Business and Operations
Concepts for Success: Downtime ready
By Diane Chiasson
What will you do during the post-holiday slowdown? Here are some great ideas for how to make the best of your downtime.
By Diane Chiasson
I am sure that you have seen it happen every year – your bakery business slows down after the holiday rush. I know that your bakery counter lines up may have been very long during the holidays, but when winter months hit, you may not have the same amount of customers. This is the ideal time to get off your butt and do something different and use this slow period to finally get some other chores off your to-do list.
This is the ideal time to meet with your accountant for a mid-year financial checkup, clean your office, test new products and revamp your marketing and business plans. Here are six tips to get prepared for the next burst of business coming your way soon.
1. Do your accounting
I am sure that I am not the only one who hates accounting but we all have to deal with it. Use that time to prepare your tax files. Enter all your revenue and expenses into your recordkeeping system, send your payments to your suppliers, and make sure to balance your chequebook. It’s also the perfect time to meet with your accountant and get ready for the next tax season.
2. Clean your office
I personally find that I can’t start a new project or do anything fun until I get my business and my house totally in order. I am a rare person among my friends and colleagues who looks forward to cleaning and organizing my office, and I am not afraid to admit it. I call it my ‘Zen time’. So how does a person like me – a clean freak – get my business and home nice and clean without outside help? I just try to envision one task at a time and I try not to look at the entire job. I also try to simplify, simplify and simplify as much as possible. I go through all the piles of papers and emails, photos, brochures, invoices and magazines that have been sitting around and I get rid of them once and for all. I simply declutter as much as possible. My organizing mantra is “do it, ditch it or delegate it.”
I file all my papers inside an appropriate labeled folder, and I dust and vacuum my entire office. I try to organize my desk and my filing cabinets so that I can find everything I need within a minute or less. You will find that an uncluttered office is extremely easy to clean. If you don’t have the time or energy to keep up with everything, just hire some outside help in exchange for some bakery products, a la bartering.
3. Take some time to read and take some classes
Three things I love: reading, researching, and learning, other than travelling, cooking, painting, and two thousand other things. My older sister always says to me that I should have been working in a library; it would have been cheaper. This time of year is perfect to pick up a hobby or learn something new. Think of updating your skills and look at courses you would like to take or books you would like to read in order to keep you up-to-date with the baking business industry and your business skills. Do it, and when you are tired of your books, please send them to me.
4. Get your personal and business chores done
Slow business times are ideal to schedule your annual medical exams, such as eye and dental. It’s also a great time to clean your basement, garage or attic. It’s also the perfect time to research what’s new out there in the bakery world. You may need a new computer or want to go online to listen to some new music that will inspire your customers to buy more once they are in your bakery store.
5. Revamp your existing recipes
Rather than adding new products to your bakery’s menu, why not spend this time to revamp your existing recipes. You may, for instance, experiment with ways to produce a light and airy cheesecake rather than the classic heavier version. Try to have healthier options available. Offer high-protein baked goods and allergen-free products, and try to offer nutritional information for your products, as well as feature different portion sizes.
As you know, consumer’s appetite for savoury sweets is also growing by the minute, and you could transform your traditional sweet pastries into savoury concepts. Savoury muffins and jalapeno cupcakes are not only on the rise but they are the perfect ‘snack attack’ food items, especially for younger consumers. Nowadays, almost nearly 50 per cent of consumers replace breakfast and lunch with a snack. Why not get in on some of the latest bakery food trends, and try some new mirror cakes and rainbow bagels. I can assure you that these new novelty treats will encourage excitement among your customers, and will boost your bakery sales.
6. Take a mini-break and spend time with family and friends
You should definitely walk away from your business and enjoy a day or two of total relaxation. Invite a friend or a family member to a weekend retreat, or simply go to a day spa. Simple breathe. You deserve a break!
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