Last week was filled with failed attempts to get the wines customers had ordered so I thought we might catalog some of the many ways things can go wrong. At least four of the following happened here last week.
1. Sometimes, frankly, it's the salesman. He/she either doesn't care, or worse yet, doesn't know how to do their job. For the larger suppliers whose bread and butter is the chain stores and large package stores, the smaller accounts really don't matter that much to the guy on the street.
2. Sometimes the sales person is alright but the company isn't. Maybe the product number that is supposed to match up with the wine you want doesn't do it. Maybe in an effort to keep their inventory tight, the company runs out of what they sell.
3. Sometimes it's the warehouse. Businesses everywhere want to keep payroll low and inevitably you get what you pay for. In the warehouse that sometimes means they can't find the product or worse yet, they can't read the label, or even worse than that, if the warehouse is like a Sam's Club, they don't want to climb to the third tier to get the stuff.
4. Sometimes it's the truck driver. Flat tires happen. Nothing you can do there. But sometimes the driver prioritizes the larger accounts at the expense of the small ones. Sometimes they're on a short company leash and are told to skip the mom and pop store so the large store is ensured of getting its large order.
5. Sometimes it's government. If the wine is imported it's sometimes held up at the port of entry for reasons beyond my pay grade. Local governments rightfully want their share of the tax money this industry generates. If a supplier doesn't want to pay up then the wine isn't delivered.
6. Sometimes it's the Beverage Journal, the trade paper that lists what wines are carried by which wholesaler. The Beverage Journal, which is now online, has always been the butt of jokes for insiders in this business because of its deficiencies. Some things never change.
7. Sometimes it's inter-distribution manipulation, i.e., product trades. An item can be swapped between distributors without notification leaving the retailer/restaurateur without supply. The one who jettisons the brand doesn't want to help the new vendor by telling the customer where it is and the Beverage Journal isn't up to date so the product is just lost for a while. Worse yet, if one player gets mad at another, a product can be pulled from the market for up to five years by law!
Now comes the hard part:
8. Sometimes it's the customer who asks the retailer for the product. They get the name wrong and the retailer can't figure out what it is.
9. Sometimes it's on me. I screw up.