Bottling Beer and Building Relationships: An Interview with the Founder of MobileCraft
After spending a number of years in corporate America, Jeremy Williams found himself at a crossroads. Selling surgical equipment left him feeling unfulfilled and “stuck in a rut”. He began to take inventory of what was motivating and meaningful to him. He found his answer at the bottom of a bottle: A beer bottle to be exact.
MobileCraft, LLC , based in Indianapolis, was founded in 2015 after 2 years of industry research and planning. A long-time fan of craft beer, Jeremy learned that a number of small breweries had the desire to bottle their product, but due to budget limitations, building and operating a bottling facility was not feasible. He saw a need and jumped at the opportunity to help bridge that gap by offering mobile bottling services to local craft breweries.
After investing in the equipment, the most costly being the portable 6-headed filler (pictured below), he was faced with the task of finding customers. This meant reaching out in an attempt to explain the process while selling customers on how this would benefit their business.
According to Charles Green of Trusted Advisor Associates, “Most sales models are inherently transactional. But if you start thinking about your customers in terms of relationships rather than transactions, where it’s never about one deal, you’ll build relationships.” MobileCraft began taking this approach as they found themselves moving from email exchanges and phone calls to in-person meetings. According to Jeremy, he used these interactions to “hook” the customer while also building the foundation for a relationship. “I was always able to find common ground, whether it was the fact that many brewery owners had also left corporate America or that we both enjoyed good beer.”
Once you have made that initial connection, how do you build trust with your customers?
I go to every job site and work alongside the brewery employees during the bottling process. Although my employees are capable of training and assisting them, it’s the perfect time to get to know each other. Everyone’s guard is down whenever you are actually doing an activity. Plus, they see that I am truly invested in making sure they get the best service.
Once you have established customer relationships, how do you maintain them?
I reach out to them after a bottling-job, often through text messages. In this industry, most of them seem to be more responsive to texts, so that’s what I go with. I’d say I touch base every other week or so for customers who we bottle for monthly.
What about social media?
Yes, I also use social media to stay connected with them. If you look at our Twitter page, you will see that we promote our customers’ products nearly every time we are at a site and also in between, especially if they have an event or something coming up. It goes both ways, they in turn, will retweet us and then of course that gives us more exposure.
Here at A.M. Transport, we use “swag” that we provide to customers to thank them for their business or just let them know we appreciate them. I see from your Twitter that you use “tchotchkes”. Is there a major difference and how do you use them?
Ha! We only have one “tchotchke” which is a branded bottle opener and typically I leave those during my initial meeting with a customer. Maybe I should consider getting some “swag”
What book would you recommend that pertains to customer relationships?
Instead of a book, I would actually recommend authors: Chip and Dan Heath. They have some great books and I believe a blog as well.
So, we have our own craft beer line at A.M Transport. Any chance that you would drive down here and bottle it for us?
Well, our minimum production is 2300 -12 ounce bottles per hour.
Not a problem. We also appreciate good beer, so line ’em up- CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!
Jeremy earned his MBA in entrepreneurship from Ball State University and worked in medical sales and business consulting before finding his “passion project”.
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