Business and Operations
Concepts for Success: how to win and keep customers
By Diane Chiasson
How your bakery can stand apart in a competitive industry
By Diane Chiasson
Competition is huge for small bakery owners. What can you do to stand out? You should ask yourself if your customers are happy.
Delivering great customer service means that all your customers are treated with respect. Here are some big ways to consistently win and keep customers.
Express sincere interest
As a bakery owner, you know that being kind to your customers has a lasting effect. To succeed in the marketplace you need to have truly special customer service. You can create that personal touch by using your customer’s name: In a study published in the medical journal, Brain Research, certain parts of our brain light up when we hear our own name. You should consistently use your customer’s name throughout the conversation. It will make your interaction more personal and it will be interpreted as being thoughtful. Tell your staff to always be attentive by listening to feedback and by taking notes to make sure that they understand what their customers want.
Respectful and kind employees will always make customers feel welcome and will create the foundation for a long-term relationship. Always listen and understand your customers’ needs, never raise your voice, even under pressure.
I suggest that your staff engage customers in meaningful conversation about what they want, so they can offer effective recommendations. Customer service involves more than just speaking to your customers, and you will discover a little personal attention goes a long way. Don’t just leave them with a 5-inch-thick catalogue of cake designs; make suggestions and recommendations. Your staff should be able to talk about the history behind each bakery product, the flavours, taste, ingredients, special decorations, and unique packaging.
As a bakery, you need to take on the role of the friendly, neighbourhood bakery shop where customers always feel welcome.
Offer Free Samples
Who doesn’t love a free sample? This is small gesture that will go a long way. Grocery stores, and warehouse clubs love to give free food samples because this gets their customers interested.
There are many reasons why you should give away free samples to your customers. One of the main reasons is that it will help you attract new customers immediately and introduce people to your bakery products. Give your customers free samples by placing some out on the front counter, or you might even stop people in the street outside your shop with a plate filled with small bites. It will help your potential customer to get a taste before buying, and spread word of mouth. I have rarely refused buying something that I had just tasted. Let your customers have a free bite and watch your sales increase. In many cases, free samples have boosted sales by as much as 500 per cent. In terms of reaching consumers, free samples are often much more powerful, and way cheaper than traditional advertising.
Involve your customers in new bakery product offerings
Perhaps you are thinking of adding or changing out a few of your bakery items. Use your social media pages to interact with your customers and get information from them. Why not ask your customers what they want by posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest? This is an excellent way to get them involved. It’s also easy to increase your sales when you find out what your customers want in the first place. You could even have a contest and name your next cakes after your customers’ suggestion. You can be sure that it will bring them back along with their friends. Ask your customers to write reviews and give ratings on your service and your bakery products.
If you want to keep your customers happy, you need to be consistent in providing quality services. If you want to succeed, consistency matters. It’s not just from one cake to the next but also from one store location to the next. When your customers like your bakery products, they want to be able to get the same exact thing again and again. And they want it to taste and look the same as it did last time. I mean it: Exactly the same.
As you know, an issue like staff turnover is a major task for bakery operators. Creating high quality baked goods is a skill that takes training, and it’s hard to ensure product consistency with rapidly changing staff members. Investing in staff training on your equipment systems and monitoring the quality of your bakery products is essential. You need to have regularly scheduled meetings with your team members in order to share any new ideas or receive some feedbacks that might help to increase customer satisfaction. Don’t forget that when your team works together, they provide consistently good quality served in the same way every single time. Learning how to make and keep your customers happy is critical to ensuring the success and longevity of your bakery business.
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