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How Wayward managed to survive and thrive during the pandemic
Customer Stories

How Wayward managed to survive and thrive during the pandemic

Wayward Brewing Company, located in a quiet lane between Sydney’s Annandale and Camperdown, is ready for the return of its loyal patrons. After managing to survive the past 18 months, Wayward’s founder Peter Philip says it’s been challenging as a small business owner to figure out which way to move and what to expect.  

“We didn’t know whether everyone would go out of business or if people were going to stop drinking beer,” Peter says. To add to the pressure, when COVID-19 hit Australia in March 2020, Wayward Brewing had just committed to significant expansion plans. Peter recalls again not knowing whether the businesses needed to stop spending money or slow down. 

“But we continued our operations. I think the first Sydney lockdown was a novelty for many. People were having beers during Zoom meetings and making the most of it. Although our pub sales went to zero, we saw a big uptick in package sales,” he says.  

Peter Philip from Wayward in the brewery

Yet, by Sydney’s second lockdown, the uncertainty and weight of restrictions had further increased. Peter explains that they had to cut staff hours and take proactive steps to ensure Wayward’s survival.  

Staff who could work from home did, including admin, marketing and sales. Fortunately, with beer being an essential service, Wayward could continue to operate the factory. Through the second lockdown, Wayward also had to cut back its production significantly. “It was a matter of trying to anticipate the demand so that we could accordingly adjust production,” Peter says.  

The use of technology and data was crucial to Wayward. Fortunately, the business already had the software in place to support remote work. For over seven years, Peter has been using QuickBooks Online to help streamline and manage Wayward’s finances.   

“Since QuickBooks is cloud-based, it meant that we could all work remotely without any disruptions. We didn’t have any IT issues, and everyone always had access to our ERP and accounting system,” Peter says.  

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QuickBooks helps keep Peter informed about how the business is performing through its reporting and analytics, inventory management, and real-time data. “We track every gram of grain, the ingredients and all the packaged beer,” he says. “Knowing how much we have in inventory at any given time is vital to being able to forward plan production. QuickBooks keeps us in check.” 

The software also helps with managing cash flow. Peter says that for a small business owner, running out of cash is the biggest worry. “You have to be able to pay your suppliers, staff, rent and utilities,” he says. “We think about cash flow an awful lot of the time, and it’s crucial that we remain up-to-date on our financials. QuickBooks is our source of truth.” 

With lockdowns easing, Peter is proud to have kept everyone employed through COVID. He now looks forward to welcoming people back and enjoying the completion of Wayward’s expansion, which has more than doubled its production capacity.

Wayward has learned several lessons during the pandemic, including the need to boost its digital strategy. 

“Being agile is the other lesson. We needed to quickly understand our cost of goods and customers so that we could provide them with what they were looking for,” Peter says.  

“You have to continue to market and sell despite the challenges. We’ve also gotten more creative in how we engage with people, trade and our consumers.” 

Peter Philip behind the bar

Speaking about the future, Peter shares that Wayward has its sights on becoming a top 20 brewery in Australia, all while continuing its focus on producing beers that have a point of view, tell a story and showcase creativity.  

 “We’re very much a quality over quantity and creativity over quantity kind of business. It’s all upwards and onwards from here,” Peter concludes.


You can follow Wayward Brewing Co. on Facebook and Instagram, find their beer at your local, or stop by the Wayward taproom in Camperdown, Sydney.

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