Owning and operating a distillery requires a lot of working capital and resources, and not just in terms of money. It takes a good deal of time, along with a unique level of expertise, to make the liquor. Then it needs to be marketed and gotten to your vendors, which requires even more experts handling the business side of things. There are also a ton of rules and regulations a distillery must adhere to while doing all of this. Keeping track of it all is a daunting task.
One common mistake many distillery owners make is settling on generic accounting software, like QuickBooks to help handle things. While there is nothing wrong with accounting software like this, they were made with a one size fits all approach. QuickBooks is more geared towards mom-and-pop retail shops and small business service providers, like HVAC pros or mechanics. Distilleries have specific accounting needs that these generic business bookkeeping software suites just can’t handle.
The best solution is to get good, distillery-specific management and accounting software. Many people out there still think along the lines of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This attitude is usually born out of comfort in sticking with the familiar, or maybe a bit of tradition for the older distilleries. The right software is simply a step up from what's exists now, much the same way that a good diesel engine is a step up from a steam engine.
Specialized distillery management software helps at all levels of production. It can help with supply chain management by making sure that all the ingredients, equipment, and other materials are ordered from your suppliers when they need to be ordered. Distillery-specific software not only knows when these resources are needed or used but at what step in the distilling process they will be used.
The production process itself is another area where specialized distillery software outshines general accounting software. The liquor and spirits industry is one of the few businesses where a product sits around doing nothing for months to years before it can be moved. Most accounting software can’t handle this dynamic process as naturally and as efficiently as software built to do it can.
Making things like cook sheets and production schedules digital is more efficient, and cuts down on costly errors. Controlling and running these steps through software made for it cranks it up to 11. It lets a distillery put in more time making the liquor and less fooling with paperwork.
And finally, there are all the extra laws and regulations distilleries contend with on a daily basis. Not only does a distillery have to adhere to GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) it also has to comply with what the TTB says they have to do. There is no wiggle room here. It’s like dealing with two IRS’s. That’s why having accounting software designed to handle these things is so important to a distillery. All these little details and rules are built into the way it works, and they catch errors general accounting software misses.
There is no downside to switching over to distillery-specific software. In many ways, they are easier to learn than programs like QuickBooks. A distillery owner already knows all the terminology and processes that go into distilling spirits, along with all the laws and regulations. Distillery management software knows it too. The person handling the books doesn’t have to guess or shoehorn a piece of information into some field or function that doesn’t quite cover what a distillery actually does. This fact alone makes distillery-specific software is the best choice, hands down.