Training for Confidence
Balls Brothers, London
Founded in 1860 as a wine merchant, today, Balls Brothers operates eight central London restaurants and wine bars; proud of their history for over 150 years their ‘Quality First’ motto has been in use since 1875.
Their restaurants and bars reflect their heritage; from their beginnings as a wine merchant through to the current operation there has been a passion for providing high-quality products and experiences at fair prices. Close links with suppliers and frequent visits to vineyards ensure continuity of supply and quality.
Balls Brothers of London has a rich and colourful history in the wine trade. When Matthew Clark took over the supply of their wines in the summer of 2013 the Wine Development Team was tasked with developing their wine sales across all eight of their bars. Training and exciting the staff about wine and Champagne was core to reaching that goal.
Many of their staff were interested in wine, but had no formal qualifications. To address this, Matthew Clark put sixty of their front-line staff through the WSET Level 1 course, which they all passed very comfortably; this gave them real confidence to talk about wine with their customers and make appropriate recommendations. Visits by representatives of wineries that make wines featured on their list have also helped to bring an authenticity and sparkle to conversations between customers and staff.
Training guides which cover basics such as pronunciation, tasting notes, food matches and interesting facts to highlight the wines’ individuality, are now available in each outlet. Overall, the wine culture within Balls Brothers and their staff is where it should be; they are full of enthusiasm about their wine list and wine sales have demonstrably increased. The job, however, is never complete … and in the next few months selected members of their staff will be put forward for the WSET Level 2 course.
‘Putting our staff through the WSET Level 1 course has tangibly raised the confidence of our staff regarding wine.’ reports Richard Pryor, the Operations Manager. ‘This, coupled with specific face-to-face training provided by Matthew Clark has resulted in an increase in the volume of sales and also, more importantly, a real shift upwards in the quality of wine that we sell.’
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