For 42 North Brewing in East Aurora, NY, the community means everything. Named after its location on the 42nd parallel, the 20-bbl brewery opened in 2015, focusing on making true-to-style beers. Over the last eight years, the guiding principle has always been to question: “Does it fit what we do here? Does it work for the community?” says 42 North Brewing Vice President of Business Operations Catherine Cimperman. “Because it’s really the community that has made us a success; we’re kind of our community’s living room.”
With about 5,000 sq ft dedicated to customer-facing space in a very walkable village, 42 North has become the cornerstone of a thriving town. Primarily by keeping things honest. “We make quality, authentic beers,” says Cimperman. “We’re never going to put fruit in our beers … or necessarily be super inventive. … If we’re going to do a pilsner, it’s going to be a Bohemian Czech pilsner with all the correct malts, five weeks of lagering, and everything that goes with that.”
Accordingly, as 42 North has grown, they’ve needed a back-end brewery management platform and front-end customer relationship management (CRM) system to meet their demands.
An Ekos customer, back when the platform started with a subscription at $50 a month, 42 North found that although both businesses grew simultaneously, the software didn’t keep up, especially as the price hiked.
“[Ekos’] price just grew and grew and grew as we grew, but the functionality did not grow or change with us,” says Cimperman.
After Ekos’ latest price spike in the fall of 2022, Cimperman finally decided she needed to look for a different platform to manage all the brewery’s operations at a better bang for their buck. Cimperman switched to Ollie in November 2022 to leverage an easy-to-use, comprehensive, and intuitive brewery management software capable of handling all of 42 North’s logistical tasks, including raw material forecasting, accurate package tracking, and realistic cost of goods sold numbers to intuitive customer invoicing to perceptive QuickBooks integration.
In just ten months, Ollie has helped 42 North increase its profitability by twenty-five percent and eliminated extraneous tasks for Cimperman, freeing up eight hours a week for her to concentrate on other tasks.
Created by a professional brewer who experienced first-hand how frustrating it is to manage a brewery’s day-to-day operations, Ollie understands the order of operations in a brewery in both the back-of-house and front-of-house, designing features geared explicitly towards the beer industry.
Overall, Cimperman couldn’t be happier 42 North switched to the platform Built by Brewers, For Brewers™.
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Reaping Benefits From a More User-Friendly Brewery Management Platform
An original Ekos customer, 42 North used the system since 2015 when a subscription cost only $50 a month. But Cimperman says that the technology didn’t keep up over the years, despite the price of Ekos’ subscription constantly increasing.
“Our brewers used it just to plan their brews, do their packaging, and write sales orders, but that was pretty much it,” says Cimperman.
Finally, when Ekos hiked prices in the fall of 2022 (more than 400 percent monthly, according to some brewers), 42 North started looking for other brewery management solutions with expanded functionality.
“So when the opportunity came, I jumped on with Ollie [because] I really knew what they were making available,” says Cimperman, noting that even though the price was initially more than she looked to spend, she worked something out. “I appreciated them being flexible,” she says.
Additionally, although Cimperman originally planned to only sign up with Ollie Ops, she added Ollie Order after learning about all the features—such as front-of-house invoicing.
“The invoicing part was crucial to us, so it’s definitely been worth it,” she says.
Ollie’s Real-Time Cost of Goods Sold Increases 42 North’s Profitability by Twenty-Five Percent
In the last ten months, Cimperman says 42 North has increased its profitability by twenty-five percent. She cites Ollie Ops creating a more efficient process from brewhouse to taproom as one of the main reasons.
“Our profitability is up by twenty-five percent, and that’s a metric you can sink your teeth into, but it’s just about being more efficient,” she says. “And we will take that any day.”
For instance, Ollie allows anyone at the brewery to get involved with the intuitive platform, not just one or two primary users.
Brewers can input everything on the back end, from raw materials like grain and hops to packaging items.
With this feature, you can receive real-time notifications when levels are low and use that information to plan new orders with a single click.
People taking more ownership of their responsibilities has had several advantages at 42 North.
“We’ve been able to really tighten up our inventory because more people are using the system,” says Cimperman, noting that Ollie’s accurate reporting is invaluable. “What Ollie says is in inventory is what’s in there, so that’s been really helpful for the taproom and planning purposes.”
If you own a brewery, one of the most important aspects of running the business is tracking your products, from ordering raw materials to using them in a recipe to packaging and selling the beer from your front-of-house or off-premise accounts.
Beyond that, you need visibility into where your money moves throughout the brewhouse—tracking your profit, revenue, and cost of goods sold off everything you make.
Ollie’s cost of goods (COGs) feature closes the loop in your ecosystem, helping you make more money and better business decisions for your brewery.
For instance, for 42 North, Ollie’s precise analysis gives better visibility into the profitability of each packaged item. With Ekos, “We weren’t even able to see that, or if we were, I could never find it!” says Cimperman. “We were just getting top-line numbers—this whole batch costs $2,500—then we’d try to figure out … what we were selling to ourselves, selling to a distributor, or self-distributing. … It was kind of like [we had on] a blindfold.”
With Ollie, on the other hand, “we’re able to know exactly what a sixtel costs or exactly what a case costs,” says Cimperman. “So that part has been extremely helpful and was the main attraction.”
Additionally, Ollie’s tracking capabilities and real-time inventory help the sales team.
“Now they’re looking at when batches are being made, they’re preselling more because they don’t have to rely on us to give them the information; it’s all right there,” says Cimperman.
Plus, Cimperaman says showing her salespeople the profitability of selling a case of beer versus a half barrel to the distributor or grocery store has made the team more efficient. “Okay, you’re going to sell one case to this grocery store and eight case equivalents (CE) to this other on-premise establishment. For them to see we’re only making five a case on this twelve-ounce beer, [they can see they’re] spinning their wheels if they’re spending the whole day trying to sell that,” says Cimperman.
Overall, Cimperman says, “We have had a really great summer, and I think just being more organized certainly helped.”
Ollie’s QuickBooks Integration Saves 42 North Eight Hours per Week
In business, the two most important aspects are time and money.
In addition to increasing 42 North’s profitability, Ollie has cut down on previously extraneous tasks.
Cimperman, in particular, never trusted Ekos QuickBooks integration, so even though the brewers input all their invoices into Ekos, she re-inputs everything into QuickBooks. “It was a lot of double entry,” she says.
With Ollie, the brew team can quickly and easily enter all of the necessary information, and it will automatically upload into QuickBooks. “Now, everything that goes into the beers—packaging materials, ingredients, etc.—they’re entering on their side, and it’s all just importing nicely into QuickBooks, which is super helpful for me,” she says.
According to Cimperman, removing this roadblock has given her back eight hours weekly, equivalent to a full day.
“I was spending a [whole] day with these invoices,” says Cimperman. “So [Ollie] has simplified our world, for sure.”
Ollie’s more efficient, accurate QuickBooks integration has had ripple effects at 42 North.
In the back of the house, “I’m finding that we’re much better now at getting our vendors [paid] on time,” says Cimperman. “Things aren’t getting lost in the shuffle.”
And in the front of the house, “Now the customer gets the order generated right out of Ollie, so they get the bill of lading to pick up, then get the invoice once they’ve picked it up, and it’s already in QuickBooks,” she says. “So that has, again, saved a lot of time.”
Now, Cimperman says she feels much more comfortable stepping away from the brewery, trusting operations will continue running smoothly.
“I work remotely a lot, so if I’m gone the whole month of March, it’s really great just to know that everything is being taken care of and it doesn’t have to be faxed to me or whatever,” she says.
Lastly, whereas with Ekos, the onus fell on her to shore up all the brewery’s invoices, now the responsibility lies with her and the brew team.
The additional accountability and insight have benefitted 42 North’s brewers because “when you’re ordering, but you’re not seeing those bills, there’s not as much ownership there,” says Cimperman. “So having them take ownership to make sure they’re entering everything correctly and timely and really looking at how much everything costs … they’re being more involved in the business, and I think that’s important.”
Ready to Learn More About Ollie?
A brewery management tool Built by Brewers, For Brewers™, Ollie handles everything in your brewhouse, from recipe development to cost management to raw materials forecasting to front-of-house sales—all with one easy-to-use platform. Spend less time managing spreadsheets and more time doing what you do best: brewing beer.
For a limited time you can get Ollie, at an already incredible price and lock it down for 3 years, or more! This offer expires October 31st, 2023. Claim it today!