Balancing Act — Designing Your Brewery Expansion

Many breweries find themselves making decisions on the fly and only reacting to what is in front of them. It can be difficult to balance all of your wants, needs, and desires with your budget and within the necessary timeframe. What if we told you that there is a better way? What if you could choose to ACT instead of REACT to common pitfalls as you grow and expand your brewery? Designing an expansion for your brewery is an intricate recipe that requires a balance between big dreams, function, time, and money. Poorly executed planning makes great business plans and good breweries fail. So what can you do?
Know Before You Grow
A major milestone you will need to establish is to develop your list of wants and needs. A critical component to keep in mind is that you are going to continue to grow, and you don’t want to paint yourself into a corner and prevent on-site growth. As part of your planning, develop a master plan that aligns with your business plan for the next 5-10 years. Are you going to add additional cellar space? Think you’ll update your brewhouse and reduce brew days? By developing a masterplan, you create a tangible vision and road map you can use to monitor and tackle achievable benchmarks.
Determine Budget and Timeline
After you develop your masterplan, it’s time to evaluate your budget and timeline. If you aren’t in the position to knock out the entire expansion in one construction phase, consider breaking it down into manageable phases. People are excited about growth. Every introduction of something new, is another opportunity to reignite your current crowd and attract new customers. Focus on the main revenue-generating areas of the business first, then add on from there. This approach helps to reduce the amount of financing you may need by allowing your business to cash fund itself.
Surround Yourself with an Experienced Team
Owners and brewers that accomplish the above points successfully surround themselves with an experienced team that understands your business and industry. It can seem obvious in hindsight for those that have already gone through the process of expansion, but for those that haven’t…equate it to making the decision to hiring a team member with experience brewing beer vs. someone who just enjoys drinking beer…it isn’t exactly an equal prospect. The same principle applies to selecting team members like your Architect, Contractor, Financial Lender, and even Equipment Vendors. By building up a team of specialists, you bypass the frustrations of having to educate them on your craft, and instead create a network of consultants that bring their experience and knowledge to the table and combine it with yours. Lining up these team members early is one of the best ways to begin an expansion project on the right track.
By taking the time upfront to plan your next steps, you empower yourself and your team to aggressively overcome each challenge with confidence.
FMD Architects is an architectural design firm with national reach that concentrates on creating destination breweries, wineries, and distilleries. Mark Moore and Melanie Friedman are principals, and Brian Grafton is the Vice President of the Beverage and Hospitality Studio. For questions and general inquiries, please feel free to reach out at [email protected].

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