Business and Operations
Concepts for Success: 5 Tips for Winter Success
By Diane Chiasson
As the weather turns cold, here are some hot ideas to keep customers coming in.
By Diane Chiasson
The holiday season is now gone. If you are a bakery owner, the winter months, especially just after the holidays, can be the most depressing time of the year for your business. In fact, you have probably already noticed a decline in customers over the past few weeks.
Research has shown that weather can have a strong effect on the buying habits of consumers, with many bakery and other foodservice operators reporting that bad weather usually comes with a decline in sales.
How do you keep momentum moving forward in a slow time? If your customers are daring enough to brave the cold weather, then make sure to stay ahead of your competition. Now is a good time to strategize about how to increase your bakery’s sales. Here are six ideas to boost your bakery sales during the wintertime.
Warm and cozy
The holidays are over, and we are now faced with cold, dark days for several more months. Consumers are looking for comfortable places where they can spend time instead of just buying goods and leaving. Your bakery should be a relaxed and comfortable place to entice people to stay and browse. People tend to hibernate during the winter months, so why not create an environment where your customers feel comfortable enough to hibernate?
Many customers like to find a nook or cranny and park there for a while. Consider creating ambiance by setting up extra tables, installing an electric fireplace, or placing comfy couches with pillows and blankets. Make reading materials available and invest in appealing international music. Turn your bakery into a place customers will find comforting to visit on a cold, winter day. Just remember, if customers are comfortable in your bakery, they will stay longer and inevitably order more food. Create a warm and cozy place that makes your customers feel at home, and they will keep coming back.
A bakery can be more than a dessert station; it can be any fresh food option from soups and sandwiches to entrees. Offering a variety of cold, hot, sweet and salty options will help your bakery thrive all year round. Sharing food has always been a cornerstone of great hospitality. Who doesn’t like to enjoy small plates of food with a group of friends or family members? You could create mini-plates of hand-crafted sandwiches, salads and soups. Serve trays of mini-bite-size desserts along with a small hot drink menu featuring warm, mulled spiced cider, unique teas and coffees, eggnog, hot chocolate and other tasty beverages. You should also consider live entertainment and special events such as trivia/games, cooking classes and tea/coffee tasting sessions.
The small-plate trend spells big opportunities for bakery owners, and by getting people to buy a few hot beverages and share food with their friends, as well as providing them with fun activities, they are more likely to stay and order bigger treats for dinner. As the snacking trend is growing, you should consider putting out more cake and pie individual portion sizes, as well as mini or bite-sized desserts, as buyers would be encouraged to buy and try more products.
Healthier meal resolution
While many customers are seeking carb-loaded, comfort foods, don’t forget about the many people who have vowed to lose weight as a New Year’s resolution. For example, consider creating a healthy, low-calorie menu to bring in more customers, boost sales, and build loyalty among your guests. You could also create a low-calorie option program with mini-plates of sandwiches, salads, soups and mini bite-size desserts. Consumers are becoming more interested in healthier options, including high-protein, low-carb, and all-natural ingredients.
Give your customers extra incentive to come back to your bakery. Consider offering snow-day specials to draw regular and new customers into your operation. Create a marketing campaign that will get consumers to choose your bakery over anything else. For example, if more than an inch of snow falls in your area, you will offer a discount on your handmade meat pies. Or give away a free cup of hot soup or a free cup of coffee with every meal purchased.
As you know, social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools for bakery owners. You should always market your bakery all year by staying in touch with your customers via email, mail or social media. During a snowstorm, most people are bundled on the couch, scrolling through their mobile phones. More people are also apt to scan mobile and social channels to monitor the weather and see how others are coping. Take this opportunity to deliver a message to your customers. Upload photos of fresh, steaming hot, delicious meat pies or desserts coming out of the oven. Offer special deals to encourage people to get out of their homes and come to your bakery.
Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 30 years. She is recognized as the industry leader in providing innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.chiassonconsultants.com