Initiatives launched to help brewery cash flow

Two initiatives have been launched to help breweries keep cash and beer flowing – Sydney delivery service Taps n Tins and Melbourne voucher programme Shout Your Local.

While the federal government has launched its solution to temporary cash flow issues, the craft beer and adjacent industries have all been ‘pivoting’ to new ways of working now that venues are closed.

One initiative, Taps n Tins, was founded by Michael Bain of the Royal Albert Hotel in Surry Hills, Sydney. He said it was launched initially to help the hotel and its partner breweries use their existing keg stock which would otherwise have gone untapped.

“10 days ago we had a crisis meeting and decided this is what we’re going to do, so it’s all happened really fast. The whole thing was based around kegs sales which have totally stopped in craft beer venues,” Bain explained.

In an attempt to use all their keg stock, the Royal Albert started packaging its kegged beer in crowlers with a machine they’d bought a number of year ago.

Now, it has teamed up with 20 breweries to keep beer flowing and sell crowlers to the public. Taps n Tins can also get beers to customers with same-day delivery and has brought in Motus Transport, one of the biggest operators of cold storage beer facilities and deliveries in NSW, to help out.

“The idea was to get fresh tap beer to people. We’ve had a crowler machine for a couple of years, so we already had it,” Bain explained.

The team is getting help with distribution and is looking to expand the project nationwide if all goes well.

Taps n Tins also has a #SaveTheBeer Crowler Fund scheme in which customers can pledge $20 for a crowler, which will help the Taps n Tins team buy cans which are in short supply, and go bigger with their project.

They are aiming for $5,000 to get the stock required, and also ensure there is demand once they’ve canned.

Initially the team are working in a 20km radius of metro NSW, and then they are looking to go national.

“We’ll keep buying beer and now it’s about getting more venues into the #SaveTheBeer campaign.”

Bain explained that the venue scene in Sydney and across Australia was adapting to the changed landscape, with many investing in canning machines to adapt to the changing ways consumers now drink beer.

“It was and is scary, we didn’t know how badly they were going to shut us down, and we certainly didn’t know if they’d let us do home deliveries. It was about moving business from craft beer pub, to a complete shutdown,” Bain explained.

“We’re likely not opening before September and even then they will open us in staggered ways, it will be massively different until at least Christmas, but people are going to be having house parties and Zoom chats and tasting sessions.

“So we hope on the flip side, everyone will support their local and it will hopefully get more people going to their local and getting takeaways in future.”

Shout Your Local

Another initiative is Shout Your Local, a ‘pay it forward’ social enterprise project aiming to help small local venues through the Covid-19 crisis.

The platform, co-founded by software designer Mark Murphy allows local businesses to start selling vouchers that can be redeemed at a later date. Venues are paid the voucher revenue now to help with cashflow.

Murphy and his partner built apps, websites and ticketing software for some of Melbourne’s venues and festivals.

“When Covid-19 landed unfortunately our customers were some of the first businesses and communities to be impacted, and just like their businesses our projects pretty much dried up overnight,” he said.

“The idea for Shout Your Local came about as we were refunding customers on our ticketing platform.

“Basically I was phoning ticket holders to tell them the bad news that their event wasn’t going to happen and where they would like their refund sent.

“I was pretty amazed how many people actually wanted to donate or hold on to their tickets for a presumable future show to help their favourite venue weather the crisis.

“That’s when we thought we could repurpose some of our software and know-how to sell vouchers instead of tickets and help local businesses who had passionate regulars,” Murphy explained.

The platform sells electronic gift vouchers and those customers are placed on a list so the venue knows who has bought them and will be able to redeem the vouchers when they are allowed to reopen. Small businesses register on the website.

“Customers can buy vouchers for themselves or for a friend using our website, we’ve partnered with two of the biggest voucher and payment providers to make the whole process user-friendly, secure and easy to manage,” he said.

“It’s a very easy concept for people to understand and buy into – we were also in a position to whip this up very quickly and bring this to market in order to help businesses that need it now.

“We’re getting some promising early feedback and we’re working on integrations with the leading point of sale systems to make redemption super easy when things go back to normal.”

The Shout Your Local team are reaching out to Melbourne venues currently, but the platform can work for any business anywhere in Australia.

“In terms of responsibilities and obligations it’s the same as you’d expect when selling vouchers from your venue directly. We have some standard terms and conditions on our website that all venues and customers agree to when selling or buying vouchers.”

In terms of pricing, as the business is a social enterprise Murphy explained it would only be looking to cover costs from their voucher and payment providers.

“We’re still negotiating a best price with these partners and we hope to have this at around 5% – this will be deducted when we payout voucher sales.

“All other costs are currently being covered by us, and we are looking for sponsors so if anyone is in a position to help we’d love to hear from you!”

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