Brick-Mortar-Cloud Podcast
Season 1 Episode 7:
Gain F&B Good Luck

With Good Luck Beerhouse

Love drinking local crafted beers, but not sure where to start? You’re in (good)luck, because our CEO, Janson Seah, jio-ed Kevin, the founder of Good Luck for a very insightful podcast session, as they talk about the effects of Covid-19 on local businesses and ways to motivate and retain staff!

Watch the video here now!

Prefer listening? We got you covered!

Read the transcript here!

Watch How Good Luck Beerhouse’s Founder Turns His Hobby Into a Successful Business! 

In this episode, the founder of Good Luck Beerhouse, talks about the development of his passion into a business. They discuss past collaborations between restaurants and F&B owners, ways to combat the difference in currencies and exchange rates when it comes to imports, as well as Covid-19’s impact on Good Luck Beerhouse. The integration of technology to streamline processes is also highlighted.

The answers presented here have been summarized and simplified to make them easier to understand. For a complete and detailed explanation, we highly recommend that you watch the entire video podcast or listen to the audio podcast.

Q: Can you give us an introduction about yourself, how you started Good Luck Beerhouse and how did the journey begin?

A: I’m a bit of an accidental F&B operator. We started around the same time as StaffAny, about 8 years ago, and we more or less started off as a hobby. We were interested in craft beer, we enjoy drinking, and we turned our passion into a job.  

Q: Why the heavy focus on local craft beer?

A: The keyword is ‘accidental’, a lot of these are accidental. Two years into our little craft beer journey, we didn’t always start out so specialised in the range of things that we do, specifically for craft beer. We used to, obviously like every other craft beer bar, chase the hottest craft beer in the market, hottest IPA, hottest stout and all that when we first started. Two years into Good Luck, we were trying to find where our purpose is – I think that’s important for a lot of business – and for me, the ability to support the industry we operate in: craft beer, specifically local craft beer, was important, and that was when we really changed. 

Back then, it was also the early days of local craft beer – I would consider that to be the second wave of the local craft movement. Before I even started, there was some other guys that were already doing craft beer locally, but in a small scale, it was very challenging. 

When I start to focus on the direction to push local craft beer, some of our friends were just starting this brewery called Innocence Brewery, started by a guy called Michael. And that was also when Brewlander started as well, so there was enough local craft beer guys that’s around that we can rally support. And to us, during that period it was still a hobby, it wasn’t a job nor a business. Two years into doing that, Michael came and told us he had to relocate, so it’s an accidental opportunity. And that’s how we got into the whole brewing business.

Q: Why does Good Luck always opt for collaborations?

A: The last couple of years has been turbulent for our trade and what we do. Collaboration was, from my perspective, makes the journey more manageable – working with people, and you feel like we are getting through this together during Covid and post Covid. There’s really no good reason not to be collaborative from our perspective obviously, craft beer is unique, it’s the very core DNA of any brewing scene, whether in Singapore or in Australia. Collaboration has always been the mantra for folks that’s in this industry, and what we did in Haji Lane was intuitive, to collectively survive Covid. And those are the things that we thought was meaningful. 

Q: In 2024 and beyond, do we expect to see more pastry shops from Green Dot, and what’s the vision for business expansion?

A: While we’re open to further expansion, our primary focus remains on refining our existing concepts and enhancing customer experience. Rather than rapid expansion, we aim to deepen our understanding of our target market and deliver tailored solutions. This approach allows us to stay agile in response to changing consumer preferences while maintaining the quality and integrity of our brand.

Q: Embracing local cuisine with Fatt Choy Eating House.

A: Fatt Choy Eating House was out of necessity. For us post-Covid, the F&B scene has been rather dicey. Everything that came after made F&B not an enviable trade to be in: the cost structure has changed dramatically, manpower especially, and it was very challenging. And Fatt Choy was our response to that: we need to diversify what we do. We have been very focused on the brewery, making beers, being an F&B establishment that’s known for making local craft beer, but I think we need to seek out new audiences for what we do.

Q: What’s your vision for 2024 & 2025?

A: The last couple of years has been really focused on consolidation for us. We look at the market,  we look at the macro head winds, and we realised there’s a lot of uncertainty. The biggest thing that obviously has the trickle down effect for small businesses like us is really the interest rate hikes that has happened in the last couple of years. It’s beyond control of what the government can do, that came from the USA, and the impact on mortgage, rental, and people’s ability to spend really has a profound impact on spending. Coupled with the strong Singapore dollars, it doesn’t help, because those that are not as impacted the most by stronger Sing currency are Singaporeans themselves. 

The government has done a great job at keeping jobs and all, but the side effect of having a strong currency is that the money flows out. People can’t spend inbound, and we feel it. The tourists that come in, having a pint of beer, they can feel the pinch, and they can rationalise it quite differently. So it is quite saturated, for those who want to have a pint of beer. But tourists coming to Singapore are quite prepared to spend on food, and Fatt Choy Eating House’s strategy was to look at what we have on Haji Lane, be affordable, be quality driven, and give the tourists on the street who are not so into craft beers, another way to experience Singapore culture through food. Our menu is driven by Singaporean hawker culture street food, and things that we are familiar with, but done in a much more refined way. 

Q: Share your most recent challenges that you overcame, and what are some learnings? 

A: I think it’s not easy to be dragged through the mud during Covid for the last couple of years, we held on to the business that we’re running. And to make the decision to throw more money into the business and reinvent ourselves, and hope that we are making the right decision with Fatt Choy Eating House, and we can emerge better off. And I think that is a challenge for small business owners. Cash flow is a big thing for small businesses, and the impact of what we have gone through for the last few years has really made it much more difficult for us to make big financial decisions and hope for the best. So Fatt Choy Eating House was one of those things: you put in money to renovate the space, hire staff to run the menu that we want to run, so you need to drive that conviction to the team that this is worth their while. That, from my management standpoint, is one of the biggest challenges.  

Q: How do you manage costs in your business, and what kind of cost ratios do you usually try to aim for?

A: I think by and large, food costs is around 30% COGS for most people. I think what we’re looking at, in terms of how we want to position ourselves: we’re not cheap, but not crazy expensive. We’re doing local Singaporean food, we try to be creative in the ingredients that we use, where possible we dabble in some of the more premium proteins. We tend to fall below 30% on COGS by and large, and these days we are very sensitive to where we get our supplies as well. Nowadays, I’m very involved in the procurement of supplies for the restaurant, so we compare, and we realise that we can get some of the supplies for cheaper in local supermarkets like Sheng Siong. You definitely can have significant cost savings if you try to compare, and what suppliers does is a one stop shop: the convenience, the ability to call them anytime, the logistics that comes with it, but for us now we want to make sure that we can justify every dollar and cent going out from the business.

Manpower front, it’s an age old conversation about manpower struggles in Singapore. We are unique in the sense that we have been around for a while, and we do have a portfolio of things that are sufficiently interesting enough for local Singaporeans to want to be involved in. So we have always been lucky that staffing has never been dramatically challenging. I think where we struggle with is motivation, competency, and getting the right kind of culture and leadership into play for local staff. 

Q: How do you incentivise and push performance of your team members, and how are you managing some of the labour costs?

A: Our biggest struggle is with the more transient labours, which are the part-timers. Their motivation level is quite different, and we’ve always done this exercise on paper about incentivising them, and it all comes back to monetary incentives. But we don’t have the silver bullet to resolve that, but my desire this year is to, as much as possible, not rely on staff that we are unable to coach properly. I think that’s the kind of challenge we face right now, we’re transitioning to that mode where we can, work leaner but work with more competent full-timers.

Q: Is there an investment in technological products that you’d like to share with F&B owners?

A: StaffAny has always been a great productivity tool for us, like scheduling, and especially when we have the amount of part-timers that we have on our payroll, we’re operating everyday from 12pm – 12am, and we have two outlets. We’re very reliant on causal workers to do some of these stuff, and the ability to use your platform, to call for shifts, to not have a manager on Excel to put things together saved us a lot of time, so that has been an amazing tool for us. 

The other thing that we have just tried is a loyalty platform. We tapped on another provider for our loyalty programme: Avocado. It was a really difficult decision on our end because it means we have to throw more money into it in spite of the government grant that comes with it, and see whether it works for us. These are the dilemmas that we are facing when it comes to investing because the ROI won’t come immediately. We are getting onboarded, and we hope to be able to put together a compelling loyalty programme. 

, Gain F&B Good Luck with Good Luck Beerhouse

Started in 2016, Good Luck Beerhouse is one of the first few to serve local craft beer. Now, it is the standard go-to for locals and tourists alike who want to have a taste of beers from Singaporean microbreweries.

Check out our other episodes too!

Season 1 Episode 6: Impacting the Little Red Dot with Greendot

From vegetarian food to vegan pastries, Greendot has it all! Not only do they provide vegetarians an alternative food source, but they also cater to mainstream consumers. Watch how Yong Hong, the CEO and co-founder of Greendot, taps into one of the more overlooked markets, and the journey and hardships behind it all!
Watch Here

Season 1 Episode 1: The Nasi Lemak Ayam Taliwang Journey to 20+ Stores

Chief Bapak Officer Noorman Mubarak, founder of Nasi Lemak Ayam Taliwang, joins our CEO, Janson, on our inaugural Brick-Mortar-Cloud podcast episode and shares his inspiring origin story and insights into the world of F&B in Singapore.
Watch here

StaffAny - Made Specially for Shift Work Teams