10 Ways to Scale A Brewery from Lifestyle Business to a True SME

Transforming your craft or regional brewery from a lifestyle business into a thriving small and medium enterprise (SME) with real capital value requires careful planning, strategic decision-making, and a commitment to growth.  Scaling your brewery is a significant undertaking, but with the right approach, you can expand your output, strengthen your brand appeal, enhance marketing and sales strategies, tap into the off-sales market, optimize logistics and packaging, acquire the right skills, and secure the increased teams and capital necessary for success.

1. Hardware and Scaling Output:
Scaling your brewery starts with investing in the right hardware and equipment to increase production capacity. This might mean upgrading brewing systems, fermenters, bottling lines, and packaging machinery. Efficient and scalable equipment allows you to meet growing demand and capitalize on new sales opportunities in quick time, being nimble and fulfilling last minute requests is a great way to build new, longstanding profitable relationships.

2. Strengthening Your Brand Appeal:
A strong and recognizable brand is essential for widespread appeal and market penetration. Focus on refining your brand identity, including your brewery’s story, logo, packaging design, and marketing materials. Consistent branding creates brand loyalty and can help you stand out in a crowded market. The above makes you memorable, think of the recent successes ……… had a clear strong brand identity which allowed them to scale a hero SKU (read our previous blog here) and catapult a business into the mainstream.

Don’t forget building partnerships with other breweries, suppliers, and distributors to leverage their expertise, resources, and market access. Collaboration can lead to new product offerings, cost savings, and increased market exposure, and innovation!

3. Revamping Marketing and Sales Strategies:
An effective marketing strategy is crucial for scaling your brewery. Invest in digital marketing, social media, and content creation to reach a broader audience. Collaborate with influencers and host events to increase brand visibility. As your brewery grows, consider hiring a dedicated marketing team to drive your brand forward. One mistake a smaller business makes is it tries to be everything to everyone. Identify your key personas, find out where they hang out (both on and offline) and market to the there. You will get a far better ROI on your £ marketing spend.

4. Prospecting for New Markets:
To scale your brewery, you need to identify and prospect new markets. Research areas where craft beer consumption is growing and target those regions. Consider working with distributors and wholesalers to expand your reach beyond your local area. Where we have got best results for clients in the past, is that we have approached distributers and wholesalers with credible data, told them our SKU is exactly what your client is looking for! Stock us! This works and shows you really know your market and product place in the sector.

5. Capitalising on Off-Sales Market:
While pubs may be experiencing a decline in some regions, the off-sales market, including retail stores and online sales, is on the rise. Expanding into this market can present new revenue streams and opportunities for growth. Ensure your packaging is suitable for off-sales and build relationships with retailers and e-commerce platforms. Understanding what a supermarket or retailer wants from a new SKU on their shelf is key. Something we have done numerous times in the past, when growing both Doombar and Jail Ale, we knew exactly what the supermarkets wanted, and delivered to a tee their requirements, this transformed the businesses in a very short space of time, and made them national brands that are loved.

6. Logistics and Packaging:
Scaling your brewery requires a streamlined logistics process to handle increased production and distribution. Work with reliable logistics partners to ensure timely and cost-effective deliveries. Invest in quality packaging that not only preserves the freshness of your beer but also enhances the brand’s visual appeal.

7. Acquiring the Right Skills:
As your brewery grows, you may need to bring in new talent with specialized skills to manage various aspects of the business. This might include sales professionals, marketing experts, a good finance director, logistics coordinators, and quality control managers. Hiring the right people is essential for maintaining quality and efficiency during the scaling process. Simply put, hire great talent, and give them the freedom to do their thing!

8. Increasing Teams and Capital:
To scale your brewery successfully, you’ll need to secure additional capital for expansion. This might involve seeking funding from investors, banks, or even considering crowdfunding campaigns. The increased capital will support investments in hardware, marketing, human resources, and other growth-related expenses. See our pervious blog on raising capital for more information link here.

9. Focus on Quality and Consistency:
As you scale your brewery, it’s essential to maintain the quality and consistency of your beer. This might require stricter quality control measures and maintaining the unique characteristics that make your craft beer stand out. Consistency in taste and quality builds trust among consumers and fosters loyalty. This is an absolute must for scaling the business. Having better process and systems for the brewing process (as opposed to everything being in the head brewers grey matter) is essential to consistency. Creating succession plan will help this process see our blog on this topic here.

10. Navigating Regulations and Compliance:
As your brewery grows, you may encounter more complex regulations and compliance requirements. Stay updated on industry regulations, safety standards, tax laws, and licensing obligations. Compliance is crucial for long-term success and maintaining a positive reputation. Having a good finance and operations team will be crucial in delivering this key matrix.

Scaling your craft or regional brewery from a lifestyle business to a true SME with real capital value requires a strategic and well-executed plan. Invest in the right hardware, enhance your brand appeal, optimise marketing and sales strategies, capitalise on the off-sales market, streamline logistics and packaging, acquire the right skills, and secure increased teams and capital. Stay true to the quality and uniqueness that defines your craft beer while navigating regulations and building strong partnerships. With determination, creativity, and a commitment to growth, you can take your brewery to new heights and secure its place as a successful and valuable SME in the craft beer industry. Cheers to your continued success!

To find out how you could scale your brewery quick speak to our brewery expert Richard Smith