SECOND THOUGHTS

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Before entering the wine trade, I worked in a normal job where I was responsible for business planning. I would write a detailed and researched plan, usually eight to 10 pages. All department heads were also required to write a one-page summary, called rather snappily A Plan on a Page, quite possibly because no one would read the longer version. 

In the wine trade, I have got this down to two words. Buy rosé. 

Let’s face it, business planning is a dull subject, so here’s a simple way of looking at things. Christmas is great, New Year is rubbish, so what do we do after that?  

First up, Valentine’s Day. By mid-February, people have had enough of sitting at home watching Downton Abbey re-runs. A pick-me-up is needed. Order rosé. Get one with a nice label, in a clear glass bottle, and place as many as you can in the shop window. If you’ve a good supplier, they might construct a display for you and co-ordinate a tasting for your customers.

In March the days are getting longer and the clocks move forward. Clean up those tables and chairs and, if the sun’s out, place them out front (with all street trading licences checked). Even if it’s still too cold to sit outside, it will draw the eye of passers-by. Order more rosé. 

The first week of April, the cricket season starts, it’s spring and raining. But the clocks have changed and thoughts turn to the summer. If the Valentine’s Day promotion went well, then it’s probably time to order more rosé. Check out the Marlborough Sauvignon prices against your tasting notes from all those January portfolio events. Order the cheapest: let’s face it, they all taste the same. 

By May, you should have over-ordered on the rosé and Sauvignon Blanc, so it’s time to get a few events in the diary, hit Instagram with a series of photos of aforementioned window display, and hope it stops raining. By the middle of the month, we’ll be into a 10-day heatwave. Meanwhile at the Met Office, they are predicting a long hot summer with record temperatures.   

It’s now June and the 10-day heatwave has resulted in all your suppliers running out of rosé. Time to hunt around the back to see if there’s anything left from that over-optimistic February order. Start counting the number of potential new customers, now lost, as they only came in for a bottle of Whispering Angel that used to be in Waitrose. And Aldi have run out of the one that looks a bit similar. Discover 10 cases of Picpoul rosé in plain boxes that were mistaken for Rhône reds left over from Christmas. Re-do the window display.  

Now, you may not be a sports fan, but a key element to a successful business plan is knowing what major sports events are taking place, and more importantly, their dates. I always get caught out by Wimbledon. I know it takes place every year, but not when. And what do people drink during Wimbledon? 

Another event that takes me by surprise is Glastonbury. The whole five days are now on television, and in recent years it has become a trend to stock up on food, wine and beer, then sit at home and watch the whole thing from the comfort of one’s living room. It’s in June, if you were wondering. 

This last section is for those who do not like football. You probably already know this, but football takes place every single day of the year. The season starts in mid-August, and ends, in theory, the following May. Factor in the men’s Euros this year and the women’s Euros next year and you might think football never ends, because it doesn’t. I’ve not mentioned the World Cups, which will be two years after the Euros, unless one is due to take place in a country where it’s too hot for football to be played, in which case it will be slotted in just before Christmas and thus ruin your entire December planning. This happened last year, and is a possibility in 2034 when it will take place in Saudi Arabia. 

The first draft of this column was a long and informative strategy, well researched and designed to help those looking for some guidance as times get tough. But I knew no one would read it. 

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