Southern Wine & Spirits

  www.southernwine.com
  www.southernwine.com

Southern Wine & Spirits Reviews

Updated December 15, 2014
Updated December 15, 2014
142 Reviews
2.9
142 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
Southern Wine & Spirits Chairman and CEO Harvey R. Chaplin
Harvey R. Chaplin
69 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • great pay and benefits for where i live in south carolina (in 7 reviews)

  • There is opportunity for advancement even for a woman (in 4 reviews)


Cons
  • Upper management clearly does not care about those working at the entry level (in 13 reviews)

  • There is a noticeable "good ole boy" network in action (in 4 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date
  1.  

    Good family company to work for and very happy here

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Southern Wine & Spirits full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Benefits are outstanding. Employees here are really treated like family. I have been at two large public companies in my career and this is my first family company. After working at SWS for 2 years now, I still feel happy coming to work every day. People treat each other with respect here and you can't beat the products being delivered.

    Cons

    Being a family company, there are some employees that have kept their jobs out of loyalty rather than being the most qualified for the job. Lots of opportunity to upgrade talent here.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Matching of the 401(k) is extremely weak here which is a contributing factor to low participation rate. I would be more invested long term in this company with greater investment match rates and opportunity for growth.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    it is great

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Southern Wine & Spirits

    Pros

    great place to work for.

    Cons

    nothing that I can think of.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    keep it up

  3.  

    Good experience.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Sales in Los Angeles, CA
    Former Employee - Sales in Los Angeles, CA

    I worked at Southern Wine & Spirits (less than an year)

    Pros

    Fun job, different every day

    Cons

    Work life balance isn't really there

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    None

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    Every Division for Themselves.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Sales Consultant in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Sales Consultant in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Southern Wine & Spirits full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    You get to sell great brands and work with some amazing accounts. Exciting supplier sponsored events and more wine and alcohol samples you could ever consume yourself. Flexible hours so you can manage your own time. Opportunities to advance your career outside of SWS through supplier contacts or within the company--a lot of internal promotions. This is a great job for someone who's in their mid-twenties, with functional alcoholism and a trust fund because you will be spending a lot of your own money to "support" your accounts and hit your goals.

    Cons

    There is no structure or strategy for SWS success in WA. Each division is run completely independently it seems with sales consultants pitted against each other to sell their competing brands into the same accounts. Our compensation is primarily commission-based, so we're constantly cannibalizing each other to make sales goals. This creates a lot of friction and mistrust among sales consultants from different divisions not to mention the confusion and frustration this causes our customers. Imagine you have a restaurant and you have to send your product order to 3 different people, (from the same company).....something is bound to go wrong almost every week. Not to mention that one rep from SWS came in yesterday and was pitching New Amsterdam for your well vodka and today a different rep from SWS is coming in to pitch Smirnoff for the well...really?! SWS sells thousands of brands so its understandable that different divisions would specialize in different brands, but it doesn't make sense that there is not SOP or strategy for success for the organization as a whole. I could go on...but the other reviews from WA pretty much covered everything else. The main problem as I see it is there's no SWS leadership that's guiding the ship. We all work for the same company but it doesn't feel that way. Morale is low and turnover is high. My advice is to look elsewhere and keep your bartending gig for now. You'll make more money and have less nonsense to deal with.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    More engagement among the different divisions. Create a SOP for how orders are shared. It shouldn't be up to each individual sales consultant to negotiate this with customers and other reps. You can't keep labeling the individuals who quit as not "having what it takes" when it's almost a monthly occurrence...It's time for SWS management to step up and lead, and re-examine the way we go to market.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6.  

    Sales Consultant

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Sales Consultant in Denver, CO
    Current Employee - Sales Consultant in Denver, CO

    I have been working at Southern Wine & Spirits full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Flexible schedule and usually short days. No cap on commission and there is room for growth.

    Cons

    Don't have holidays off. There is no vacation for the first year. Lots of driving and you are solely responsible for gas and car.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7.  

    Excellent

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Inventory Assistant in Monroe, NJ
    Former Employee - Inventory Assistant in Monroe, NJ

    I worked at Southern Wine & Spirits (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Great structure and great people

    Cons

    Too Far from urban areas

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep It Up!

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8.  

    Good company, ok pay, ok benefits

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Inventory Specialist in Miramar, FL
    Current Employee - Inventory Specialist in Miramar, FL

    I have been working at Southern Wine & Spirits full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Big company with plenty of room for moving up the ranks

    Cons

    Mediocre benefits;OK pay; if manager likes you, you get to move up very easily in the ranks, otherwise you still have a chance of moving up but harder. A lot of favoritism, you don't feel appreciated for going above and beyond.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Show more appreciation to your good employees and reward them better

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  9.  

    I really love my job!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Sales Representative in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Sales Representative in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Southern Wine & Spirits full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Lots of major suppliers, creates sense of community, or at least the try.

    Cons

    too many 'focuses' which creates no focus
    not enough gas allowance

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10. 6 people found this helpful  

    Beautiful Disaster

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - On Premise Sales Consultant in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - On Premise Sales Consultant in Seattle, WA

    I worked at Southern Wine & Spirits full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    If you have a genuine passion for well-crafted wine and spirits, great food from top-tier restaurants, and drinking wine at 8am on a Friday morning, you might just like working here. They provide substantial training and offer decent benefits, as well as paid holidays and a fair amount of vacation (2 weeks per year). You'll have the opportunity to work with some great restaurants, utilizing your monthly expense account to help expand your business by showing your support (lunches, dinners, happy hour, etc). You will also receive a monthly car allowance to help offset gas and vehicle depreciation. Considering the miles you will most likely be driving, this helps. With a summary like that, how could you not be intrigued?

    Cons

    Let me tell you why you should not be intrigued, and move on to another job posting. Lower and middle management are pretty good. Direct superiors are respectful, knowledgeable (well, mostly), and willing to help where they can. Their superiors try their best to provide leadership and act as a positive barrier to upper management, which is where the real cluster #### is. If you've read it once, you'll read it again...Southern is an "Old Boys Club," run by egotistical, power-tripping "suits" who couldn't be further from understanding what's actually happening with your accounts, let alone the market. Whether or not you hit your goals, which they set every month, doesn't matter. If, at the end of each and every month, you sell whatever "emergency" they need sold, because they (as upper management) promised too much to the suppliers (a very common occurrence), you'll be golden. However, the emergencies are often cases of not-so-great wine, placements of some crappy flavored bourbon, or something else that your accounts wont want, and you will have to "buy it in" in order to get them to take it. Meanwhile, you're not making any money on it, as there is usually no incentive attached to selling it, and the time it takes you to make these sales happen continually degrades your opportunity to develop and maintain relationships, as you're always asking for favors. Sound like fun? Let me continue...

    There are CONSTANT out-of-stock issues with every day items. Every day items include wines on glass pour lists, spirits on cocktail menus, and popular, every day brands that people like. The reason this happens is because the main warehouse is too small to house all of the brands that SWS carries, so cases of wine or liquor will literally sit in a container right outside of the warehouse for (sometimes) weeks on end. When you have a customer who uses a particular product consistently, they will not be happy when you tell them they can't have it for a few weeks, especially after you sold it to them. Also, if the product does happen to come in, but your account has already had its delivery for the week (most get one delivery per week), guess who gets to load up 1-15 cases of wine and booze into your car and hand deliver? You guessed it! Be ready to do this 2-3 times per week and have a customary "I'm sorry" speech prepared for your buyers. This is a very large portion of the position.

    The pay structure has been broken up for different markets. SWS has a base plus commission structure. $28K plus 2% commission on sales from the brands in your book. Sounds pretty good if you're selling $1.2 million annually, as well as receiving incentive money from suppliers. However, if you happen to have a territory in the metropolitan area (Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland), be ready to "share" your sales with 2 other reps in your accounts. The Diageo brands (Smirnoff, Tanqueray, Bushmills, etc) have their own sales force within the company who will try to take your business from under your nose. No one really likes them. The rest of the portfolio is divided between you and another rep who mirror each other in all accounts. With stiff competition coming from other distributors, as well as the competition coming from your own coworkers, you're very lucky to be hitting $800k-1 million per year...in a MAJOR MARKET. If you happen to receive a territory outside of that area, you'll still have a Diageo rep in SOME accounts (not nearly as many), but you'll also have the entire rest of the portfolio to sell and make money off of. $1-1.3 million annually is very attainable. If you're dead set on working here, go for full book.

    I could go on, but I will spare them some dignity.

    TL;DR: The downsides outweigh the upsides. Go sell software.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Improve the culture of the company. Give people more incentive to want to do well in their job and market share will improve. Invest more in infrastructure and make sure all management is on the same page with direction.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  11. 2 people found this helpful  

    Great company lacking opportunities for minorities

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Sales Representative in Chicago, IL
    Former Employee - Sales Representative in Chicago, IL

    I worked at Southern Wine & Spirits full-time (more than 8 years)

    Pros

    Good company that provides a challenging environment and rewards accordingly. Health benefits, union and in house educational resources available to all employees.

    Cons

    Its sad to see a company operating in IL with a core accounts in Chicago not reflect the diversity of this great city. Competition has them beat on hiring and retaining minorities. Little to none women in management positions and those who are pull the ladder right up with them. Elitist environment, not a company that welcomes diversity.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Take notes from your suppliers and competition on hiring and retaining employees of diverse backgrounds. Customers and consumers represent a range of different ethnicities . SWS IL should enforce what they advertise. Opportunities for all qualified candidates.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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