Like many businesses, Hemingway's Brewery is a complex operation that constantly accrues financial and non-financial data through a variety of inputs. Consolidating all of this information into a digestible format is a monumental task, which used to take up precious time and resources—until they made the switch to Spotlight Reporting.
Highlights at a Glance
Now, CFO Matt Serpell can track financial and non-financial KPIs easily throughout the month, and generate reports with the click of a button.
"With Spotlight, it’s super easy," he says. "It leaves me far more time to make decisions."
With Queensland's economy devastated by the pandemic along with the rest of Australia, staying on top of the numbers has become more important than ever. Spotlight Reporting's suite of tools has proved essential to the survival of Hemingway's Brewery, by allowing them to create multiple plans around different scenarios, and making sure the most up-to-date data is always on hand.
Consolidations with Spotlight Reporting
As a multi-entity business with venues in both Port Douglas and Cairns, Hemingway’s Brewery needed a reporting app that could easily handle consolidated reporting. This is exactly what they got with Spotlight Reporting.
“We used to rely on data that would take so long to file that it just wasn't useful anymore,” says Matt. “We have data everywhere—point of sale systems, brewery software, we use Xero, we have everything else we connect to as well. Back then, it would take us three to four weeks to consolidate everything using spreadsheets! ”
When it comes to fintech, Matt definitely knows what he’s talking about; as the self-styled ‘App Guy’ at his previous workplace, he made it his mission to find and test all the reporting and forecasting apps in the ecosystem. If they weren’t simple, straightforward, and intuitive to use, he says, he’d just dismiss them. After all, accounting software is a huge investment, and you need to get a return on investment.
“If someone like me can't use it, it's going to be really hard to implement, and you're going to lose any benefits you wanted to gain,” Matt points out. “I've used all of Spotlight's competitors, and I've decided on Spotlight—it’s intuitive, and the support we've received, from onboarding to now, is really good.”
Into the Pandemic
Independent breweries like Hemingway's don't have the backing of major conglomerates like other craft breweries; they do what they do for the love of beer. This love is evident in the excellence of their products—their flagship range of six beers have won seven awards in total. But even a fantastic range of products couldn’t protect the brewery’s bottom line when Queensland's tourism and hospitality sector began drying up in the wake of the pandemic.
Immediately, Matt's focus shifted from reporting to forecasting, as he tried to give stakeholders an idea of what the future might hold.
"We had to quickly do many models based on all sorts of situations, worst case, best case,” says Matt. "So we started creating scenarios—what would we do if this happened, or that happened."
The scenarios were well received by the board, who, Matt says, became even more enthusiastic about Spotlight Forecasting than he was. Having the numbers on hand gave them confidence to make plans for every eventuality. Armed with the metrics that matter, Hemingway’s Brewery were able to steer their company through the closure of their two venues, into online and external sales, and even a new collaboration beer plotted over Zoom.
“I’m not going to lie, it was a stressful time,” says Matt. “If we didn’t have the right software, we might've made the wrong decisions, or we wouldn’t have been able to access the data to make decisions at all. That’s why it’s really important to have something like Spotlight Forecasting.”
A Community-Focused Future
Now that restrictions are beginning to ease up in Queensland, Hemingway’s Brewery is looking firmly to the future. Their time in lockdown gave them a chance to consider their mission and values, says Matt, and recalibrate their legacy.
“We want to have more of a community focus, especially with our partnership with Great Barrier Reef Legacy,” he says. “Half our profit from our 7th Heaven beer goes to them, I think that's a really good thing, for everyone. We rely on an economy largely based on the reef and tourism, so we need to give back and make sure it's there for a very long time, if not forever.”
Lockdown forced Hemingway’s Brewery to focus not just on values, but on expanding their reach outside their venues. Now that they’ve forecasted their way out the other side, they’re excited about charting a way forward, growing their revenue, and generally just having some fun.
“Our team has been with us throughout, and everyone's put in the hard work,” says Matt. “So we’re going to do more collaborations, make some interesting beers. We want to celebrate that we've made it this far through Covid.”