Imagine a new customer walks into your brewery. It’s just another business transaction. You give them a product, and they give you money. After all, they’re just another customer. No big deal, right?
But what if I told you that new customer would be worth more than $6,000 to your business. Would you have handled it any differently?
Why a great first impression is so important
Let’s consider the software industry where the majority of providers now offer Software as a Service (SAAS). Instead of paying a fortune to buy the software package outright, users pay a low monthly fee in return for access to the product.
If you use Office 365, Xero, Dropbox, or any other SAAS product, then you’ll know what great first impressions are all about. Chances are they provided a free trial, a user-friendly interface, unlimited customer service, and the ability to become a customer in just a couple of clicks.
And why do these companies put so much effort into giving you a great first experience? Because they know your lifetime value. And they know how to keep their customers over the long term.
Let’s look at one of the most popular SAAS products—Microsoft’s Office 365. The subscription fee is around $19 a month. So, Microsoft earns only $228 per Office 365 subscriber, right?
Actually, it’s closer to $1,700. Why? Because the average person maintains their subscription for five years and will spend around $100 a year on additional Microsoft services.
That’s why they put so much effort into the first impression.
Now, let’s come up with a similar set of numbers for your craft brewery.
That new customer comes in, and you start a conversation about your brewery and what you make. In the end they buy six bottles, and once they taste it they’re hooked.
Congratulations. You’ve just made a ‘subscriber’.
Every fortnight or so they return to your brewery, and spend around $55 on bottles, cans and growlers. That’s $1,430 a year.
But they like your brewery as well as your beer, and happily come along to the events you run every few months or so. That’s another $500 a year. They even bring a bunch of friends over every month for lunch and a few cleansing ales, which over a year adds up to another $1,200.
All-up, that one customer will bring in $3130 each year. Even if they only stick around for a couple of years, they’re worth $6,260 to your business.
How to get (and keep) your subscribers
Right now there’s a lot of talk in the industry around promoting “drink local”. But a simple slogan won’t turn a local into a ‘subscriber’. To add subscribers you require:
- a great first impression for new customers
- pain-free distribution for repeat customers
How to create a great first impression
- Okay, so a 30-day free trial won’t work for a brewery, but how about discounted tasting paddles? They’re a great alternative (if not a ‘must have’) in any brewery.
- Don’t underestimate the power of good design. Use it to make your brand inviting, and your brewery the place to be.
- Make it easy for people to decide what to buy. Have signage that clearly shows each brew type you offer, along with its price, alcohol by volume (ABV) and any tasting notes.
How to reward repeat customers and keep them coming back
- Install large fridges in your brewery, and make them easy for your customers to access.
- Create a separate lane for take-away sales, and extend your take-away sales area’s trading hours.
- Make sure you have a speedy Point of Sale (POS). Ideally it will be cloud-based, integrate with your accounting and CRM software and connect to a modern terminal like Tyro.
- Think of some innovative ways you could make deliveries to customers. For inspiration check out Tipple, QuickBottle, Deliver Me Drinks, UberEATS, Deliveroo, which are all rapidly expanding their drop zones.
- Offer multi-purchase discounts, such as seven bottles for the price of six.
- Write regular blog posts and publish them on your brewery’s website. Then create a mailing a list where you can promote local events.
Unless you are pursuing a strategy of nationwide mass-produced distribution selling kegs for a predatory $250, you need to start making it incredibly easy for locals to subscribe.
So remember: in this business there’s no such thing as ‘just another customer’.