by Sergio Moutela (from posts made in the AMMA Facebook page)
What I’ve learned 6-months since opening my meadery.
It seems I’ve been writing a post like this every two months or so with good reception, so I thought I’d keep it up.
At the 6-month mark I definitely see a clearer picture as to where we are going as a business. We are currently still just running a tour & tasting with a club membership business model which has been not only lucrative enough to cover the bills, but also to grow with cash flow. As a result, I have also been making moves as I gear up to increase production a little more than tri-fold before deciding to hit the street selling to begin distribution. Will be going from 46k to 150k bottles per year before this year is over.
Takes us 3-months to have most of our meads mature enough before I say they are ready to bottle. We are selling everything we make (just through tastings and club orders) in about 4-months, and sales along with the number of club member signups still continue to climb at an impressive rate. Over 180 club members in 6-months. That’s just about one new club member a day!
Club members are your golden ticket. They are the most loyal of them all. They spread the word about your product like no one else will. Not only that, they are always waiting for something new to jump on. Whether it be a limited release recipe, or a special event at the meadery, club members love taking full advantage of their member perks, AND DISCOUNT!! Treat them like gold. When they stick around after an event, bring them out some special stuff from behind the bar for them to taste. They will love you forever. With every club member equaling two cases guaranteed cases sold a year (not including all the other purchases and events they attend) you will love them too.
Ever since the inception of starting my meadery, I realized one major flaw in the direct to consumer side to the business. Most of the DTC sales will come from hosting tours & tastings, unless of course you are lucky enough to also have the option of offering some kind of food service, we unfortunately do not have that option. What happens though once someone has gone through a tour & tasting? There is very little chance they are going to want to come back and go through another tour again, unless of course they come back bringing a different group of friends, which does happen, but not often enough to depend on. So how do we get those people back in? Besides landing them as a club member, we will be hosting what we call Tasting Nights on Friday nights. We will be offering mead by the glass, by the bottle, as well as build your own sampler and mead cocktails. This idea will get people back in the door especially if you have variety and new recipes coming out periodically throughout the year. It’s a great way for them to come back and taste everything that’s new since their last visit without having to go through a whole formal tour. We have been getting very positive feedback when mentioning that we will be doing this soon.
This also brings me to special meadery events. We just hosted an extremely successful mead & chocolate pairing event the night before Valentine’s Day. We had 48 people in attendance that night, out of a max of 50 tickets we made available. The night consisted of great mead, with great chocolate which were masterfully paired up. That night brought in a tremendous amount of money on a Friday night that otherwise we wouldn’t have made a dollar from. There were bottle sales galore as everyone made their way out as well.
We also hosted our first special batch release party for our sweet mixed berry mead aged in bourbon barrels, Southern Berry. Again, 50 tickets were offered, 50 tickets sold. Even ended up having to squeeze in 5 others that would not relent out of excitement about the event, so I let them in. The result of the release party….. not only was there revenue from the ticket sales, but that mead sold over 100 bottles within 20 minutes after the event was over. Since then, we made the mead available for our club members to purchase first before the rest of the public (another perk they get) which brought in a ton of weekday sales we wouldn’t have had otherwise. A week later we opened it up to the rest of the public which went wild over it and sold a tremendous amount during the week again.
My feelings over the importance of direct to consumer sales is second to none. Not only is it obviously the highest profit margin you can make on your product, but you get a chance to directly connect with your fans. A bottle sold off a shelf at a liquor store can’t do that. The trick is though, to figure out every which way to keep em coming back, and without letting it get old.
Where are we now at 6-months looking ahead? The bottling line I ordered is currently being built in Italy as “we speak”. Getting ready to order 3x 3000L tanks, another pump, bigger mixing tank with motorized stirrer, as well as a much larger glycol system and steam generator.
We are going to hit the ground running this Fall once we kick off distribution in NJ & NY simultaneously and will have all the tools we need to rock and roll into 2016. Out of state distribution will start up by Spring of 2016 as well.
Owner of Melovino Meadery, Sergio Moutela, has become a notable award-winning mead maker who’s products have wowed even the most discerning and educated of palettes. His mead has been served at the James Beard House in NYC and has won multiple Gold medals in some of the biggest mead competitions in the world, amateur and professional.
Find him and his meads at http://www.melovinomead.com