Bakers Journal

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Concepts for Success: Bouncing Back

3 major ways for bakery operations to recover financially once the pandemic (or other monetary crises) are finally over


February 17, 2021
By Diane Chiasson

Topics

Times of crisis and challenges are always difficult for bakery owners and operators, but they also provide opportunities for business operators to innovate. 

Independent bakery retailers have had to work really hard during this pandemic. Failure is not an option when you are a bakery owner. You have spent many years building your store and spending money to succeed. Why stop now? Changing marketing tactics and scaling down menus are just some things that bakeries are doing to stay in business. Consider these three ways to recover quickly after the pandemic.

1. connect with community
Bakeries are often the heart of many communities. Focus on connecting with your customers and your community. You should always stay in touch with your customers, whether you are open or closed. Your customers care about you and your business, especially those who are regular customers. Never before have we seen local communities rally to support small businesses. Ensure that your customers think of you when they decide to shop around for their upcoming events like graduations, weddings, etc. Danny Meyer, the famous restaurateur and author of Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality and Business says it perfectly: “Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.”  During these challenging times, people are still looking for bakery and coffee operations to provide that same level of comfort they have experienced in the past. 

Start building your customer list. You may have already captured people’s email addresses on your website, but ensure you’re doing it in-store as well. Are you encouraging your social media fans to subscribe to your newsletter? Have you thought of SMS (short message service), a text messaging service? Once you have built these lists, you have an opportunity to have “sales conversations” with customers by sending them relevant messages. Customer communication should be consistent and can take place through various formats.

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The top subjects you should be communicating with your customers: your bakery’s safety, strict cleaning policies, and sanitation measures. Your takeout, delivery or curbside pickup options. Your future plans for your bakery. Your current hours of operations. You should also include messages of community support. 

2. customer bounceback
There are only three ways to increase revenue for your bakery operation. Get new customers, have your current customers spending more money per visit, and get current customers returning more often. For years, Starbuck used this strategy successfully. If you bought a coffee in the morning, Starbuck gave you a printed receipt with an offer to return the same day, for a dollar off your next purchase. These offers created goodwill with their best customers. 

Offer a free gift with purchase. This can be enough to entice passersby. Try to create a free offer with no strings attached: Free offers always get the most activity. Buy a birthday cake and get a free greeting card. What about 13 cookies for the price of 12? There’s proof that offering one “free item” will get about three times more redemption than offering a price or percentage discount. Create expiration dates: This gives customers a sense of urgency. You can set up your POS system to offer one on printed receipts. You could create a small advertising card placed in front of your cash register for more impact. Your staff should also point out the offer to the customer. Train your employees to say, “Thank you, and don’t forget to view our special on our website. If you come back within a week, you can get a free___.” 

3. communicate quality, safety
Quality bakery products and friendly local customer service have not changed since the start of the pandemic. Continue building relationships now, which will turn into future sales. Your bakery business should be based on clients needs: quality, reliability, ease, and accuracy. Your product mix should always include high-quality products and ingredients. Satisfy as many dietary and lifestyle preferences as possible. Make yourself known to both existing customers and your future clients.

For the time being, the best way to build relationships is online. Appear consistently with relevant, helpful advice. Getting the word out is key and that’s why it’s important that you develop your social media brand. Tap online marketplaces to expand your market. Pick the top 4-6 things you want to be known for. Talk about one of those things via your social media platforms. Focus on ingredients, baking techniques, decorations, new and unusual flavours. To alleviate people’s safety concerns, broadcast your cleanliness standards. For example, announce that you are cleaning surfaces every half hour; you limit the number of customers in-store to help with physical distancing and use mobile payments to avoid handling cash or credit cards. Proactively communicate changes and try to focus on socially-distanced shopping to set customer’s minds at ease. Make sure to update your location, bakery hours, including temporary closings or modified hours, takeout or delivery options.


Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 35 years by providing innovative and revenue-increasing food service and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or chiasson@chiassonconsultlants.com , or visit www.chiassonconsultants.com