Idyll Hounds Snapshot
Idyll Hounds Brewing Company is located in the gulf-side community of Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. The white sand beaches, sunny skies, and long summer seasons draw visitors from all over the southeast and midwest. The brewery was founded in 2014, and we began to work with them in an official capacity in 2016. Starting with some sales consulting, event promotion, design work, and social media management, the Beer Marketeers are now the entire sales and marketing department. Our role encompasses nearly all functions other than brewing. Below are some data points quantifying our progress in this ongoing partnership.
The crew at Idyll Hounds were making their dreams into realities. They built a facility from the ground up, started to brew beers they liked to drink, and began distributing within months of opening the doors. Just like most companies, Idyll Hounds wanted to grow but had a finite set of resources. The goal was to get bigger in an ever tightening, hyper-local brewing industry without becoming irrelevant in the process. One sentence goal, doesn't get any simpler than that.
This is where Beer Marketeers came in. We proposed to help out by using our experience in Florida's three-tier distribution system. This experience included previously working on the supplier side, the distribution side, and the account side. The metrics to measure our success were black and white: grow the current sales numbers.
THE (on going) SOLUTION
After an immersive discovery process, we began to develop a strategy with the Hounds. The guys wanted to be very hands-on in the beginning, so we rolled out our solution in segments. The initial growth phase was simple according to our findings. There were three areas we identified as opportunities:
- Distributor relations
- Brand awareness
- Production alignment
Distributor Relations - In Florida, all beer sold outside of the taproom is sold by a distributor. They are in the driver seat of a brewery's volume sales. At the time, IHBC didn't have a great relationship with it's primary distributor. Those bad vibes trickled down from warehouse managers to craft managers to account sales staff. There was an image issue, or as we were told, an "attitude issue". After doing some digging, we determined it was more of a communication disconnect. From day one we began to build the foundation of a more productive relationship. Small things from proper email etiquette to identifying a proper chain of communication helped to start the repairing process. Inter-warehouse transfers started happening faster and more frequently. The distributor sales team began to sell more IH beer to key accounts in the territory. Best part, this thawing of relations was FREE. This may be one of the most important things we've learned while working with Idyll Hounds, a little bit of common courtesy and clear communication goes a long way.
Brand Awareness - Idyll Hounds isn't the biggest brewery in Santa Rosa Beach. It isn't even the biggest brewery on its own street (Grayton Beer Company takes that honor). There were people one town over that were unfamiliar with the brand. It was time to make a push. We implemented textbook promotional tactics; attending all "local" beer festivals, dropping off samples to community enthusiasts, getting our regulars to request IH beer at bottle shops. Then, we followed the lead of industry pros and built events around our small batch releases at the brewery. The hype around these small batches allowed us to leverage their popularity into core sales at accounts in the area. We were sending product to competitons and beer publications. Bloggers were blogging, Instagrammers were....Instagramming??? A position shift was taking place. Instead of just the small guy on the block, Idyll is now seen as fresh and innovative. Vacationers are now making it a point to stop by the brewery to check out the daily offering.
Production Alignment - This segment could easily fall in both of the above areas. Many local bars and shops couldn't keep Idyll Hounds beer on their shelves. Before signing on, we thought this was a good thing, IH beer was in high demand. We quickly discovered it was more of an internal production issue than a consumer hot streak. There were unexpected lapses in beer availability and production. The distributor, back to the first segment, didn't have historical data to project future sales and they were less than inclined to offer unsolicited guidance. As our relationship improved, we stepped in and began to work with the inventory managers and territory sales managers. They helped us blend spotty sales history with area trends and competitor data. There was now less guess work involved as we scheduled brew days and batch frequency. With this came fewer out of stocks in the market and, in turn, sales of the more readily available product increased.
Our partnership with the Idyll Hounds crew is ongoing. We draw new conclusions daily, but here is some of the progress we've acheived to this point.
- 2017 up 43% over 2016
- 2018 YTD up 70% which equates to nearly 4200 CEs
- Double ticket sales for 2017 anniversary festival. 2018 fest to take place in October, and we're on track to increase revenue by 25%
The speedy growth of Idyll Hounds has caused a speedy adaptation of our services. Distribution management has grown to include two other territories (Alabama and Atlanta) and 2 part time sales representatives who we manage. We are now building and implementing new sales incentives for our distributors to focus on specific product volume increases. Because of our strong relationship, we now help the IH team make decisions relating to growth, production, and capacity concerns.
Brand awareness is still a major focus in the continuing Idyll Hounds partnership. We are working on 5 new labels for both small batch and year round release as we speak. To build brand awareness in our local market and create awareness in regional markets, we have signed a distribution agreement in two surrounding territories. Both of these are larger metro areas and have the ability to bring more business to our taproom as well as create a larger sales footprint for the production side of the brewery. This hard push on brand awareness and growth into new markets has even affected our yearly Houndfest anniversary event. When we took over organizing the event, they were selling roughly 200 tickets. In the first year with us at the helm, the number of tickets doubled to nearly 400. As of this writing, we are on track to sell over 600 tickets for this year event.
With quick growth comes growing pains. Idyll Hounds has been growing at a blistering pace, but they have had difficulties when trasitioning into the slower winter season. Due to the drastic change in demand, Idyll Hounds would often have issues balancing the needs of the market with storage space at the brewery. The new distribution agreements we've put in place should be able to supplement this seasonal slow down. Demand has been increasing in these off-beach markets as we have been trickling product to them throughout the spring and summer. The objective is to normalize the brew calendar as much as possible and bank roll incremental off-season equipment upgrades, all in the hopes that growth begets further growth and so on.
Idyll Hounds Brewing Company is signed to an ongoing services package where we are constantly adjusting in order to ensure the best results for the company. We hope that this snapshot of services gives you a better idea of what we want to do for your business.