simplify your keg inventory management
It doesn’t take very much effort to realize that the hours your organization puts into looking for information on its product inventory and keg shell inventory can be a huge anchor on its profitability. Additionally, insights into cooperage rates, total fleet size, service maintenance records, and customer purchase patterns can dramatic improve your bottom line as well as brand quality.
What’s more is it’s clear that breweries of all sizes (small and large) and distribution processes (with and without distributors) find it frustrating and time consuming to keep track of what is in their walk-in, what is out with customers, and what is available on the production floor to use. Throw in keeping track of when a keg was last serviced or QC’d and the problem gets even more complicated.
I’ve heard some other beer operations companies say you don’t need to worry about it. They’ve basically said just count your kegs or use depletion reports and reconcile against your invoices. The reason why that doesn’t work is because it is only addressing part of the problem and creates other issues. It’s lazy thinking and is like sticking your head in the ground and “hoping” everything will work out.
Another solution is to use a pay-per-fill keg rental solution and forget about all the reverse-logistics and again just basically give up on managing the assets. Well no, this isn’t really a solution (at least not the problem we are talking about today). Actually, all you are doing in that case is outsourcing the problem to another company and usually at a premium price. Not to mention in those cases the kegs are shared and you never know the services records or what was in them. Being able to manage operations properly is critical to the success of a brewery. If you are currently paying a premium price to outsource the problem, have you ever stopped to think about what happens when times get tough? That premium is certainly going to feel a lot more expensive than it currently is. Of course by then you probably won’t have the capital to begin to offset the problem and buy kegs.
Finally, there are software solutions (or “semi-software” solutions) . These vary widely and if you find yourself spending a lot of money on Pay-Per- fill solutions, or wasting hours or days a week managing your kegs and you think that the tools and processes to remove these problems and gain operational insights are too complicated and cost prohibitive, please read on because I’m about to show you how you can do this for free and in a simple way.
Let’s look at a real world situation that was documented in our market research.
Alice and John run a thriving brewery but are constantly facing challenges with keeping track of their beer and keg management.
They are looking to grow but can’t when they have money tied up in their keg fleet and with cash reserves for deposits for each keg. At $100 a pop they care where their kegs are and when they will get them back. They also care deeply about the quality of their beer so freshness is extremely important to them. They try to keep track of when each keg leaves and with who so they know how old the beer in the keg is and can later follow up should the keg take longer than expected to be returned.
Their brewery employs four people that must coordinate statuses and they have trouble keeping each other up to date. They are constantly trying to communicate what is reserved for the tap room, what is available to sell, how much of each keg size and beer they have available to sell and when more beer is coming off the bright tanks.
They keep going through various spreadsheet formats, but nothing quite works. Ultimately, they give up and just write everything down in a binder. This of course also become tedious and is incomplete. It can’t be searched either.
We’ve heard many stories like this and all kinds of reasons why breweries struggle or simply don’t manage their operations. My favorite is “what’s the point?”.
4 Typical False Reasons Breweries Give for not managing their Inventory and Keg Fleet.
“We are too small to care about keg management”
“We are too new of a brewery to know what problems we need to solve at this point”
“We use a distributor and they manage our kegs for us”
“We Self Distribute so we know where all our kegs are at already”
Unfortunately, the above reasons are just excuses and result in poor operations that costs these breweries a lot of money and growth potential. One of the unique value propositions of craft beer is that it is typically local, always artisan, and always high quality. As you can see from above, if you are not tacking who has what and when they got it, then not only do you put your margin at risk, you are risking brand quality—one of the very elements that defines craft beer.
So how can you quickly get a solution in place easily?
Simple ways to Managing your Kegs for Free
Of course, we are in the business of helping breweries get their keg and inventory management on autopilot but today I’m going to provide the sheets we used to design out our software. These sheets are the output reports we spent years of research perfecting. We revised them from discussions with close to a hundred breweries.
They are your for free.
We suggest you take these two sheets, put them into a google docs format and share them with your team to keep them up to date.
Unfortunately, that alone will not be enough. When you put these sheets into place you’ll want to sit down with your staff and establish some standard operating procedures and expectations for using them.
The reason why there are two sheets is because we found that breweries really need two views to look at their data.
- The Current Cycle View–When properly accounted for this tells you everything about your current cycle kegs like your current available beer inventory, your empty keg count for clean, for dirty, who has your kegs and for how long, when you last serviced your kegs
- A Historical view for accounting and tax purposes (how much made, how much sold, etc)–When properly accounted for this tells you what you made, what you sold. Keeping this up to date makes life really easy
These two views are represented as separate tabs in the single excel file. You should be able to open this in Google Sheets if you don’t have Excel.
We hope you’ll find a lot of use from these sheets. You can grab them by entering your name and email below.