By Stephen Fuller, Robert Oliver and Steven Treglia
It’s not a big leap to realize that brewers get into the business of brewing beer because they love brewing beer (and typically are really good at it too). In fact, that usually is a great foundation for the success of their business.
But as their brewing business starts to achieve some initial success, the brewer/business person starts to spend less time brewing and more time working in the back office on the business of the brewery. As a brewer, you might start by tracking expenses and profits on QuickBooks. Once sales get over a certain threshold, though, you can quickly find yourself needing to hire a bookkeeper. With continued growth comes more employees, which require HR policies, employee handbooks, someone responsible for hiring (and possibly firing), benefits, more extensive bookkeeping and many more responsibilities and requirements than you initially gave a second thought to when starting out.
All of these “back office movements” as they’re called are important to the viability of any business but can definitely get in the way of the time needed for the craftsmanship of brewing. By partnering with a firm that can help manage back office movements — including fully managed accounting, finance organization strategy, planning and development and structure support — you can keep your focus on the craft. When venturing into this kind of partnership, though, it’s helpful to consider the following.
For starters, look to partner with a full-service firm that provide a range of services at the level a small but growing craft brewery needs and one that can customize solutions and adjust the types of services they deliver to fit the needs and budgets at specific times. As your business changes, so do your human resources needs and challenges. A business advisory partner can help navigate complicated employment laws, remove administrative burdens or help create a strategic path for engaged employees and a positive, productive culture, all while helping to control expenses and minimize risk exposure while having access to expert resources.
Additionally, by outsourcing accounting and financial requirements, a brewer is able to access industry best practices and technology while reducing manual and labor-intensive processes through the increased quality and reduced cost of accounting services. These outsourced service offerings can include the day-to-day transactional aspects of your business, which can be overseen by a virtual controller or CFO. This allows you to focus on your brewery’s core business and the decisions that impact your organization’s future, instead of worrying about your back office. And with better reporting, your brewery will have instant access to data, allowing for real-time decision-making and an improved ability to plan for the future.
As a growing brewery that does not have a dedicated human resource professional, partnering with consulting services can provide companies access to specialized HR expertise, ensure labor law compliance, develop efficient and service-oriented approaches to your transactional HR processes such as onboarding administration and employee file maintenance, reduce costs and improve your strategic focus. Plus, by choosing an experienced, proven partner, you can benefit from their years of experience, best practices and industry benchmarks.
By partnering with a proven business advisory firm that offers fractional solutions, you can be sure your contracting for exactly what your brewery needs at any certain point in time. Having access to a comprehensive array of services also gives you back the freedom to focus on what’s most important to your brewery — the brewing.
Stephen Fuller ([email protected]) is a partner, Robert Oliver ([email protected]) is a director and Steven Treglia ([email protected]) is a manager at blumshapiro (www.blumshapiro.com), the largest regional accounting, tax and business advisory firm based in New England.