Fest Practices, Part 4

...continued from Part 3: Inventory Equipment


Depending on where you and your establishment are in your lifecycle, the goal is to have a team of trusted rockstars who manage events on your brand’s behalf and hold themselves accountable to the standards you’ve set. On their own, without being told (or micromanaged). But, that means you’ve got to set the tone upfront. And hire smart.

Internally | Train Your People

Of course, who you send is going to depend on the type of event, but what they do and how they execute it is always your call. If you’re reading this, you (probably) care. Remember the staff from that one brewery at last month’s event—you know, the crew who was drunk before they let in general admission? Well, they don’t even remember being there. Here’s the difference: You have standards. They think everything’s harmless and hilarious. 

Have you considered the following for your team?

1. Is this a high-profile event that demands your seasoned A Squad? Or, is this an opportunity to bring up a hustler from the B Team who’s eager to learn?

2. If the event is themed or leans toward a specific genre of beverage (e.g., wild ales, wine and food pairings, cocktails with housemade shrubs, etc.), it might make sense to send the person on staff who’s most well-versed in it and can speak intelligently. And if you can afford to, send one other person who can learn from that person.

3. Have you set CLEAR expectations for all things service and hospitality? If your staff is rude, dismissive, or unprofessional—simply unfun—I already don’t want to have anything to do with your brand. Your people have ruined my experience before I’ve even tried your product. And it’s your fault. Well, theirs too, but you’re going to be the one who pays for it. Hold them accountable, fire viruses who are infecting the rest of your staff (we all have them), and reward amazing behavior. 

4. What’s your drinking policy? Sure, they’re working an event where the main function is serving alcohol. So what? What’s your tolerance for whether or how much your team is allowed to drink?

5. What are they wearing? Uniform is such a militant style, but do your people look like your people? And yeah, it’s okay to tell your staff to shower, wear a shirt that’s not wrinkled, and shave their neck hair. Slinging beer does not have to be synonymous with hipsters who look homeless.

6. Is someone in charge or able to make a judgment call if something hits the fan? Are you or someone else on call in case of an emergency? Make sure your team knows who to call when the going gets tough.

7. If you’re selling merch, is your team trained on whatever mobile POS terminal you’re bringing? Don’t forget change—some people still roll with cash.

8. Do a dry run. You don’t have to set up everything, but think of it as a fire drill. If your team had two minutes to get out the door with everything, are you confident they could? If not, adjust.

9. Everyone who works for you is in sales and marketing, especially when they’re representing you outside of your taproom. What are you and they doing in advance of the event to promote the event and more importantly you being there?

10. AAR (after action review). Essentially, this is a report debriefing the event. What worked (and why), and what didn’t (and why)? Your call on whether it should be on paper, stored in Google Drive as a shared doc, or scribbled on a coaster. Either way, create some benchmarks that you want measured or commented on, and let the staff own it.

By creating systems that your staff can rely on and refer to (without having to bother you for the brain dump), you can remove emotional bias and make an experienced decision on whether you commit to doing the same event again next year. 

Yes, they’re work and can be looong days, but events and festivals are fun. Send people who want to be there and are fluent in how they’re supposed to be managed. By doing so, you’ll see a return on your investment in training “up.” How will you know? Your staff will be your biggest indicator. If you hired the right people for the right reasons, they want what’s best for your brand. And whether your taproom is busy or crickets after an event will confirm it.

Continuing reading Part 5: Promote Yourself or Get Lost. Or, subscribe to our newsletter to receive the rest of the series delivered to your inbox as it’s published.