How Breweries Are Weathering COVID-19

As breweries reopen after COVID-19 restrictions lift, they’re working hard to comply with new protocols coming out from local governments while simultaneously transforming their business in a way previously unprecedented for the industry. Fundamentally, it’s a challenge for breweries to adapt to changes that necessitate a limit on in-person interactions when they’ve never had to worry about how to package and deliver goods or how to host services online.

However the social landscape of our world is shifting, and breweries need to evolve too. Despite the radical shift in their approach to business operations, many breweries continue to thrive because of their loyal customers who are willing to make accommodations in order to support their favorite local businesses.

As breweries open and adapt to a new world and shifting consumer trends, they also have to make changes to guarantee health and safety for everyone who comes in.

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Sanitization

Businesses all around the world have already reopened, but others are still getting used to safe practices for in-person customer interactions. Cleanliness is key.

To ensure the continued health and safety of customers and staff members alike, breweries can implement a number of provisions for regularly and frequently sanitizing the store. By increasing sanitization and social distancing measures, owners can easily reduce the spread of germs inside their breweries. Mandate that employees regularly wash their hands and wipe down communal surfaces like tables and door handles at set, close intervals, such as every two hours. Don’t forget outdoor areas.

Work harder, not smarter; use disposable, single-use items whenever possible, like for sampling. Also implement carryout and curbside pickup to reduce human contact between delivery workers, customers and employees. Additionally mandate, and provide, gloves and masks for everyone who comes onto the premises as this will ensure their safety and reduce the spread of germs.

Many restaurants have started using contactless thermometers to temperature check everyone who comes in, which breweries can use for the same purpose. Contactless technology is getting more popular in other ways too as breweries have started using one-touch or touchless transaction methods

Social Distancing

When physical locations reopen, brewery owners need to take care to provide enough space for people to safely distance themselves if they want. Sometimes this can be as simple as having a manager walk the floor to enforce the six foot rule, while other businesses expand their seating areas so they can balance increased capacity with social distance. For example some breweries opened outdoor areas if they have them; it’s fortunate, then, that this pandemic came with the oncoming summer so people are more willing sit outside in the sun.

Breweries can also limit loitering around the business by controlling how many people come inside at once. Some breweries put an employee at the entrance to do head counts and greet people, which helps with social distancing regulations and creates a better customer experience.

Other breweries rearrange their layout, if possible, by moving tables or shutting certain ones down to keep guests six feet apart. One smart and innovative solution is to only seat parties if all the guests have arrived. By doing this and limiting the amount of people per group, you’ll reduce loitering around your brewery and simultaneously clear tables faster. Make sure that customers aren’t combining or rearranging tables and chairs, and also encourage just one guest to come process payment for the entire table. This will reduce the amount of in-person interactions that employees have throughout the day.

Unfortunately, social distance and reduced capacity also means that breweries should cancel any major events they had coming up and prepare to find creative alternatives. For example many breweries have decided to go temporarily virtual.

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Online Sales

Like many small businesses, breweries have adapted because of the COVID-19 pandemic and learned the tricks necessary to move a significant portion of their sales online. Breweries are selling craft beers that were previously only available in-store by setting up new webpages for takeout and delivery orders. They’re also revitalizing their online marketing strategies.

Before the shutdown, many breweries didn’t bottle their craft beer for mass or direct distribution; some that did were just beginning to experiment with that type of sales approach. Since COVID-19 shut down most breweries for months on end, a lot of them began bottling six-packs of beer which let them retain some of their customer base throughout the past few months.

To supplement online sales, many breweries also went virtual. Although this practice isn’t new, it’s getting more popular and widespread even before COVID-19. People can log into group chats and try free samples, attend virtual happy hour, witness events online and more. Learn more about the new, virtual world of beer.

Customer Support Networks

The only way for businesses to stay open throughout these tumultuous times is to rely on their steady support network of loyal, dedicated customers. One way to ensure their continued support is to make the product widely available in addition to selling craft beer directly to consumers. Some brands can even be found at places like 7-Eleven and small liquor stores.

Additionally, offer other options: If people can’t or don’t want to buy craft beer online, but they still want to uplift local businesses, give them other avenues to show their financial support. Some breweries sell gift cards to redeem at a later date; this is nice for customers as well because they can use the gift cards to buy their friends a round to celebrate meeting back up once it’s safe. Breweries also sell merchandise specific to their business; this can be anything from shirts to mugs to trinkets that show off the company logo.

Customers can also support local breweries without financial means. Simply promoting them on social media to a wider circle of people expands the business’s audience and helps draw in new customers. Breweries can encourage this type of promotion by offering deals and discounts to those who post about their craft beers or merchandise online, and they’ll also build a more personal relationship with that customer which fosters continued loyalty and support.

Customers can have a significant impact on the reputation and subsequent success of a business, and breweries are no different. Those that want to show support have the power and potential to do so both financially and through personal recommendations to their close network of friends.

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Breweries are opening once again, and they have to adjust to a post-COVID-19 world by experimenting in areas they never navigated before, like the online market and direct-to-consumer sales. With enough customer support networks and the proper reopening procedures that ensures everyone’s continued health and safety, though, breweries can continue to thrive just as they have throughout the pandemic without posing any additional risk to themselves or the craft beer enthusiasts that they’re working so hard to serve.

Craft beer is back in style.  COVID-19 doesn’t have to mean business stagnation but instead can be a time to regroup and pivot the resources, avenues and goals of business operations. Breweries are learning this just like everyone else and take the tools they’ve sourced over the past few months to apply them to the obstacles set forth by COVID-19. Despite the changing landscape of the world, breweries are determined to keep making delicious craft beer for people who love it. They can use these protective measures to do so safely.

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