Brewery Operations and Benchmarking Survey

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First, let me start this post with a thank you. Thanks to the almost 450 breweries that have started and filled out some portion of the Brewery Operations and Benchmarking Survey (BOBS) and an even bigger thank you to the ~200 breweries that have completed the entire survey.

Here’s why every other BA member that operated for all of 2014 should take the time to fill out the rest.

First and foremost, the data in the benchmarking survey is only as good as you make it. There may be an incentive to free-ride and say, “well, I’ll get the data anyway, so why take the time to fill it out?”. Well, for one, the data won’t be as strong without broad participation. A survey of this type has the problem of self-response bias – it tends to look like the breweries that fill it out more than the overall industry. That’s why we need brewers of all shapes and sizes to fill it out!

More importantly, the more brewers that fill out the complete survey, the narrower the bands the BA can draw around the aggregated results. Because we promise complete anonymity on this survey, only with a decent number of responses can we focus the final data into particular categories. If there’s only 1 brewery from 5,000-7,000 barrels that fills out the survey, we can’t use that as a range for fear someone could figure out that brewery and their data. However, if there are 10 from 5,000-5,500 barrels we can publish MUCH more detailed results without fear of compromising anonymity. If every brewery in the country filled it out you could sort by state, by size, etc. The more brewers the fill it out, the more useful it is.

Here are some other reasons why this data is so valuable:

1. For protecting and promoting our industry:

  • BOBS provides the deepest dive into small brewers, showing how their operations are different from the rest of the industry.
  • It provides strong evidence of different raw material and equipment use that helps allied trade and supplier industries serve our members better.
  • The employment data is the strongest piece of evidence on Capitol Hill and in statehouses around the country for job and wage creation small brewers are contributing to our economy.

2. As a statistical tool:

  • BOBS is the best, most comprehensive look at production and sales in the craft brewing industry. There are plenty of other good data streams surveying craft beer in one way or another – but no one else is attempting to survey every craft brewery in the country.
  • That means that other data sources often have small amounts of bias (systematic errors), usually by omitting smaller brewers (tap rooms, breweries that sell only to small retailers, etc.) from their data. This means it’s equally important for micros, brewpubs, and larger regional breweries to fill out the survey.  The more responses we get, the more reliable the data.
  • Put another way – if you don’t fill it out, the statistics will shift slightly away from your experience and toward those of everyone else. Answering the survey makes the final number look more like your own 2014 experience.

3. For use by members:

  • Want to know how your business model may change as you grow/expand? Want to know the cost of expansion? Want to know how much of craft production has shift to cans? Want to know [insert basically everything about the industry here]? BOBS is the best data source to answer those questions.
  • Planning members often find BOBS data invaluable in business plans.

4. As a basis for other studies:

  • Did you read the recent BA report on the craft industry’s economic impact? That study would have been impossible without BOBS data providing revenue and wages. Want a new one in summer of 2015? Fill out the survey!
  • Student and academic requests also draw on BOBS. By filling it out, you’re helping fuel the next generation of beer-centric scholars.

So to sum, although it takes some time, BOBS is a wonderful statistical tool that helps members in their breweries and us here at the BA push the industry forward. So stop reading this post and finish your survey today!

Deadline is May 1st.


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