“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.” Michael LeBoeuf

Quick question – who is your number one customer?

Many craft brewery owners say it’s the on-premise account that sells a ton of their draft and loves the beer. Others may say their best customer is a local convenience store or a popular bottle shop.

Truth is, your number one customer is your beer distributor.

The beer distributor sells more of your beer in a week than your favorite on-premise bar, local convenience store or popular bottle shop sells in a year. The beer distributor is your number one customer.

Want to Grow Your Sales? Embrace the Beer Distributor

When it comes to the relationship with the beer distributor, craft brewery owners tend to fall into one of three categories:

  1. Hate and discontent. The craft brewery does not like the distributor. There is real resentment and a feeling of being locked in to a crappy contract, and crappy out-dated state alcohol laws.
  2. The craft brewery tolerates the distributor. They hold their nose, and do business with the distributor because they feel it’s the only way to scale their business.
  3. Business harmony. The craft brewery has a good relationship with the distributor, and recognizes the value the distributor brings to growing beer brands.

Regardless of the category you fall into, ask yourself the question: Do you want to grow your sales?

You always have options when it comes to selling your beer: self-distribution or tap room only sales. But if you are committed to selling your beer through a distributor, it’s time to make a plan to improve the relationship. It’s the best way to grow sales of your beer.

How do you improve the relationship? Start by looking at your current relationships with your best retail customers. How do you treat that great on-premise account, local convenience store or bottle shop?

You visit the account several times a week, talk to the owner or the manager, and get to know most of the people that work there.

Maybe you go fishing with the bar manager, or mountain biking with the owner. Bottom line, you treat these guys like your number one customer.

How do you treat your beer distributor?

What is your relationship like? Are you fishing or going mountain biking with these guys?

Do you know the owners and sales team? As the saying goes, people do business with those that they ‘know, like, and trust’. What have you done in the last week, month or year to build a better relationship with your number one customer?

You want the beer distributor to grow sales of your brands. Period. The best way to accomplish this is to build the relationship.

To Grow Your Sales: Make it Personal

At its core, business is about personal relationships. We often say “it’s not personal, it’s just business”. Baloney. Everything is personal.

To build a better relationship with your beer distributor so that they will grow sales of your brands do these three things:

  1. Acknowledge that the distributor is your number one customer. Still not sure? Do the math for yourself.
  2. Build the relationship. Plan a fishing trip. Go mountain biking. Hit the golf course or just share a few beers together. Go first, and build that personal relationship.
  3. Treat the beer distributor like your number one customer. You visit your favorite on-premise account all the time. The relationship with the beer distributor isn’t a one and done.

We plan for everything. Make a plan to improve your relationship with your #1 customer so that you can grow sales of your brands.



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