Customers can tell the difference when they enter one of Sigel’s Beverages’ 10 locations, all of which have been renovated in recent years. “I think our customers have identified us as a place of preference to shop because of the things we offer, the way we keep up our stores, how we present our merchandise and the way we sponsor events to expose our products,” says owner Tony Bandiera, who purchased the company in 1995. Rector and Bandiera oversee the company’s marketing and business development and COO Al Miller oversees technology, finance and operation. The three form the decision-making core of the company. Sigel’s Beverages’ origins date back to 1905.
Sigel’s locations are designed to have a comfortable, elegant atmosphere with up-to-date lighting systems. Stores also feature informational displays including video loops highlighting products. Aisles are laid out to be attractive and convenient to shoppers. “We want any of our customers to have a good visual idea of where items in our stores are located without needing to ask,” Bandiera says. “We’ve made our stores as customer-friendly as you can get.”
Store aisles are a minimum of 6 feet wide and shelves are no higher than 5.5 feet. Items are shelved not only by type and brand, but also with appearance in mind. “This gives our customers a wider range of sight; we try to create a comfortable environment with a lot of room and a lot of eye-catching environments,” Rector says.
Sigel’s Beverages prides itself on carrying a vast selection of hard-to-find, hand-crafted spirits. This includes more than 225 single-malt scotches, single-barrel bourbons, rare wines and cognacs, imported brandies and vodkas and microbrews.
“Our selection is very wide, and we try to carry unique things in addition to the products you’d expect to find in stores like ours,” Rector says. “We’re especially involved in building a unique and varied wine selection and consider ourselves the go-to base for better wine in the city. We’ve spent time going to wineries around the world to find discoveries to bring back. Everyone sells Jim Beam, Jack Daniels and Grey Goose – these other things are more difficult to find and add to the experience of shopping here.”
Sigel’s Beverages also diversifies its offerings. “Spirits, wine and ales are the crux of our business, but a few of our stores offer cheese and products associated with the business we’re in, such as glassware,” he says.
The company gathers input on the types of products to sell through communication with customers, as well as through sales data. Suggested orders are generated on a daily basis based on sales, but those are scrutinized on a store level before they reach a supplier, Rector says.
‘A Constant Dialogue’
Sigel’s Beverages reaches out to customers through both traditional and contemporary means, as it maintains both e-mail and direct mail customer databases.
“We’re heavily involved in dealing directly with our customers through some form of electronic communication on a near-daily basis,” Rector says, adding that this communication includes bulletins and promotions. “There’s a constant dialogue. The key to our business for the last five years has been finding ways to get the message out to the public electronically in addition to using print media.”
Customers are also reached through special events. “Part of the customer experience is knowing what’s going on in our stores in a first-hand way,” he notes. “Tasting events and store appearances by master distillers or winemakers happen continually in our chain.”
Sigel’s Beverages’ selection, events and stores are critical parts of its overall experience, but there’s one aspect of its operation that ultimately determines its success.
“There’s nothing worse than to have a bad personal experience as a consumer shopping or eating out – once you have a bad experience somewhere, you never go back,” Bandiera says. “It’s important that all our employees who interface with customers have the same positive attitude, pay 100 percent attention to the customer and follow through on their requests.”
The company offers procedure and product training to all employees and encourages input and feedback.
“Everyone here knows that if they need to talk to me they can just knock on the door or approach me as I’m on the floor of the store or in the warehouse,” he adds. “There’s a level of comfort people here have with management – if I walk through the door people don’t feel they have to stop talking.”
This open-door, hands-on approach pays off in employee satisfaction, as the company has dozens of employees who have been there 10 years or more. “For us, it’s all about teamwork,” Bandiera says. “Everybody plays a role and is part of our success – there’s no such thing as an insignificant job here.”