New Brewery, Winery or Distillery Start Up

By: Kris Bohm: Distillery Now Consulting, LLC  

Starting up a new beverage alcohol business is hard. Whether making beer, wine, or spirits, the challenges are daunting and upfront costs are huge. No one takes the leap to start a new business knowing it will fail, but many of them will. Based on industry data, up to 40% of new beverage alcohol businesses fail. To create a successful business, there is a common question that arises during the planning phase of launching a new beverage alcohol business.

What is the difference between a successful business and one that fails?

  This massively important question should be answered early on for a new business. In doing so, key strategies will be defined for the business from the beginning as it ventures forward. In the following paragraphs, you will find not only the answer to this question, but also a further analysis of successful business practices.

Defining Success: Let’s take a moment to define and measure success in a beverage alcohol business. This definition applies whether in a brewery, winery, or a distillery. These measurements of success will allow us to look closer at the internal workings of the business. As you look closer you will find common traits among nearly every business that is successful. For the sake of this article we will narrowly define success using the specific individual metrics of profitability, sustainability and velocity.

Profitability: The first key metric and measurement of success is profitability. A business must either be profitable, or at a minimum near self-sustaining, with revenue covering the cost of operating the business. Achieving profitability is one of the biggest metrics that defines success. Reaching profitability is essential, as every successful business must be self-sustaining after a certain amount of time. If a business is not profitable for too long of time, it is almost certain to fail.

Sustainability: A successful business must be sustainable in the capacity to produce the products it intends to sell. To clarify, we do not mean sustainability from an environmental impact or energy usage standpoint. Sustainability in this model means the ability to sustain and meet demand for products through growth. For a business model to be sustainable the equipment must have the capacity to grow and meet new demand as the company grows. The reason this metric is so essential is that most businesses must grow to reach profitability. If your business cannot sustain growth it most likely can not grow to become profitable.

Velocity: A business needs to have regular sales to provide consistent revenue for the business. Velocity is a measurement of how quickly your business is turning raw materials into finished goods and selling those goods. High velocity of product means there will be more consistent cash flow for the business. As product velocity increases it is followed by increases in revenue and often economies of scale. Both of which help a business become successful.

Tripod Business Model: Most businesses achieve some of these measures of success, but not too many will achieve them all. Among those who do succeed in meeting all three, there is a common thread that these successful businesses share. They will usually have three separate divisions that perform distinct business activities. These three divisions are production, sales, and marketing. This concept we will refer to as the tripod business model. If the top of a tripod is a successful beverage alcohol business as measured by our success metrics, then there almost always exists these three divisions in the business that make up equally important legs that hold up the business. If you remove any of the three legs, it only leaves the business on two unstable legs, and in time the business will fall and is likely to fail. It is easy to take this observation and call it as incorrect, but if one was to look closely at established successful beverage alcohol businesses they would find truth in this observation.

  When a sizable amount of time and resources are heavily invested into sales and marketing, the business has a strong probability that it will flourish. Often the business will flourish so strongly that production will often feel constrained in the resources it needs to meet the demand of the business. This is the correct way to invest time, financial resources and manpower to grow. If too many resources are dedicated to production in most instances production will have far too much capacity and there will not be enough demand for product to keep production running near its capacity.

  Now that we have defined some measures of success and the business practices that support them, let’s look closer at the three practices that hold up a successful beverage alcohol business, through the lens of a distillery.

SALES: Sales is essential and paramount to the success of nearly any business that has a product they sell. It can be the easier path for a new distillery to focus on their production with a plan to only sell spirits through a tasting room or cocktail lounge that is part of the distillery. A business plan like this can work, but it has a low ceiling that will often restrict a distillery from growing to a successful level. Real sales of considerable volume come from a distillery selling products in the same market as its competitors. This means working to sell spirits in liquor stores, bars, restaurants and other venues. In this market there is immense competition. The only way to compete in the larger spirits market is by investing into sales. This means having people working for your business who are full time employees whose job is to pull your spirits through the market and drive sales.

MARKETING: Marketing is the driving force that directly links to the success of sales. Marketing can come in a multitude of forms, some obvious and some not so obvious. Public facing platforms, such as social media, websites, billboards, magazines, newspapers, and influencers are all forms of marketing in action. The more a consumer or target consumer encounters a brand, the higher the chance that the consumer will buy your brand. Without an active marketing plan in place, consumers will quickly lose sight of your brand. A strong marketing plan and the person or people to continually implement, monitor, and drive a marketing plan is paramount to achieving success. Marketing is the key difference that will take a brand to the next level and keep pulling it up from there. Although it can be easy to not put an emphasis on channeling resources to marketing, it would be a mistake to do so. Many businesses have launched with little to no resources committed to marketing. Often these launches feel successful, but by our measurements are in fact not truly successful. Oftentimes the business will get going and be selling some amounts of product but in most instances a lack of marketing will cause a business to plateau quickly.

PRODUCTION: This practice of manufacturing is easy to give too much focus in the business of distilling. Whether you are distilling whiskey from scratch or bottling sourced spirits, the production part of this business is extremely important. While production is absolutely paramount to the business, this does not mean that the bulk of resources the business has should be invested into the production of spirits, nor the labor or equipment to produce the spirits. If the bulk of resources go towards production thus starving sales and marketing, there will invariably be a lack of sales to cover the costs of production. Now the manufacturing of distilled spirits is in no way inexpensive. Considerable resources have to go to production for it to function. We are trying to urge you to consider all resources the business has and properly allocate them to all three practices.

The battle between the practices: If you ask most folks who work in this industry, whether they work in sales, marketing, or production, they will all likely tell you that their business function is the most important to the success of the business. To be fair, all these folks can probably make a reasonably sound argument to support that statement. It is normal that there is some friction between all three practices because they all have unique functions and priorities that often do not align with one another. For a business to be successful, production, sales, and marketing must work together to achieve the goals of the business. When common goals are shared it is much easier for each part of the business to work in harmony.

Is it Time to Order More Brick-and-Mortar Locations for Your Bar or Restaurant?

By: Raj Tulshan, Founder of Loan Mantra

Is commercial real estate making a comeback in the hospitality industry? After several extremely disruptive years of a global pandemic – and the resulting lockdowns, inflation, supply chain disruptions, and staffing shortages – is the future finally brighter for hospitality and real estate? Is it time to invest in more bars and restaurants – and if so, where exactly should you invest and when do you know if it is the right time?

Investing in real estate is a major, long-term commitment requiring careful consideration. Business owners must do their homework before signing a real estate contract, thinking about a host of factors, including the building’s location, the economy, zoning laws, the projected value of the property, and its expected appreciation over the coming years.

  Location is a huge factor. Is the property you’re considering in a good spot that will attract customers? Is the property attractive, in a safe, high-traffic location? Is the community vibrant and growing, with a history of economic stability? Is there easy access with ample parking, or is there a subway or bus stop nearby? What’s the neighborhood like? Is there considerable competition in your space, with tons of other bars and restaurants nearby? Is the neighborhood hungry (pardon the pun) for your type of establishment? Are the demographics right for your type of business? For instance, a heavy metal-themed bar might not flourish in a neighborhood with an older demographic.

  Despite major difficulties in 2020 and 2021, the hospitality and commercial real estate industries are finally in growth phases again, and this growth is likely to continue in 2022. Some things to consider include:

  People are going out again. Demand for in-person goods and services is rising again, as people want to eat at restaurants and go out for some beers. This pent-up demand is good for commercial real estate – and the bars, restaurants, and other businesses that occupy these buildings.

  Hospitality is rebounding. Now that the worst of the pandemic is (hopefully) behind us, business and leisure travel will start increasing again, and people will be dining out more frequently. The growing travel demand means hotels, restaurants, and bars may take on renovation and expansion projects that stalled during COVID. And, increasingly, hospitality business owners will invest in real estate to house their bars and restaurants.

  Secondary markets are growing. The evolution of remote and hybrid work means many employers and employees are moving out of high-rent cities into smaller markets that are more cost-effective. Recently, people have been leaving big, expensive cities like New York in droves, in favor of smaller, more affordable markets like Nashville and Tampa. If you’re thinking of opening a bar – or expanding your brand to new markets – consider these geographies.

  Operators are opting for building ownership. Some restaurant and bar brands are opting to own real estate rather than leasing. When leasing, the building owner is making money, regardless of whether your business is profitable. However, when you own the property, you’ll be building equity regardless of how your business is performing. Many restaurateurs and bar owners are choosing to buy instead of lease because it makes more financial sense over the long term. If you’re the property owner, you won’t have to worry about surprise rent increases. You also won’t need to abide by your landlord’s rules, giving you more freedom with your business and your property.

  Add new revenue streams to boost profitability. With labor shortages impacting the operating hours (and bottom lines) of hospitality businesses, restaurants and bars have realized the importance of having multiple revenue streams to increase profitability, especially if they’re working to cover the cost of their mortgage. Some brands are selling their own beers online or selling branded merchandise at their brick-and-mortar location and online. While people are finally coming back to dine and drink in-person, it’s wise to have additional revenue streams to keep a steady stream of revenue flowing – and so you can cover your mortgage and property taxes if you’re the building owner.

  If you’re financially able to swing it, buying property for your bar or restaurant can be a wise move. As experts predict that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, it looks like the hospitality and commercial real estate industries are poised for a rebound. If you’re thinking about a real estate investment for your hospitality business, be thoughtful and consider the decision carefully before signing the contract.

About the Author:

  Neeraj (Raj) Tulshan is the Founder and Managing Member of Loan Mantra, a financial advisory firm with best-in-class and proprietary fintech, BLUE (“Borrower Lender Underwriting Environment”). Loan Mantra, Powered by BLUE, is next-level finance: a one-stop-shop for business borrowers to secure traditional, SBA or MCA financing from trusted lenders in a secure, collaborative, and transparent platform. Clients turn to Raj because they know he will always pick up the phone and offer unparalleled financial counsel in a remarkably human—even friendly—way.

About Loan Mantra

  Loan Mantra is a financial services company designed to serve small and medium businesses with offices in New Jersey, Charleston, SC and New York. At Loan Mantra your success is our success. This means that our attention, purpose, and intention are all focused on you, our client. We are your ally to overcome obstacles, bringing peace through uncertain times to achieve your highest goals and aspirations. Your friendly, responsive agent will listen respectfully, and service your account actively through one of three locations in the US. We speak your language whether it’s English, Spanish, Hindi, Bengal, Hospitality, Laundry or Manicure, let us help you today. Connect with us at…www.loanmantra.com or 855.700.BLUE (2583)

The Indemnification Clause: A Lease Landmine?

Lease Renting Contract Residential Tenant Concept

By: Brian D. Kaider, Esq.

Most breweries and distilleries are built on leased property.  Negotiating the lease can be a daunting task, as these contracts are commonly over fifty pages long and full of dense legal language that can be difficult to understand.  Additionally, many landlords have “standard” leases to which they expect the tenant to agree with minimal changes.  Aside from definitions of rent and the duration of the lease, many tenants simply accept the remainder of the lease, as is.  More savvy tenants may negotiate issues such as the right to penetrate walls or ceilings for equipment ventilation, the use of outdoor space/common areas, or the state to which the premises must be restored following termination of the lease.  But, there is a section in virtually every lease that is typically ignored and has important consequences: the “indemnification clause.”

What is an Indemnification Clause?

  In the simplest terms, an indemnification clause identifies who is responsible if a third party (e.g., a customer) is injured on or around the leased property.  Most often, the injury refers to a physical injury, such as when a customer slips and falls on a wet floor.  The language of the clause typically provides that in such a case, if an injured customer sues the landlord as a result of the fall, the tenant agrees to compensate the landlord for any expense associated with the claim.  This makes sense, because the landlord cannot be expected to supervise every action of the tenant and if the tenant allows a hazardous condition, like a wet floor, to exist, the landlord should not be held responsible for the tenant’s negligence.  Of course, circumstances are often not as simple as this example and there is a lot of gray area in these clauses that may not be immediately apparent.

  After reading this article, it may be tempting to try to negotiate taking the indemnification clause out of the lease entirely.  First, it is unlikely any landlord would agree to the deletion.  Second, it would actually cause more problems that it solves.  Absent the indemnification provisions of the lease, the landlord could still file a legal claim against the tenant under a variety of legal theories to recover any damages they suffer as a result of the third-party claim.  The better course is to negotiate the terms of the indemnification clause to minimize exposure of the tenant and ensure that the terms are clear and unambiguous.

The Guts of an Indemnification Clause

  The typical indemnification clause is composed of very long sentences with multiple subparts that make it difficult to even read, much less understand.  The following is a breakdown of some of the key terms.

  Definition of the Parties – “Landlord Parties” and “Tenant Parties,” or similar terms are defined to include each respective company along with their owners, officers, directors, shareholders, affiliates, agents, employees, representatives, etc.  In other words, if an injured customer sues the owner of the landlord company, this definition includes the owner as an indemnified party, just as if the customer had sued the landlord company, itself.

  Required Actions – Every indemnification clause will use some or all of the following terms: “indemnify,” “defend,” and “hold harmless.”  While at first glance these terms would appear to mean the same thing, they are very different and which terms are used has important consequences.  In particular, “indemnify” and “hold harmless” seem similar and, in fact, the differences between them varies from state to state.  In general, “hold harmless” means that the landlord will not be held liable for any injuries or damages caused by the tenant.  In other words, if the tenant is sued by an injured customer, tenant will not blame the landlord or try to bring the landlord into the case as a separate defendant.  “Indemnify,” on the other hand, means that if the landlord is sued by the injured customer, the tenant agrees to reimburse them for costs incurred as a result of the lawsuit.  “Defend,” however, means that tenant is responsible for defending the landlord from lawsuits.  That word in the clause should then trigger other questions, such as, who chooses the counsel to defend the landlord? Does the landlord have the right to approve the proposed counsel?  And what happens if there is a conflict of interest between the landlord and tenant being represented by the same counsel?  Those issues should all be addressed in the indemnification clause.  If the word “defend” is not in the clause, though, that means the landlord is free to choose its own counsel to represent them and tenant is still responsible for the landlord’s legal fees, meaning tenant may be paying two different law firms to fight the same case.

  Scope of Covered Claims – The clause should have some description of the types of expenses that are covered.  In some cases, it is extremely broad, such as “any and all costs suffered by or claimed against landlord, directly or indirectly, based on, arising out of, or resulting from tenant’s use and occupancy of the premises or the business conducted by tenant therein.”  The description may be limited to only physical injury, death, or damage to property.  In some cases, it may refer to “reasonable claims.”  Of course, what is reasonable is a subjective question and likely to spur additional legal battles.  In some cases, the lease may require the tenant to warrant that they do not and will not infringe on another party’s trademark rights.  The tenant should always try to limit the scope of such terms to only “knowingly” infringe or infringing “known” trademark rights.  Otherwise, it would impart on the tenant an obligation to scour the earth for all trademarks that could possibly be asserted against it; an impossible task.

  Scope of Covered Property – It should be clear exactly what property is covered by the indemnification clause.  Often a lease will make a distinction between the “Premises” and the “Property.”  Premises usually refers to the actual unit that the tenant is renting, whereas Property refers to the entire parcel of real estate owned by the landlord, which may include other rented units and common areas.  Obviously, a tenant should not be required to indemnify the landlord against something done by another tenant in a separate unit.  But, common areas are much more tricky.  Often, either explicitly in the lease or by oral agreement, a landlord will permit a brewery tenant to occupy common areas, including parking lots, to serve beer and/or allow customers to eat and drink.  If someone drops a glass in the parking lot and the brewery does not clean it up promptly and a customer is cut by the broken pieces, the indemnification clause should protect the landlord if the customer sues.  But, if the landlord is responsible for snow removal in the parking lot and fails to adequately perform its obligations and a customer slips and falls when getting out of her car, the tenant will want such incidents to be outside the scope of indemnification.  If the clause is not worded carefully, that distinction may not be recognized by a court.

  Carve-Outs for Landlord’s Activity – This raises the broader issue of carve-outs in the indemnification clause for landlord’s activity that contributed to the injury.  For example, if the landlord was responsible for the build-out of the premises and was negligent in the installation of the electrical system, then if a customer is electrocuted, the tenant should not be required to indemnify the landlord against such latent defects.  Even then, the choice of wording in the clause is important.  Some leases only carve out “gross negligence,” “recklessness,” or “willful misconduct.”  In that case, if the injury is caused by landlord’s “ordinary negligence” that does not rise to the level of gross negligence, the tenant would still be required to indemnify the landlord against such claims.  It is worth noting, however, that some states hold such clauses to be against public policy, void, and unenforceable.  Those cases, however, often turn on whether the part of the property in question was under the exclusive control of the tenant.

Conclusion

  Landlords generally provide the first draft of a commercial lease and, not surprisingly, they are drafted heavily in favor of the landlord.  While a tenant’s focus may be on maximizing building improvement allowances and minimizing rent, they should review the entire lease thoroughly, and preferably with assistance from an attorney knowledgeable about the beverage industry.

Often, the landlord will be in a position with greater bargaining power than the tenant, but the law will view both parties to a commercial lease as being sophisticated enough to negotiate the terms of the agreement they consider important.  A court is unlikely to be persuaded that the tenant did not understand the terms or had no choice but to accept them.  The indemnification clause should clearly set forth the responsibilities of each party in clear and unambiguous terms, including: the covered property, the scope of covered claims, what actions the tenant is required to perform in the event of a complaint, and what landlord activity is excluded from the indemnification.

  Brian Kaider is the principal of KaiderLaw, a law firm with extensive experience in the craft beverage industry. He has represented clients from the smallest of start-up breweries to Fortune 500 corporations in the navigation of regulatory requirements, drafting and negotiating contracts, prosecuting trademark and patent applications, and complex commercial litigation.

10 Ways to Maximize Beverage Sales Through Every Spring & Summer Holiday

By: Raj Tulshan, Founder of Loan Mantra

The arrival of spring means sunshine, warmer temperatures, gatherings and lots of drinking. This often involves celebrating with a cold pint of beer, glass of wine or festive cocktail. Special days are a great time to attract crowds planning to connect with family and friends at area restaurants and pubs and to increase beverage sales.

  More than 335,000 gallons of tequila are consumed in the U.S. during Cinco de Mayo fiestas. An estimated 92 million Americans take their moms out for a meal for Mother’s Day, making it the most popular day for restaurant dining. People don their big hats and spring finery, while sipping Mint Juleps at Kentucky Derby-themed parties. Then it’s time to toast to dads on Father’s Day, celebrate graduations, for bachelor and bachelorette parties and bridal showers. So, how can you maximize beverage sales all throughout these warm weather celebrations? Here are 10 tips:

1.   Spring into Theme – Jump into action with some tropical themed drinks. Serve a refreshing Cherry Blossom, Tequila Honeysuckle, or a Lemon Drop for festive seasonal celebrations and, of course, don’t forget a Mint Julep for Kentucky Derby parties. Source fresh ingredients whenever possible and use fun garnishes, like edible flowers. For a Spring Fling, use sorbet as a drink ingredient, with fancy glasses and pastel cocktail napkins. Get patriotic with red, white, and blue themed drinks for Flag Day, and consider garnishing the drinks (or the tables) with cute little sparklers. Throw a tropical party and encourage employees and guests to wear Hawaiian shirts and leis, with mai tai or pina colada specials. Have a taco and tequila party for Cinco de Mayo and decorate with bright colors and a cactus or two. What about hosting an ice cream party with boozy milkshakes on a hot summer night social? The possibilities are endless, so be creative!

2.   Partner with the right vendors – Many beer, wine and liquor vendors will provide plenty of marketing materials to help restaurants and bars drive beverage sales. They’ll often give you free table tents, branded coasters, and other materials to promote their brands. Some vendors will go a step further and provide give-away items, like branded pint glasses, t-shirts, or baseball caps for customers that order their products. This is an easy way for you to boost excitement and sales – and a fun incentive for your guests to enjoy.

3.   Get your financing in order – Restaurants and bars have, understandably, had a tough two years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And now the COVID fallout includes a trifecta of major challenges, including soaring prices on food and beverage supplies, ongoing supply chain disruptions and continued staffing shortages. Be sure that your financing is stable enough to sustain your operations, especially amid this turbulent period and as you recover from the pandemic hardships. If you need a business loan, talk to an expert that can advise you about which path to take. There are many viable options available to help your business through the short-term or for your longer-term needs.

4.   Get the funding for your marketing needs – You might have the most amazing place that serves the best food and drinks in the area, but if people don’t know about you, you won’t maximize sales, profits and other key metrics. Elevate your marketing efforts to generate awareness and excitement and drive traffic and sales. Be sure to have a professional, easy-to-navigate website with updated menus, drink lists, and specials. Become more active on social media and buy online ads that target your priority populations. Host special events and tastings. Send out emails about upcoming events and other incentives. If your budget is strained, consider a loan to boost your marketing efforts and attract more attention.

5.   Host VIP tastings. Boost customer loyalty with VIP tastings – Valued customers will feel special to be part of an “elite” event, so make these tastings feel exclusive and important. Send out VIP invitations. If your budget allows, you can go all-out with a red carpet and champagne. Or create a different vibe with beer flights, a wine tasting or a sampling of different types of whiskey. Ask your vendors to provide experts to discuss their products and educate your guests about the types of beer, wine, or liquor they offer. Your vendors might provide VIP gift bags or other SWAG, as well.

6.   Create a comfortable atmosphere – Be certain that your guests feel comfortable at your establishment, whether that means continuing to social distance during higher COVID transmission periods or keeping plastic partitions up for a while longer. Guests want to see “proof” that your restaurant or bar is still following strict cleaning and sanitation protocols, so place hand sanitizer dispensers around the facility and continue to sanitize tables, bars and other high-touch locations frequently. Have comfortable seating that will make people want to linger and have another drink. Use appealing soft (not harsh!) lighting and play fun music. Also, consider what would appeal to your target demographics. Men will want the big game on your TVs. A bachelorette party will want a fun waitstaff that will dare them to do shots. And guests appreciate some creative decorating for the holidays, whether that’s flowers and champagne flutes for Mother’s Day, or big hats and roses for Derby Day (also called The Run for the Roses).

7.   Provide outdoor seating – One of the silver linings of the pre-vaccination landscape was that many restaurants and bars added outdoor seating, which customers loved. Now that spring is finally upon us, people will welcome the opportunity to eat, drink and celebrate outdoors. Set up tables and chairs outside. Consider adding fire pits or offering blankets on chilly evenings. Offer boozy popsicles or milkshakes to boost beverage sales when the weather gets warmer. String up pretty lights. Plant colorful flowers. Make your outdoor area feel lovely and inviting.

8.   Offer special incentives – Promote special deals around the spring holidays, like “Moms drink for free on Mother’s Day” or “Dads get a free beer for Father’s Day.” Promote specials on tacos and margaritas for Cinco de Mayo. Offer Mint Juleps and tiny sandwiches for a Kentucky Derby watch party. Offer discounts on your special spring drink menu. Consider discounts on beer buckets for the spring or 2-for-1 drink specials on a typically slow weekday.

9.   Train your staff about the drink specials – Make sure your staff are educated about your drink specials and encourage them to upsell to your guests. This is especially important when you add new seasonal cocktails to your menu or if you’re having special holiday-themed drinks. Be sure your employees know what each drink tastes like, how it’s made, and what it pairs well with. Your staff are your best ambassadors. The way they describe your menu and drink specials will matter. In fact, it will have a direct impact on your sales.

10. Be active on social – Social media can be a very effective way to incentivize your events, spotlight drink specials, and highlight fun plans and celebrations for the season. Post about what you’ll do to treat soon to be brides well for bachelorette parties (Champagne toasts! Bloody Mary specials!), so they’ll come to your establishment instead of your competitors.’ Feature different staff members raving about their favorite spring drink or talking about the upcoming events or parties that you’re hosting. Share photos of beautiful spring drinks garnished creatively. Showcase that your place is the place to be this summer, for any seasonal celebration.

  Spring is in the air and there are so many opportunities to celebrate. There are also so many opportunities to promote your establishment, drive traffic and boost your beverage sales. Try these 10 tips to increase traffic to your establishment, customer loyalty and profits.

  Neeraj (Raj) Tulshan is the Founder and Managing Member of Loan Mantra, a financial advisory firm with best-in-class and proprietary FinTech, BLUE (Borrower Lender Underwriting Environment). Loan Mantra, Powered by BLUE, is next-level finance: a one-stop-shop for business borrowers to secure traditional, SBA or MCA financing from trusted lenders in a secure, collaborative and transparent platform. Clients turn to Raj because they know he will always pick up the phone and offer unparalleled financial counsel in a remarkably human—even friendly—way.

About Loan Mantra

  Loan Mantra is a financial services company that helps level the playing field for small and medium businesses to gain financing by providing a one-stop portal, paperless application process and personal service. With offices in New Jersey, Charleston, SC and New York, our only success is through your success. This means that our attention, purpose and intention are all focused on you, our client. We are your ally to overcome obstacles, bringing peace through uncertain times to achieve your highest goals and aspirations. Your friendly, responsive agent will listen respectfully and service your account actively through one of three locations in. We speak your language whether it’s English, Spanish, Hindi, Bengal, Hospitality, Laundry or Manicure, let us help you today. Connect with us at www.loanmantra.com, 1.855. 700.BLUE (2583)

Trends in Beverage Packaging to Look Out For in 2022

By: Preston Geeting

Building healthy lives entails nourishing our bodies, both mentally and physically. As such, the beverage industry will continue to be an essential component in improving the health of societies across the globe for as long as we call it home. More presently, however, the products we choose to consume from brands in today’s world often reflect our own personal values.

  Packaging plays a huge role in how impactful a product is on its target audience. Much of the information regarding what is considered healthy or not is often presented on the packaging of consumable beverage products, so their packaging must clearly communicate how it reflects the values of individual consumers. This makes the packaging industry a crucial component of the beverage industry.

  According to MarketWatch, the beverage packaging industry, in particular, is expected to reach a value of $142.28 billion by 2023 at a CAGR of 4.17%, a significant growth from $111.36 billion in 2017. This growth can be credited to the constant demand for groundbreaking, trendy beverage packaging across both industry sectors of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

  Each sector serves as a quintessential example of the beverage industry’s permanent dependency on the packaging industry, fostering a crucial and long-lasting partnership between the two. Thus, companies must now shift their focus on the ever-changing trends within both industries, while simultaneously aligning with the demands of consumer markets to maintain a competitive edge.

  A product’s packaging often complements its brand image and desired messaging, empowering a brand to sell not merely a product, but a lifestyle to its target audience. In the era of 2022, with headlines abuzz with topics encompassing Web 3.0, the Metaverse, and other digital innovations, product packaging that may be deemed ‘Instagrammable’ or trend-worthy is far more appealing to consumers than those perceived as more “traditional” or mundane.

  In the beverage industry, packaged products often reflect what value the brand can add to a consumer’s life, and how that value complements or enhances their current lifestyle. What makes your product unique enough to stand out on the shelves, compared to hundreds of others, relies almost entirely on the impact of its packaging.

  Additionally, in the luxury beverage space — such as high-end alcohol brands — product packaging is the first element consumers interact with showcasing why the product is desirable. Nightclubs and bars are excellent examples of this. In these settings, the most sought-after alcohol purchased is typically the one that stands out the most and similarly emulates a high-class, sought-after, yet rarely-obtained lifestyle.

  In the case of non-alcoholic beverage packaging, the packaging must communicate why one brand is better than another. This is commonly seen with packaging for companies that sell water. Although water is rarely perceived as little more than a standard beverage, all the details of its product packaging — from visual designs and colors to its sourced location, packaging material, and more — can spell the difference between its sales stagnating or skyrocketing. Other factors listed on the product’s packaging, such as the brand’s sustainability efforts or even the sheer convenience of its packaging, likewise play a key role in targeting specific consumer markets.

  For example, plastic water bottles that have a twist-off top may be less desirable to consumers in comparison to those boasting a sports-bottle style cap. Furthermore, sustainably-packaged water, or reusable metal water bottles, might be more appealing to eco-conscious consumers.

  The trends witnessed within both the beverage and packaging industry are constantly evolving alongside a growing consumer market. These industries must continue to work harmoniously to understand what makes consumers tick. Competition is always intense in the beverage industry, and companies spend immense periods researching competitors, as well as the needs and wants of consumers, to ensure that standards are met through superior packaging.

  Packaging must serve a purpose other than simply protecting products in retail stores or back-of-house storage to be memorable and appealing. The little details are essential regarding a beverage’s packaging, and these seemingly small details can have a significant impact on sales.  With all of this in mind, here are the top ten trends in beverage packaging to look out for in 2022.

1. Biodegradable Packaging:  Biodegradable packaging comprises of biopolymers, which are often found in the cellulose of plants. Since this form of packaging comes from plants, they easily decompose naturally over time in comparison to plastic packaging. Traditional plastic packaging, unfortunately, never decomposes. Instead, it slowly breaks down into microplastics which often wind up in our oceans or, even worse, our food.

  Recently, it was found that microplastics were detected in human bloodstreams. While this hasn’t been directly tied to plastic packaging, single-use plastics — such as those frequently utilized in beverage packaging — have been a significant cause of ocean-dwelling microplastics.

  To combat this, companies like Boxed Water Is Better are taking an active stance in ensuring that their product packaging is decomposable to fight the ever-growing single-use plastic issue; an issue which has also been recognized across various consumer markets. Throughout 2022, expect more beverage companies to release (or, at least, announce) their products being packaged in a similar, more sustainable manner.

2. Internet of Packaging or Smart Packaging:  Internet of packaging, or innovative packaging, comprises the integration of QR codes, smart labels, RFID, and AR/VR into packaging technology. The industry will begin to see the next evolution of packaging personalization through technology, especially QR codes, as adoption rates have soared since the pandemic in 2020.

  An example of this is 19 Crimes, a famous Australian wine company that has become a global phenomenon that works with celebrities like Snoop Dogg to craft fine wines, with each one telling a new story. The bottles of wine are brought to life via AR integration with a mobile app. Once labels are scanned via the app, it tells consumers the tales of notorious criminals through a pop-up video. Several coffee suppliers in the Australian market have begun implementing this method to provide consumers with a story element behind the type of coffee they purchase. This informs consumers who advocate for ethical and sustainable farming practices that the product they purchased aligns with their personal values.

  For another example of this trend, imagine purchasing a bottle of wine as a gift. If the bottle has a scannable QR code, the sender can write a message, and the recipient can see the message enclosed in the app. This eliminates the need to send additional paper cards and advances the gifting process.

  From a design perspective, we will quickly begin to see more minimalistic styles as a direct result of QR codes; if brands design packaging to have a QR code containing all the written content, it eradicates the overwhelming amount of information consumers currently see on packaging. And because product information is often small, making readability an issue, QR codes could also add an element of accessibility.

3. Recyclable Packaging:  Recyclable packaging is similar to sustainable and biodegradable packaging; it helps the environment and appeals to more environmentally-conscious consumers. However, biodegradable packaging merely degrades, whereas recyclable packaging can be reused, making it more sustainable in the long run.

  One new interesting element of recyclable packaging not seen typically is referred to as circular packaging. Circular packaging is forecasted to become an industry trend, as it utilizes a single layer for the packaging, rather than multiple layers, significantly reducing waste in the process. Along with this reduction in waste, circular packaging encourages companies to optimize the materials used in their packaging, maximize and amplify supply, and protect brands while inspiring them to make a significant impact against high-waste packaging.

4. Edible Packaging:  In 2019, London marathon runners made headlines worldwide after news broke that they were provided with seaweed pouches filled with energy drinks, rather than plastic water bottles. This enabled them to consume their water and leave zero waste. While edible packaging may not yet be very common, this example highlights how such a trend can genuinely help niche industries advance and make a difference — both for the environment and consumers.

5. Custom Packaging:  Beverage brands looking to differentiate themselves from competitors are increasingly utilizing custom packaging platforms to meet their needs. These platforms eliminate the physical component of fully-stocked warehouses, offering beverage manufacturers, brand owners, and suppliers with streamlined tools that both align with their marketing initiatives, and efficiently and effectively deliver eye-catching packaging for their products. This simplified process is quickly gaining traction across the beverage industry, providing companies with a one-stop-shop for their custom packaging solutions.

6. Active Packaging:  Active packaging consists of new technological techniques that extend the shelf-life of products, especially in the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries. Active packaging works by interacting directly with the packaged product and is designed to eradicate residual oxygen, bringing the product to a level where there is zero-permeation. This trend could lead to increasing the shelf life for beverage products that may otherwise spoil on retail shelves or in warehouses, thus mitigating costs for companies.

7. Packaging Automation:  Packaging automation for the manufacturing of products has witnessed a significant boost through AI. When combined with platforms that can serve as a one-stop-shop for custom and stock package purchasing options, this trend shows how robotics in the packaging industry can turn companies into genuine industry titans like Amazon, which continues to lead in terms of warehouse robotics and automation. Packaging automation enables the e-commerce giant to stay ahead of the game and on top of the retail charts. The same tactics could easily apply to companies in the beverage industry.

8. NFT Integration and Utility:  Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are one of the fastest-growing trends in 2022, and the beverage industry is leading the way. Penfolds, Glenfiddich, Hennessy, and other luxury brands are now selling NFTs that corresponded to a limited edition physical bottle; the NFT acts as a digital receipt that validates the authenticity of the wine bottles. Many start-up beverage companies, however, are finding ways to leverage this technology with their physical packaging as a marketing tool. From startup Perfy’s customized NFT soda cans, to The Bored Breakfast Club including the famous Bored Apes collection on their packaging materials, NFTs are proving to be a unique way for beverage companies to help promote their brand and acquire a larger portion of consumer markets. 

9. 3D Printing:  3D printing has become cheaper for companies to prototype their packaging designs, materials, and even manufacturing machines. 3D printing boosts packaging designs by removing the typical challenges packaging designers face. Some of these challenges tend to include the need for multiple prototypes (which generate additional waste), fewer resources and materials to source prototypes, as well as reduced costs during the packaging design stage. This evolving trend streamlines the design process, and can enable beverage manufacturers and suppliers to conduct more in-house prototyping with their packaging without the presence of a middle man.

10. Nanotechnology:  Regarding the beverage industry, nanotechnology in the form of nanocoating or nanosensors is most commonly used. Nanotechnology-enhanced packaging reduces microbial bacteria and can help improve the quality of the product, especially in water.

  Overall, each of these trends holds the potential for companies within the beverage industry to successfully outgrow their competitors, and each is deserving of careful consideration when designing packaging solutions throughout the remainder of 2022. In a market that is as ever-changing as it is necessary, it is imperative that brands stay one step ahead, understand the true importance of these trends, and implement them accordingly.

  Preston Geeting is a Co-founder of Packform. Along with Philip Weinman and Peter Williams, he recognized the opportunity to transform the antiquated packaging industry with innovative technology, creating new service levels, better customer experience, and more significant opportunities for all involved. As of 2020, Packform officially became the fastest-growing packaging company and won the gold International Stevie Business Awards for Technology Startup of the Year.

Boosting Brewery & Distillery Business with Entertainment and Lodging  

By: Alyssa L. Ochs

With thousands of craft breweries and distilleries in operation today, it’s no longer enough to simply produce amazing beers and spirits. Brewers and distillers are quickly learning that to thrive and stand out among the competition, they need to build a unique brand and expand their reach to a broader customer base.

  Some of the best ways to achieve this are to offer entertainment and recreation opportunities for everyone to enjoy and onsite lodging that makes an evening out safer and more convenient. With the right event-planning strategy, you can keep consumers coming back to your business even after they’ve sampled everything on the drink menu multiple times.

Types of Entertainment and Recreation

  In recent years, both breweries and distilleries have gotten very creative with the types of entertainment they offer. You’ll regularly find local establishments offering board game nights, yoga classes, musical concerts and karaoke nights. Trivia, open mic comedy nights, painting and crafting events and book club meetings are also held at breweries and distilleries.

  Low-key options, such as yard games and photo booths, are easy options to add, as well as professional networking events, poker tournaments and sport-themed events for big games. Breweries and distilleries can become more involved in their communities by partnering with other businesses to promote local products, nonprofits to support important causes and artists to display pieces of original artwork on the walls. Meanwhile, it’s fun to host holiday-themed festivals, offer educational brewing or distilling lessons and highlight new beverage releases in a way that entices people to walk through the door.

  Dana Koller, the president of Kaktus Brewing in Bernalillo, New Mexico, told Beverage Master Magazine that his brewery’s most successful events have been celebrating Oktoberfest, St. Patrick’s Day and other cultural events. Kaktus always has a full lineup of exciting events on the brewery calendar and offers small-batch brews, organic bites, and a refreshingly chill atmosphere.

  “I think what makes them successful is that we are genuine about the celebration and not just there to make a quick buck,” Koller said. “Although we may not be the most authentic option, we make sure that we have a blast doing what we do and show our appreciation for those wanting to celebrate.”

  On the distillery side of things, Sledge Distillery in Tolar, Texas, has been adding lots of events to its calendar lately, including tastings, tours, food, retail offerings and live music. Sledge Distillery specializes in hand-crafted spirits based on a World War II family moonshine recipe.

  “Private shopping nights for new releases have been very successful,” said Susan Sledge. “Also, we have found that the addition of live music adds to the atmosphere. Our clients are looking to re-engage with us and bring their friends along. We consider their repeat business a huge honor.”

Onsite Lodging Options

  Another unique idea for breweries and distilleries to consider is adding lodging near the taproom to welcome overnight guests. Some craft beverage producers have locations in historic buildings that can be renovated to include accommodation in an adjacent space.

  Alternatively, producers can purchase or build a separate building that provides lodging on the same property. Not only is this a good way to keep customers safe from drinking and driving, but it’s an opportunity to make your business a true weekend destination rather than just a quick stop along the way.

  One brewery that has added lodging to its offerings is Riff Raff Brewing Company in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Founded in 2013, Riff Raff operates in a historic, Victorian-era house in the downtown area and offers flagship beers, seasonal taps and eclectic twists on favorite foods. Visitors can currently rent apartment units above the downtown brewpub through Airbnb.

  “The building that houses Riff Raff Brewing Company is registered on the Colorado State Historic Preservation roll and has been used and repurposed multiple times since it was built in 1898,” said Jason Cox, founder and CEO.

  “When we purchased the building and opened the brewery in 2013, the upstairs housed apartments with long-term rentals,” Cox said. “We underwent a major remodel in 2015 and converted to short-term rentals because of the fact that there was a brewery downstairs. We thought it would be a type of beer-and-breakfast kind of offering!”

What Consumers Want Right Now

  There is a high demand for entertainment options at breweries and distilleries because people are looking for fun ways to get out and experience their communities in different and social ways. Breweries and distilleries have emerged as ideal destinations for date nights, family-friendly fun and free things to do that don’t require a big commitment. Many businesses are finding success with inclusive events that are pet-friendly and welcome children. You can give consumers what they want by keeping participation costs low or free, offering something different from what they can find anywhere else in town, providing fun photo opportunities and maybe even selling specialized merchandise to mark the occasion.

  “I think what people are looking for is true community, a place and time to connect without expectations,” said Koller. “The music and events are the excuse to get out and socialize for them.”

  “Our customers are looking for a way to relax and take a break from the pressures of life,” said Sledge. “Our distillery is located in the country and gives our guests a feeling of truly ‘getting away.’” 

  “I can’t speak directly to data or analytics, but I do know there are several experiences where lodging is packaged with craft breweries, and it creates a more complete experience,” said Cox. “Our friends own a brewery in northern New Mexico that allows camping on the premises, and they have lots of concerts, so it provides an opportunity to have an immersive guest experience. We aim to do the same type of thing with our lodging above Riff Raff Brewing Company.”

Considerations for Breweries and Distilleries

  Planning events may seem overwhelming to some brewery and distillery owners because it’s just one more thing added to the to-do list and budget. It often pays off in terms of business sustainability and professional satisfaction in the long run. Events, recreation, entertainment and lodging provide fun opportunities in relaxed environments to build your brand and get people engaged with what you’re doing. It’s an effective way to make personal connections with your customers and perhaps even raise money for charitable causes.

  There are many things to think about when planning a new event, type of entertainment or onsite lodging. Cost tops the list since some things will inherently cost more than others. If the event requires renting or buying extra furniture, party supplies, or sound equipment, you’ll need to budget ahead. Although it may be an initial goal to make extra money from an event, it might be worth it to break even for the sake of outreach and exposure. Breweries and distilleries with large spaces may be able to rent out entire sections of the building or property for private events and make extra income in that way.

  Regarding onsite Airbnb offerings, Riff Raff’s Cox sees significant benefits in breweries entering the lodging business.

  “We rent more than 325 nights a year in each of the two rentals, which include a three-bedroom, two-bath unit and a one-bedroom, one-bath unit,” Cox said. “We do see people who book because it’s above a brewery, and they definitely want that experience. Sometimes I conduct VIP tours and add other offerings for guests who stay upstairs.”

Event Planning Tips

  When considering hosting an event, make sure to see what else is already scheduled in the community so that there are no conflicts that would prevent someone from attending what you have planned. In general, it’s best to keep the event size manageable so that the lines for beverages don’t get too long or the spaces too crowded. Fun themes will catch people’s attention, while free and low-cost ticket prices will make your events more accessible to everyone.

  Recurring events, such as activities that happen on the same day each week, make scheduling events easier and allow more people to participate when it works for their schedule. It may also be worth inviting another local brewery or distillery to co-host your event.

  Koller from Kaktus Brewing said that one of the most important things to plan for when hosting events is “making the numbers work so that you are not understaffed since this is always a major challenge.”

  “From the moment a guest arrives on property, we want them to feel welcome,” said Sledge. “Signage has been strategically placed, so people know where to go and the options they have for entertainment, food and beverages. Our employees are intentional about greeting guests and orienting them to the facility and events.”

What’s Next for Craft Beverage Entertainment?

  Producers are just getting started with what they have in mind to entice craft beverage enthusiasts.

  “For Kaktus Brewing, we have been working on plans to expand parking to host larger events with games, a new stage, more shade structures and outdoor cooking,” said Koller. “This will allow us to do full weekend events instead of just evening events.”

  “We are programming smaller, more intimate events where people share a particular interest,” said Sledge. “For example, we are doing a three-event women’s workshop called ‘Feel Good Fridays’ where the group has drinks with a licensed therapist who facilitates a group session on various topics.”

  Meanwhile, Cox recommended that any brewery looking to add short-term lodging should check with the local planning or zoning department to understand rules regulating short-term rentals.

  “Depending on the type of zoning district, it may or may not be allowable for a brewery to offer lodging,” Cox said. “After that, I would put myself in the shoes of a guest to understand the entire experience. For example, some of the equipment that a brewhouse uses runs 24/7, and the noise could have an impact on the lodging, depending on the configuration. Beyond that, I would say to create a great experience for the guests and make it happen. Remember, it’s all about the craft beer and having fun with it.”

Bottling & Canning Innovation

Companies Deliver Premium Technology, Raising the Stakes in Productivity!

By: Cheryl Gray

When it comes to bottling machinery for craft breweries and distilleries, technology is king.  The work that goes into fabricating, filling and sealing bottles and cans begins with the expertise of companies that understand what craft brewers and distillers need most—a cost-efficient way to boost output while also protecting the integrity of their products.  

  One of those companies is Pneumatic Scale Angelus, part of BW Packaging Systems. The Ohio-based firm is a global industry leader in designing and manufacturing beverage canning lines and filling technology for the craft beverage industry. The company’s numbers are impressive, starting with its years in business—more than 130. It has seven manufacturing locations and more than 700 members on its worldwide team. 

  Pneumatic Scale Angelus has installed more than 16,000 canning operations across 132 countries with applications that include liquid and dry filling, capping, can seaming and labeling. Global Marketing Director Gigi Lorence said that as an expert in beverage canning lines and filling technology, the company has built a reputation for knowing how to leverage the innovation of its high-speed beverage lines, scaling them down to the slower production speeds and lower volumes required for craft beverages. Lorence broke down the specifications for the company’s inline volumetric canning lines.

  “Our fully-integrated filler and seamer machines allow brewers to take control of their can filling operations. Running at speeds from 15 to 100 CPM, our inline canning machines are suited to small batch production and frequent changeover,” she said. “Our CB50F and CB100F open-air systems use our proprietary flowmeter technology to ensure a perfect fill at speeds to 100 CPM, with a gas flush system that keeps oxygen levels under control. The high-speed seamer design, scaled for single- or dual-head operation, delivers the only repeatable hermetic double seam in the industry. 

  “Our CB50C system leverages the CB50F design but uses counter-pressure filling technology to meet the demand for high-carbonation beverages, including hard seltzers, sparkling wines and high-carb beers. The CB50C uses true isobarometric filling technology, with the fill tank above the fill heads, allowing the product to be gravity-fed, as opposed to pumped upward. This minimizes product agitation for a quiet fill and lower CO2 loss.” 

  For brewers ready for the higher speeds of a rotary canning system, Lorence described PSA’s options for rotary volumetric canning lines. “These systems run from 100 CPM to up to 400 CPM, depending on configuration, which means brewers can expand their overall production without drastically increasing their overall footprint,” said Lorence. “Our larger CB244/324/404 rotary open-air systems serve brewers ready for higher speeds. These systems have 24, 32, or 40 electro-mechanically controlled filling heads that ensure fill level accuracy to within plus or minus 0.5 grams of the target volume and four seaming heads that offer the same industry-leading seal as our slower-speed machines.”

  There is a brand-new addition to PSA’s craft beverage canning lines. Lorence described the CB100C, launched this May at The Craft Brewers Conference in Minneapolis.

  “This rotary counter-pressure system builds upon the capabilities of the CB50C but leverages a 12-head rotary filling turret design, coupled with a dual-station seamer, to allow brewers to increase their throughput to more than 100 CPM. Using a motorized, recipe-driven turret design allows for automatic turret height adjustment,” she said. “Like the CB50C, the CB100C uses a true isobarometric filling, with an onboard product supply tank rated to 60 psi. The addition of the 12-head rotary filling turret enables the system to move more cans smoothly through the line, filling faster without creating an increase in product agitation as speeds increase. This gentle fill virtually eliminates the unwanted reductions in carbonation levels seen with other filling methods.

  “The CB100C also employs magnetic flowmeter technology to help you get a perfect fill with little waste and an under-cover gas flush system to keep dissolved oxygen levels low. In addition, our industry-leading Angelus double-seam technology keeps cans sealed tight, extending critical shelf life. The system is optimized for sleek and standard can bodies and designed with quick-change adjustments for easy changeovers accommodating various can heights and body diameters with no valve change required. A compact footprint and an intuitive HMI for individual fill-head volume adjustments simplify operation.”

  Another expert in bottling and canning operations for the craft beverage industry is XpressFill, a California-based company in operation since 2007. XpressFill offers a broad range of can and bottle filling systems for brewers and distillers, all of which promote ease of use, longevity and post-sale service as a top priority. It manufactures bottle fillers to accommodate volumetric, level fill and carbonated beverage technology, providing for nearly every bottling need. Rod Silver is head of the company’s marketing and sales.

  “XpressFill prides itself on its ability to respond to the needs of its customers. Our support of our products is unmatched,” said Silver. 

  XpressFill specifically targets smaller breweries that need guidance on the best equipment choices for their operations. “All XpressFill products are designed with the smaller, craft artisan in mind. We have been able to build affordable yet efficient and effective filling machines for this market,” Silver said. “The most popular filler for distillers is the XF460HP, specifically designed for spirits, using materials that are more resilient to ethanol. Our proprietary technology allows for filling well within TTB tolerances.” 

  Silver explained how the volumetric filler controls the amount of fill using a precision timer. The filler is calibrated to specifications and capable of accurate fills, regardless of inconsistencies in the bottle glass. The volumetric filler is also suitable for bottling various sizes, even down to 50 ml bottles.

Silver said XpressFill’s most popular products for craft brewers accommodate both cans and bottles. “The most popular fillers for brewers are the XF4500C (cans) and XF4500 (bottles). Both fillers use counter-pressure to minimize oxygen pick up during the fill.”

  Silver told Beverage Master Magazine that all XpressFill systems have a pre-fill CO2 purge cycle. The company’s counter-pressure systems require a minimal air compressor to operate the pneumatic actuators. Open can fillers have a moveable shelf that is easily adjustable for various sizes, with a maximum can diameter of four inches. 

  The counter pressure filler has a stopper that fits tightly into the can or bottle opening to seal and pressurize the container. Filling a container, Silver said, is an exact science. XpressFill’s level fillers control the rate of fill using a level sensor. As the liquid reaches the sensor, the filler automatically stops the fill. The liquid level is set by adjusting the height of the shelf, which can be adjusted to about one-sixteenth inch increments. The level filler can be used for all products, including wine and distilled spirits. Silver said that the level filler is perfect if the sightline in the bottleneck is a concern for shelf presentation due to glass variations.

  Although Colorado-based Ska Fabricating was born out of the need to address the brewing, packaging and distribution of Ska Brewing, its innovations have helped breweries worldwide.  

  Marketing Director Elise Mackay described the company’s most popular depalletizers. “Our most popular can depalletizer is the Can-i-Bus. It is our original depalletizer, obviously updated and

improved upon many times since its creation, and a full-height automatic depalletizer that is capable of speeds up to 250 CPM. It comes with three different trim levels that come with a variety of different features. It’s perfect for mid-sized operations and a great option to grow into for smaller operations,” said Mackay. “Our Nimbus is like our Can-i-Bus Jr. It features the same robust construction and pallet sweep mechanism that the Can-i-Bus does but uses a rotary table discharge that allows for additional accumulation with the added benefit of being able to fold down to save space when it isn’t in use. The Nimbus is also portable. You can use a pallet jack to move it from your production floor once you’re finished with your packaging day, so it’s perfect for smaller-scale operations looking to grow.” 

  Mackay said that innovation is always at the forefront at Ska Fabricating. “The newest addition, the Microbus, is our smallest footprint, most flexible, most affordable depalletizer yet. It’s rated up to 30 CPM and is an ideal product for operations that are just getting started in canning. Low speeds, manual pallet lifting, and ultimate portability make the Microbus special. It features the same foldable rotary table discharge that I mentioned with the Nimbus, but it also has a foldable dead plate, so when it’s completely dismantled, the footprint is minuscule.”  

  Mackay points out why her company is considered in the industry as, in her words, the “likable expert.”

  “We have an incredible team of engineers that create robust and reliable machines and then work with every single customer to create custom layouts to suit their exact needs; a personable and reliable sales team with tons of brewery and packaging experience; an installation crew that will travel to the ends of the earth to set our customers up for success; and a top-notch customer support team that is available 24/7 to assist with any issues that arise.”

  Industry experience, innovative products and after-sale customer service are common threads among these companies. These experts say that this combination is what breweries and distilleries should look for when choosing a company for bottling and canning products.

Future of the Liquor & Spirit Industry: Based on the Integration of the Metaverse

By: Rohan Doodnauth, Co-founder — OpaLink

In late October of 2021, Mark Zuckerberg announced his company’s intention to rebrand from Facebook to Meta and build an immersive platform fueled by augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR). This platform — the Metaverse — will further blur the boundaries between our online digital lives and our more tangible, physical ones. In his 2021 Founder’s Letter, Zuckerberg remarked how the Metaverse “will touch every product we build,” and will allow users to socialize, attend events, create, work, shop, and more in ways that transcend how we think about the internet and digital technology.

  If the past few years have shown the liquor industry anything, it’s that staying on top of emerging technologies and shifts in consumer trends is vital to the success of our brands and businesses. Look at the growth of omnichannel marketing and sales, for example. Between December of 2019 and November of 2020, retail wine sales at multi-outlet stores in the US grew by some 11.4%. For some businesses in the industry, this operational pivot spelled the difference between surviving or closing during the initial stages of the pandemic.

  With these notions in mind, it’s difficult for us not to consider how the Metaverse could impact the liquor industry as a whole. According to Zuckerberg, the Metaverse aims to become a new central hub of e-commerce and consumer activities. As such, brands in the liquor industry will be forced to rethink how its integration into their operations, marketing, and sales will reshape the future of their business, those of their competitors, and even their consumer markets. Furthermore, brands and businesses must possess the capability to remain agile as they integrate more deeply within the Metaverse, and take notice of how this integration might spur shifts throughout the liquor industry.

Unique VR Dining Experiences

  Within the Metaverse, customers won’t be confined by geographical distance or other physical limitations in exploring the dining or drink options available to them. Rather, upon entering the Metaverse, they will have the availability and opportunity to talk with chefs, foodies, and beverage makers all around the world in the palms of their hands. This will inevitably create a deeper integration of and connection to other cultures, as customers will be able to connect and chat with anyone anywhere in the world at practically any time, and open the door for businesses to provide them with truly unique dining experiences.

  For instance, imagine logging into the Metaverse and browsing a list of restaurants you wouldn’t normally be available to visit in person. Upon selecting a restaurant, you and your party can enter that restaurant’s virtual space within the Metaverse and begin browsing menus for the dishes or drinks you’d like to have. Once your orders are selected and placed, the restaurant’s e-commerce sales system will automatically register the items ordered and be able to virtually send them to you and the others in your party, even without any of you being physically present. Additionally, this method of sales could be utilized for those guests who may not want to show up in person, but still want to try food or drinks they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

  This blend of convenience and experience, fueled by the AR/VR technology the Metaverse is founded upon, will grant brands the ability to offer customers a truly personalized, customizable experience. Through integrating their sales platforms into the Metaverse, businesses can not only reach a far larger range of customers directly, but also indirectly by allowing their customers to send meals and drinks to family or friends who cannot be physically present with them.

  Because such integration of businesses’ operations with the Metaverse will allow them to provide each individual customer with a one-of-a-kind dining experience, this will inherently create greater competition between brands. Much like we saw with the rise of omnichannel sales during the pandemic, those brands and businesses which are able to capitalize on such value earlier on will be far better positioned to outperform their competitors. Likewise, as the technological capabilities of the Metaverse continue to evolve, the businesses that are better able to remain agile to those evolutions and pivots will likely be the ones who see the most success from their integration with the Metaverse.

Adapting to a Hybrid World Amidst Growing Competition

  Whenever a new technology or trend emerges that impacts our business, it brings with it new sources of competition. This is simply the nature of business. Liquor and beverage industry brands seeking to integrate with the Metaverse will need to take note of how this hybrid digital space could affect their initiatives and create new competitive advantages both for them and their competitors.

  For example, dining experiences in the Metaverse will likely become a blend of futuristic physical features of restaurants and high-tech interactive technology. Knowing this, one method businesses could use to stand out from the competition is by making customers part of this immersive and interactive dining experience. Perhaps a craft brewery or small distillery might offer customers a VR-led tour of their facilities to learn more about their business, its history, and its available products. Maybe a gastropub offers new customers a coupon for a certain percentage off of their first purchase in the Metaverse, or offer them a redeemable code that customers can use to virtually send food or drinks to others. Because our appearance in the Metaverse will be one not of our physical selves, but instead a VR-generated avatar, another possibility might be for businesses like these to offer a free side dish or drink to customers whose avatars are sporting their brand’s logo on a piece of their avatar’s clothing. These are just a handful of examples of how businesses in the liquor and beverage industry could remain agile in adapting to growing and emerging consumer trends after integrating with the Metaverse.

  As a virtual universe that is speculated to become a converging point of consumer activity and e-commerce, it can be assumed that the AR/VR technology used to explore and interact with others will inevitably expand the possibilities businesses have to innovate. Although there is still much we don’t know about the Metaverse — and likely won’t know about for the better part of a decade, at least — this should not stop businesses from forming strategies to implement once they are more deeply integrated into the Metaverse itself.

Implementing a Metaverse Strategy

  Consider for a moment the ways in which the emergence and subsequent growth of social media platforms have impacted business over the last decade. If your own business was in operations prior to the rise of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or other social media platforms, it’s safe to assume that the way your business functioned then is vastly different compared to its current strategies and initiatives. When thinking about how your business can integrate successfully with the Metaverse, it’s likely that there will be similar variances — albeit to different degrees or extents — between its current strategies and those used in a realm driven by AR/VR technology.

  For starters, contemplate the initiatives your business has implemented for its marketing strategy. You might be paying for ads on social media to cast a wider net to rein in a greater amount of potential customers, or targeting existing customers with regular email newsletters to alert them of upcoming events or deals you might have. In the Metaverse, those paid ads might transition from sponsored posts on users’ social media feeds into a virtual brand ambassador traveling throughout different e-commerce sectors in a VR-driven environment to offer exclusive tastings or VIP events. Likewise, your business’s email newsletters could transmute into a kind of exclusive membership program for customers to use solely within the confines of its virtual establishment in the Metaverse.

  As another example, look to your business’s current strategy for handling reservations or private parties for events. When integrating these operations into a fully-virtual space, the tickets or codes used for referring to reservations could become their own kind of non-fungible token or NFT; a digital token representing a reservation. If your business boasts a signature dish or beverage, each sale of this item to a VIP member could come with a transferable NFT that could be redeemed at a later date for additional rewards like a free entree, bottled spirit, or customized apparel for their avatar in the Metaverse. Eventually, it may even be possible for chefs or brewers to mint the dishes or beverages they create as NFTs themselves, offering them greater creative freedom and additional means of providing (and earning) value from niche sectors of consumer markets.

  Each aspect of your business in its current state will need to eventually evolve to integrate with the Metaverse. Whatever that means or looks like will be subjective for each liquor and beverage brand seeking integration with the Metaverse, but nonetheless must be made if you wish to remain relevant and competitive in this next iteration of the digital world.

Final Thoughts

  Regardless of how far off we truly are from integrating our businesses and lives into the Metaverse, its influence has already left a lasting impression on markets and industries the world over. Though selling virtual drinks, beverages, food, or other consumables to customers sounds like a counter-productive initiative better left to the realm of science-fiction, the Metaverse’s projected capacity to blur the lines between our digital lives and physical ones could easily turn this into reality in a matter of years.

  Indeed, the Metaverse is perhaps the most literal representation of a “Brave New World” if there ever is one. The potential for brands integrating their business with this new frontier of virtual reality to experiment with marketing, e-commerce sales, and communication with customers will be essentially limitless. In turning passive consumption into active participation with their brand, the first round of businesses in the liquor and beverage industry to successfully integrate with the Metaverse are bound to set new precedents for the industry’s next generation of innovative technologies and tools.

Is it Time to Franchise?

By: Raj Tulshan, Founder of Loan Mantra

The Casual Pint, a craft beer shop and bar, opened its first location in 2011 and their first franchise two years later. Since then, they’ve steadily expanded. Now, they have 20 franchises in eight states, and have found the franchise model to be lucrative for their business – and a great way to grow their brand.

  Part of the Casual Pint’s success is a combination of a solid concept with the right set of circumstances to succeed. First, they have a stable infrastructure in place that can be replicated in other locations.  They also provided all necessary resources to their franchisees, including market research, architectural design, and marketing and sales materials. They’ve ensured that the owner of each franchise was heavily involved in their communities, a model they’ve implemented from their very first shop. Additionally, each location promotes themselves as a community gathering place that provides exceptional beer, and the business is thriving.

  Franchising, like The Casual Pint, can work really well. Consider these stats:

●   90% of franchisees enjoy operating their

      business.

●   88% enjoy being part of their organization.

●   85% feel positive about their affiliation with their franchisor.

●   80% feel their franchisor operates with a high level of honesty.

●   78% would recommend their franchise brand to others.

●   73%, given the option, would do it all over again.

  Independently owned businesses looking to grow can explore whether franchising would be a good solution for their unique situation. Here are some things to consider before you decide whether to franchise:

  Are you ready to sell your brand concept? To be successful, you’ll need more than just a savvy business concept. Before you franchise, determine whether you can clearly explain what your brand is, what it does, and its unique value proposition. Remember: you’ll need to be able to clearly articulate your brand and your vision to key audiences, including investors and potential franchisees, to entice them to get involved.

  Do you have a solid structure in place? Your franchisees will need to replicate your business model and operational structure for marketing, sales, technology, etc.  So, you’ll need to have strong systems and processes in place before diving into franchising. Expect to hand over ready-made “toolkits” for your franchisees to use in their day-to-day operations. Allow plenty of time to develop these concepts, plans, and materials.

  Can your business be replicated? Is there a market for your business elsewhere? Could someone else run another location as well as you do? For a company to thrive as a franchise, it must be replicable. The Casual Pint found success as a community-focused meet-up space with amazing beer, and it didn’t matter if the community was in Tennessee or Arizona. The concept translated well in different locations, and can continue to grow and thrive anywhere.

  Are you ready to scale your passion? Are you ready to teach and manage others on a larger scale? Are you comfortable stepping back from the daily operations and focusing more on franchise management? For example, if you’re a craft beer maker, once you decide to franchise, you’re no longer going to be hands-on with beer brewing.  You’ll be focused on running a franchise to sell your beer, and teaching other people how to brew it, sell it, market it, etc. You’ll also be helping your franchisees get set up with real estate, construction, hiring staff, etc. Are you ready to scale your passion, overseeing several others in a new and amplified managerial role?

  Are you ready to build a dream team of outside experts? It’s essential to consider hiring knowledgeable professionals to help you through the entire process of developing your franchise model, preparing the necessary documents, and navigating the finances, including securing loans. You’ll need to hire financial professionals who specialize in accounting, loans and assisting business start-ups, as well as, specialized franchise attorneys to assist in the drafting of your paperwork. 

  Are you ready to invest in the business’s future? Expect to invest personally in the venture, which may require a business loan. Also, you may need to recruit investing partners to help manage the expenses. Anticipate a variety of costs, including brand development, experts’ fees, legal fees, and outreach to potential franchisees. You’ll need significant capital to launch your franchises, so think about how you will raise the necessary cash.  Many people choose to divest a 40IK, start with personal savings or take loans from family to start their first franchise. Others seek out investors, small business loans and  lines of credit.

  Have you researched funding? There are several different ways to fund a franchise. Seeking out an experienced loan advisor that you can trust can save you time and money. For example,  Loan Mantra has relationships with all types of franchise lenders, so even if you don’t know the exact kind of funding you need, we can help you determine the right loan package. Anecdotally, bankers and financial experts notice significant cycles to franchise funding. In January, more franchisers will seek equipment loans; whereas in the summer months, specifically July & August, they often seek more inventory-based loans (e.g. a cyclical  inventory such as football jerseys to sell in a bar or other seasonal products).   Regardless of season, 7a loans are always a significant source product for franchise funding. Most franchise lenders will attempt to use a 7a product first, followed by direct equipment company loans, followed by loans given by manufacturers. The franchisor will usually have a set deal with an equipment company and negotiate those terms out front.

  What will attract franchisees to buy into your concept? Be the brand that you represent. Personally meet with potential owners and attend area trade shows. Be easy to do business with. Streamline your business processes. Loan Mantra’s franchisors are able to house all of their franchise contracts, financing applications, and associated documents online through the BLUE platform, allowing their franchisees to complete everything online, without having to meet in person or send by snail-mail. The way you do business tells others something about you. Working through an antiquated analog system may tell them you’re antiquated, whereas using today’s tech tools will tell them you’re ready for the future.

  If you’ve considered most of these points this may be the time to franchise your passion!

About the Author

  Neeraj (Raj) Tulshan is the Founder and Managing Member of Loan Mantra, a financial advisory firm with best-in-class and proprietary fintech, BLUE (“Borrower Lender Underwriting Environment”). Loan Mantra, Powered by BLUE, is next-level finance: a one-stop-shop for business borrowers to secure traditional, SBA or MCA financing from trusted lenders in a secure, collaborative and transparent platform.

  After graduating from Ithaca College in Finance, Tulshan began his banking career at Merrill Lynch in New York City. He spent more than a decade in the Currencies, Commodities and Investments Group where he also worked with global asset-backed securities, structured products and principal investments. There, he also originated and underwrote deals valuated over $100 million and structured finance transactions.

  When the market crashed in 2008, Raj saw a significant opportunity to fix the fractured lending ecosystem. Soon thereafter, he sought after and completed an MBA from the Said School at Oxford University and began developing Loan Mantra. His goal was to remove the silos that exist between lender and borrower using secure financial technology. Though Tulshan continues to be iterative with his fintech, meeting current demands of both market and borrower, his professional mission and good- natured approach with clients remain the same. In this, Loan Mantra displays its founder’s proud partnership between best-in-class fintech and top-marks human experts. Time-and-again, clients turn to Raj because they know he will always pick up the phone and offer unparalleled financial counsel in a remarkably human —even friendly—way.

About Loan Mantra

  Loan Mantra is a financial services company designed to serve small and medium businesses with offices in New Jersey, South Carolina and New York. At Loan Mantra your success is our success. This means that our attention, purpose, and intention are all focused on you, our client.  We are your ally to overcome obstacles, bringing peace through uncertain times to achieve your highest goals and aspirations. Your friendly, responsive agent will listen respectfully, and service your account actively through one of three locations in the US.  We speak your language whether it’s English, Spanish, Hindi, Bengal, Hospitality, Laundry or QSR, let us help you today. Connect with us at www.loanmantra.com, 1.855.700.BLUE (2583).

“SHOW ME THE MONEY”

After Friends and Family, Where Do I Get Growth Capital?

By: Quinton Jay

Like most entrepreneurs, founders and owners of smaller craft breweries and distilleries often find themselves having to wear many hats. You need to be aware of your internal operations and external logistical factors in your business’s supply chain, as well as understand how to best market and sell your brand’s products.

  Arguably one of the most important hats you will have to wear that is not obvious is the one that reads “finance.” Without having a finger on the pulse of your business’s finances, you’re setting yourself up for inevitable failure. Running out of cash is the number 1 killer of businesses within the first two years.

  When your finances start leaning towards the red, or you know your business requires an additional injection of capital to grow successfully, it can be easy to feel frustrated and discouraged. But this is simply another part of business; you can’t expect to reap the benefits without having to face and overcome the hurdles and challenges you’re bound to encounter.

  If you — like many other small business owners — were able to obtain at least a portion of your original capital through friends, family, or other investors, this may not be a possibility further down the road. This is where that “finance” hat comes into play once more. In order to emerge from uncertainty with a brewery or distillery that is ready to continue growing, you as a founder or owner are required to find alternative means of raising funds, especially if your overarching aim or goal is to land an eventual, profitable exit. But where do you start?

  Here are some ways that you can use as means of obtaining additional growth capital for your small brewery or distillery business when reaching back out to friends and family is no longer an option.

Understand the Realm of Private Equity Investments

  As the Managing Director of Bacchus Consulting Group and its capital management fund, I have more than twenty years of experience managing, consulting for, and investing in more than a handful of small, independently-owned brewery and distillery businesses. I have helped dozens of businesses in the industry understand their options when it comes to raising growth capital through VC investments, the separate stages of fundraising, and the impact that each fundraising option has on those businesses.

Private Equity Funding

  When the time comes to look into raising growth capital for your small brewery or distillery business, the most prominent option you will run into is private equity (PE). To put it simply, PE involves investing in companies using capital that has been sourced from individual or institutional investors, as opposed to investing in companies using capital sourced from public equity markets like the NASDAQ or New York Stock Exchange.

  For the sake of insight, the general thesis of any PE investment is three-fold. A PE investment is made to: firstly, purchase a company (or portion of a company) using significant leverage and a minimal amount of equity; secondly, utilize the industry expertise and synergies of the PE investor(s) in order to maximize the growth and efficiency of the acquisition or investment made, and; thirdly, to sell that acquisition in an approximate period of 3-7 years based on the company’s improved metrics and lowered levels of debt.

  A common misconception with PE funding is that giving away equity in return for capital is “free,” but this could not be further from the truth. Selling equity for capital is simply a means of delaying payment. With PE funding, there’s no true cap on what you can give away in return for the growth capital you want or need. If you believe in your business, you’re better off acquiring debt rather than selling a portion of your equity. When you give away equity, you’re giving away infinite returns in perpetuity.

Alternative Lenders (Non-Bank Financing)

  Some sources of alternative financing include:

●    Merchant Cash Advances (e.g., Quickbooks capital, Shopify capital, AMEX Merchant Finance, etc.);

●    2nd Lien Lenders (similar to a 2nd lien on a home mortgage)  and;

●    Unitraunche Lenders: a hybrid lending model that combines multiple different loans — sometimes from multiple lending parties — into one, with a blended interest rate that tends to average those of the lowest and highest rates of the individual loans lent.

  As their name states, these are each an alternative form of financing available for businesses looking for access to growth capital. However, these forms of financing for businesses tend to be riskier on the part of the lender, hence why they charge more for these sources of growth capital.

Traditional Lenders (Bank Financing)

  Financing for growth capital through bank loans is another available option for small businesses. This avenue tends to come with lower interest rates than most sources of alternative financing but is usually much more difficult to acquire.

  Financing can also be done through debt, rather than its equity, but again: if your small brewery or distillery business is already deep in debt, it may not be the most beneficial option available to you. Although, when acquiring bank debt, or any debt instrument (as opposed to equity via PE financing), there’s always a cap on how much you can pay for the use of those funds received.

Finding the Right Investor for Your Brewery or Distillery Business

  Regardless of which financing option you choose to go with when searching for additional growth capital, the most important factor to keep in mind is to find the specific investor, fund, or lending institution that compliments your business and its goals. If your aim is to grow your brewery or distillery into a business that can be acquired by a larger parent company in a multi-million dollar deal, then PE financing is likely your best option. Similarly, if your business has a higher amount of debt, finding an investor that can provide you with acceptable terms for a second lien may be the avenue you wish to pursue.

  Whatever type of growth capital investment you wish to see for your business, be sure to ask yourself questions regarding the synergies your investor has with your business. Some examples of these might include:

●   Does this investor have good chemistry with me and my core leadership team?

●   Does the investor have a willingness to help and mentor me and my team on how to best successfully grow our business in line with our goals?

●   Does this investor believe in me, my team, and our ideas for our business?

●   Do they have relevant experience and connections we can utilize for additional investment opportunities now and/or in the future?

●   Does this investor have the domain and expertise — along with the capital — necessary to help carry our business forward through periods of growth we want to achieve?

  If your answer to any one of these questions falls into the realm of anything other than “yes,” then chances are high that they are not the right investor to bestow you and your business with growth capital. Additionally, if you or your core team are not ready or willing to accept mentorship from an investor, then don’t waste their time (or yours) trying to receive an injection of capital for growth solely for the sake of having more cash to fuel your business’s runway. Too many businesses — even smaller breweries and distilleries — land themselves in hot water this way. Don’t become one of them.

Showing What Investors Want to See in Your Business

  Before any investor, fund, or firm will agree to make an investment of growth capital in your business, they are going to scrutinize your business from every perceivable angle. Throughout their vetting process, you can (and should) expect any potential investor to analyze no less than the following aspects of your company:

●   Business Model: How does your brewery or distillery make money? What are your key business metrics such as revenue and gross margin, operating profit, and EBITDA? Is your current model scalable or does it need to be reworked if your business wishes to continue growing?

●   The Team: Does your business’s core team (including you) possess the knowledge, skills, and ability to carry the company through periods of growth? If not, which employee(s) need to be let go and replaced? Is the team able to collectively address and resolve issues?

●   Structure and Governance: How is your company structured and led? Is there transparency and accountability across its departments? Does your business have a succession and/or key man insurance plan in place? If so, what does it look like?

●   Exit Plan: Does your company have an exit strategy in place? If not, then why not? If so, what does this plan look like, and is it reasonably sound?

  All of these factors will play a vital role in your business’s ability to land growth capital. From my own experience as an investor/financier, I am looking for specific reasons not to invest in or finance a company; anyone can fall in love with thier own deals and each deal must stand on its own merits. This means that you, as the founder or owner of your business, will need to know both your company and its market viability inside and out if you wish to gain an investment of capital necessary to grow it in a way that meets your goals.

  If you are able to show investors and financiers that you are credible and trustworthy, that your business has shown the capacity to make sales of quality products and grow from its revenue and profits to date, and that it has the potential to continue growing in its existing market or into new markets, then your chances of landing an investment of capital required for growth are much higher.