Keys To Business Success: Quality & Consistency

One of the primary keys to any business success is a true focus and commitment to quality. Another that goes hand in hand is consistency.

Great brands are built so the consumer can count on them.

In the beer world quality and consistency are talked about quite a bit. I think the conversation was jumped started a bit more when Paul Gatza, the Brewers Association, dropped the f bomb emphasizing quality import at the 2014 CBC.

Quality + Consistency = worthy brands

Quality + Consistency = worthy brands

I agree. If you choose not to fully dedicate to quality, get the F out. Of any business. The world has enough crap, enough sub par junk, more than enough mediocrity and middling service, enough detritus for us to float on for millenia. And yet some people, breweries included, still keep pumping out junk.

And no, this is not where anyone can trash ABI or SABMiller. Quality and consistency has helped them build their global branded businesses, keeping the experience for the consumer, the same every single time.

Sensory Analyst Lindsay Guerdrum, New Belgium Brewing, gave an enlightening and very thorough sensory talk at the 2014 CBC (lots to take in this year…as usual). I want to share a bit of what I took from her talk to this end.

  • Consistency + Quality = Key to Brand Success
  • You absolutely need to know your customer; You need to know who you’re responding to
  • “Make sure you’re shooting at the right target.”
  • Beer is inherently the variable, there is no gold standard
  • Aim for True To Brand; in lab speak – is it “Go” or “No Go”?
  • “N” can never = 1 on a sensory panel. You need 3+ people on panels

And in her summation, I’d stand up and shout YES:

Never stop training.

Thanks to Lindsay and New Belgium for continuing to set the pace for quality and consistency. People don’t call the brand Fat Tire (vs. New Belgium ) for nothing. They know what they’re doing.

Do you?

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Beer Vigilance

“You must be absolutely vigilant to what your beer looks, smells, and tastes like to the consumer.” – Kim Jordan, New Belgium Brewing, CBC 2013

Success isn't a long shot if you're vigilant.

Success isn’t a long shot if you’re vigilant.

I’d agree with Kim on a number of levels.

1. WEB studies women and beer. We get direct input from women about wanting to go-to beers they can rely on. Reliance is dependent on consistency and expectation of anticipated experience. We can state factually that this will help your brands be successful with female market share.

2. Consistency indicates constancy to purpose and dedication to making something great (presumably) over and over again. That unto itself requires a commitment to repetition and redundancy, in the name of building a solid brand.

3. If you can’t repeat a feat and it’s one that should be able to be repeated, there’s work to be done before it gets to the consumer.

Beer brands take note: You MUST be able to repeat the beers you make. If you can, you’ll build a brand. If you can, you can build a company. If you can, you can build a culture that women will want to support and enjoy.

Distributors and Retailers take note: You MUST be strong in your knowledge of what quality is and consistency will follow. Customers want both of these things. And reputable brewers do as well so support the ones who are vigilant and you’ll be successful as well.

“See consumers as partners. Consumers are counting on us.” – Kim Jordan

If you can. And we all can. It’s a choice. Be vigilant and be successful.

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Why Does Beer Matter?

“Why does it matter that we do this interesting work?” – Kim Jordan, Keynote speaker 2013 CBC and Cofounder, CEO & President, New Belgium Brewing.

Why indeed. Have you asked your local brewer that question lately? Cornered the owner and asked her? Asked a server in a brewpub? Questioned a cellar person, sensory lab staffer or packaging line employee?

Ask the Why

Ask the Why

If you’re in the professional beer industry, have you asked yourself this lately? If so, what’s your response? If not, it’s time. And it’s time to ask your entire team the same question.

Kim’s right in posing the why. It’s the driver of “the Why” and WEB is relentless in asking others tuns of why questions not expecting any pat answer. Responses and musings, wanderings and thoughts are what’r important. If you have a set response, good for you – yet is it good for the whole? I’d further push the envelope and ask how long that response has been the ‘right’ one.

To look inside your own self and query yourself on why things are important do enormous things to our thought processes and what we choose to do in life as we know it.

Look. Look often, look again, look over and over. And then push that looking to others.

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What Sitting In The Front Row Will Teach You

As much as I can, I head to the front row of any conference, talk, presentation and seminar. I find that I tune in best in those spots – I “lean in”, as Sheryl Sandberg would also say. If I’m a few rows or tables back, the fascination of people watching can impede my hearing so I head to the front.

Front rows teach you to be a good attentive guest, to not fidget too much, to listen, to give the presenter the full respect they deserve. It teaches us to remember that giving of ourselves on stage allows others to learn, think, ponder, celebrate, grow and discuss.

One of my most recent front row seatings was at the Craft Brewers Conference held in Washington DC. At the opening Keynote Address and General Session, the rows are usually straight across, as were all the rooms I visited (a slight curve would serve the attendees better). Room layout has much to do with the efficacy of presentation to the audience and interaction of the presenter with the audience.

Blissing out at the CBC 2013

Blissing out at the CBC 2013

I like the front row also because to me being there in person is never replaceable by a screen, however large and simultaneous. The whole idea of going to a live talk is in large part the level of personal intimacy it offers: you can’t enjoy a concert from a recording as much as you can in person. And you’ll never get as much out of seeing the gestures, facial expressions, whole body movements, and supporting atmosphere remotely.

A few things that came from first the presenters live & in person:

Kim Jordan, New Belgium Brewing: Strengthen the bonds that make this a community, not just an industry.

Peter Bouckaert, New Belgium Brewing: 3 Ingredients in beer: Love, Experience and Creativity

Kim: Nurturing your happiness quotient feels right.

Peter (per receiving the Russell Scherer Award): [this is] the best place at the right time.

Another panel presenter offered this as well:

As partners, we’re putting everything on the line together.

Sitting in the front row affords you the most direct visual line to those giving of their time, expertise, humor and passions. As a presenter myself, I also very much appreciate the attentiveness and engagement of other front row sitters.

Why wouldn’t you sit in the front row? After all, like Sam Calagione says, we’re all blissed out!

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The Works: Beer Education Class Launch

A local beer store, Beerworks, recently joined forces with WEB to launch their own signature beer education classes. We dubbed them “The Works: Beer Education Classes”. Simple, easy to understand and a play on the business name.

Success was present the very first night and the seats filled right up (which goes with smart planning). Basic format of one hour in length, one topic, and a select number of seats available – first pay, first sit.

It was fitting to feature Ingredients as the topic of this inaugural class and they were easily gathered to use in the class. I already have a super helpful malted barley kit from Briess, already had some whole cone hops from Indie Hops and procured a small flask of liquid yeast from my local brewery. Water is really good in our area and it flowed straight from the tap. We even took time to taste the water, which perhaps some never do in beer education.

Education is a simple powerful animal. To create a new variation of a known quote, A mind once stretched cannot return to its original shape. Stretch those minds and it’ll benefit everyone.

Here are the beers tastes we served to compliment the lesson components: Oakshire Overcast Espresso Stout (malted barley), Good Life IPA (hops), New Belgium Lips of Faith Series Farmhouse Saison (yeast)

The Series will run once a month and each topic will focus in on another aspect of and related to beer. June 19th is the next one, topic = Glassware, and you can register at Beerworks with payment to save your seat.

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