Can you tell me about the offshore markets you're in?
We have worked hard as a winery to produce a global distribution network that reflects our quality statements. Craggy Range has representation in 36 countries, with our largest markets being New Zealand, Australia, the US and the UK. Our ambition to be featured in both the great restaurants and fine wine merchants of the world means all markets remain important to us, regardless of size.
For Craggy Range the best path to the people who enjoy our wines is through partners who are specialists. Our network consists of family businesses who share the same pride in their business as we have in creating the wines.
What factors do you think make for a good distributor?
It is all about caring and wishing to provide the best possible service and portfolio to their customers. Therefore, the three important factors are understanding, alignment and respect. We need them to understand who we are and share the values we have as a family business. This includes ensuring they wish to work with us as much as we desire to work with them. Without this mutual respect and care you can have the best wines in the world without ever reaching the potential within the market.
In the majority of cases we work with family businesses who understand and respect the core values of doing business. A critical consideration for us, depending on the market, is that they specialise in working with restaurants and specialist independent wine merchants. Our preference is very much to work with a partner that has their own national sales team. For Craggy Range it is important to sit alongside recognised and respected global wine brands within their portfolio.
How have you found your distributors?
We believe the best way to find a partner is to approach restaurants and hotels where we wish to be listed. We do this by making contact with sommeliers who are responsible for purchasing the wines for those establishments. They are usually very generous with their time and in some cases they are happy to pass on the direct contacts for those businesses too. It gives us a perfect opportunity to taste our wines with influencers around the world and garner their opinion. If they really like the wines they very often help us secure the right partners so they are able to serve them in their restaurant.
How have you gone about vetting potential distributors?
Once we have identified a shortlist of potential distributors we use a number of different ways to validate their credentials. While we definitely check their credit and payment stability, the best way to validate them is by looking at the other global wine brands in their portfolio. In the majority of cases we will already know a number of the brands they are working with as part of our initial research. People are really happy to help - it's the part of the industry I love.
Alternatively we ask their customers - restaurants and independent wine merchants that list their wines - or local media in the market that will have an insight into their reputation.
What advice would you have for small business owners looking to find good offshore distributors?
Use your own network, but also tap into the New Zealand network, media and, most importantly, customers. Ask questions about who are the right people to be working with in the market. If it is a significant market then visit it in person, or at least pick up the phone and ask those questions directly.
Most of all, trust your instincts - if it seems too good to be true, it likely is.