HomeSmall Business (SMEs)Wine Or Whine? By Angela Vithoulkas

    Wine Or Whine? By Angela Vithoulkas

    Everybody’s business or work environment is complicated, and so it should be. We are complex beings who strive for some kind of perfection and balance that often eludes us, yet there is a lot of concentrated energy to reach this pinnacle. You may assume that everybody else has the answers and you don’t, but the truth is that answers are overrated.

    I find enormous irony in the fact that a part of my business, a very small part of my business causes me a lot of “whine”. The irony is it’s the wine part of my business.


    While I was licensed to sell alcohol in my café, it was not a big part of what we did. In fact, it probably accounted for only 3% of my beverage sales but it’s the most regulated time-consuming, red-taped part of my business. It needs training, it needs monitoring, it needs knowledge, and it needs a care factor far bigger than its sales can justify. I’m sure all of you have some part of your business or work responsibility that has similarities like this, parallel pains I call them. It’s when one particular product or service has to be part of your business but there are MANY reasons why you wish (but you know you can’t make this wish come true) it wasn’t. Like blowing out the candles on a cake wish.

    Wine is a category of product we class as a maybe – maybe it’s an influencer in the customer decision process, or maybe the seasonal factor will upsell other items or maybe we can grow another part of the business. It’s a lot of trouble and responsibility for very small returns and yet I can’t eliminate it because “maybe” it makes the difference So, I choose to whine about it instead.

    Since it was such a small part of my business, I truthfully resent it. A lot. I know I shouldn’t, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to have this emotion about a product, but I do. Everything from the sales reps, the courses we must do, the surveys, and not to mention the legal strangleholds completely and utterly annoy me.


    The reps in the wine industry are cutthroat. They will do anything to get their foot in the door, including setting you up. I know one rep that brought a group in for lunch, ordered several bottles of wine and then proceeded to the register to tell me how ordinary my list was. I know I will never win any awards for our wine list; it’s not what we do. My customers don’t expect it and frankly, I don’t want to source that kind of stock. It’s expensive and time-consuming. But do I deserve a lecture for it? Is it wrong to know where I could be wasting my resources and then not do so? Apparently, it is, based on the time the rep spent telling me so.

    And the compliance courses – the Responsible Service Of Alcohol Certification or the Licensee Course are more mind-numbing than you can imagine. I took a flask of espresso coffee, two bags of lollies, a chocolate bar, and two cans of soft drinks and I still fell asleep during it. Oh, and when I was awake trying to listen to the lecturer, I wanted to pull my hair out and run screaming from the room. Yep, can’t wait to go back for my re-certification. I would rather have my acrylic nails torn off. Just wanted you to know how boring it was, as a matter of comparison.


    Whining about a part of your business that you know you are stuck with but can’t abolish is a very natural process. It gives you an outlet, a place to channel the negativity we sometimes find we carry and occasionally it gives us something to fix…..when we can’t get our hands on something else the fallback position is the culprit you whine about the most.

    I don’t want to mislead anyone here; I love my wines. I adore red as much as coffee, and when an award-winning sommelier decanted a bottle of champagne in front of me to match a pork belly course I almost fainted – at first from the horror and then from the joy of the taste. Wine is a very big part of my social life on occasion, but it also brings the whine factor into my business. It’s funny how I have this love-hate relationship with one product.

    Do you have a “whine” / “wine” factor in your business? Take a load off and share it.☺

    Angela Vithoulkas
    Angela Vithoulkas
    Angela Vithoulkas is a sme specialist, a proven expert in customer success and founder of SME TV. She is also the content editor of the SME Association of Australia. For more than three decades Angela has forged a successful career in public, business, and corporate life. Vithoulkas's business experience spans more than 3 decades, having bought, sold, and built dozens of businesses and employed hundreds of people. As a leader in customer success, she has helped business owners achieve customer-driven growth by elevating their business practices. Angela believes that customer experience is a journey, not a destination.


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