Navigating COVID-19 as a Brewery Owner
Did you catch the latest issue of our craft brewing industry newsletter, Fermented Strategies? In case you missed it, we wanted to share Josh’s tips to help navigate COVID-19, featured in the latest issue:
I wanted to send a note along in light of everything going on with the COVID-19 virus. I am sure there are some concerns going around on how you operate and handle the challenges of running a brewery in this unprecedented environment. I wanted to pass along a few tips to think through.
1- Plan through the impacts of different scenarios
For breweries, this is three-fold. The first is understanding disruptions to your business with employees that are sick. With the potential for increasing absenteeism, make sure you have plans in place to cover those roles, particularly your beertenders in the taproom and have a plan in place to close the taproom if you are unable to cover shifts. It’s also important that you let your employees know that if they are not feeling well to stay at home. If they do come down with COVID-19 and come into your brewery, that could cause you to shut down for at least a two week period.
The second disruption would be if there any impacts to your supply chain. Your suppliers may be delayed in providing you with the ingredients you need in order to facilitate your brewing schedule. Make sure you are reaching out to your vendors to understand any anticipated delays they may have on their end so you can plan better for your brewery.
The third disruption is the fear people have potentially in coming into your taproom. This may also manifest if there are any localized quarantines. Some breweries have already gone the route of closing their taprooms for a period of time, but others have taken the approach to let their community know through social media, how they are cleaning their taprooms and the extra precautions being put in place.
2- Check your insurance coverage
If you do need to suspend operations for a bit, check your insurance policies to see if you are covered for any losses due to a communicable disease or any business interruptions. Most insurance policies cover these items, so now is the time to check to see what they cover and how you can potentially collect in this situation. If you are not sure, reach out to your insurance agent.
3- Communicate your plans
This is a good time to make sure all of your staff know the plans going forward and potential actions you might take in different scenarios. Keep your external community updated via social media if there are any closures. Also talk to other brewery owners in your area about your plans. This may manifest by sharing some staff for a period of time or helping each other with supplies they might need. In situations like this, it’s best to work together.
4- Review your sick time and family leave policies and remind your staff about them
Some of your employees may be hesitant to call off sick if they need the money, however, having them come in, even if they are not infected with COVID-19 is not advised. Let your team know your policies and how they can access those benefits. If you don’t have these policies in place, now is a good time to consider your policies and benefits. And pay attention if any federal or state agencies provide any benefits that can help here. Some states are looking at providing potential paid sick benefits to hourly workers via unemployment benefits. While this has not been enacted to date, its possible this might be enacted.
If you do have an employee get sick with COVID-19, it is a recordable illness for OSHA requirements, so make sure you fulfill your record keeping duties.
Gusto has also provided some additional information and resources on what to do and how to navigate COVID-19 for your business.
In situations like this, it’s important to prepare and not panic. Doing your preparations now will help you navigate the uncertainty that lies ahead.