Good Luck Beerhouse - Is pivoting business overnight possible?

The Singaporean micro-brewery 'Good Luck Beerhouse' is a business within the hospitality sector that was able to pivot and adapt to the 'new normal'.

Pivoting as a small business

Pivoting means to effectively refocus the strategy of your business adapting to the changes in the market. Pivoting has become a buzz word in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic struck the global economy and all kinds of businesses, from big corporations to small family-owned businesses were forced to pivot to survive.

Pivoting as a small business

Pivoting means to effectively refocus the strategy of your business adapting to the changes in the market. Pivoting has become a buzz word in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic struck the global economy and all kinds of businesses, from big corporations to small family-owned businesses were forced to pivot to survive.

Among all businesses, the ones within the hospitality sector, particularly restaurants and bars, were the ones who mostly suffered from the lockdown restrictions. With an income entirely dependent on the physical presence of customers and the impossibility to operate on-site, they were forced to find new ways to survive. Many acted quickly enough to do so, but many others couldn't.

When Singapore announced the launch of the 'circuit breaker' measures on April the 7th 2020, the lockdown restrictions put in place to fight the spread of the virus, many restaurants and bars within the small state found themselves unprepared to face the situation. Forced to stop on-site operations with the exception of takeaways and delivery, many were wondering how to keep the business up and running.

The Singaporean micro-brewery 'Good Luck Beerhouse' is an example of a small business within the hospitality sector who was able to pivot and adapt to the 'new normal', acting quickly enough to keep operations running. The adaptation of the business to the changes in the market, which seems to have happened almost overnight, is actually the result of careful planning and agile mindset.

Photo by Good Luck Beerhouse Facebook page

Can the pivot really happen overnight?

Located in the heart of Haji Lane, known for its bars and shops frequented by young people, the Good Luck Beerhouse is the typical modern micro-brewery where young people gather to socialise and mingle after a long day at work. Offering a variety of homemade modern crafts, the beerhouse is also very popular among tourists looking for a quick refreshment during the hot Singaporean days.

Long before the circuit breaker measures were imposed, Kevin Ngan, the young owner of the beerhouse, was listening to the news with apprehension. He knew the situation would have been worse than expected and that it would not be resolved in a few months. Aware of the potentially destructive impact of a lockdown on his activity, he planned ahead to put into place a strategy that could have at least ensured the short term survival of his business.

Photo by goodluckbeerhouse.com

As soon as the lockdown restrictions were imposed, the beerhouse was ready to switch by activating a brand new online delivery system, with doorstep delivery as well as takeaways service of upon order-tapped bottles. From an external point of view, it may look like the beerhouse was able to switch strategy overnight, but this wasn't really the case, as every aspect of the communication via website and social media was carefully planned in advance.

For Kevin though, the real challenge was not about going digital and activation the e-commerce. With some planning and the tools available online, it can be relatively quick to activate such a switch. What was concerning him more was the consumer behaviour side of the business: would people still be willing to buy their beer online?

For our website, we know we can quickly switch on e-commerce capability. What we were more apprehensive about is, will people buy beer off us, to begin with? - Kevin Ngan, as seen on sgmagazine.com

A few weeks after the start of the online delivery service, his doubts were dispelled, as Kevin was impressed by the response of people to the new delivery service: thanks to the steady amount of orders, the beerhouse managed to retain all his staff during the lockdown. When circuit breakers restrictions were over, he realised that around 70% of sales were coming from recurring customers.

More than being a consequence of the online delivery service itself, the success of the initiative was directly connected with how the beerhouse packaged its products and communicated them to its audience, leveraging on the marketing possibilities given by the website and social media.

Photo by Good Luck Beerhouse Facebook page

Focusing on selling proposition and customer loyalty

Even before developing the online delivery system on the beerhouse website, Kevin realised that a key to the success of the initiative would have been to focus on what makes their beerhouse unique. In other words, they needed to focus on their unique selling proposition: providing to the clients some of the finest and freshest craft beers in the city.

In fact, compared to the majority of bottled and canned beer normally available on the market, the beerhouse provides a higher quality, fresher product. This makes the crafts unique for the customers, which, in turn, expect the same quality from the beers delivered by the beerhouse.

Photo by Good Luck Beerhouse Facebook page

This is why Kevin decided to tap all beers upon order: this would keep the product fresh and deliver the same quality experienced on site. To do so, he used 640ml bottles, packaged within carton boxes available for both takeaway and home delivery. To keep the product fresh and cold, the beerhouse ensures deliveries within one hour from bottling.

For Kevin, the packaging of the product was as important as the product itself: he knew that his craft beers needed to be packaged in a way that could be appealing for the online clientele. The bottles are labelled with an ironic graphic that represents the situation the brewery is experiencing: a rogue wave that is about to hit the beerhouse. Both the label and the packaging were designed weeks before the lockdown, and appear professionally made.

Photo by Good Luck Beerhouse Facebook page

During the lockdown, the beerhouse also gave the possibility to anyone ordering online to get 'care packages': each box could be personalised with a hand-written message to the recipient. All these little details might seem irrelevant at first, but contributed to one of the most successful reasons behind the initiative: keep the engagement high.

Keeping the online engagement high

With the impossibility to engage with its clientele physically during the lockdown, the beerhouse switched entirely its communication online. With a client base mostly made of young people, it was natural for the business to focus the strategy on social media to both engage and keep updated the fans of the beerhouse. In fact, all the new initiatives were communicated through the beerhouse two main channels: Facebook and Instagram.

Even before the circuit breaker was activated, the Good Luck Beerhouse started to engage with its clientele through social media. The new online delivery system was announced weeks before the start of the lockdown, to ensure that people could become familiar with the system. The initiative was launched with a first limited number of bottles, pushed through the beerhouse Facebook and Instagram pages. The beers, with their fancy packaging and fresh taste, were already sold out within a couple of days from the launch.

The beerhouse has also produced special tees featuring the same graphics displayed on the bottles. The tees, available to purchase both on-site and online, were a further way to spread the initiative and create strong bonds with customers.

Alongside this, the beerhouse has also launched a 'Support Local Value Card', valid for redemption till the end of the year. The card allows customers to buy ten pints in advance at a convenient price. With a significant amount of cards being sold, the initiative helped the beerhouse to secure a further income during the lockdown.


Fostering customer loyalty

All the initiatives carried out by the beerhouse were periodically featured both before and during the lockdown on the beerhouse social media feeds, as well as on-site with explanatory graphics. This strategy contributed to raising the awareness of the clientele, who kept supporting the beerhouse through the online delivery service.

Something somehow surprising was that about 70% of sales during the lockdown were coming from recurring customers. It was at that moment that Kevin, the young owner of the beerhouse, realised the importance of having a loyal customer base supporting his business.

Around 70% of our business was recurring sales from the same few people. This tells me that the concept of buying draft beers for takeaway is viable, and good enough that people would do so again and again - Kevin Ngan, as seen on sgmagazine.com.

But he also realised that most probably, having loyal customers wouldn't have been enough without the prompt and accurate online communication the beerhouse had put in place. The social media strategy in particular ensured customers were kept always engaged and informed.

Also, the high-quality standards of the service, with each bottle cleaned, sanitized and capped on foam upon order were other major factors to ensure the success of the initiative. The extra value given by the eye-catching packaging and design made the rest.

Photo by Good Luck Beerhouse Facebook page

Pivoting: an ongoing process

Pivoting is by definition an ongoing process: it requires to always adapt and change strategy according to the situation. After the circuit breaker restrictions were lifted in late spring and people were allowed to return to their normal lives, the beerhouse had to switch the focus to on-site operations yet again.

The newfound enthusiasm of people, who could finally go back to bars and restaurants, led to an inevitable decline in online orders, that started to be less and less significant. Despite this, Kevin recognise that having less online sales isn't at all a negative thing. Having in place an efficient online delivery system represents indeed an opportunity for incremental sales for the business.

Through the pivot, the beerhouse has activated a beneficial process fo the business: the online delivery represents in fact an innovation that will play a significant future role for the beerhouse. Having developed online delivery capabilities is in fact an opportunity to generate new revenue streams, alongside the on-site operations.

Photo by Good Luck Beerhouse Facebook page

The spillover effect

The business pivot adopted in view of the lockdown, leading to new online capabilities, proved to be handy even after the circuit breaker restrictions were lifted. With the government allowing again access to bars and restaurants to a limited number of guests, the beerhouse has leveraged on the new online capabilities of the website to create a reservation system to manage access to the beerhouse.

The beerhouse is now able to provide online reservations with redeemable reservation deposits for the bar. Against an initial deposit, any guest can book a table for a specific time slot. This not only helps the beerhouse to comply with the safety regulations but also to better manage customer flows and staff shifts, with the result of a better service.

Caring for the community: a benefit for all

Working in a sector made up of small and passionate entrepreneurs and knowing the difficult situation in which many of his colleagues in the hospitality industry found themselves, Kevin immediately decided to tackle the new challenge of the lockdown as a community issue.

As soon as the lockdown started the beerhouse made it possible for all breweries that did not have their own online delivery system to sell their products through the beerhouse website for free. The initiative allowed many small breweries to keep a minimum level of income, and at the same time made the beerhouse website richer in offer.

Covid or no Covid, it's just another day. With good people you can adapt better. As a business owner, the ongoing thing you gotta do is to take care of your people. If not, you're just setting yourself up for failure - Kevin Ngan, as seen on sgmagazine.com.

The beerhouse also launched a new beer line joining the global charitable initiative 'All Together Beer'. Through the initiative, breweries from all over the world can support hospitality professionals in their local communities. The Good Luck Beerhouse decided to donate a portion of every sale to fund free meals for struggling friends in the hospitality trade.


To provide even more support to the community, the beerhouse launched the 'Beer for a Cause' initiative in June 2020. With this initiative, the beerhouse is donating 100% of the revenue on selected beers purchased through the website to help a local elderly home who has been heavily hit by the pandemic. The initiative was able to raise $3450 in only one month.

All these initiatives reflect Kevin's belief that it is not possible to get out a difficult situation if not united, acting together as a community. He believes that now more than ever, businesses should understand the importance of supporting each other: if everyone cares about his neighbour by doing small but significant acts of charity, the road to restart will be closer.

The case of the Good Luck Beerhouse shows how pivoting is something that is not happening overnight: it is an ongoing process that requires planning and preparation. For a business, pivoting means first of all to have an agile mindset, where operations and processes are flexible and ready to be questioned if necessary. Only in this way they can be adapted to the sudden changes in the market. In this context, being able to anticipate market trends and read the always evolving situation is crucial.

The beerhouse is also an example of how communication is crucial to ensure customers are at the same time engaged and informed about the shift. The development of a clear and defined social media strategy was crucial to keep customers updated about the different initiatives and to create awareness about the new services. This approach, paired with the development of community-focused initiatives ensured the short term survival as well as the long term success of the business.

Opening up new possibilities coming from the online delivery service, the pivot has also set the stage for a brighter future for the beerhouse. Now, the brewery has an extra weapon at disposal to increase sales and is prepared in the event of a possible crisis situation similar to that experienced during the circu

Key Takeaways

Published on:
June 2020
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