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Crafting the Perfect Mix: How Liquor Lab Elevated Employee Benefits


Company Profile-Liquor Labs

Liquor Lab operates in the vibrant craft beverage sector, offering specialized cocktail and mixology classes in Nashville and Louisville, by focusing on popular concoctions, including old fashioneds and whiskey cocktails. For startups like Liquor Lab, especially those in their growth phase, delivering comprehensive benefits to a largely hourly workforce is an uphill battle. The intricate landscape of employee benefits, paired with budget constraints, often poses a dilemma: how to remain cost-effective while prioritizing employee well-being? This conundrum becomes even more pressing as they strive to stand out and secure dedicated staff in a bustling industry.


Liquor Lab encountered a pressing issue: the difficulty of providing a one-size-fits-all benefits plan that was both financially feasible and met the diverse needs of their team. To tackle this, Liquor Lab collaborated with Take Command, seeking and establishing adaptive solutions. The outcome? Enhanced employee satisfaction, improved retention, and streamlined benefits administration.

In this success story, we will delve into how Liquor Lab confronted their challenges directly and how similar companies can replicate such success through strategic decisions and collaborations.


The Employee Benefits Challenge Through Leadership Transition

For startups and small businesses, managing complex group health coverage can be a significant hurdle. Liquor Lab's initial choice, the Cigna PPO plan, epitomized this challenge. This standard one-size-fits-all solution primarily catered to the senior team, sidelining the majority of hourly workers which lead to heightened attrition rates and waning employee satisfaction. When business leaders, like Ani, lack prior experience in navigating such intricacies, it amplifies the complexity, especially when trying to juggle it with other pressing business demands.

Moving from structured roles in large corporations to pioneering a startup like Liquor Lab marked a pivotal shift for Ani. In the vast corporate landscape, he seldom dealt with the intricacies of benefits management, with dedicated teams usually overseeing such tasks. In stark contrast, at Liquor Lab, he found himself directly immersed in these complexities. Between meetings, vendor negotiations, payroll, and other operational challenges like fundraising and team restructuring, Ani's leadership mettle was tested daily, underscoring the distinct demands of leading a startup versus a large corporate entity.


Addressing Employee Needs By Reimagining Benefits

As Liquor Lab navigates its growth trajectory, understanding and addressing the needs of its workforce remains paramount. Benefits, often considered the backbone of employee satisfaction, emerged as a focal point in the company's ongoing evolution. 

Employee Composition and Aspirations

Liquor Lab's workforce primarily comprises hourly workers, with 27 or 28 individuals in this bracket. On the other hand, a smaller segment, only 7 or 8, hold full-time roles. A strong sentiment from these hourly workers has been their aspiration for better and more comprehensive benefits. This feedback highlights the urgency of reassessing and enhancing the existing benefits structure to cater to the predominant workforce segment.

Tackling Recruitment and Retention

Employee surveys have illuminated a key insight: the value and extent of benefits are instrumental in both attracting potential talent and retaining existing employees. For Liquor Lab, this revelation wasn't a mere observation; it signaled a fundamental requirement. The company's approach to benefits, informed by this feedback, is poised for a revamp to align better with employee needs and preferences.

Charting Future Growth with Enhanced Benefits

As Liquor Lab envisions its future growth, parallel plans are being laid down for expanding and enriching the benefits offering. A prominent aspect of this vision involves possibly extending benefits to cover families. This forward-thinking approach ensures that as Liquor Lab expands, its commitment to the well-being and satisfaction of its employees scales accordingly.

HRA Highlights-Liquor Labs

Introduction to Take Command

Navigating the complex landscape of employee benefits, Liquor Lab sought solutions that would strike a balance between company objectives and employee needs. Enter Take Command, a platform offering the flexibility that Liquor Lab desired.

Reason for Choosing Take Command

Take Command's enrollment process proved to be both intuitive and efficient. From the feedback Pritesh received, employees found the transition easy to navigate. A pivotal point was the integration with the existing payroll system, Paylocity, which facilitated seamless reimbursements without added administrative hurdles.

The Enrollment Experience

Integrating a new system often comes with its set of challenges. For Liquor Lab, the journey with Take Command was a blend of revelations and adaptations.

Discovering the Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) was a revelation for Ani. He recognized the disruptive and unique nature of HRAs, viewing them as a significant shift from conventional benefits systems.

On the ground, employees voiced their experiences, highlighting the ease of using the platform. Specific aspects like the reimbursement process stood out, coupled with the novelty of the HRA concept, which many had never encountered before.

Benefits Management with Take Command

With the implementation phase behind them, how did Liquor Lab fare in its day-to-day interaction with the platform?

Contrary to potential concerns about time-intensive processes, managing benefits via Take Command required minimal time investment from the Liquor Lab team.

On a routine basis, the platform served as a hub for checks and generating monthly reports, ensuring that everything ran smoothly.

While setting up any new system can be daunting, Liquor Lab's experience was efficient. The setup took a mere 1-2 hours, aided by the patient guidance they received throughout.

Key Takeaways from the Take Command Experience

Reflecting on the journey, several aspects stood out for Liquor Lab.
Ani candidly shared his initial reservations, expressing how he found the idea of HRAs slightly intimidating. However, as they delved deeper, the ease of use became apparent. 

In a testament to the platform's efficiency, the monthly time commitment to oversee benefits through Take Command averaged at just about an hour, underscoring its user-friendliness and efficiency.


Navigating Health Benefits with Take Command

The evolving landscape of health benefits emphasizes flexibility, especially for rapidly growing businesses. Liquor Lab chose Take Command primarily for this flexibility. The HRA administration platform catered to the needs of both the company and its employees, eliminating exhaustive evaluations of big-name providers like Cigna or United.

Ani was already swamped with responsibilities and unfamiliar with the nuances of health benefits, so it was a natural choice to move forward with an HRA, where the employees — who know their  individual health needs best — can choose their own health plan. 

Before partnering with Take Command, the company was unfamiliar with HRAs. The introduction of this innovative concept received significant praise, marking a welcome disruption from the traditional health benefits model.

In summary, partnering with Take Command offers a clear path for small businesses. By focusing on flexibility, empowering employees, and adopting innovative solutions, businesses can effectively tackle the challenges of health benefits.

In wrapping up, the journey with Take Command underscores the profound impact that thoughtful, efficient, and employee-centric benefit solutions can have on a business. For Pritesh, it was not just about solving a problem but about pioneering a path that combined operational prowess with genuine care for his team.