WineStyles Customers So Impressed with Franchise, They Decided to Become Franchisees
When one Iowa couple was looking for the perfect franchise to join, they didn’t need to hire a broker because they were already fans of the WineStyles concept long before they joined the company.
Allan and Gina Graham bought their franchise in 2009 and opened their first store in Johnston, Iowa in January 2010. The husband-and-wife team were longtime Wine Club members of the WineStyles location in West Des Moines and loved the concept. They loved it so much, in fact, that they were eager to see it expand in Iowa.
In addition to running their own business, the Grahams serve as area developers for the concept and support other WineStyles Tasting Station franchisees looking to expand in territories across Iowa and Illinois.
Allan came to WineStyles Tasting Station with more than 25 years of corporate IT experience. In 2012, he decided to leave the corporate world and begin working full-time in the couple’s store. Gina has an accounting background and still works with a financial services company, in addition to her responsibilities as a franchise owner and area developer.
The couple always had an interest in opening a business, Allan said, and WineStyles Tasting Station provided that opportunity for them.
What also appealed to Allan about the concept was wine and its tie to agriculture, having grown up on a farm, he viewed the concept as a way to connect to his agricultural upbringing.
After the couple signed their franchise agreement, they worked closely with a local real estate agent, their regional area developer at the time, and the corporate team to find the best site for their location, and design the buildout of their store.
The couple also receives assistance from the WineStyles Tasting Station corporate team with in-store marketing, as well as choosing and promoting products for their various Monthly Club selections. Allan said the company has a comprehensive training program and gives its franchisees the necessary tools to successfully execute monthly educational classes, winery tastings and other in-store events.
WineStyles Tasting Station also offers its franchisees real estate site selection support, in-house marketing, advertising, PR and social media experts and online asset management tools, in addition to access to customizable, system-wide marketing materials.
A field support team is assigned to each franchisee to assist with business start-up and growth while corporate and on-site training programs are designed to create a standardized operating system across the brand. Customized management software and financial administration tools top off the ongoing support the franchise provides to its franchisees.
The right team
Now that the couple’s store is a bona fide success, they’ve been able to enjoy a good work-life balance. Gina attributes this in large part to the people they’ve hired.
“We have built a strong team to help run the store and support us,” she said. “We’re still very hands-on, especially when it comes to coordinating and executing in-store events.”
For those thinking about joining the WineStyles Tasting Station team, Allan said it’s worth it because the company offers its franchisees ongoing support with the ability to maintain an entrepreneurial spirit that prompts many people to start their own business.
In their role as area developers for the franchise, the couple is looking forward to WineStyles Tasting Station opening more stores in Iowa and Illinois.
In addition to these two states, the franchise is currently seeking expansion in targeted regions of Colorado, Florida, Nebraska, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
WineStyles Tasting Station owners Andrea and Bryan McGinness say this strategic approach to expansion is because logistically, they want to be able to easily access their franchisees and expand further in areas where they already have area developers in place. Area developers, like Allan and Gina, act as mentors to new franchisees, in addition to selling territories.
“We’re really looking at quality versus quantity,” Bryan said. “Slow and steady wins the race is our mantra here. We’re not looking to open a hundred stores a year, we’re looking at a slow, steady open rate.”
The WineStyles way
WineStyles doesn’t just offer wine for customers. The concept is a retail store and wine bar hybrid that also serves up craft beer and small plates with a one-of-a-kind, clubhouse experience. This unique experience is offered in a store with an ambiance that is reminiscent of an Old World wine cellar.
“Wine can be an intimidating buying experience when you go into a grocery store or a very large big box store,” Bryan said. “We try to demystify that whole wine buying experience by setting our stores up by style.”
Each WineStyles Tasting Station offers three different styles of white and three different styles of red. They also group their craft beer together by styles and offer recommendations for pairing the different wines and beers with other gourmet foods sold in the stores.
On top of that, WineStyles Tasting Station aims to keep the wine buying experience as affordable as possible for people. The majority of wines in the store retail for under $30.
With dedicated ownership and valuable mentors like Allan and Gina, WineStyles Tasting Station is turning more fans of the concept into franchisees to continue its strategic expansion.