A beer route to success - how BDO helped BrewBus go national

27 November 2019

New Zealand’s reputation as a craft beer paradise is well-earned - it’s home to nearly 200 brewing businesses and countless microbreweries. This, coupled with Aotearoa’s clean water and steady agricultural supply, has resulted in a saturated market with plenty of high-quality choices for customers. But the issue remained - how do you find the best craft breweries nationwide, and make them more accessible?

BrewBus NZ has the answer - and it goes beyond just a drive between drinks. See how BrewBus went national with the help of BDO Tauranga’s business advisory services and specialized tourism industry expertise.

Who are BrewBus?

BrewBus started out two years ago, in November 2017, as nothing other than a passion for beer. Co-founders Katy Martley and Lavina Good had no prior experience in brewing or tourism, but did have a thirst for quality craft ales and recognised an opportunity to take the people to the beer.

Capitalising on the number of breweries near their home in Tauranga, the pair set up BrewBus, New Zealand’s first nationwide beer tourism company. Katy and Lavina were determined to go one step further than just packing people onto a bus between drinks. BrewBus is a unique experience that brings together people over local food and drink, showcasing the best of regional flavours, cultures and stories to people from all over the country and across the world.

Business was booming within months, and they quickly expanded operations beyond the Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Auckland, down the country and set up operations in Queenstown. BrewBus’ endeavour was recognised with a Beer Tourism Award at the 2019 edition of the New Zealand Beer Awards - the first of its kind. But how did a two-person operation based out of the Bay of Plenty expand their business to run tours across the length and breadth of New Zealand?

Brewing year-on-year success

A tour bus between breweries seems simple, but BrewBus’ approach to developing an experience encompassing food, experience and people made the idea so much more.

A core part of taking BrewBus’ simple business proposition and making it a real-life success was expanding operations at the right times. The company started out with just Katy and Lavina, and a few contracted drivers. However, as demand grew, the pair took on new drivers, and then a Business Development Manager, in order to manage the workload. This has allowed the co-founders to focus their energies on what matters most to them - finding good beer for tourists.

Passion was the other core ingredient to BrewBus’ now-national success. Too often business owners get caught up working IN their organisation, trying to keep ahead of daily operations, rather than working ON it, improving the customer experience. Lavina and Katy kept their unique focus on building an experience out of beer tasting in their minds, enabling them to offer excellent service.

How did BDO help BrewBus go national?

Much of BrewBus’ success has come down to the passion and drive of Lavina and Katy, and winning big at the New Zealand Beer Awards’ 2019 was no less than the pair deserve. However, BDO played an integral part in taking the business to a national level and allowing the BrewBus owners to focus on what they do best - getting beer fans to the best breweries Aotearoa can offer.

BrewBus first engaged BDO Tauranga to manage their accounts and auditing, ensuring all financial data produced for the business was accurate and a true reflection of day-to-day operations. However, Katy and Lavina quickly realised that BDO had more to offer than just crunching numbers. The team worked with BrewBus through a number of business services, offering frank guidance and specialised tourism-industry expertise at every turn for a better informed business strategy.

BDO is passionate about supporting New Zealand businesses and providing specialised business advice. Find out more about how BDO can help you thrive whatever stage your business is at.