The Gladstone Brewing Company started in 2015 in the Comox Valley of Vancouver Island, off the coast of British Columbia. The husband-and-wife duo of Daniel Sharrat and Alexandra Stephanson have worked together on Daniel’s dream to start a brewery. From the initial days of Daniel microbrewing while doing his master’s degree, the two have expanded their team and are looking to leap from patio sales to wholesale success.  

After moving to the island and purchasing their brewpub space, the pair spent eight months getting the space ready to brew beer, hand out samples, and ultimately sell growlers. In that time, the province of British Columbia changed the rules around alcohol distribution, allowing breweries like theirs to offer direct sales. 

Since then, the market has exploded for the two entrepreneurs. From an initial indoor lounge capacity of 29, Gladstone licensed and expanded an outdoor patio, going from a capacity of roughly 100 people to over 300. The initial team of five employees, counting the founders, has grown to 25. The brewery is packed every Friday night year-round, and the team has begun setting their sights on wholesale expansion. 

To keep growing past the physical limitations of its retail space, Gladstone Brewery is considering an expansion of its wholesale business into the lucrative, and highly competitive, beer market in nearby Victoria, BC. The goal is to expand their client-base with more licensees, such as bars and restaurants, as well as into the city’s beer stores.

The Challenge

The growth potential for Gladstone’s wholesale business in Victoria is huge. But to take advantage of it, Gladstone needed to streamline its operations to be able to easily onboard, bill, and manage a larger number of wholesale clients. 

The brewery used Ekos and Quickbooks as its accounting and inventory systems to keep track of production, sales, invoices, and more. However, it was fully manual, slow and, cumbersome, requiring Daniel or another person from the team to spend hours each week inputting and copying invoices. When invoices were tardy, that meant hours spent following up on payments over the course of days or weeks. This cost valuable time that could’ve been spent growing the business and made less cash available for that growth. 

The situation evolved to the point where they thought they needed to hire a dedicated accountant to take care of the books. The labor market on Vancouver Island is very tight with a small population and high housing costs, which has led to high labor costs, when people can be found at all. This made hiring a dedicated accountant an impractical solution. 

As it was, there was enough accounting work to be done that when someone was off sick or away on vacation, some accounts could start to fall behind. The risk of more and more accounts becoming derelict as the business got bigger was a significant obstacle for their growth plans, not to mention an added source of stress for everyone. “You would see accounts that normally would be paid within a week suddenly getting to 14 days, 21 days, or even more,” Daniel said. 

“It was definitely a concern that if we continued to grow without hiring or automating, we’d just have to be chasing more and more people down to get paid,” he added. “That takes a lot of time and effort, and would’ve been a significant hindrance to our growth.”

Gladstone needed a fully automated invoice processing solution that could integrate with its existing system, Quickbooks, to streamline client onboarding and management of accounts receivable. With so much of its brewery accounting and business processes already embedded in these systems, starting from scratch was simply a non-starter. 

The Solution

The team at Gladstone decided to go with Notch’s AR automation platform. It offered the necessary features, and the Notch team provided the support the founders needed.

First and foremost, the Notch platform offered powerful automation, enabling the team to send invoices with the touch of a button while automatically updating accounting and inventory systems. This was further enhanced by the fact that the platform is PCI-compliant, allowing Gladstone to collect and store credit card information. Since most of the company’s wholesale customers pay via credit card, the founders could automate payment notifications for 80% of the client base. 

High-quality customer service also proved a deciding factor. 

“As soon as we reached out to Notch, they responded to us. Throughout the whole process, they were more than willing to put in the time and effort to get us onboarded and troubleshoot any issues for us,” said Daniel. “We had looked at working with a larger company, but having that one-on-one responsiveness was very important to us so that we could ensure our invoicing system was always at top-notch functionality. And the customer service at Notch is just very, very good.”

Plus, with a built-in, seamless Quickbooks integration, the Notch platform provided the capabilities that Gladstone needed while also ensuring Gladstone could take advantage of its existing accounting records and technologies. 

“Quickbooks is fundamental to our accounting process and provides us with the flexibility we need. Any invoicing solution we were going to use had to be fully compatible with it,” he added. 

The Value

By using Notch Financial’s accounts receivable automation system, Gladstone has eliminated hours of work each week that were previously spent manually processing invoices, and freed up time for the team to focus on more productive work. 

“We’re a pretty small company, so we all still wear a lot of hats,” explained Daniel. “And we’re growing, so there’s always lots of work to be done, both in maintaining our existing operations and getting ready to expand. That means putting in new equipment, opening more patio space, and bringing in more clients. We’re able to do a lot more of that now.”

Notch has helped with onboarding and maintaining Gladstone’s wholesale client base. Having grown to over 200 clients, many of which are restaurants or bars with tight margins that need flexibility, having an accounting software automatically send reminders, attempt to recharge cards after a delay, and collect payments has proven invaluable. “That really helps with the risk profile. We know that as long as a customer’s card isn’t maxed out, we’ll get paid in a timely way.”

Beyond streamlining processes, Notch has also improved Gladstone’s day-to-day working environment. 

“Working at a brewery should be fun. If it’s not, you’re doing something wrong,” Daniel said. “The peace-of-mind we now have because of the way the Notch platform has simplified our accounting has helped contribute to a healthy working environment. It comes from knowing that something as fundamental to the business as invoicing is being done automatically, with us just double-checking. That has helped everyone involved in the accounting process relax. People can go on vacation without worrying about the accounts falling behind. And since so few of our accounts aren’t on autopay, if they start to fall behind it isn’t nearly as big a deal.”

Daniel added that the benefits of Notch go beyond automated payments and more reliable invoicing. Its clear and comprehensive dashboard also makes it easy to see the status of every invoice at a glance. And having a good handle on your cash was crucial in helping the Gladstone team plan how to grow their wholesale business.

“Having a clear picture of where our cash flow is from week to week and where it’s going in the near future makes it easier to make purchases of equipment and inventory and know we’re still going to be able to cover our accounts payable.”

Partner With a Proven Solution

Notch is a software platform built for the food, beverage, and craft beer industry – from hops and yeast producers to keg suppliers and breweries. With Notch, companies can increase on-time payments and improve cash flow, get competitive payment processing rates, reduce manual data entry and improve accuracy, and integrate with their existing systems – finding untapped profits in their payment supply chain.

To learn more, contact us.