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a keg being passed between two people in a successful supply chain partnership

Supply chain management for breweries and their distributors involves many intimidating processes. Not only will you have to take on the logistics, creating contracts, and ensuring that state laws are met, but you also need to deal with the relevant costs—and the headache that comes with it.

For beer distributors, fostering a successful relationship with breweries should be one of their top priorities. The same can be said in reverse: breweries should also put their relationship with distributors at the forefront of their minds.

So, for a successful supply chain partnership, the connections between beer distributors and breweries should empower each other’s brands. But there’s more to these business partnerships than just mutual trust and respect. Some tips to ensure a successful brewery-distributor relationship include: 

1. Planning Ahead and Being Clear About Expectations

Setting realistic expectations is important in any business partnership—that means knowing what you want out of the deal. Of course, this includes discussing the initial pricing right off the bat and knowing how these will work with your target profit margins. These expectations must also be established before any contract is signed to avoid any future issues as much as possible.

Think about your annual plans or goals. If you’re planning for distribution soon, your beer distributor is going to have a strict calendar and several brands they’re working with. Having a schedule for regular communication, with a clear outline of what you expect, lessens errors and shows your commitment to the partnership.

Simplify the Strategy 

Speaking of plans, be specific and realistic about marketing programs. Since distributors have set schedules, they generally aren’t keen on building an entire distribution strategy for experimental products. Aim to capture one or two open spots on their calendar and tell your beer distributor about your major plans, like any events or festivals you plan on attending that require their services. 

Beer-filled glass underneath the tap.

2. Focusing On Your Passion

As cheesy as this sounds, sharing your passion with your business partner helps create a lasting impression. Why are you selling your product? What makes it special? Asking yourself these questions and sharing your answers with your beer distributor will help them empower your brand and sell your products. 

After signing the contract, fill in your distributor on the story behind your brand. Show them what makes you unique.

💡 Pro tip: Bring in some samples to the meeting! Not only does it help tell your brands story, but it’s also a great way to introduce the brew itself to your distributors. 

Some of the questions that may be asked during your meetings include: 

  • How did you make your product? Do you have innovative, high-tech facilities, or do you stick to traditional techniques?
  •  What makes your beer great? What are you known for? Do you specialize in a type or style of craft beer or use unique hops?
  • What’s your QA testing process? How do you ensure that you produce high-quality products?
  • How would you describe your brand? If you have brand guidelines, share them with your distributor. 

3. Making the Effort to Build Relationships and Expand Your Network

No one knows your brand the way you do. Putting in the effort to visit and build relations with retail and on-premise accounts adds to and cements the success of your product. To make things more efficient on your end, work with your beer distributor in determining which account would benefit most with a one-on-one meeting with your team.

Whether they recommend selling in a retail environment, high-end restaurants, or the local pub down the street, knowing these accounts can help with your brand’s visibility. The competition is tough in the beer industry, therefore making personal connections can keep your brew at the top of their list when buying from the distributor.

 two partners laugh in the stock room of a brewery

4. Keeping a Steady Flow of Communication is Key

It’s worth reiterating that keeping in touch regularly is the key to a successful supply chain partnership. Scheduling meetings to discuss progress on major campaigns or upcoming events can level expectations between you and your beer distributor.

Having your own inventory and production management calendar ensures a smoother partnership with your distributor. This shows them that you’re ready to sell your beer, and that you’re continuously working on new ones or improving other products.

In any case, it’s essential that your distributors feel that you are the right fit for their brand, and you should feel the same way about them.

Team Up With the Right Beer Distributor

Understanding the logistics of a supply chain partnership can be overwhelming, to say the least—which is why Brew Movers is here to help.

With more than two decades worth of logistics experience, we have extensive knowledge and connections to get your products moving. Whether you need our expertise in cold chain shipping, moving brewery equipment and tanks, or beverage managed logistics, we’re ready to assist you.

Call us today for more information, or get a quick quote!

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