Business and Operations
Concepts for Success: Six quick tips to grow your bakery business in the winter
Think outside the box to attract and comfort customers during the cold, winter weather.
March 1, 2023 By Diane Chiasson
You do not have to wait for spring to generate higher sales. Here are six quick tips to grow your bakery business in the cold months, writes Diane Chiasson in the latest edition of Bakers Journal.
As you know, the winter months can have a negative impact on a bakery operation’s ability to thrive. During the cold winter months, most customers might feel like staying indoors, watching Netflix at night, and leaving the house only when necessary. You are probably experiencing the post-holiday downtimes of January and February. The cold winter months, especially just after the holidays, can be the most depressing time of the year. Research has shown that weather can significantly affect consumers’ buying habits, with many operators reporting that cold weather decreases sales.
As a bakery owner, you need to think outside the box to attract customers during this time. Small bakery businesses that find success, the kind that endures, are those who innovate. The good news is that you will not have to wait for spring to generate higher sales. Here are six quick tips to grow your bakery business in the cold months.
1. Focus on product innovation
Bakery operators should constantly try to find new innovative ways to beat the competition and entice mindful consumers. It’s the perfect time to introduce new bakery items with new flavours, bold colours and increased textures that you think would bring your customers in your shop. People need bright colours in the wintertime so try to move toward bright yellow, pink and purple icing, white chocolate and yogurt toppings. Add colourful sparkles, confetti, seasonal flavours, and new shapes to deliver happiness to consumers seeking extraordinary experiences. Go local and seasonal, and bake products that are designed to appeal to regional and ethnic tastes. Try to make some convenient products such as cupcake pops, which are similar to cupcakes, but bite-sized rounded cakes on a stick.
2. Bundle products for more sales
Product bundling is another technique for running a successful bakery. Products are often bundled together as an upsell or a cross-sell. Today, most consumers are looking to try on new coffee brands and order new coffee combinations. Your small bakeshop can benefit by adding a coffee program to your space. I love a good cup of coffee with my morning muffin or an afternoon pick-me-up. A bundle offer is a great way to keep your customers returning, as they only have to go to one place to get what they need. Perhaps you could give a small discount in price for selling two items together. It is certainly a great way to drive sales. With a coffee shop on every block, customers have plenty of great options, so what they need and what you can provide is an experience. The “Baker’s Dozen” marketing idea is the perfect occasion for customers to pick up treats for the office or their kids’ school. The 13th free bakery item becomes the customer’s treat for making the purchase.
3. Offer a signature soup of the day
When soup’s on, sales can go up in cold weather. Did you know that you can boost your cheque averages by up to 15 per cent by offering a soup of the day? When creating your menu in the winter months, think about all the delicious warming foods people love to eat when the temperatures get really cold. Homemade soups, stews and classic comfort foods will be sure winners with your hungry customers.
Bad weather and winter bring higher sales for many food-service operations because many people crave comfort foods. When it’s cold, it’s natural for people to want food that will give them warmth. You don’t need to go out of your way. Consider working with good high-quality premade soups and adding your special touch with yummy ingredients that you already have in your kitchen, such as diced tomatoes, crisp bacon, fresh veggies, grated Parmesan cheese and garlic croutons.
4. Sell your branded bakery ingredients
You are already using a lot of ingredients in your bakery. Could you not package and sell some of them? How about specialty flours by the two-pound bag, such as amaranth, chickpea, coconut, buckwheat, millet, kamut, quinoa and almond flour? How about these must-have leaveners, sugars, cocoa powder, other sweeteners, spices, extracts and flavourings? Don’t forget these yummy chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, toffee bits, dried fruit, marshmallows, coconut, oats, nuts and colourful sprinkles. These are baking ingredients you should display and sell near your cash register.
You could also sell mugs, aprons, t-shirts, caps, or jars of jams and jellies. However, if you decide to go ahead with selling branded products, make sure that these items reflect your image and brand.
Train your servers and other team members to be better salespeople by mastering the art of upselling. Bottle of water or a cup of coffee with your muffin? Would you like to add a Caesar salad to your sandwich? Or, this is a great t-shirt for your nephew’s birthday or a great apron for Mother’s Day. Upselling is the most common strategy for food retail stores to boost their profits, so make sure your staff is well trained.
5. Make sure your bakery store is warm and cozy
Irrespective of the weather outside, you need to make sure the inside of your shop is warm, cozy and welcoming. Besides great food, your bakery atmosphere plays a vital role in providing a great eating experience.
A good bakery layout doesn’t just try to fit in as many customers as possible. Make sure your seats are not crammed together and that there is enough space between tables. Avoid placing any tables next to the kitchen door or under harsh lights. Small tables are generally meant for couples or individuals, while large tables are meant for groups or families. Always think of couples or individuals who are looking for privacy.
Pay attention to the details in your colour schemes, floor layouts, furniture and the entire bakery design. Don’t forget that your colour scheme is an extension of your brand: use the appropriate colour palette for your logo, website, wall paint, floor tiles, countertops, furniture or any other decorative feature in your bakery. Adapting to a more urban and contemporary design could be one of many ways of transforming and refreshing your brand identity.
Soft lighting and music are some of the best ways to set the mood of your bakery. Also, think about having dim lighting for a quieter, more intimate mood.
Consider installing additional heaters, an electric fireplace, or even building a safe fire pit to extend warmth to guests during winter. Turn your bakeshop into a place your customers will find comforting to visit on a cold winter day.
6. Advertise easy delivery, takeout and store pickup on social media
Since people are less likely to go out during cold weather, they can still enjoy your food at their convenience. During winter, consumers will opt even more for the comfort and convenience of takeout and delivery. The food delivery market has more than tripled since 2017. Therefore, you should invest more heavily in digital technology, if not in money, then at least in time. Your primary goal is to make sure your customers think about your business this winter. Chances are, most of your customers are active on social media platforms, be they Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other, which means you should be too. Hence, the best way to increase your sales is by exploiting this force and making your bakery presence felt on these platforms.
Think about running social media promotions on delivery and takeout deals. Limited-time offers are great strategies to promote new or unique menu items like a new appetizer or a beverage to go alongside a pastry. Bakery kits are extremely popular. Instead of offering fresh already-made bakery items, provide a make-it-yourself kit that comes with everything a customer needs to create a perfect cake. / BJ
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, send her an email at email@example.com, or visit www.chiassonconsultants.com
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