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Industry icon reflects on importance of customer service and education
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In a time of consolidation and pressures from corporate giants it’s no mean feat for an independent liquor store to build and survive (much less thrive), but this year Armadale Cellars celebrates its 10th birthday having just been named Victoria’s Metro Liquor Store of the Year.
Owned and operated by industry veteran, Phil Hude, Armadale Cellars attracts a particularly wide range of clientele through its doors. Some are drawn by the personal knowledge and charm of the staff, others hear Phil’s the only one to stock some rare Oz gems, yet others came in for a wine education course and just couldn’t imagine going anywhere else again. No doubt, Phil’s quirky and memorable character combined with his knowledge, passion and love of educating others have been the attracting force for so many of his customers over the years.
“Customer service is what it’s all about”, Phil quips. “People come here for our knowledge and our passion. My staff know their clients, know their likes and their dislikes. We taste everything that we sell on our shelves, and when a new wine order arrives it’s not uncommon for Luke or Josh to pick up the phone and ring a customer to let them know”. It’s that kind of personal service that Phil Hude is known for, and no doubt, a large reason why Phil’s stayed the course when so many other small independent wine retailers have slowly closed down over the years as the chains knock off the smaller guys.
At a recent wine tasting of Old World wines, one couple mentions they’ve been buying from Phil since Phil took over Armadale Cellars. Despite now living over an hour away, they quoted Armadale Cellars’ customer service and the staffs understanding of their preferences as their reason for continuing to patron the business. That and that they particularly enjoy coming to Phil’s special events. This particular night the couple enjoys a range of Old World ‘Wines of Distinction’. The evening showcases a wide range of wines with complimenting hors d’oeuvres all for the paltry sum of $20 – which includes the take-home Riedel Stemware.
It’s these kinds of events that Phil has built as the foundation of his business. “I realized how important continuing education is to the consumer. In our 10 years we’ve trained thousands of individuals on reds, whites, sparkling, old world, new world, palate trainers and varietals. You name it and we educate on it”.
With over 25 years in this industry, Phil still feels he’s just at the beginning. “I still have so many ideas that I would like to see come together. More courses, more concepts. Big things for the Australian wine industry. It’s such an interesting business and there is so much more to share with our customers. There’s nothing that I’d rather do than what I’m doing right now”.
With this kind of attitude there’s no doubt you’ll be hearing much more from this leader of the industry over the next 10 years to come.
For more information visit www.armadalecellars.com.au