This has been such a tough year for so many in the business world and those who have managed to survive what has happened in the last 10 months have done so through creativity and through the great support of their customers. For small business owner John Eilermann St Louis, which has had almost 300,000 cases of the virus already, is the reason why he has been able to keep his microbrewery afloat and the residents here have rallied around John’s and many others’ businesses. We’re trying to focus on as many business owners around the nation as possible to see how they got through things, and this is what John was able to do in order to survive.
Learning to Adapt
John and a couple of members of his team have experience of working inside a business which had to close its doors and so they recognized the signs of a slow down very early indeed. When John and his team saw this they began to quickly pivot and used their creativity to keep bring money in. Production was slowed right down and beers were sold in party packs at discount rather than having individual and slow-moving lines. A further switch which helped the business was that they stopped the stout production and used that area of the business to make alcohol gel, the perfect example of survival instincts.
Cash Over All
John recognized that the business, in order to continue to pay the staff and the bills, was going to need to have some cash on the hip, something which not too many businesses were able to count on. And so the team set about finding ways to bring in the quick sales, rather than any other form of promotion. Brand-building ads were scrapped, and the company looked at offering deals for customers, which would at the very least bring in cash, even if they were loss leading.
John has his own in-house marketing specialist and they decided early on that to try and capitalize on people being at home or looking to promote the business in a cards way during this time wouldn’t make sense. Instead the marketing campaign was stripped down and very honest. Given that the brewery has been in St Louis for such a long time, it made perfect sense for the business to just be honest with the customers about the financial shape of the company. This prompted an outpouring of support from locals which of course helped enormously.
Another masterstroke from John and the business was to partner up with some local companies in order to share best practices and to combine some of their products to offer great value for the customers. Their partnership with a local BBQ restaurant worked very well indeed and together these local businesses were able to make more money and survive when they thought that they may not be able to.
Who do you know who did well this year with regards to business survival?