HOW ARE THINGS OUT THERE?
AN INTERVIEW WITH FARM BOY BREWS
How's everybody doing? No, seriously, how are you?
Things have been pretty topsy turvy in the last four months of pandemic, lockdown and just plain confusion. Our industry has taken a massive hit over the course of lockdown, starting with Government 'guidelines' to stay away and then onto plain old enforced closure of many places. It's seen most cafés, restaurants, pubs, roasters and other drinking holes shutter their doors and look for alternative ways to stay in business and service their customers.
We are quite lucky in that we have been able to stay open through lockdown; still being able to look after customers and provide our same great quality crockery. But other places aren't quite as lucky. Across the industry, suppliers have had to shut their doors completely and people have had to put their plans on hold for the duration. But now we are starting to get an easing of lockdown in many respects, how is this starting to affect the trades and people in our industry?
In a series of chats with some of our friends and customers, we will be looking at how the last four months have looked like for indiviuals and businesses. How lockdown has affected their business, how they have had to adapt and what is in store for the future.
First up, we managed to have a chat with Farm Boy Brews, a relatively new coffee roaster and supplier in rural Scotland, who mixes a love of coffee and highlighting mental health issues and charities in the UK. We had an email chat to see how lockdown has affected their fledgling business, and what plans they have post-COVID...
How did lockdown initially affect your business?
Farm Boy Brews:
Our business is still in the very early stages having launched last October. We'd put a lot of emphasis on securing slots at events, farmers markets and agricultural shows this year to try and get ourselves out there and to help us grow. We managed to attend two farmers markets before everything went into lockdown, so we essentially lost a huge amount of potential income overnight. We had a very, very small amount of online sales at the time, so we weren't really sure how best to keep our doors open or to just hit the pause button until things were safe to trade again.
What challenges have you faced during the lockdown period?
The biggest challenge has been trying to keep going and reacting to changes and opportunities on the fly. Our supply chain has been impacted due to the virus, so there have been added delays in deliveries, etc but we've had to adjust our way of working.
We were really lucky to see an increase in online orders, but we limited our trips for deliveries and post office runs to just once a week to limit our risk of exposure and to try and put less pressure on our local post office who have been absolutely invaluable to us throughout this.
How has customer response been throughout the lockdown period, i.e. reaction through social media? Have people been supportive?
Customer response has been really overwhelming.
We lost all our markets and events which were a massive part of our growth plan for the business, and the majority of our wholesale stockists closed due to the pandemic but our social media following has exploded over the last few months and we've been shipping online orders all over the country. We were also lucky to take on a new stockist who had diversified into local deliveries, so we've been really lucky.
What ways have you had to adapt your business throughout lockdown and now restrictions are easing?
Finding new opportunities and alternative revenue streams has been the biggest change for us, and trying to source new coffees and other products during a pandemic!
Now that restrictions are easing, we are looking for new premises to help us expand the business going forward and hopefully we will see a return of stockists and at least some of the events and markets, though it will be a new experience adapting to these with new protective measures in place.
Have you received any support from the industry in general?
The support from the industry has been great. Since day one, I've found most people in the industry have plenty of time to share knowledge and experiences and want to see you do well.
What are you looking forward to once lockdown restrictions have been removed?
It'll be nice to just get back out there and meet people and chat to them about what we're doing. We've missed the markets and events, missed seeing regular customers and making deliveries to our growing number of regular stockists, so it'll be nice to catch up with everyone when it's safe to do so.
We've taken the time to come up with new ideas and we've some exciting plans up our sleeve that will hopefully come to fruition in the coming weeks and months.
How do you think the industry will change following the pandemic? Will there be any lasting changes and are there any innovations you're planning on implementing after lockdown?
It's so hard to tell how things will change as we still have no real idea when things will get back to "normal", if they ever really do. Businesses have had to adapt to the situation and come up with new ways of reaching their customers, through takeaway, local delivery or click and collect,etc. We're working hard to change the way we do things and to ensure we can continue to survive and thrive in a post-Covid world, and be prepared if something like this happens again. We've a lot of exciting ideas for the future of Farm Boy Brews, so hopefully we get a chance to see them come to fruition in the near future.
We'd like to give a huge thanks to Farm Boy Brews for taking the time to chat with us. If you'd like to feature in a future blog, and give us your two pence on life in lockdown (or whatever you'd like to share) then email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll have a chat.
In the meantime, thanks again to Farm Boy Brews. You can visit their website at www.farmboybrews.co.uk or you can be social at: