Home bakers get many compliments from friends, family, and teachers on the receiving end of their goodies. Many of these well-intentioned folks will urge those bread bakers and cookie makers to start their own bakeries and sell their goods. Learning how to run a successful bakery involves more than turning out delightful treats. Experienced shops know that operating a bakery as a business is a complex undertaking.
Finding a specialty product that doesn’t appear in every local bakery case turns a bakeshop into a destination. Offering products that appeal to a specific market is another route to differentiating your business. Most bakeries have jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon, and many offer vegan items. Some bakeries might go in the opposite direction and boast that they use locally sourced, fresh butter and eggs or artisan cheeses. There is a reason for the secret sauce. It sets a business apart and keeps customers coming back for something they can’t get elsewhere.
Determining how to reach customers—and expand that reach—is marketing magic. Bakeries that depend on foot traffic must know how to spread the word and get people in the door. Those that offer online ordering and delivery need a sophisticated social media and SEO plan. Multiple channels of communication, coupled with a strong brand identity, can help a bakery rise (HA!) above the competition.
Cost and Pricing
Coming up with an appropriate price for bakery items is an exacting science. The price must be reasonable so that customers are willing to pay it, but it also must go beyond covering costs to provide a profit, which is the point of running a business. New bakers sometimes neglect to factor in costs like time, spoilage or loss, insurance, and legal and licensing fees.
As a bakery grows, so does its need for efficiency. The mixer that worked at home doesn’t have the capacity to turn out bakery-sized batches of dough. The countertop that accommodated rolling dough out manually can’t match the production capability of a commercial bread sheeter machine. Presenting goods produced in a commercial kitchen with the homey touch that draws consumers to storefront bakeries is part of the art of running a successful bakery.
Bakery staff should be devoted, personable, punctual, hardworking, and willing and able to pass a background check. Bakery owners should recognize their limits and hire professionals to handle accounting and legal/regulatory matters. Staff and professional help are essential ingredients in a successful bakery and every bit as important as non-GMO flour or locally sourced berries in the recipe for running a profitable bakery.