A passion for hops and the art of brewing is one that is taking the world by storm. Launching your own commercial brewery, complete with a signature brew and an avid fanbase is the dream for many beer brewing enthusiasts.
However, it is fundamentally a business. It cannot succeed on passion alone. It must also adhere to all traditional business practices and constraints. These include the need for accurate inventory management and ordering, batch and quality control, customer relationship management, marketing and of course, sound financial investments and decisions.
As a brewer, these might be the last thing on your mind. But fear not, we will review some brewery software solutions that can be beneficial for breweries, providing you with the seamless ease of a total business management strategy.
There are two choices available when considering the type of software you would like for your brewery: ERP or cloud-based software.
ERP for breweries
Enterprise Resource Planning software (ERP), is an excellent tool for running the business as a whole due to its ability to integrate finances, human resources, suppliers, clients, inventory management, and manufacturing. Specifically for breweries, an ERP integrates sales and demand, and lets brewers plan how supply and demand will impact future production.
Where you may begin by using Google Docs and Excel spreadsheets, for example, ERPs allow these functions but under one, collective umbrella. ERPs are excellent for the following predominant reasons:
- Cask management. Cask management involves managing and tracking beer after the initial ferment. It often involves managing sensitive factors such as temperature.
- Distribution management. This refers to thef process of ensuring the product reaches the hands of the consumer. For breweries, this involves distributing the beer to retail outlets such as bars, restaurants, and liquor stores. Their success depends on how efficiently they distribute their beer. ERP software takes the pressure off brewers to manage distribution efficiently.
- Demand planning. Demand planning is the ability to analyse previous sales trends and demand and use this to guide decision making around type and amount of product to make for future demand. For breweries, this becomes particularly challenging because the production process is long and requires constant monitoring. Therefore, the ability to accurately forecast demand is fundamental to achieving success for a brewery.
- Recipe and quality control. Make sure you can replicate recipes and track its quality for health and safety purposes. If recipes and quality aren’t tracked, then you can’t guarantee consistent quality and flavour.
Cloud-based brewery software
Brewery ERPs typically use hardware in the form of servers that must be housed on-site. These systems require the initial purchase, ongoing maintenance and occasional upgrades to keep them running efficiently. Because of this upkeep, these systems make a lot more financial sense for the large breweries with a wide distribution network, such as ABInBev.
The other alternative is cloud-based software. For small and growing breweries, such as microbreweries, cloud-based brewery software may be far more beneficial. It is also easily scalable which certainly makes sense when you are just starting out or still experimenting on your flavour profiles, and building your customer base and distribution network.
Brewery management software
Cloud-based brewery management software is designed to manage the variables and tasks associated with inventory. This includes tracking products and raw materials from ordering raw materials to selling kegs. Brewery management software works in real-time and provides valuable insight into metrics such as demand, sales, seasonal fluctuations, yields and efficiencies or deficiencies in production timelines.
Breweries that use brewery software:
- ShinDigger boosts inventory management efficiency for their brewing company
- Epic Beer Grows Business With Efficient Inventory Software
- Seven Bro7hers Brewery Gets Visibility Over Every Keg, Can and Bottle
Your brewery’s layout will impact operations and your bottom line
Planning your brewery’s layout
The way a brewery is laid out has implications on the business, from finance to distribution. This is especially relevant if your brewery runs a brewpub or taproom model. You want to make sure it’s customer-friendly while still efficient for your production team. It is critical to get the floor plan right to ensure it is fit-for-purpose and can facilitate the growth of your brewery.
Your layout should accommodate receiving and storing raw ingredients, the temperature and humidity-controlled space for brewing and casking, and the chilled area for the finished product. It must increase efficiency, transparency of materials and the easy control of all variables relating to the product. Perhaps less frequently considered, but just as important is the material used for the floor of the different areas of the brewery. It must be easily cleaned to reduce contaminants and bacterial growth, it must be non-slip and it must be durable. Likewise, drain and vent placement, and even fire doors and exits are imperative to get right.
Layout planning is easier with floor plan software such as Smartdraw and Solidworks. Brewery floor plan software is available in an easy-to-access online form where you can input your parameters to create professional plans that your builders, project managers, company management and staff can implement.
Managing your brewery’s finances
To ensure the longevity of your business you need to manage your finances. Apps like Xero and QuickBooks Online are cloud-based accounting software designed to help you track your revenue, bills, payroll and tax in real-time (plus they integrate nicely with Unleashed Software). Because it’s in the cloud, your accountant will also be able to access it too. No more long nights creating financial reports at the end of each month or financial period!
Marketing your brews
With more promotional outlets and creative options, brewers should look to digital marketing to capture attention. Make use of apps such as Untapped and TapHunter to encourage customers to review your beer and essentially put you on the ‘beer map’ for other eager punters. Likewise, social media activity across platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, is essential.
Designing marketing material
Your beer has to look as good as it tastes. That’s where design tools come in. Smaller breweries who have staff working multiple roles can try free online design tools like Canva for professional-quality designs. You’ll be able to design things such as social media posts, video posters, flyers, presentations and more. Alternatives include tools such as easil and crello.
Making sales and managing customers
You will be well-placed to investigate online sales options, especially in the current global crisis. One that is popular amongst breweries is Shopify. Here’s how Unleashed customers Crate Brewery set up their Shopify eCommerce store in under a week as part of their rapid response to pub and retail store closures in the UK due to Covid-19.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is vital for capturing every contact and nurturing that relationship. This will invariably result in satisfied customers and future loyalty. CRM software should be available on-site but also on-the-go, accessible whenever you connect with your mobile phone. They integrate customer details and order preferences with the inventory back onsite and any other relevant details.
Driving sales on the go with brewery software
Imagine being a sales rep on the road and you have left all your customer contacts and purchase history on a memory stick back at the office. A disaster that can easily be avoided with a cloud sales app. A sales app will allow you to see available stock, create quotes, view customer contact details and more.
Check out Unleashed’s Sales App to empower your sales team with the freedom and flexibility to make sales, work efficiently and deepen their relationship with their customer outside the walls of your brewery. Other options include Craft CRM and Rhino, which are designed for craft brewers, distillers and cideries.
Keeping your brewery organised
Sometimes a to-do list jotted down on scrap paper doesn’t cut it. Here are some digital tools to keep you organised.
A great one for breweries is Trello which is based on a Kanban project management system where tasks are represented by cards, and moved around a board based on various levels of importance and completion. This provides an easy overview and facilitates collaboration amongst teams of people. Similar to Trello, Asana is another great tool that different people in your brewery can use, whether they’re managing admin or design.
Week Plan is a self-declared priority planner for highly effective people. It is based on the premise that planning a week in advance rather than utilising an endless daily to-do list, ensures people are not overwhelmed and unable to prioritise tasks in order of need.
Your success depends on your team’s satisfaction
Managing your brewery team
Your people are your greatest asset. Have you heard that spoken time again? With good reason, as the strength of a company rests on the success and satisfaction of its workforce.
Paulaner, one of the oldest and biggest breweries in Germany, designed an app to manage employee experience. Staffbase links their decentralised workforce and keeps them connected and empowered. Faced with a future of remote work, this is vitally important.
Bamboo HR is another app designed to compile all data relating to employees in a central, organised location. It facilitates building the company culture through performance management and analysing employee engagement, and also keeps track of all your HR activities such as hiring, orientation and compensation.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.