'Outsourcing' has been a business buzzword for quite a while, but in the North East businesses are moving towards keeping production in house, and for good reasons.
Business Fact File: Poetic License
Based at the beautiful Sunderland seaside, independent batch distillery and bar, Poetic License, distils all its spirits in full-view of its customers. Gracie, its 500-litre hybrid still, produces three main products; Old Tom Gin, Northern Dry Gin and Graceful Vodka, alongside a range of seasonal tipples. The guys down at Poetic License have been creating, producing and distributing their range of spirits since September 2015, headed up by managing director Mark Hird.
Business Fact File: The All-In-One Company
Set up in 2008 by Kate Dawson, Durham-based The All-in-One Company is your one stop shop for personalised onesies. Customers can log on at the company’s website and design their own onesie from scratch, before Kate and the team get to work stitching, sewing and making each dream onesie a reality. In their eightyears of trading the firm have already achieved over 61,000 orders.
It’s all about being in control
For the team at Poetic License, keeping production in-house is all about maintaining control to ensure their products are the very best possible.
“We want to be able to control our production to ensure the quality of our products is as top notch as they can be,” explains Mark.
“We use a traditional production method that, although labour intensive, means we can ensure we are crafting the highest quality spirits to reach our award winning standards.
“If you introduce a third party you can lose control of this, so to when you’re working to such exacting standards we feel it’s a case of ‘if you want it done right, do it yourself’.”
It means you can’t be let down
“I started off by using an outsourced manufacturer, but he had control of my output and timings,” explains Kate of The All-in-One Company.
“If he was busy with other orders and customers I had to wait, which meant that my customers had to wait.
“One day he told me he was closing his factory; now that could have been the end of my business, but I chose to set up my own factory instead.
“Initially some parts of production were outsourced, until I was let down and again I then made the decisions to bring it all in house, including the marketing.”
It helps you stand out from the crowd
Not only are they known for their tasty range of spirits, thanks to good old Gracie, Poetic License are well known for their in-house distillery.
“Having an in-house production in itself gives us a unique selling point – not all gin brands have their own still.
“With us we have a real story and can tell our customers the ins and outs which gives us a good deal of credibility and authenticity that our consumers really appreciate.”
Everyone is working towards the same goal
Kate’s key team members have been with her from the very beginning of The All-in-One Company, allowing for a team with strong foundations and a range of systems that work already in place.
“There are no frustrations as everything is stream lined, no interruptions as everything is produced just in time. We have worked on the systems over the years, improving our manufacture techniques and our website and ordering processes.
“The marketing and social media are done in house so everyone is up to the minute with what’s happening and we are all in it together.
“There’s no need for monthly catch up meetings with external manufacturer or marketeers, as we have daily production meetings where everyone can be part of what’s going on and what’s needed today.
“Any issues can be raised and hopefully cleared immediately. It makes for a perfect working environment, everyone is treated with respect and we are all working towards the same goals.”
Refining the process can be a little tricky…
Although they get the opportunity to experiment with flavours, and create short-run products ideal for seasonal drinks, the Poetic License team know that there are a couple of bumps along the way when it comes to in-house production.
“When you go externally everything is tried and tested so the operations are as slick as can be. “When you do it for yourself you need to work out your own processes and schedules and this can take a bit of trial and error but once you’ve cracked it, it gets easier.
“We wouldn’t say it’s particularly easy, but we certainly believe that the benefits outweigh the cons!“
Use it to create a customer experience
Doubling as a bar, Poetic License lets customers watch the creation of some of their favourite spirits, while enjoying the bar’s range of delicious drinks.
“We think by displaying the production in front of the customer’s eyes, it makes them more aware and interested in the process.
“Since doing numerous events across the country and marketing ourselves to an audience of spirit enthusiasts, this has definitely sparked a lot of interest in tourism visits to see the site.
“Gin connoisseurs have an interest in all elements of gin making, so the experience we offer at our site is quite a draw.”
Similarly, The All-in-One Company has recently launched its own All-in-One Experience where customers can visit and see their onesie being made right before their very eyes.
“This has been very popular with children and adults, it offers a more tangible side of the business where you can create unforgettable memories; come and see the fabrics, place your orders, see your onesies being cut, embroidered and sewn and chat to the staff whilst enjoying some homemade cake and refreshments.”
Have a strategy from the outset
Sharing a little bit of advice, Kate says: “It’s no good going all guns blazing, you need to know how things are going to run in order to get from A to Z and plan, plan, PLAN!
“There will without doubt be bumps in the road but so long as you’ve thought things through you should be able to overcome those hurdles.”
It’s the best feeling in the world
“As long as you have enough production to keep you busy all year with no, or little, down time I would advise that you do it,” says Mark.
“It’s the best feeling in the world to work with a great team who are passionate about the same things as you are.”