Goat Locker: Turning a Passion Project into a Business

From small bars to upscale restaurants, craft beer has taken over taps across Canada. And Alberta is no exception — growing appetite for local craft beer has spurred many local entrepreneurs and inspired them to tap into the brewing.

This week, Inspired YEG features Goat Locker, a passion project started by Brett Lovas and a couple of his friends.

Inspired by the Rise of Craft Beer in Canada

After trying their hand at home brewing and distilling, Brett Lovas and a couple of his friends decided to take it to the masses. They realized that craft beer in Alberta was going to enter a huge growth period, so they decided to get in on the action. Fortunately for them, entering the industry in our province is easier than ever before — the laws has been changed a few years back making it easier for people to start their own brewery.

The Story of Goat Locker

 “We have created Goat Locker to be very approachable craft beer, while still focusing on the highest quality of ingredients and care. We figure that there is a lot of people making beer in Alberta and we as an industry are trying to turn people onto local beer,” says Will Tanner, the Goat Locker Sales & Marketing Representative.

Goat Locker has been supplying venues in Alberta with kegs of locally brewed beer starting from May 2016, and since then their supply chain has grown significantly.

Today, Goat Locker products are distributed throughout Alberta and can be found at Sobey’s, Safeway, Liquor Depot, and many small independent stores. They are also served at many restaurants including Craft Beer Market, National, Original Joe’s, The Keg, to name a few.

Currently, Goat Locker offers two full-time products — Goat Locker “Pale Session Ale” and the “Fainting Bock.” The PSA is a 4.5% West Coast Pale Ale which has hints of citrus and sweet bready malts. The “Fainting Bock”’ is a 5.6% German style Lager with rich malt, hints of caramel and just enough hops to make it not to sweet.

“Our lager, The Fainting Bock, is a German style lager. We use Alberta barley and German style hops. The lager has been very well received as not many small craft brewers make a lager as a full-time offering, especially a Bock style. Besides Bock being a beer style, Bock is also the German word for Goat, so we called it the Fainting Bock (Goat). It fits well with our branding and fits even better with our brand story. Now you can hang out in your local Goat Locker with a goat (the can is made to look like a goat),” explains Will.

He also adds that their styles are a great transition into craft beer for people looking to make the switch but don’t necessarily want something too big and overpowering.

“Our goal is to show people craft beer comes in lots of varieties and there is something out there for everyone. And Goat Locker is a great place to start.”

The Company’s Biggest Hurdles and Biggest Achievements

Will believes that the biggest achievement for them so far is consumer feedback.

“We have gotten great feedback about our products so far through our events and working beer shows. It’s very rewarding seeing people enjoy our beer and story. Lots of work goes into creating the beer, and it’s very reassuring seeing people enjoy our brand. We are still very new but are extremely happy with how our beer has been received, and have a great foundation going forward.”

When asked about the biggest hurdles for Goat Locker, he says that it is distribution. He also adds that it is the most common hurdle for all breweries. “There is only a certain amount of taps and shelf space out there, and everyone wants more,” comments he.

The Power of Strong Brand Identity

Will believes that creating a powerful brand identity is one of the key components of being able to stand out as a brand and developing strong relationships with consumers.

“The brand is critical to your business. Obviously, the beer is the most important but after that consumers like a brand that they think is fun and cool. Making people relate and enjoy your brand is huge to your success.”

He sees a lot of opportunities for strengthening brand identity through events for interacting directly with consumers and talking to them about the brand. One of the recent events Goat locker organized was their Stampede party that took place on July 12th at Vagabond YYC.

“Such events allow people to meet those behind the beer and interact with craft beer lovers.”

Tips from Goat Locker for Aspiring Brewers

When it comes to advice for aspiring brewers, Will recommends the following:

1.    Make sure you love making beer. It’s a tough and competitive industry to get into, and patience is everything.

2.    Work every beer event. It’s rare we get to interact directly with consumers so talking to people about your brand and getting them to try the product is crucial. It’s not the fastest way to get your product out there, but your business will grow one sample at a time.

What is Next?

The next big thing for Goat Locker is the release of a seasonal menu in the coming winter of 2017.

“We are also currently looking for locations in Calgary to build our brewery. We’re getting to the fun stuff… Stay Tuned!”

 

Interested in learning more about Goat Locker? Still wondering what their name stands for? Go to goatlockerbeer.com to find out!

Inspired YEG: Running a Business in the Heart of Edmonton

Edmonton has numerous noteworthy organizations that are transforming innovative ideas into projects, and projects into new businesses. Many of them have gone through trials and tribulations to be where they are today. At EOCC, we believe that their inspiring stories are worth telling and learning from. We also believe that it’s critical to support and empower local businesses since they bring a unique touch to our beautiful city. That is why we aim to bridge the gap between established businesspeople and pioneering entrepreneurs.

Running a Business in the Heart of Edmonton

Many business owners have noticed a shift in Edmonton’s downtown region in recent years. With the introduction of establishments such as Rogers Place, there has been more traffic and business brought to downtown than there ever was before. One person who is hopeful to see life brought to the urban core is the owner of two Second Cup locations, Ian Turner. In 2005, Turner and his wife SunMi Park opened their first Second Cup location in City Centre, which is now celebrating its 13th year. Turner and Park opened their second location in 2014 in the Canadian Western Bank Union.

“I’m most excited about the Ice District being finished, when that finishes I think our downtown core will make it,” said Turner, “not only is it growing, but it has a heartbeat now.”

Turner is hopeful that the Ice District will be the heart of downtown Edmonton. He is passionate about getting the people of Edmonton to come to downtown because he is aware that there is a stigma that has been in Edmonton for a long time that people should avoid downtown.

“I’ve lived in Edmonton all my life, so my 40+ years and the things that I have been accustomed to, that I have learned from my parents and by the Edmonton retail market is to never go downtown,” he said.

Turner says that he knows that Edmontonians, for the longest time, were more prone to go to places like West Edmonton Mall, Kingsway Mall or Southgate Mall to avoid heading downtown. He thinks that the retailers of Edmonton’s downtown core need to unite and change the minds of the consumers.

Edmonton’s LRT is a contributing factor to Edmonton’s downtown growth Turner believes. It allows easier access to consumers and for Turner, it brings in a lot of his staff who come from various locations around the city.

In addition to being hopeful about the future of downtown, Turner is also hopeful about the future of Second Cup. He says that Second Cup locations are currently rebranding and that in the next few years, a lot of Second Cup locations will be renovating, introducing new brewing technology and new, more sophisticated ways of doing things.

“This summer I’m super excited to about our new line of FroChos,” said Turner, “We have three new Frochos and we have changed the way we do cold coffee, which is now called flash brew.”

Turner is excited for his customers to come in and try and enjoy his new products. Turner’s motivation derives from happiness. He believes that there are highs and lows in life, and you can’t sweat the small stuff.  You may have failed yesterday, but today you might be the best you’ve ever been. Customer service is extremely important to Turner and his two businesses, so he tries to impart this belief system as much as he can on his customers.

“I feel that with my customers, sometimes I’ll tell them to go enjoy this Monday, this dreary, rainy cold Monday because this Monday might be their best Monday,” said Turner, “it’s all about perspective.”

Tips for Aspiring Business Professionals

Some advice that Turner would have for his younger self or an up and coming entrepreneur would be to commit to whatever you are doing. To do it well and to do it right. As for what’s next for Ian Turner and his businesses, in five years he hopes to be an owner of four businesses, working part-time, golfing part-time and vacationing part-time.

When it comes to the future of downtown Edmonton, Turner thinks we need to wait until the Ice District is finished to know whether or not the expansion of downtown will be a positive or a negative because at this point, not everyone is succeeding. Although, overall, Turner is optimistic for our city of Edmonton.

“I love this city, I can’t see myself living anywhere else,” he said, “I like our weather, my wife is comfortable here.”

Turner could see as he retires, moving elsewhere, but summers would always be spent back here, because Edmonton is home.

 

Building Business Bridges EOCC Event

Giving Back: How Local Businesses Positively Impact the Surrounding Community

Why support local businesses? Over two dozen studies have examined the value that local businesses bring to their communities. Every one of them shows that each dollar spent at a local business leads to double, or quadruple the number of jobs, tax collections, income and wealth, and charitable donations. There’s no secret to it – it’s simple economics that companies that are local have more home grown relationships, and that’s what makes the massive positive effect.

Additionally, studies have found that regions with higher densities of local business have greater economic results. Further to the direct economic impacts of shopping local, communities with many locally owned businesses are commonly shielded against economic downturns because they’re more diversified across a wider range of businesses – such as retailers that focus on selling several types of goods, and service businesses that may supply everything from landscaping to accounting.

Strong, flourishing local business communities also lead to more tourism, by encouraging people to live in and visit towns where they can easily walk rather than drive. Studies have also discovered that local businesses are far more likely to adjust to new environmental regulations, while large companies often leave. Independently owned businesses can offer a specific character and flavour that major big box chains cannot.

The bottom line is that money spent at local, medium-sized or small businesses goes right back into the surrounding community. Here are a few other ways local businesses help communities:

  • Building community. Local businesses give a city a sense of community. When you walk into a small convenience store, for example, they might even recognize your face or know your name. You get a great sense of family. Being recognized is truly important to most customers. When you enter a local business, you can share with them, and they can share with you.
  • Community identity. A community’s downtown is sort of like the front yard. The visual impression of a community is extremely important. With prosperous small businesses, the impression can be one of liveliness and affluence. It can create optimistic vibes for the whole community. When you enter a corporate business, you have no clue what community you are in. However, when you enter a local business, it gives the community an identity.
  • Local involvement. Local businesses are typically the ones who give back to community events and local schools. For instance, when a children’s sports team needs a sponsor, they usually go to small businesses within the community. It is all part of a good neighbour policy. Local retailers often support local places, from soup kitchens to minor hockey teams. Therefore, by shopping at local businesses, you are directly helping those causes.
  • Local jobs. When you frequent small or local businesses, you are putting cash into the pockets of local employees who may even be your neighbours or family members. That income will most likely be spent in town, making it a cycle of good fortune.
  • Personal relationships. Many local businesses are not just owned, but also managed on the ground level by the owner. Those individuals are invested in fostering relationships with local community members. Nowadays, shopping is just as much about the product that you are purchasing as it is about the relationships and transaction at the store.

Why EOCC Inc. Believes in Connecting the YEG Business Community

At EOCC Inc. we believe in fostering long-term partnerships because they help build social capital among the members of our local community on a continuing basis. By becoming n EOCC member, we give you access to exclusive VIP events to network and expand your circles in Edmonton.

Are you interested in finding in meeting like-minded professionals? Attend the next EOCC Inc. networking event. Never been to one of our events? Check out our event gallery.

Igniting Customer Interaction Event Edmonton EOCC

Igniting Customer Interaction, a Reflection

The atmosphere was electric and the air was thick with creative energy on May 5, 2017 as we held our Igniting Customer Interaction event. It brought together over 250 members of Edmonton’s business community and gave them the opportunity to connect and converse with each other to share and exchange ideas.

This event took place at one of Edmonton’s greatest venues, the Art Gallery of Alberta. Between glasses of champagne and hors d’oeuvres guests mixed and mingled, exchanging thoughts and ideas. This event was the perfect destination to pick the brains of and engage with Edmonton’s business community. Those who purchased VIP tickets had access to the second and third floor where we treated them to Prosecco, an Orange Crush cocktail (made with gin, Pimm’s liqueur and orange juice) and more networking with like-minded individuals. As the night progressed, guests watched and cheered on the Oilers game, which was projected on a large screen for all to see. Orange Crush pride was shown as a chant of, “Let’s Go Oilers,” echoed through the venue.

EOCC Events

The event managed to keep a classy and sophisticated tone and was the place to be for Edmonton’s business community on a Friday night. Overall, the night was a success thanks to our wonderful guests. We wanted to send out a huge thank you to those who came out to network and hear what our wonderful, knowledgeable panel of speakers had to say.

Panel Speakers

We wanted to thank our panel speakers, without whom we wouldn’t have been able to call our event Igniting Customer Interaction. They shed light on topics that most do not think about when customer interaction comes to mind and answered a variety of questions that were brought up by our guests. Here is some more information on our speakers that enlightened our guests on Friday night.

EOCC Events

Vitaliy Milentyev has served as a President and a Portfolio Manager at Global Wealth Builders since 2008. At Global Wealth, Vitaliy oversees portfolio management and financial planning services for high-net-worth and institutional clients. Throughout his career, he had acquired a wealth of knowledge and investment experience on both buy and sell-side.

Mike Mack is the Founder and President of X5 Management, a company that helps businesses improve sales, service, and team engagement. Mike’s passion is to make companies and their people better by “turning soft skills into hard assets.”

Bruce Kirkland is a principal at Lexus of Edmonton, an award-winning dealership famous for its client-centric and VIP customer service. Bruce Kirkland started this venture with a vision of establishing an exclusive Lexus dealership, and he has indeed succeeded in accomplishing this goal. Today, Lexus is the number one luxury car brand in Edmonton, a testament to the dealership’s absolute success.

Tema Frank is a customer experience and digital marketing pioneer who partners with business leaders to help them sharpen their growth strategies. An internationally renowned speaker, author, educator and interviewer, she hosts the Frank Reactions Podcast on Customer Experience. Her second best-selling book, PeopleShock: The Path to Profits When Customers Rule was a finalist for the 2016 Best Book Awards. Her first book, Canada’s Best Employers for Women: A guide for job hunters, employees & employers, is now being updated.

Sponsors

We are extremely grateful to all of our event sponsors for their commitment to helping us unite Edmonton’s business community. Without the support from these businesses, our networking events wouldn’t be possible. We are appreciative toward these businesses for believing in the power of networking and uniting Edmonton’s business community as much as we do.

EOCC Events Sponsors

Title Sponsors

  • Lexus of Edmonton
  • Imagine Health
  • ZINC

Gold Sponsors

  • Yorkton Group International Ltd.
  • Katherine Deypalubos of RBC Wealth Management
  • Heritage Valley Capital
  • EOCC Inc.
  • Rayacom
  • The Mortgage Experts of CIBC Mortgages
  • Law Contractor
  • FEMME Medical Concierge

Silver Sponsors

  • Hudsons Bay
  • Vida Floral Studio
  • Gem Gallerie
  • Jin Media
  • Lux Steakhouse + Bar94
  • Divine Spine
  • Goat Locker
  • Lams and Associates
  • Amedeo
  • X5 Management
  • Global Wealth Builders Ltd.
  • Hudson’s on 109
  • Gia
  • Frank Reactions
  • BLVD
  • Aromatech
  • 9 Round

Membership

Would you like free access to our next key events and other exclusive perks? If your answer is yes, then our membership program is something you should look into. Our premium membership program is designed to help you achieve your business goals, as well as to inspire and be inspired.

The membership will give you access to numerous services and opportunities, including:

VIP Access to our Key Events

As the EOCC continues to grow, our events grow with us. Becoming a member means VIP complimentary access to all public EOCC events. This provides prime networking opportunities and promotes the sharing of ideas amongst like-minded individuals.

Professional Development Workshops and Programs

Members will be given the opportunity to participate in workshops and programs that will strengthen their professional skills and allow them to become an asset to businesses in Edmonton.

Cross-Promotion Opportunities

The EOCC has built many relationships in the past and because of this, our events will reach a wide audience due to cross-promotion. Cross-promotion has the potential for a big marketing payoff as it allows the members to extend their reach to each other’s followers’ base. This means that they will have the opportunity to share ideas and network with a vast range of people.

Access to Exclusive Deals

With our membership you have access to have exclusive deals available for our members, including discounts, promo codes and a rewards system. This provides an incentive for members to join our program.

EOCC Events

Hope to see you at our next event

Couldn’t make it to our Igniting Customer Interaction event? Do you want to continue to expand your networks through interacting with the yeg business community? Join us for our next event on June 22 to discuss business and community. Come out, be a part of a great networking experience and meet the incredible people that make up Edmonton’s business community!

Have never been to our events? Check out our event gallery and enjoy the rest of the photos from Igniting Customer Interaction on our Facebook page.

Get a feeling of how our mixers look like by checking the official after movie from our last event:

Networking Edmonton EOCC

The Importance of Networking in Edmonton

The city of Edmonton has grown immensely over the last few years, resulting in a surge of freshly minted companies as many new professionals enter the business community. Today, we live in one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada, and a massive downtown core development makes doing business in Edmonton even more attractive. However, the question is now, how do we continue to grow our city and businesses to reach our maximum potential?

The answer is through networking. Businesses in Edmonton, and more specifically, local businesses in Edmonton, can significantly benefit from connecting with each other. Networking results in a goldmine of opportunities because exchanging ideas with other like-minded individuals and forging new relationships can open many doors.

The Benefits of Networking

Although networking does not always come naturally to everyone, even talking to a handful of people at an event, exchanging business cards, or adding someone you’ve met on LinkedIn can transform your career and empower your professional development. Just imagine, meeting one person can lead to connecting with their network and vice versa, and suddenly you have twice the amount of professionals that can help you achieve your goals.

For local businesses, networking also helps build a customer base by spreading the word of your business. Sure, online advertising is essential, but sometimes giving off a good impression by meeting face to face can do wonders.

For young entrepreneurs and business people in our city, networking allows them to pick the brains of seasoned professionals so that they can learn and grow in their careers. That is why meeting people and sharing ideas is so important for forming inspiring and authentic connections.

Still, it is important to remember to foster connections that you have created while networking by adding professionals on LinkedIn and keeping up with their careers. Without this follow-up, you are just a fellow professional that someone met at an event and not a memorable connection.

Networking is crucial to expanding our city to become the best that it can because when professionals connect, great things happen. It is up to the business community of Edmonton to actively try to get out and network with each other, or these connections will not be made.

Why We Believe in Connecting YEG Business Community

At EOCC Inc. we believe in fostering long-term partnerships because they help build social capital among the members of our local community on a continuing basis. We host events for like-minded professionals to meet, exchange ideas and form these relationships. By becoming a member of the EOCC, we give you access to exclusive VIP events to network and expand your circles in Edmonton. Our premium membership program is designed to help you achieve your business goals, as well as to inspire and be inspired.

Are you interested in finding in meeting like-minded professionals? Attend the next EOCC Inc. networking event.

Have never been to our events? Check out our event gallery.

Igniting Customer Interaction

Igniting Customer Interaction

What would a business be without its customers? Top-notch customer service is imperative to the success of any business, regardless the industry it operates within. Customer service is about building lasting relationships, just as you would a business partnership, and these interactions go a long way in contributing to the overall perception of your company. Below are some tips to remember when it comes to igniting customer interaction and maintaining positive customer service within your business.

The right impression

You may have a fantastic business model and offer quality services or products, but customer service is what people coming through your doors—or logging on to your site, as is often the case in today’s society—will remember. If someone has a positive experience with your business, this can translate into effective word-of-mouth marketing and continued growth. However, a negative experience will spread just as quickly and can prevent others from discovering your business for themselves.

A reflection of the whole business

Customers service—for better or for worse—reflects on the entire business. A customer will remember a company based on their experience there and often associate it with the rest of the of your team. Positive customer interactions reflect well on the company as a whole, and your customers are more likely to build relationships with all employees if their initial experiences have been beneficial.

Genuine connection

Each industry has plenty of competition within it, and customers are savvy about how they spend their money. They often want to feel like they’re supporting a business where they are valued and have a connection to, and customer service is where your company can stand out among competitors. There’s a plethora of people offering similar products and services, but customers are more likely to return if they feel that your company genuinely cares about them—and bring others with them. Remember that the key term here is “genuine connection,” and this should be instilled across all levels of the company.

Continued growth

This doesn’t simply pertain to financial growth, even though this is crucial to keep your business running. Customer service can help your business improve in all aspects through constructive feedback from those who support it. Engaging with customers on a consistent basis will help you understand where your company can improve as well as new offerings your clientele would like to see. If customers feel like their voices are heard and they are able to help a business grow, this contributes to continued support and opportunities to reach new demographics.

Looking for a way to improve your company’s customer experience and gain a competitive edge? Join us May 5th, 2017, for an evening of learning, collaborating, networking, and big ideas. Discover the things business professionals and leaders are doing to build positive customer experience. Enjoy the exclusive opportunity to hear valuable insights from Edmonton’s top executives in an upscale and classy environment at an iconic venue – the Art Gallery of Alberta.

Igniting Customer Interectoion EOCC

Learn more about creating positive customer experience.

Customer-service-EOCC

Improve Your Customer Service to Boost Your Business

What is the most vital thing you can do to progress relationships with your customers? The answer is as clear as it is overlooked: improve your customer service.

No matter how awesome your product is or how talented your staff is, one of the things that people are most likely to remember is the first-person interaction they have with your company. The fact is that your customer service team is the face of your organization, and customers’ experiences will be determined by the skill and value of the support they receive.

A successful company will already have good customer relationships. But a truly smart company will always be questioning what good customer service is. If you are not continually on the lookout for opportunities to advance your customer service, then your relationships will deteriorate. Here are a few simple customer service tips for recognizing ways to serve customers better.

Strengthening your customer service skills

First, it’s crucial to make sure that your customer service department has the correct skills for managing your clients’ needs. No amount of CRM software can recompense for inadequacies in this area. But what skills should you be searching for in a customer service representative?

  • Patience and Consistency. Some customers will be irritated. Others will have tons of questions. Others will just be plain chatty. You must truly know how to handle these and provide the same level of service each time.
  • Flexibility. Each customer is different, and some might even seem to change from day-to-day. You should be able to cope with surprises, sense the customer’s moods, and adapt as necessary. This will include a desire to learn – since providing good customer service is a nonstop learning process.
  • Strong Communication. Make sure to convey to patrons exactly what you mean. You don’t want your customer thinking he’s getting 50 percent off when he’s getting 50 percent more product. Use genuinely positive language, stay cheerful no matter what and never end a discussion without confirming the patron is satisfied.
  • Work Ethic. Customers like a rep who will see their problem from start to finish. At the same time, you should have good time management skills and not spend too much effort handling one customer while the others are waiting. Stay fixated on your goals to achieve the proper balance.
  • Information. Ultimately, your clienteles count on you for their information about your product. Stay informed enough to answer most inquiries and know where to go if the questions become too thorough or technical for you to answer. But don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know either. Customers will like the honesty and your pains to find the right answer.

Not sure if your customer service representatives have the right customer service skills? Survey or interview your customers to find out whether your service team is demonstrating each of these traits.

Thank you for reading our blog. Are you interested in finding in meeting like-minded professionals? Attend the next EOCC Inc. networking event.

IGNITING CUSTOMER INTERACTION

IGNITING CUSTOMER INTERACTION

workplace respect

The Importance of Workplace Respect

Respect is important in any relationship, be it personal or professional. Strong workplace relationships are imperative in order to build on a company’s success, but that respect must be mutual in order for the relationship to be positive. There are several significant areas that require respect in business, and we’re going to help you navigate each.

Respect for Yourself

While it is crucial to show respect for people in your office, it is just as necessary to show respect for yourself in your workplace. When you are respectful of yourself, you are more mindful of how you interact with others and the energy you are projecting within your team. Part of fostering respect for yourself is setting clear boundaries with your time and creating balance in your life so that you can most effectively meet your goals. Ask your co-workers for help if you need to and help cultivate a sense of teamwork, all of which goes a long way in maintaining healthy workplace relationships.

Respect for Business Partners and Colleagues

If you have a business partner—or partners—it can be a challenging relationship to navigate at times, and choosing who you work with wisely is key. Your partners work hard alongside you to achieve your shared goals for the company, and they should be treated well. It can be easy to lose patience with someone when you spend a great deal of time with them—or get to know some of their not-so-ideal quirks and habits—but remember that you joined forces with them for a reason. You each have different skills to bring to the table, and it’s imperative to respect those as complementary to your own skill set. Maintain open communication, honesty and a shared vision for your company; reconnect over your goals and encourage one another during successes as well as setbacks.
Similar sentiments can be implemented when it comes to your colleagues. Remain cognizant of your shared goals, one another’s workload—offer help when necessary—and take an interest in them as people rather than simply the individuals you work with.

Respect for Employees

Your company wouldn’t be what it is without dedicated employees who believe in what you are trying to achieve. Employees are often expected to take on a great deal of work, and they will not be compelled to complete these tasks to the best of their abilities if they do not feel respected or valued within your company. Communicate your expectations clearly and provide your employees with tools to help them succeed at their jobs, whether it be training or even giving them more challenging tasks if they show initiative to take them on. You also need to establish a mutual sense of trust and help them feel like they are able to come to you with questions or concerns. Offering consistent, constructive feedback will also help build mutual respect and make sure your employees feel that you have their best interests in mind—and make sure to recognize them for a job well done.
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