How would you like to be running a high-end wine production and distribution company about now? Think about it for a minute – there’s bad news and there’s good news. The bad news is that sales at all your “on-site” customers – wineries and restaurants – have plummeted. The good news is that retail wine sales have risen. The challenge, as in every business right now, is how to make the most of an extraordinary situation.

I recently listened to Bill Terlato, the CEO of Terlato Wine Group, talk about the choices he and his leadership team made over the recent months to keep their company healthy. Although his advice was based on his industry, most of it was relevant for leaders across the board. So here’s my summary of Bill’s top ten pearls:

  1. Lay out your strategy and link it to daily expectations.
  2. Establish daily calls with your leadership team. Insist they do the same with their teams. Hold frequent town halls with your whole company. That way everyone hears the same information at the same time.
  3. Focus your resources on where the action is. Pull sales teams out of the markets that are stagnating and into those that are more robust. Utilize people across different functions to do essential tasks they don’t normally do.
  4. Help out your customers with services or products you don’t normally provide. For example, Terlato employees worked nights helping wine merchants restock their shelves.
  5. Get creative about providing virtual experiences for your customers. Give them exposure to high-level people in your organization. 
  6. Anticipate what your customers want before they know they want it. 25% of Terlato’s sales come from new products. Use analytics to help you predict trends. 
  7. Redesign your office space with employee safety as the top priority. Let people visit the office to see what you have done. Get the senior executives back in the office first. Then bring back the rest of the team as soon as possible. The payoff is increased innovation, rapid communication, and improved productivity.
  8. Don’t worry about what you can’t control. Present a calm and focused demeanor. 
  9. Recognize there is a roughly 10-year business cycle. In each decade there are about 3 great years, 4-5 ok years, and 1-2 awful years. When times are good, get prepared for the down times.  
  10. Focus on the future and on long-term trends. This crisis will come to an end.

Words of wisdom for us all.

If you’d like help putting some of these into action at your company, contact us at .

1 Comment


  1. Avatar
    Patrick O'Neill

    Thanks for the great summary message Gail.

    Lots of actionable ideas there we could all use.