers finally start to see recovery.

Aguilar does expect increasing plantings to feed the looming grape shortage though imports are taking larger market share in the U.S.

Bottle prices are also increasing, but he doesn’t expect a return to the price level prior to the recession. “It’s increasingly difficulty for third-party marketers that have sold with a culture of discounting,” he said; this includes competing with Internet sources that create a ‘Fifth Column’ sales channel.

He adds that so-called millennials as fine wine consumers are over-valued in their importance today.

An international banker to agricultural companies with strong ties in Napa, Rabobank reports that global wine inventories are tightening as wineries move to fill production shortfalls.

According to Stephen Rannekleiv, executive director of Rabobank’s Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory group, U.S. bulk wine imports showed sharp growth in second quarter of 2012.

The Dutch-owned Rabobank, which bought Napa Community Bank in 2010, estimates global wine inventories are at their lowest point of the past decade. Indications are that the industry has finally moved closer to balance after years of oversupply problems. This tighter inventory arrives as consumer demand continues to grow and production remains constrained.

In the U.S., the wine grape market remains tight, with little domestic bulk wine available. Prices have increased dramatically leading many wineries to sign long-term contracts with growers or buy vineyards and other wineries.

Rabobank reports that the value of U.S. wine exports declined 2 percent last year largely due to the increasing strength of the U.S. dollar.

Imports, however, increased sharply in the first four months of 2012 as wineries sought alternative supplies in the tight bulk wine market. Bulk wine imports more than doubled with the greatest growth coming from Chile, Argentina and Australia.

Fortunately for wineries, this year’s crop looks above average.

Finally, the head of French-owned Bank of the West’s wine division, Adam Beak, notes that consumers are driven by value, and that’s not the same as cost. “A $2 bottle or a $100 bottle can be a good value to a customer.”

Beak says Bank of the West is the second largest ag lender (after Wells Fargo) and works with many wineries, specially on the North Coast.

Beak said that we are recovering slowly from the recession, but he says this downturn has demonstrated one thing clearly: Some wineries have done better than others, and it’s not necessarily due to their price, location or business model. “Well-managed companies are doing well. This is not a situation where a rising tide lifts all boats.”

The leaky ones will still sink.

Wine Industry Financial Symposium

To find out more about what’s happening financially in the wine industry, the 21st annual Wine Industry Financial Symposium is the place to be Sept. 24 and 25, at the Napa Valley Marriott.

Its theme this year is Thinking Positive – A Bright New Day For The Wine Industry.

For details, visit winesymposium.com.

The Business End by Paul Franson

Harvest

HarvestDirector John Beck’s new feature-length documentary follows five family wineries – Foppiano, Robledo, Rafanelli, Harvest Moon and Robert Hunter – along with an amateur home winemaker and a rare all-female picking crew from Mexico, through what many would call “the toughest harvest” in their lifetime.
“Harvest” could care less about vanilla oaky finishes or fruit-forward quaffs. This is a gritty film that picks up viewers and drops them in the vineyards at 2 a.m. to see dark night picks illuminated only by tiny headlamps, 24/7 machine harvesting and the impact of 3 inches of rain on a cluster of grapes.
If you love wine and want to know how the grapes are harvested, you’ll want to see this film!

Change in our Midst

We are seeing enormous change in the wine business. One can continue to expect significant changes in the way wine is marketed and sold, with increased global competition.

In any economic climate, you must be able to find the right people for key positions. Motivated, successful people do not read the want ads, nor do they respond to haphazard telephone sales efforts to recruit them. However, talented and qualified candidates do respond to reasoned approaches from people and organizations that they trust.

For twenty years, Benchmark Consulting has conducted retained search exclusively for the wine community. We have provided the widest possible universe of qualified, motivated candidates in the sales, marketing, general management, financial and technical/production functional areas for our clients.
Our success has been based on simple beliefs and hard work.

Flat Fee Recruiting is based on that belief. With this latest facet we still bring you the Benchmark recruitment process without the hidden fees you often find with typical retained search organizations. One fee..not a percentage. Quality process, qualtiy candidates…cost savings to you. Contact us today before this offer ends at the end of September.