Katie MiltonKatie Milton
Tapping Into Growth and Profitability

Tapping Into Growth and Profitability

Fortune Magazine proclaimed last year that “Craft Beer’s Days of Explosive Growth Are Over.” (March 27th, 2008). Also consider the sobering fact that two-thirds of businesses don’t survive the first two years, and only half will survive five years or more.  How can your business continue to do well when others don’t? A key way to help your brewery thrive is to take a step outside of your business and plan 3-5 years down the road. Set some time aside each year at a location away from your brewery to not be distracted by day-to-day needs, with your cell phone on Do Not Disturb. Consider what is going right for your brewery, what things could be improved upon, and what is going wrong. Start putting processes in place to achieve your goals.

As craft breweries are adapting to being in a mature market landscape, you need to plan for a potential decline in growth year over year. When first opened, breweries can easily experience double digit sales increases year over year, which may lead to increased spending. Your spending needs to be analyzed to determine what is fixed verses what is variable.  What can be controlled if revenue grows at a slower pace than once thought? Learn to look at your brewery through an objective lens. If a certain beer is not selling well, it may be time to cut your losses and reduce the inventory used to make that beer. Always continue to review your pricing structure and pay attention to overheads. Your business needs to find a profitable margin now.

The chances of becoming more profitable are increased when a company has clear and defined objectives combined with a strong support team. As a brewery, your tap room salespersons and brewers are one of the largest assets you have. Keep them informed of your growth objectives and involve them in brainstorming ideas to expand your sales.

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Customer service is key to continued success. A few bad online reviews can do damage in reaching out to new customers. As millennials continue to live through experiences, think of ways to reach out to them. Many of these can be for free by offering a behind the scenes tour or having a contest where customers can vote for a new beer to be on the menu. Use social media to promote your business and encourage patrons to review your beers by checking in on Instagram and Facebook, or having them leave reviews on “Untapped” or “Beer Advocate”. And don’t forget to celebrate milestones with your employees when goals that you set during your planning process are eventually achieved!

About Katie Milton

In high school Katie found out she was destined to be an accountant after a 70-year-old nun gave her the only "C" she'd ever received. The leaves in her still life art drawing did not have "enough personality." Katie graduated from Marquette University with a BS in Accounting in 2000, and has worked in the public accounting sector as well as in international accounting, financial planning and analysis. She lives in Chicago with her husband and two daughters.