The Books & Brews Story
Books & Brews opened in 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana, thanks to a Kickstarter campaign that helped raise over $17,000. Three years later we're back on a mission to help our first franchisee realize their dreams, too!
Our mission at Books & Brews is simple: we are a place for people without a place. We believe in two very simple philosophies: First, everyone has the basic human desire to belong to something - a group, a team, or a place; Second, the number one motivation in the world is not money or power but the desire to be thanked, affirmed, and appreciated for your contribution and/or opinion.
Therefore, our focus as a company is 1) establishing an inclusive environment that accepts all walks of life and makes every new customer feel like a regular, and 2) cultivates a culture that allows both employees and customers feel a sense of ownership over the company’s direction. We brew beer, sell books, serve local food, and host a long list of social events, but those things don’t define us. Books & Brews is not about products. Books & Brews is about people. People like our staff, customers, musicians, brewers, writers, readers, dreamers, entrepreneurs, and more. People are our product: our customers and our employees both past and present. Our people is what sets us apart. Our people is what makes customers want to come back.
At B&B we want everyone to feel like they matter, that their opinion is valued and their hard work is rewarded. As a small business - or “nano” business as I like to call it - we thrive when everyone on the staff feels like an entrepreneur and not just an employee. My business model and philosophy will always reward those who have vision, desire responsibility, and feel a sense of ownership over the business.
The Business Model
The business model of Books & Brews is what sets us apart. We appeal to all demographics because we appeal to nostalgia with a related commitment to developing lifelong fans. Books & Brews is a unique place where you can go and see a group of businessmen sitting next to a group of gamers next to a family of five next to a table of college students. How do we pull it off? Because we aren’t trying to be all things to all people, we are just trying to be something to someone. This formula has allowed Books & Books to see an unprecedented level of customer loyalty and number of regulars. Even more important than profitability is the satisfaction of knowing our franchisees are making a difference in both their own lives and the lives of others - creating and inspiring others to create!
There are a lot of restaurants and breweries that have great beer and great food, so what sets them apart? Why do people want to come to our flagship location - a old office-warehouse space tucked out of sight behind Home Depot - when they can find other high-quality options on the main streets? The answer is simple - the experience. At Books & Brews we believe strongly in the saying that, “People rarely remember what you say, but they always remember how you make them feel.” In other words, our main goal is cultivating a culture that feels inclusive - we want our customer to feel like a regular the second they step foot in the door - in order to provide a personal touch that is difficult to find in today’s marketplace. We’ve developed a system that can help you repeat this experience in your stores, providing your customers with a unique experience that they can’t find anywhere else.
The Books & Brews Used Bookstore and Taproom model maintains all of the appeal of a brewery without any of the heavy build-out investment, expensive equipment, labor cost, or logistical problems. By eliminating the brewery component, franchisees cut the initial investment in half, operational costs by a third, and trim the staff by more than twenty percent. The result is brewery-fresh beer delivered straight to your door without worrying about equipment maintenance, delivery, ruined batches, or cleanliness problems that plague the brewing industry. As a Books & Brews franchisee you will be required to carry no less than five of our flagship beers at all times with the ability to fill the guest draft lines from a list of approved vendors. We’ve done the research, made the mistakes, and put in the hard work to make sure you don’t have to give a second thought to your beer menu. Simply put in the order, connect the keg, and watch the beer flow!
Although the books aren’t a huge part of the bottom line at Books & Brews, they are an integral part of the business. It is important to set aside space in your floor plan to allow for bookcases in order to create the nostalgic ambience that our customers love. All of our books in the used bookstore are donated by customers and therefore any revenue you can make off the books is the proverbial icing on the cake. They also encourage conversation amongst the guests and get people out of their seat, emphasizing our casual community-seating atmosphere. At Books & Brews we have a passion for giving back to the local community. That’s why we require at least 10% of the proceeds of the used books you sell to be donated to a charity of your choice. Our flagship locations donate to Indy Reads, an organization that helps promote adult and family literacy in Central Indiana. Find out more about Indy Reads at www.indyreads.org.
The Locally-Sourced Menu
We believe in using local products as much as possible. Today’s customers are more educated and aware of what they are eating than ever before and they don’t mind spending an extra dollar or two for a quality local product. We will work with you to pick the best local options that have long shelf lives, minimize waste and spoilage, and keep training costs low in the kitchen. Our model proves you don’t need a five-star chef in the kitchen to put out a five-star product quickly, efficiently, and consistently.
We love what we do. We love it. And it’s important that our customers know that the second they walk into the store. Books & Brews CEO and Founder Jason Wuerfel hand-built all the furniture for the original two locations and we will preserve that atmosphere by requiring all furniture be ordered through our company-owned affiliate, Bookworm Trading Company. The appeal is immediate: a lot of time and effort went into the space and the result is a feeling of warmth and creativity that can’t be matched by store-bought furniture.
Teamwork and Support
Once you’re in the Books & Brews family we will work hard to ensure your success. More so, we expect each Books & Brews franchisee to work hard to ensure the success of their fellow franchisees. That is why we will use an open source system within the franchise program for everything from menu items, best practices and policies, events, logo design, and more!
Where the Money Goes
FURNITURE (40%) - The majority of the Kickstarter proceeds, about 40%, will go toward furnishing the space with tables, chairs, bookcases, and other fixtures courtesy of Bookworm Trading Company, a Books & Brews affiliate company that hand builds every piece of furniture for all Books & Brews locations.
REWARDS (25%) - The next largest portion of our campaign will go toward covering our rewards - glassware, t-shirts, labor, and other materials necessary to offer you the best product possible as our thanks for your donation. The remainder of these items that aren't used as rewards will serve as the starting inventory for our merchandise.
KITCHEN EQUIPMENT (15%) - About 15% of our goal will go toward kitchen equipment including panini presses, prep tables, and our walk-in cooler.
BEER (10%) - Delicious, yummy, wonderful beer. We will use 10% of the money to get you the freshest, craftiest, and awesomest beer.
FEES (10%) - Kickstarter and Amazon will take the final 10% as their fee for running the campaign - well worth it if you ask me, and I encourage everyone reading this to search for projects in your neighborhood and give them your support. There are a ton of great ideas out there that just need a little help to get off the ground.
Risks and challenges
At Books & Brews, we know there will be significant challenges even after our Kickstarter is successfully funded, however, with the backing of the Books & Brews franchising team, a lot of these risks are minimized. The biggest hurdle will be finding a location and negotiating lease and we've already made significant progress toward that goal. The next order of business is securing a two-way beer and wine (112 two-way license) which will allow us to sell on premises as well packaged beer and wine to go. There is always the chance that your Kickstarter rewards could be delayed due to issues with the designs or manufacturer, but we don't anticipate having any problems. As long as the location search doesn't take too long, we're hopeful that we can get the storefront open sometime this summer.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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