How Total Wine & More Manages Explosive Growth Without Losing Culture

TapRecruit is helping Total Wine & More present a clear and welcoming picture of the company that attracts candidates of all backgrounds.

Total Wine & More logo.
Founded:1991
Website:totalwine.com

Total Wine & More has doubled its staff in the last six years. Meanwhile, the company routinely brings on thousands of temporary workers every holiday season. But even at that break-neck pace, the company is hiring thoughtfully. By doing so, they can build a diverse and inclusive workforce that mirrors its customer base and the founders’ vision. TapRecruit is helping Vanessa Bernarding, Total Wine & More’s Vice President of Human Resources, and her hiring team present a clear picture of the company in job descriptions that are welcoming to candidates from every background.


More sophisticated recruiting

“At Total Wine & More, we’re on a journey to make sure we’re a diverse and inclusive organization that reflects our customer base,” says Bernarding. “And we want it to show in our job ads.” 

Total Wine & More is a brick-and-mortar and online fine-wine, spirits, and beer retailer with 6,000 employees plus seasonal hires. With high growth and the company’s co-founders stepping back from day-to-day operations, you might expect the company’s mission and culture to falter. But Bernarding and her recruiting team know that it is crucial to hire the right people, so the company can continue to thrive as it has. Increased competition from other retailers for talent means Total Wine & More must be more sophisticated in its recruiting practices.

“We’ve analyzed how we go to market with our jobs and who we bring into the organization,” Bernarding said. “We’ve also tried to make sure the people we bring in feel as much a part of the business as when the owners were here.”


A Total Wine & More-branded experience for everyone

Bernarding and her team understand that job descriptions are marketing pieces. As such, they offer great opportunities to introduce the company to job seekers and start relationships. As long as the content and language are clear. She believes recruiters should communicate with job seekers on a continuing basis, not just when they’re hiring. 

“We want potential hires to talk to us, and keep talking to us, as they wait for the right opportunity or the right fit for the contributions they want to make,” she said. “It’s really about creating relationships and building a brand.”

Even if candidates don’t qualify for certain positions, they may still come away with positive feelings about the company. Recruiters can start building relationships and candidate pools by writing clear, thoughtful job descriptions. 

“TapRecruit is helping us recognize when we’re coming across in a way that we didn’t intend to,” Bernarding said. “It’s exciting to use the very easy interface and educate ourselves on how we talk about the company. We’re now more in line with who we want to be, and we resonate with the talented individuals out there we’re trying to attract.”


A better candidate experience

Total Wine & More may occasionally use job titles that differ from industry standards. Guidance from TapRecruit on Total Wine & More’s job description content helps the team provide a better candidate experience.

“Candidate experience is incredibly important to us. It’s one of the reasons we’re so excited about TapRecruit,” Bernarding said. “Every person who engages with us as a potential employee or a current employee is a customer to us. We value our customers and want to make sure their experience is always in-line with the brand.”

Total Wine & More’s brand can be described as “fun” and “experiential” as the brand wants to be a part of people’s day-to-day lives but also their special celebrations. Bernarding wants people interviewing with them, or working for them, to have that same “fun” experience. 


More qualified candidates for Total Wine & More

Being able to accurately convey its brand and story helps Total Wine attract more qualified candidates. And after seeing higher job scores correlating to better candidate pools, the whole recruiting team has embraced TapRecruit. 

“Suggestions that TapRecruit’s software provides us can really make a big difference,” Bernarding said. “We’re now getting the qualified, diverse candidate pool we’ve been looking for.” 

Bernarding said TapRecruit’s gamification through job scoring makes it easier for her team members to adjust to the new process.

“It’s hard when you’ve been doing something the same way for a long time,” she said. “Or you’re a young HR team putting job descriptions together, evaluating roles and just focusing on being clear or thorough. Using TapRecruit’s job scoring feature was really fun. We started by setting a goal to improve all job scores, which were in the low 30s on average, and I challenged my team to get all job scores to 85 points or better by the end of the year. Which they’re doing!” 

In fact, after just four months, Total Wine & More’s average job score was up to 82.

“Setting the goal was a way to help my team change their job posting processes,” said Bernarding. “Once they did, they started seeing results.”


About Vanessa

Vanessa Bernarding, Vice President of Human Resources at Total Wine & More.

Vanessa came to Total Wine & More after more than a decade in the talent management space at both growing and shrinking companies with diverse workforce needs. She spent six years at a rapidly growing Dick’s Sporting Goods, contrasted by time with a post-2008 real estate company and a federal government organization. Her role at Total Wine & More has expanded in the six years she’s been with the company from managing training efforts to overseeing all talent, total rewards, and corporate HR consulting practices as Vice President of Human Resources.