Have you ever tried to juggle before? I’m talking real juggling here, balls in the air and all that. At first you feel like a complete idiot because it’s only 3 balls and you are holding 2 of them in your hands at any one time. Once you get the rhythm down it’s not so bad and then you decide you need to go for 4 balls and the whole process starts again, maybe not as bad as the first time. Repeat.
Nothing is worse than trying to make a batch of Spirits only to find out you don’t have something you need to complete the process. It seems so simple that you would know you are running low on corks, safety seals, labels or, heaven forbid, an ingredient. There are whole divisions at large companies devoted to this daunting task.
Neither Caitlin nor I am a naturally organized person but where there is a will (or an overriding need) there is a way.
I have found that if you designate a place for something and you put that something back there after you use it, when you need it again you won’t have to go on a building wide scavenger hunt for it, thus avoiding lost time (not to mention the frustration, the screaming and the swearing involved). This is true for supplies too. Have one place for things so you can see what your inventory supply is (I still can’t remember where I set my coffee cup this morning).
I divide our needs into different categories:
Production- what we need to make our delicious Spirits
Events- what we need to go out and promote our delicious Spirits
Chris’ Stuff- what I need to keep the physical business going
Caitlin’s Stuff- Everything else
Production: Production supplies are what people normally think of as supplies. It’s anything I need to make our Spirits. The problem can be when you don’t take into account the lag time involved when ordering something.
So what do you do when you discover you don’t have something you need (besides panic)?
Over the years we have compiled a list of small local businesses that carry some of the botanicals we use in our Spirits. We can pay many times the price for them, over our wholesale prices, but we have them.
If we forget to order any of the hard inventory such as bottles, labels or corks we are dead in the water.
One of the cardinal sins of the distillery business is letting your inventory run out in the warehouse (for control states) or not being able to get inventory to your distributors. You always have to look ahead and this means you have to be, somewhat, organized.
Events: You will need to keep supplies for promotions in stock. Do you have business cards, information cards, fliers, a table (or two), table cloths, sample bottles and tasting cups? I like to keep a “tasting kit” handy and a list of supplies needed so when I go do a tasting or gear up for a larger event I just have to consult the list to make sure I have everything I need. It’s amazing what you will forget and there is nothing more frustrating than to get set up and realize you have forgotten something simple yet important (like the credit card swiper or your tasting cups).
Chris’ Stuff: My job is to make sure we have what we need to make all our products (keep track of inventory), to distill all our products, do some paperwork and to keep the physical premises in good repair (the easy job).
Caitlin’s Stuff: Caitlin gets to herd the cats (everyone who works at Vivacity Spirits, especially me). She does most of the paperwork (the hard job), orders supplies to meet our production needs, runs roughshod over the design of labels and promotional materials, keeps the books, pays the bills and does a dozen other things that I can’t think of at the moment.
Being a business owner forces you to get organized (not completely true but it does make your life so much easier if you are). Even when you think you are organized something can and will pop up to prove you are not organized enough. This brings to mind being able to improvise (a later blog post).
Written by-Christopher M Neumann