A Key Way to Convey Company Culture to Consumers

For Smog City, it’s respect. At Hill Farmstead, it’s a pursuit of excellence; while 3 Stars looks to cultivate experimentation.

Having a set goal as a company and a message to broadcast to both an internal staff and to the general public — be it patrons across the bar, a casual observer online, or a beer buyer at a retail location — can matter in how you approach every aspect of the company. That can be in the brewing process, the sales techniques, and even how a customer is treated.

“For our consumers, the biggest way we convey the idea of respect is through our respect for the quality of our beer and the way our staff treats them in our taprooms,” said Smog City‘s Aften Lee. “We work hard to ensure every single person has a great experience in our taprooms and feels like they belong.”

Hill Farmstead formalized its mission and vision in a key way by explaining it on its website. Sharing the company’s intentions and providing greater transparency for guests and vendors is a smart way to broadcast the message to anyone at any time while also giving employees a backbone of information to refer to as well.

“In addition, we are always working to share our story and goals via social media, on our website, and within platforms such as this,” they wrote to Brewer. “We continue the process of sharing our goals with suppliers and vendors, with the ultimate goal of selecting those companies and organizations that reflect our goals and values.”

For 3 Stars, CEO and founder Michael McGarvey said they always try to foster a culture of experimentation and interpreting traditional styles in their own way.

“As a small brewery, our crew is also small and very cross-functional,” he said. “At certain times, typically depending on need, we’ve sought experienced crew members to join and help us build the capability.

“We also pride ourselves on training and helping new, inexperienced people to grow with us into bigger and better things as they learn. We’re very proud of our team and the way we operate has always been part of our story.”

Having a brewery culture means defining it and working for it.

Beginning in 2020, the Hill Farmstead staff explained that they enter each workday with a seated group huddle.

“[It’s] a way to share everyone’s emotional well-being, assess the prioritization of daily tasks, maintain connection during a truly uncertain time, and ensure constant feedback loops amongst the team,” they said. After a winter sabbatical in March 2021, the entire team met for a week of workshops to share personal and professional development journeys and entered into the practice of daily group meditation and communication huddles.

“During these gatherings, we sustain a continuing dialogue examining each of our core values and culture, rotating through various topics that run in concert with projects that further our mission,” they said.

READ MORE:​ ​Onboarding Your Brewery Culture to New Employees

Similarly, everything Smog City does is done with the idea of respect in mind, but the second tier of the brewery’s culture is the idea that no one or thing at Smog City is perfect and they can always learn, grow, and get better.

“We respect every single person’s input and encourage our team members to always ask questions, poke holes, and push back when they think something can be done better, but always from a place of respect, of course,” Lee said, saying these ideals come from owners, Laurie and Jonathan Porter.

“They are always asking questions, looking for ways to make us better, and never happy with the status quo,” Lee said. “We’ve always had huge respect for quality in the brewing process and our customer service practices in our taprooms, but over the years as we’ve grown and become more sophisticated, we’ve realized the importance of bringing this respect culture into how we run every aspect of our business.

“It hasn’t been easy to get to the place we’re at now & we’re lost some long-time staff along the way as our culture has changed, but we feel like we’re the strongest we’ve ever been and have the happiest staff we’ve ever had.”

Mainly through social media, Lee said that Smog City reminds consumers from time to time that Torrance, California brewery also expects those buying and drinking the beer to treat its team with respect.

“We empower our taproom staff to hold boundaries in our taprooms with consumers that aren’t being respectful and will always have their back if they need to ask someone to leave,” Lee said. “Thankfully that very rarely happens. We have wonderful customers.”

For retailers, it’s very similar to how Smog City conveys the message to consumers.

“We really highlight the respect we have for the quality of our product and our sales team does their best to always deliver on promises, regardless of the size of the retailer,” Lee pointed out. “We also expect our retail partners to treat our beer and team members with respect and if that’s not happening, we choose not to do business with them. But again, that is also rare, thankfully.”

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