Cider Corner: Best Tips to Help Educate New Tasting Room Employees

As your cidery grows and your role as an owner and/or cidermaker adapts to a more linear daily work routine and the addition of new staff members means expounding the same passion and knowledge onto them so that they can convey those feelings to consumers, new and old to your cidery’s brand.

The education that is given to these team members to help immerse them in your cidery’s culture and can be helpful to develop your brand.

The tasting room team members of Urban Tree will spend their initial training days with co-owner cidermaker Jackie Annise to learn all about the process of cider making.

“They go through extensive tasting and education of all of our manufactured ciders until they can perfectly describe them, make recommendations based on customers’ preferences, and answer questions our customers may have,” Annise said. “They are many times given homework to memorize for their next shift.”

New employees may spend the next 3-4 shifts observing and learning proper customer communication.

“All of this comprehensive coaching and guidance assists our new team members in providing an experience that the customer will remember and help them in identifying our brand when in the grocery or package store and local restaurant and bar,” she said about the Atlanta cidery.

​Lincoln, Nebraska’s Saro Cider​ feels that a tasting room member should have a basic understanding of the production that goes into making cider is the way to go toward building a quality education piece.

“It creates something to talk about with customers,” said James West, Tasting Room Manager for Saro. “In a tasting room, people want to ask all kinds of questions. Being able to know what everything is made from start to finish gives the best education.”

Once ​High Limb Cider finds​ candidates that ​they are excited about ​Jarrod Carter, the cidery’s Director of Operations, immerses ​those newbies in the brand.

​”​We love anyone willing to cross-train, educate themselves or live outside the normal server/bartender role​,” Carter said​. ​

One of High Limb’s favorite team members is Chuck, who ​Carter said they ​lovingly nicknamed​ ​the “Brock Holt”​ (a former player on the Boston Red Sox … High Limb is located south of Boston)​ or utility guy​ of the group​.

​”​He is not going to make the all-star team just yet, but we can throw him in at any position and his attitude and work ethic are going to make him successful no matter where we stick him​,” Carter said. ​”​He can pour and​ describe a cider for you one minute and jump on the canning line the next. I don’t think I have ever been asked “What can I do next?” so many times in my entire career.

​”​People like that are invaluable, we do not have to worry about constantly training him and having meetings to educate him because he is living the process from start to finish.​”

This ​mentality ​also applies to educating ​employees on the product itself.

​”​For our Pumpkin Spice cider, we are literally seasoning and roasting the gourds ourselves and tasting it​,” Carter explained​. ​”The smells and the flavors of the ingredients are in our staff’s senses because they handle, sample, and love everything we put into our products. At that point, we do not have to train them traditionally because it’s an experience or memory that is relayed to our guests with love.

​”​It’s not a sell sheet or printup taped to the side of the refrigerator it’s something they wear with pride.​”​

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