Reprinted courtesy of Beverage Master. Read the full issue.
As the Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) came to a close in 2019, one thing was abundantly clear — brewers had many questions related to scaling their business for future growth. During our panel discussion, we experienced good dialogue and will share some of the questions and answers in this edition.
Assessing your organization at all levels is an important first step to ensure your foundation is solid and ready to scale for growth. Understanding how efficient you are with your current resources and determining whether you are set up appropriately is imperative in strategizing for the future.
Are you challenging your current efficiencies with resources, people, technology, equipment and processes? Where and when will you need to add or invest? What areas make sense to outsource? The following are a few of the questions attendees asked us at the CBC.
Answer: The two questions are related, as outsourcing is an example of how to make better use of your time and get help from experts in a given area of your business. We find too much time is spent on non-value-added activities. The focus of the brewer and their team is often misaligned with their distributor partners, and senior management routines do not support what is needed to increase volume and profit. By focusing on more value-added activities and less time on routines that don’t support growth, you can improve efficiencies. Some examples include:
Retail surveys reveal that buyers and decision makers want their supplier and distributor sales reps to be more predictable with their visits, have an objective, and bring fresh ideas and best practices to grow their business. They truly want to be sold instead of applying relationship pressure in the sales pitch. Meeting on a consistent and regular basis will allow the retailer to mentally prepare for the engagement.
Maximize ownership, production leaders and other senior management with scheduled account calls – they can be more effective at motivating, educating and convincing a retailer or distributor than brewery reps because of their authenticity and expertise.
Answer: Real-time visibility into your financials allows you to leverage technology to improve the timeliness and accuracy of financial reporting, enabling ongoing analysis and actions that capture opportunities to grow top-line or improve bottom-line results. Access to critical financial data and reporting generates proactive decision-making with quicker reactions to changing business conditions. As one of many brewers in today’s saturated market, it is important to maintain ongoing communication within your own teams, but also with your distributor partners to ensure opportunities are addressed quickly and executed as planned. Taking it one step further, the ability for craft beverage companies to access, interpret and take action with their own data makes it more likely they will foresee underlining trends, compare results to industry benchmarks, monitor key performance indicators and ultimately run a better business.
Answer: Training won’t be successful if the individual isn’t a good fit based on aptitude or skill-set, nor will it be optimal if strong processes, tools and support aren’t aligned with critical resources to achieve business objectives. Training can be appropriate and maximized to yield strong results if the organization has invested in the right people, structure and support for each position.
Everyone should have a job description and solid routines that provide time to achieve what they are assigned to accomplish. It is preferable to maximize current employee’s skills/abilities before adding more manpower. Many breweries assign tasks or pieces of the business to individuals closest to the job function instead of the person who is best suited for the responsibility. This often results in bloated project timelines, producing nominal output because the person responsible is not a good fit for the assignment. Make sure you have the right people assigned to the critical areas of your business. These can be harder decisions to make than increasing staff.
Most breweries add a staff member if they enter a new territory, but you could benefit by reevaluating that approach. Could ownership or senior management share time in that territory for the first 6-12 months with a realistic call frequency? Could one of the brewers tell the story and represent the brands better than anyone else? What can be taken off the owner’s or senior management’s plate to make this a reality without adding a costly full-time employee?
Training or retraining can be costly if people don’t have the aptitude, aren’t respected or are missing the passion to accept the challenge. Depending upon the process or task, we recommend exploring a few options to ensure your team has the best chance to drive better results for your brewery:
Utilizing external business advisors can help with many of the situations we covered. They will identify strategic changes you can make to thrive now and help you plan for the future. Look for a firm that will work collaboratively to help your business grow while making you a more informed and successful business leader.
Ensure your advisors have:
Practitioners with extensive experience in the craft brewing industry can be that trusted advisor to help you navigate difficult decisions, while leveraging best practice experiences to help you scale for future growth.
Join us for part two in the next issue of Beverage Master Magazine, where we will tackle the answers to additional questions from brewers at the CBC.
For more information on this topic, or to learn how Baker Tilly specialists can help, contact our team.