Day 553

…but first, a quick flashback to yesterday. Most of the Brewmaster students from both years ended their scholastic day participating in one of two True Colors workshops led by my wife Elaine.

True Colors posits that there are four main personality “colours”; although each person is a mixture of all four, one or two colours will usually predominate, which then will inform how that person acts, learns and interacts with others.

In a very small nutshell, the four personality groups are:

  • the organized leaders/managers (Gold);
  • the fun-loving risk-takers (Orange);
  • the curious learners who analyze (Green);
  • and the creative and caring (Blue).

Learning what colours predominate in me should help me to understand what my motivations are, why I enjoy doing my own particular hobbies and work, and what approach I take in doing them.

In addition, this helps to explain why I find some of the behaviours in other people irritating. (“His emails just ramble on but don’t give me any facts” or “Why does she insist on arriving everywhere on time?”)

The reverse side of the coin is that some of my own actions are doubtless very irritating to people in other colour groups.

This can help me in both personal relationships and in the workplace. By realizing what colour another person is, I can not only try to tailor my personal interactions with him or her to make myself less irritating, but as a manager, I can also try to communicate with that person and motivate him or her by reaching out to that person’s colour.

For instance, in an interesting exercise, the least Orange people in our workshop tried to design a weekend getaway for an Orange person (the fun-loving risk-taker). The non-Orange people came up with the idea of sending the Orange person to Whistler ski resort for a weekend of snowboarding. However, to get there, the Orange person would be given a rental car at a random spot in Vancouver without a GPS or road map. If the Orange person could get to Whistler by a certain time by simply asking strangers for directions, he or she would receive a big cash prize. Needless to say, this pushed all the right buttons with the Orange people in the room–a competition, a prize, interacting with strangers, and snowboarding at Whistler to top it off. Woo-hoo! The non-Orange people knocked it out of the park.

All in all, the workshop was a fun time, a lot of lauighter, and gave us some valuable personal insights to boot.

Okay, fast forward to this morning, when we started with a quiz in Sales & Promotion, followed by a lecture on using social media.  Of course, this raised the whole question of how to best use social media, which social media to concentrate on, how to know when to leave a particular medium behind when its time in the sun has faded, and when to join a medium that is about to rocket skywards.

This is my own particular HIGHLY SIGNIFICANT ANALYSIS: There are no answers to these questions. Target your audience. Keep your ear to the ground. Do the best you can.

On to Brewery Management. Mike Arnold warmed us up by bringing up recent legislation passed in New York State (the Farm Brewery Act, July 2012) that allows breweries and wineries to give out samples of and promote each other’s products. (That had previously been illegal.) Mike led a discussion of whether such a program in Ontario would help or harm craft brewers.

On to the Big Topic of the Day: Critical Path Project Planning.

First of all, Mike drew a graph on the board showing the spectacular sales results for the New Brewery (ta-dah!) that had opened on June 1, 2012. The New Brewery had managed to increase its sales by about $4000 every month. Now Mike asked what annual sales would have been like if the brewery had opened three months late (boo!) or three months early. (Yay!) “Aha”, you’re thinking, “total annual sales would be about 25% lower if the brewery opened 3 months late, and 25% higher if it opened three months early. Big whoop.”

No! Wrong! Error!

graph4Total sales for 2012 are not just the sales figures for December (which, yes, are only about 25% apart). As this graph illustrates, total sales are the sum of every month’s sales in 2012.

If the brewery started on time, total sales for six months would be $112,000. ($4,000 + $8,000 +$12,000 + $16,000 +… etc.)

If the brewery started three months late, total sales for 2012 would only be $40,000 — 65% less than the brewery that started on time!

If the brewery managed to start three months early, total sales would be $220,000 — almost double the amount earned by starting on time, and 4.5 times more than the brewery that was three months late.

So, as Mike pointed out, starting on time (and even starting early, if possible) can have a huge impact on your bottom line–and on the survivability of your brewery. So critical path planning is essential.

In essence, what we should do is break down everything needed to be done to open our brewery based on:

  1. The activity needed to be accomplished
  2. Duration of the activity
  3. Dependencies (what other activities this activity has to wait for before it can be done, and likewise, what activities cannot start until this activity is completed)

For instance, suppose I map out the path of activities needed to get from bed to class each day. It might look something like this:

  • Get out of bed (5 min)
  • Make bed (5 minutes)
  • Shower (10 min)
  • Get dressed (5 minutes)
  • Make coffee (15 minutes — I have a slow coffeemaker)
  • Eat cereal (3 minutes)
  • Drink coffee (7 minutes)
  • Listen to traffic report (10 minutes — I always tune in just after the previous report finishes)
  • Drive to college (45 minutes)
  • Walk to class (5 minutes)

At the moment, the critical path — the shortest path through all of these activities — is  1hr 50min. However, it’s clear that some of these actvities could be done simultaneously if they were re-ordered.

  • Get out of bed (5 min)
  • Make bed (5 minutes)
  • [Start coffeemaker before shower (15 minutes)]
  • Shower  & get dressed while coffeemaker is making coffee (the same 15 min)
  • [Listen to traffic report while eating breakfast (10 minutes)]
  • Eat cereal & drink coffee while listening to traffic report (the same 10 minutes)
  • Drive to college (45 minutes)
  • Walk to class (5 minutes)

By moving coffee-making and listening to traffic reports out of the critical path, I have optimized a new critical path, shortening it to 1hr 25min. I can now afford to sleep 25 minutes longer and still get to class on time.

Our next big project for Mike’s class is a complete critical path for a brewery start-up. Big project, better get started on that pronto.

But wait, there’s more. Mike then went on to a small grab bag of various miscellaneous topics:

  • Purchases, and getting credit from the supplier. (Hint–as a start-up, you’re probably going to have to pay cash for a while.)
  • Equipment–what to look for and look out for, things to consider when purchasing, such as shipping time, compatibility of parts with current equipment, warranty, follow-up service, installation costs, references, electrical and pressure standards, and how the equipment will fit into your brewery.
  • Taxation — pretty well a rehash of Jason’s Fisher’s class yesterday.
  • Inventory control — how much did you have, how much did you use or sell, how much do you have now?
  • Human resources — according to Mike, brewers always underestimate how many people they will need to get the brewery started.
  • Production management — optimize equipment to maximize production, tie upcoming sales promotions to sales commitments.
  • Distribution — the Beer Store has the most efficient and cheapest system. You, as a craft brewer, will have a very expensive and clunky system that probably involves a very overworked delivery van with too many miles, lots of dents from kegs rolling around, and a completely shot suspension from overloading it with too much beer. Try to keep your delivery goals realistic under the circumstances

To end the day, we had a brief visit from Brian Egan and Shelly Tripp, respectively the Production Manager and HR Manager at Creemore Springs Brewery. Creemore Springs started as an independent craft brewery before being bought up by Molson in 2005. However, Shelley and Brian maintained that other than a mandated change from custom bottles to industry standard 341 mL bottles, Molson has alloweed Creemore Springs to do its own thing. It is undergoing a major expansion over the next 3-4 years, and doubtless they will be looking for qualified brewery workers.

And hey, they had a little trivia contest — I won myself a t-shirt and beer glass for knowing the answer to “What is our ‘Mad & Noisy’ line of beers named after?” (The answer is: the Mad and Noisy Rivers, which converge just outside the village of Creemore. Nobody said Ontario rivers had very creative names.)

So a long day was somewhat mitigated by free swag.

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