Brewery Administration: What You Do When You’re Not Brewing
Good organisation will optimize your work/life balance and maximize your profits.
Running a brewery isn’t all fun and games. If you started up a craft brewery or a brewpub in the hopes of having the time to brew world-class beers all day long, you’re in for a surprise. It won’t be long before you’re spending more time doing brewery administration paperwork than mashing grist.
Owning a brewery might be your lifelong dream. But running one can be as mundane and thankless an activity as running any business.
There are dozens of administrative activities that need to be completed every day. Taking time to plan out your facility’s workflow (and scale that workflow for future growth!) can help take the burden off your shoulders and give you much-needed peace of mind.
Start-Up Brewery Administration: An Overview
Every would-be brewer has to complete the following legal steps before selling their first brew:
- Forming a Business Entity. You need a business name and some kind of agreement that stipulates what kind of organization you run. This protects your personal assets from later liabilities and may help you keep track of multiple owners. If you have partners, you want to make sure that you plan ahead for rights, disagreements, and departures.
- Leasing and Equipping a Space. You are going to need to sign a commercial lease for a space that can fit your brewery equipment. That space has to be able to meet licensing requirements, which means you will have to keep forms and important data on-hand for eventual verification.
- Developing a Workflow. Your brewery’s success depends on the depth and completeness of its processes. You cannot have a consistently good product without a consistent workflow, backed up by solid data that is easily accessible for anyone who needs it.
- Signing Employment Agreements. What happens if your lead brewmaster decides to sell your formula to a local competitor? Your employee agreements should stipulate what information constitutes a “trade secret” by specifying what constitutes intellectual property that belongs to the brewery—not the employee.
- Keeping Track of Expenditures. Whether you are spending $50,000 or $500,000 to start a brewery, you need to keep track of every penny invested. The better your bookkeeping is, the easier every other element of brewery administration is going to be.
- Obtaining a Brewery License. The real test of your administrative skills will be your licencing with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). It can take some time to complete all the necessary licence requirements for all the people involved in your brewery.
- Selecting Distributors. You still need to decide how you are going to distribute your beer. The quality of your distribution agreement can make a huge impact on your overall success down the road, especially since these agreements may be protected by law (and thus difficult to terminate).
Every Single Step Demands Excellent Management
Some brewery startup owners take a data-oriented approach from the very start of their enterprise. These forward-thinking entrepreneurs are able to manage growth and overcome obstacles with greater ease than most.
This is because every step of the business—from choosing a name to signing a distribution deal—requires in-depth research and critical thinking. There will be hundreds of times when finding a particular document becomes make-it-or-break-it important and many situations where not having access to information becomes an obstacle.
Your brewery administration tools should organise information and communicate it effectively to employees, distributors, and customers. Investing in a solution that helps do this efficiently is one of the most important decisions a craft beer entrepreneur can make.
The more your business relies on instinct and hunches, the less consistent and repeatable your successes will be. The better-informed you and your employees are, the more you can do to protect yourself from the common pitfalls new brewery owners suffer from.
Introducing Enterprise Resource Planning for Brewery Owners
Comprehensive administrative tools help to organize information in a way that streamlines complicated processes. Great data management software goes a long way towards empowering your brewery to handle the many stresses that come along with owning and running a small business.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is an all-in-one platform for managing and communicating data throughout an organization. These administrative tools help businesses organize almost every aspect of their day-to-day processes, including:
- Production. You need to keep detailed logs of production runs, track batches, and identify brewing variances. All of this information needs to be compiled in a production report.
- Planning. Brewery owners need to anticipate demand, establish production schedules, and align long-term quotas with distributor agreements.
- Inventory. Brewmasters need to know what inventory is in stock and how much of it is in stock. Accountants need to know how much capital is invested in inventory at any given time. Your warehouse logs need to reflect this information in real-time.
- Sales. If you don’t track your sales performance and compare it to your sales goals, you will never know which of your brews is doing the best. This will prevent you from optimizing your workflow to produce the right combination of products to maximize revenue.
- Purchasing. Every one of your purchasing agreements comes along with a purchasing schedule and workflow. Brewery owners need a digital platform that can bridge the gap between purchasing and inventory while automatically creating in-depth reports about purchase interactions.
- Accounting. There’s no pride to be had in running a successful brewery if you fail to pay the tax man his due. Your accounting team needs to know where the brewery’s money is going and make sure that you stay ahead of your tax obligations to stay out of hot water.
- Quality Control. Bad batches can happen for a multitude of reasons. Quality control data is key to making sure that batch gets thrown out before it hits the shelves and causes a (potentially life-threatening) ruckus.
- Reporting. As a business owner in a regulated industry, you need to be able to generate reports on nearly every aspect of your day-to-day business. The data in these reports is not just good for regulators—it can help you identify trends and stamp out inefficiencies in your processes as well.
Every single one of these processes will generate data. Your employees need to collect that data and organize it in a way that makes sense. When badly organized businesses hit an obstacle in any of these areas, it becomes an expensive and time-consuming headache. Even if your brewery never has to dump a bad batch or investigate unauthorized expenses, business growth itself becomes an obstacle soon enough. The better you manage your data, the more stable your growth will be.
Get in touch with the SMB Solutions team today to learn more about our OrchestratedBEER offering and the single source of truth.