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arfbrau
01-01-2005, 12:44 PM
Hi! I am with a 10 bbl. brewpub in Central Pennsylvania. We are beginning to distribute kegs, both on-site retail and wholesale to bars, restaurants, etc. We are working with a few distributors in distant counties where delivery would be prohibitively expensive for us at this stage, but mostly are self-distributing. We are selling 1/2 and 1/6 bbl. kegs.

My question for more experienced folks is this: What methods have you found to be effective in overcoming the "I'm not going to support my competition by selling their beer." There seems to be a strong attitude among some bar and restaurant owners that selling our beer will eventually drive their clientelle to us. Naturally, one of the goals IS to help increase market awareness/volume at the brewpub, but . . . .


Any successful strageties would be appreciated. Thanks!

Kuether
01-01-2005, 03:57 PM
Hey pal~

We are going through this in a very small town in a rural area. The best way is to change the perception of yourself from another local retailer to a destination point. Explain to the retailer that your business is an attraction for the town, and whats good for the goose is good for the gander. Another thing we did was to price our beer higher in the brewery than at retail. This may seem wierd but in the long run makes sense. Your brewery is the attraction, the customer pays more for the atmosphere, the other retailers see that you are higher priced, they have an easy point of difference with you, that is..to sell high margin micro brew at a price that is lowest in town. Those are my suggestions.

Diamond Knot
01-02-2005, 10:53 AM
Hi arfbrau & Kuether,

Here in the Seattle area of Washington State, things are quite a bit different. In my humble opinion, the atitude of the "local Brewery as competition" is only held by retail accounts in our immediate vicinity..........say, within 5 miles or so. We have had long term customer literally right across the street from us.

It really depends on the quantity of MicroBreweries (or NanoBreweries, as we describe ourselves) in your area and the beer preferences of the region. More Breweries is really a better thing.
When a customer realizes they can go to a single Alehouse to get several of their favorite Micros, and the retailer discovers that fact and actually plays on it in their operating plan, then your sales will go up.

Another method is "word of mouth" and we've relied on it for the past 10 years. Have a loyal customer base that will go out and request your product at retail locations in their home area. You may lose a few customers in your own location, but your wholesale customer base will expand. Sales in your location will recover over time, if you even notice a loss at all.
Spend time with these customers......get to know them.......and be approachable. They will your best calling card.

Another method we have found is to invite staff from retail accounts down to your location, if you have an Alehouse format, and let them just enjoy the place as a customer would. Because of the population density in our area, we have staff members from numerous retailers drop in and I meet them whenever I go out to dinner somewhere, and they in turn ask their bar managers to put us on tap. Eventually, many of these folks are bar staff to begin with, and will become bar managers some day. It doesn't hurt to buy them a beer when they're in your place and talk industry items in casual conversation..........you might learn something yourself (even if is disturbing).

Lastly, you make a beer the bar staff likes and they'll sell the heck out of it.

I know this sounds a snick esoteric, but the methods indeed work and we've seen quite a bit of success with them. Local Breweries and Brewers must be approachable...............that's what separates us from the "Bigs".

Good luck out there.........