Welcome all visitors to my site. I’ve decided to start blogging about my experiences starting a new business, failures, bumps in the road and success’s.
Today was an exciting day. I joined the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce three weeks ago and am enjoying membership already. My first guests were a direct referral from the Chamber (Thanks Penny). Today was the ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the grand opening of About Town Wine Experience. What a treat. Great photo opportunity. Five ambassadors from the Chamber took time out of their day to join me celebrating this moment.
However, there are always struggles when starting a new business. Especially for someone like myself that is teaching themselves the process as they go. I am continually struggling to figure out how to market my brand to get my name out to the customers. The Chamber was the first obvious choice. I thought that Google would be a second great choice. I have yet to figure Google out. Of course you can never talk to a customer service person from Google. Send a message or a text to their help center. I still haven’t had a response to a single message or email from Google. This blog is an effort to create more page content. I’ve been told that page content helps boost your listing when people search on Google.
Yelp is another avenue that I am trying. I had no longer finished the online application to be listed with Yelp, when I got a phone call. (What?!, I got to talk to an actual person?) They were so incredibly helpful, walking me thru the entire process. For somebody like me, that was worth more than gold. However, after the fact, I was told by several people that Yelp is the place people go to trash a business instead of giving good ratings. I plan on giving them a month of business, see what the analytics are, and re-evaluate at that point.
My print media has been another learning experience.
First, my logo. I designed what I thought was a great, simple logo that would be eye-catching and informative at the same time. However, the distressed look of the logo didn’t translate well. When digitized it made embroidery of the uniform shirts, and the window decals very difficult.
Second, was using local print and sign companies. The sign company was great and spent quite a while cleaning up the logo to make the decals easier to apply. But the local, “Mom and Pop” printer was a huge mistake. I lost three weeks waiting for business cards and window decals. What I got was poor quality business cards. ( I could have done better with my own printer and paper!) The window decal was lost in the shuffle and I never received it. Thus taking business to the sign company. I reordered and redesigned the business cards with Vista Print. They also were incredible helpful. Well worth the $10 fee for one of their staff graphic artists. 5 days later I received the cards in the mail, as well as rack cards. Perfect! I was so very happy with both the design and the quality of paper and print. I think I may be a customer for life with them.
The ice was broken Sunday the 10th of October as I had my first guests purchase wine tours. I’ve now had two more couples purchase tours as well. It’s a trickle from the faucet, but at least it’s income coming in. I’ll take anything in the face of all the money going out to get this business off the ground.
I’ve been doing wine tours here in the Hill Country of Texas for quite awhile now. Having been with another company during this time. My motivation came when I realized that I was putting in so much effort and I benefited very little. If I was going to put in that kind of effort, why not do it for myself. I also became extremely aware that I was putting in more effort to make the customer happy than any other tour company running in Fredericksburg. I may be “Old School”, but I was raised to believe that the customer was “Job One.” ( A take on Ford’s business model.)
So the dream of owning, and running, my own company came to fruition. My mission statement was to provide and “Unequalled Wine Tour Experience.” My goals were to provide wine tours in and around Fredericksburg and the Texas Hill Country, that would leave the guest with memories that would last.
The question was then; How can I provide that memorable experience to the customer. I began by developing relationships with the best wineries in town. I then customized the tours so that they were not the canned tours other companies provide. As the guide, my job is to cater to all the needs the guests have while in my care. They need a pristinely clean, luxurious, safe vehicle in which to ride in. Every morning the 2021 Toyota Sienna van is cleaned, detailed and sanitized for the guest safety. The guests are picked up at their lodgings, whether its a B&B or hotel, and returned there at the end of the day. When they first get into the van, they are greeted by me and given a gift bag. The bag is an insulated wine bottle tote, with an insulated wine tumble, a pen and notepad. All high quality and items that can be used every day. They all have my logo printed on them and can be easily used in many different environments. (Picnics, hiking, parties, weekend block parties etc.. I believe that if there is something tangible in their hands they feel more comfortable about the purchase of the tour. From the moment they begin the tour my job is to make them as happy as possible and give them the opportunity to create great memories with their fellow guests. I take pictures during the tour at all of the wineries of them and their friends. These photos are then either texted or airdropped to the guest at the end of the tour. (Who doesn’t like pictures of your time with friends.)
I’ll continue this blog as time goes on, relating all the good and the bad of owning your own Wine Tour Company here in Fredericksburg Texas,” The Nappa of the South.” Keep coming back to follow my progress.