by Sergio Moutela (from a series of posts made in the AMMA Facebook group)
What I’ve learned in 10-months since opening my meadery:
I am actually writing this bi-monthly “installment” two weeks earlier than my actual 10-month mark due to an upcoming surgical procedure I have to undergo that will put me out of the game for at least two weeks. Nonetheless, I thought I’d get this out before then, especially since I now have a clear picture of where we’ll be in the very near future, and it’s rather exciting to say the least.
So at this point in the game, I’ve learned a few lessons. Some the easy way, and others, well… let’s just say, don’t take a phone call in the middle of doing any tank transfers.
On the top of my mind right now happens to be something that doesn’t get talked about much, if at all, and so, I will focus on just that for this post.
And that topic is, Software.
So you want to sell in your tasting room and online? How about manage club memberships? Have you implemented a surefire inventory system, especially one that works across multiple sales avenues? Depending on how “big” you want to get, an Excel spreadsheet or two might do just fine for a while, but here’s a heads up, especially for those of you haven’t gotten up and running yet, you’re looking at a whole lot more work when running a meadery other than making mead and “taste testing”. You will find that all the other demands of running a business in such a tightly regulated industry will eventually only leave you with enough time to keep track of all the numbers and compliance parts of the job! Well, the right software, in my opinion, is key to any successful business. Eliminate need to for double or triple entry of the same data, less risk for mistakes, and most importantly, a lot of time saved.
I opened Melovino Meadery with a winery specific software which looked great, and should have worked wonders for the business. Turned out, it was just riddled with glitches and such outdated backend structuring that it just made my life a living hell once business really picked up. We since switched over to using Square as our main POS system and a separate third party provider for our online store which is awesome. Everything works tremendously well now, but, and here’s a very important but… How well is good enough? If you’re like me, you’re mind never stops until you have absolutely convinced yourself that “this is best possible outcome or method of doing things”. And sure enough, “working well” wasn’t good enough for me.
One big pet peeve for me has been, no simple way to align customer lists and inventory specifically. This becomes rather frustrating especially when running low on certain items.
As incredibly awesome as Square is as a POS system, to me, it also lacks one major component that becomes extremely and literally valuable to any business…. CONTACT INFORMATION. Square does not allow the user to see or use any customer names or email addresses. There is one option though, if you pay an extra fee per month, that does allow you to at least get in contact with your customers with some email marketing, but it actually limits the number of customers accessible to you to only regulars. Which compared to the total amount of people we have coming in as new customers, is so minuscule that it isn’t worth shit. Maybe for a coffee shop or bakery with the same daily customer base, but not a meadery.
So let’s put things into perspective: Melovino has around 175 customers every single weekend, 99% of which are all NEW customers, not to mention a handful more here and there during weekdays. To have those customers leave your place of business without at the very least an email address, well, that’s just plain stupid in my book. You can’t afford “ghost customers”. But you know what you COULD afford if you have a nice long email list?? More tanks, more honey, more whatever you need to grow your business. The power of an email list is invaluable, especially one that just keeps on growing organically. If you aren’t marketing your products, most importantly to the people that WANT your products, then you”ll be getting nowhere really fast. Reminds me of a post here I saw a few months ago when someone asked how quickly he should expect to sell 1000 cases of product. There is only one right answer, which is, however quickly you make it sell…
After two months using Square, I’ve decided that moving to a software system that ties everything together into a centralized database (customers, orders, club management, marketing, inventory, etc…), and allows us to continue building our email list is by far the smartest way to go and grow. I have since found a much better alternative to the software I began using originally, which is much more up with the times and modern technology as well as pretty savvy on multiple marketing opportunity angles. Will be giving them a shot soon and will be sure to revert with feedback in the one of the following posts like these.
Where do we stand right now as far as the meadery’s progress?
I am pretty confident in saying that we have got to be the fastest growing meadery in the country.
Yeah, I said it. Even when trying to think of where some other meaderies might have been within the same time frame we have gone through even up until now.
Here is where we’ll be at our 14th-month mark…
– Automated bottling line (arriving in 4 weeks)
– a second glycol system at 10 ton capacity (ordered today, arriving in October)
– 4000 gallon total tank capacity per run, turning around batches at a minimum of 8 runs per year, goal is for 12x per year (tanks also ordered today, arriving in October)
– 4000 liter motorized mixing tank
– two commercial pumps
– Crossflow filtration system (arriving December)
This is huge for us, but only the start. This setup will give us all the tools we need to do some major damage until we’re ready to move in three years when our lease is up. Plans from there are to move into a 15-20k square foot space, install a brewery system, and continue to expand.
I will remind you all again… We haven’t even begun distribution. All tasting room sales and club memberships (at 312 members as of today). Distribution will start in January in NJ & NY, and move out of state by summer of 2016.
We’ve recently been contacted by Wegmans to start carrying our meads at some local stores here in NJ, and somehow some way, the owner of the biggest distributor
in Taiwan got a hold of some of our meads and are ready to order as much as we can give them. Things are looking on the up and up.
Cheers, and mead on.
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
She is also an experienced marketing coach and consultant who has recently decided to focus her marketing expertise exclusively on the craft beverage market to help meaderies, cideries, breweries and distilleries expand their business and get more customers while doing what they love.