As an economist, Tim Reardon understands the vital connection between cash flow and business survival.
Using distilling as a way to “tinker” in his garage at home after a heavy day of crunching numbers for the Australian Housing Association, Tim challenged himself to create a London dry-style gin.
Turns out he had quite a talent, and in 2015 he had 50 litres which he felt was good enough to sell. Thus, The Canberra Distillery was born.
Across the years, Tim has expanded his portfolio to include his beloved Summer Gin, Winter Gin, Canberra Fog Gin and Sloe Gin (to name a few) as well as vodka, rum, Bourbon cask whisky and a variety of liqueurs and bottled cocktails (not to mention the ever-popular French Earl Grey Gin, created in collaboration with us at HerCanberra). He also moved to a large premises in Mitchell, with a team of dedicated staff.
While The Canberra Distillery is now a household name, one of the first steps Tim took in “mentally shifting myself from creating gin as an experiment to making a product that was worth money” was to buy himself a Square Reader.
“I will admit, it did feel strange making that first sale,” he says (for the record, it was a dozen bottles to the Prohibition Bottle Shop in Kingston).
But things really took off when Tim armed himself with a fold-out table, a couple of boxes of product, his Square Reader, and set up a stall at Canberra’s popular Handmade Markets.
It went, quite frankly, bananas.
While the business has now grown to the point where Tim’s multi-award-winning gins are sold in bottle shops across the country and as far away as Singapore, he will always hold space for market appearances.
“For us, being able to sell at that first market using Square was the difference between us being able to survive as a business,” he said.
“Markets are valuable for a number of reasons. Firstly, the direct and full retail sale means we can invest more cash into scaling up. It also allows a direct relationship with customers where we can explain the product, get them enthused, encourage them to taste things and do something which I describe as ‘building adorers’.”
Indeed, one only needs to view the bank of Canberra Distillery tables and staff catering to lines of eager gin lovers at Handmade Market to understand the buzz around the product.
For everyday sales at his Mitchell distillery, Tim uses a Square Register while the team now uses “a dozen” Square Readers every market to keep up with customer demand.
Tim’s analytical brain also thrives on the data that the Square Dashboard offers up after sale. For instance, the most committed market-goers are those who turn up at opening. By the end of the day, more people are just wandering around, looking for a taste, rather than beelining for product.
“From that, I learned that we needed to be fully organised and ready to go the minute the market commences,” explains Tim.
To that end, he always ensures his staff have logged in and set up before visitors even enter the market.
Back at the Mitchell Distillery, a steady flow of customers seeking to stock up on their favourite products, or booked in for a distillery tour, tasting or masterclass, are easily able to complete their transactions with maximum efficiency and minimum fuss.
“We use the same technology at the markets as we do at our headquarters,” says Tim. “It’s a simple and reliable system and it means we are always on top of our finances, keeping cash flow coming in and using the data to track what works for us as a business.”
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