Whether your brewery is just starting or is already pumping out a few thousand barrels a year, there’s nothing more important to your bottom line than efficiency. An efficient brewery minimizes costs and maximizes profits, and that could be all the difference when it comes to keeping the lights on.
If you’re looking for ways to streamline your brewing process and maximize efficiency, there are three places to focus your attention. It all starts with your staffing, brewing process, and software.
1. Streamline Your Staffing
It takes a team to brew, bottle, and distribute beer at volume. But it’s easy to let that team grow unsustainably—after all, what’s the fun in having a brewery if your friends aren’t part of the success?
That line of thinking can quickly lead to unnecessary staffing, which will lead to no fun at all. You’ll face a nightmare when it comes to scheduling and balancing your budget, and your friends won’t appreciate being part of an overstuffed workforce that can’t guarantee them enough individual hours (or dollars).
Host a Brewing Event
To balance this out, many smaller breweries host community brewing events, where friends, family, and fans come together to help you brew or bottle your latest batch of beer. These events are decidedly non-corporate, and they can be a lot of fun—but most importantly, they let you get a lot done without taking on extra costs. Volunteers get to learn what it takes to make the beer they enjoy, and you may find that offering a few take-home samples will be all it takes to encourage a decent turnout.
Track hours of work
When it comes to maintaining a streamlined staff, keep track of your team’s hours and the work that’s being done in those hours. When you find areas of inefficiency, take action—whether that means scaling back your workforce so they’re not wasting time, or adding to it so that tasks aren’t falling behind.
Sure, tracking project hours is the sort of corporate overhead that you probably wanted to get away from by starting your own brewery. A little bit of corporate discipline can go a long way.
2. Build an Efficient Brewing Process
Keeping a streamlined staff is only part of the equation. The other big piece is maximizing the efficiency of your actual brewing process. Basically, how good are you at turning grains into beer?
Since every brewery is going to operate differently depending on size, equipment, and style, it’s important to focus on finding individual solutions rather than sweeping generalizations.
In general, there are a few steps you can take to maximize the efficiency of your brewing system.
Visit established breweries
One of the best ways to start examining your own efficiency is by seeing what others are up to. Arrange visits with other breweries, talk through their techniques, ask how they solved issues you’re dealing with… brewers love to talk shop and share their wisdom (and their tastiest brews).
Measure and minimize losses
Losses happen in brewing, even for the biggest and most efficient breweries. The trick is minimizing them, and to do that you have to measure them. Remember, the earlier in the brewing process your losses occur, the more impact they make on the overall production.
Use the right gear
Having the right equipment makes a huge difference. Look for gear you can “grow into” but that won’t break the bank. Little timesavers, like quality labelers, will pay big dividends as you increase your output.
By putting the proper processes in place to ensure communication at each stage of production, you and your brew team will create delicious product that can scale for any amount.
3. Get smart about software
Brewing is an ancient art, but that doesn’t mean it won’t benefit from modern technology. By using software to help with the tracking, selling, and operations, your brewery can run more efficiently and alleviate stress on your staff.
Brewing software, like BrewNinja, allows you to streamline inventory tracking and get your sales and production teams on the same page. We often see inefficiencies, like staff texting in sales orders, and deliveries being organized on whiteboards, but with BrewNinja, you can remove these major sources of inefficiency.
As with any endeavor, the better your data, the better your outcomes. You need to be able to track your inventory—not just in the storage room, but in your tanks, coolers, and taps. This will give you a more complete picture of your brewery’s production, and let you make all the important efficiency adjustments we talked about above.
As with any work, the more effective your process is, the better your results will be. That’s why it’s important to evaluate and streamline your staff, maximize the efficiency of your brewing process, and trust your numbers to the right software system. Do all that, and you’re sure to find success.