If I had to identify one thing that all breweries and brewpubs have in common, it’s the need for information during the start-up period. Of course, there’s no substitute for experience, and every business will encounter unique circumstances. However, I see a familiar pattern of questions and comments while connecting with our brewery members throughout the year.
With the 2017 Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America® (CBC) just around the corner, I’d like to highlight some of these questions and encourage members to utilize CBC seminars as a resource while planning for a successful brewery or brewpub.
Here are the top 10 questions I hear from start-up breweries and how CBC can help answer them.
1. What do I need to consider as our brewery looks to start or expand distribution in the next year or so?
Distribution is a complex part of business planning. In their seminar, Mike Hess and Mike Drumm discuss the legal and logistical approaches to distribution for start-up breweries.
2. We are just starting out and don’t have the resources to hire a dedicated marketing specialist. Can you point us toward some basics on establishing and marketing our brand?
Establishing an online presence is important for the success of any business. Dive into the world of Digital Marketing 101 and explore the basics of marketing via email, social media, and more.
3. We’re in the preliminary planning stages and need to start raising capital. Is there information on comparing the different ways to fund our brewery?
Generating the funds to start a brewery is no small feat. This panel—consisting of brewery founders, CEOs, and financial experts—can explain The Use of Financial Tools for Strategic Planning.
4. It seems like municipal regulations vary greatly in terms of water treatment and utilities. How can we plan ahead to meet those regulations during build-out?
Preparation during build-out goes a long way in saving time and money down the road. Join John Mercer for a discussion on Brewery Wastewater Basics and forecasting for the future.
5. We are thinking about packaging our beer for distribution. Do you have any information on bottling vs. canning?
The approach to beer packaging is an important consideration for breweries looking to take the next step. In addition to a broader overview of distribution, Mike and Mike will delve into packaging options and why those decisions are important.
6. We’ve run into some disputes with the name of our brewery in planning. What are some legal considerations as we choose a brewery name and start branding our beers?
In a growing industry, establishing a name and brand is important from the outset. Mike, Josh, and Jeffrey will cover trademark, zoning, and compliance issues in Legal Basics for Startups.
7. We are concerned about going over budget as we put our brewery plans into action. How much of a cushion should we build into our funding as we account for unexpected costs during start-up?
Generating capital and planning for unexpected costs is a major part of putting a brewery plan into action. Randall, Chris, LJ, and Lynne will discuss the costs associated with brewery start-up and how to prepare for initial expenses.
8. We are putting in a 10 bbl system and intend to stay relatively small/local. Is it worthwhile to leave space for potential expansion?
Many businesses face the challenge of if and when to expand as product demands increase. Davin Helden will be on hand to discuss this and more in What I Wish I Knew Before Opening a Brewery.
9. I’m making the transition from homebrewer to professional brewer, and I want to ensure the beer quality is consistent as I scale up my recipes. How can I test for quality and consistency without breaking the bank?
Quality beer is the cornerstone of any successful brewery, and implementing a manageable program requires planning. Join Rob, Jon and Mike for a panel discussion centered on the basics of a lab and quality program for start-up breweries.
10. We have a website and a Facebook page for our brewpub, but we aren’t very savvy with social media. What can we do to get the word out and maintain a presence with our potential customers?
In his Digital Marketing seminar, David Rohrer will go in depth on the topic of social media, discussing the various social platforms and how to utilize them effectively.
The BA strives to provide resources for all breweries, including those in planning or just starting out. Many CBC seminars are packed with information for new breweries, plus they afford the opportunity to be in the room with experts—to ask questions, interact, and learn from collective experiences and challenges.
There is no need to reinvent the wheel. I’d encourage those who are looking to build out their business plan—or are just firing up their kettles for the first time—to come check out CBC. It’s worthwhile, engaging, and a unique opportunity to prepare for future success.