Like the Brew Ninja team, Benji Pays’ founder Adam Crandall started out in software development before moving into leadership and project planning. But, on Friday evenings, craft beer enthusiast Adam and his buddies would wind down by brewing beer on his patio.
Feeling like he’d grown all he could in his employment, and having the ambition to start his own venture, Adam and his business partner Dan decided to take the plunge.
That was 2014. Ten months later, they opened their first brewery: Moody Ales. Five years later they opened their second brewery, The Bakery Brewing.
The secret behind his continued success – apart from a passion for brewing and good business sense? Knowing what can (and can’t) be automated.
A Better Way
In Summer 2019, Adam took on the order desk role in their brewery. Sitting at the hub of the brewery, and coming from a software background, it quickly became apparent that there were a ton of inefficiencies. There had to be a better way than all the spreadsheets they’d homegrown. His craft brewery was crying out for a customizable software solution.
Rather than take on more additional staff to help manage the inventory, sales, and payment processing, Adam realized that 60 to 75 hours of work could be streamlined into 30 hours per week. And further efficiency could be gained through automation.
Surely, there had to be an easier way to streamline day-to-day operations like inventory, accounting, sales, reporting and compliance?
Creating a script to grab invoices from QuickBooks, Adam realized that there was an opportunity to develop a product. Then the global pandemic hit and Adam had some unexpected free time on his hands. So they created and launched the Benji Pays web app.
Whilst merchant gateways already existed, they tended to take a sizable transaction fee, and Adam and Dan were looking for something more competitive and suited to their growing business.
As Adam explains, “We got really good rates through the Brewers Guild, and we had to find a way to leverage those rates. There are thousands of businesses that have better rates, and they want the control to be able to use their own merchant gateway”.
They also realized they weren’t alone.
Software That Saves Time And Money
Software development in any organization looks for repetitive tasks that have easy to define rules around them. And in the brewing industry there are lots of those! In the US and Canada, breweries and distilleries are heavily regulated by their respective governments.
If you don’t keep accurate records, the penalties can be costly. So software like Brew Ninja can help breweries track inventories, collect brewing data, and make financial reporting easier.
Adam sees the appeal for craft brewers: “Brewers typically approach a product like Brew Ninja because they want to start tracking their brewing data. The biggest value that comes out of a system like that is the rich data you get out of it from a financial reporting standpoint and your inventory tracking”.
Inventory tracking is critical. Data from inventory tracking feeds into your accounting system. And therefore it’s your source of truth for financial reporting. If a set of ingredients becomes a product, and that product is canned and sold, that journey has to be tracked and accounted for.
Not only do different states have different regulations and requirements, but within a particular area you might have multiple distributors who need to know what stock is in their warehouses. There’s a bunch of accounting software that can manage the numbers for you, but that software is only as good as the data it’s fed. And if you’ve got multiple organizations recording that data, mistakes are going to happen.
The Security Of Transactional Based Systems
Transactional based systems enable you to closely track the product journey, so if something does go missing, it’s much easier to pinpoint where and when an error has occurred. In preparation for when something does go wrong, the key for successful brewers is to ensure their data is accurate, and for repetitive processes like payments to be automated.
As a brewery owner, you need oversight of the whole organization, not just for regulatory duties but for your own piece of mind as the business owner. A great example of that is the end of year reporting.
Using a manual system involving spreadsheets, that process could take days. The right software, fed daily with the right data, can bring that time down to half a day. So a few extra steps in the working day can generate huge financial and time savings further down the line.
Raising A Glass To Craft Brewers
The bottom line is that when it comes to software, craft breweries aren’t in the same market as large corporations – who pay substantial sums for custom software solutions. But the good news for craft brewers is that smart, customizable software solutions are available from the likes of Brew Ninja and Benji Pays.