Business and Operations
Concepts for Success: Three easy ways your bakery can stand out from the competition
By Diane Chiasson
Techniques, tips and tricks to help your products make their best impact on customers’ perception of your bakery
By Diane Chiasson
Owning and operating your own bakery shop is no small task.
Improving profitability is one of the first steps to expanding and growing your bakery. However, competition is at an all-time high from local bakery independent operators, big brand bakery shops and chains, as well as grocery stores and supermarkets. It’s never been more important to differentiate your bakery from the competition. I am offering you some easy ways to make your bakery more enticing to customers and differentiate yourself from the competition.
Here are three easy ways to stand out from the competition.
Identify your competitors
The first crucial step to analyzing the competition is spending some time researching and identifying your direct competitors’ background, current operation and marketing plan. You will find that there are two categories of competitors: direct and indirect. A direct competitor will offer the same product to the same target market as you; the indirect competitor will sell something different but targets the same market. When you are ready to conduct a competitive analysis, you will have to evaluate the bakeries that pose an immediate threat in your market area.
First, take a good look around your neighbourhood. You will find that you are not the only bakery selling baked goods and that your competitors are not always who you think they are. It could be a coffee shop, restaurant, grocery store, deli, health food store, grocery store, supermarket, or even a food truck or a farmer’s market. Do you have a supermarket down the street or a Walmart? Are you next to a Tim Hortons? Are you close to another bakery store?
A thorough competitive analysis will help you see where you stand in the marketplace and identify new opportunities.
Ask yourself the following questions: Who are my competitors? What are my competitors’ strengths and weaknesses? What are my competitors’ next moves? How can I set my bakery business apart from the competition? How can I differentiate my bakery from the rest and make it profitable? Should I talk to my own customers? How is my competition talking to their customers? Learn to identify your competitors to better position and sell your bakery products and services. Take the time to visit your direct competitors’ stores and study their menus, prices, ads, brochures, promotional materials, website and social media campaigns. You should also consider purchasing some bakery products at each location, incognito if necessary. By studying your competition, you will always find different ways to set yourself apart and find a particular niche in order to prosper.
After you have done your research, you can write your discoveries on a graph or spreadsheet. You then have to figure out where you have some specialized expertise or where your competition is missing the boat.
- Check and experience your competitions’ customer service, esthetics, menu and food products
Customers will go to bakeries where they feel good, and customer service plays an important role. While visiting a few other bakeries, take the time to sit down for a good cup of coffee and pay attention to the service style. Check to see how they handle the order. Are they offering any added value? Did the cashier or sales attendant try to upsell? For example, did they ask, “Would you like a coffee with that? Did it take a long time to get your order? What kind of service did they offer? Do they have table service or only service at the counter? Was the ordering process easy? How were the team members? Were they knowledgeable and skilled? Did they have different options to order, that is, via a tablet or an app? Was there Wi-Fi, and if so, was it easy to connect? Did people seem happy and comfortable spending time there? What kind of payment options did they offer? Was the owner onsite? If so, were they interacting with customers?
As you know, esthetics are the thing customers will first notice when they walk into a bakery operation. They will see the colours, lighting, furniture arrangement, staff uniforms, cleanliness, and so on. In 10 seconds flat these things will provoke certain feelings and will tell them whether it’s the right bakery for them. Is your bakery a “feel at home” or a “rushed bakery?” Is your furniture comfortable? Is your bakery an open-concept space, or is it cluttered or cramped? Do you think they want to spend more time at your bakery, or do they feel hurried? How about your displays? Do they invite customers to buy?
While visiting your competitors, did you check how many items were on their menu board? Did you check how many cake, pie, muffin, cookie and drink options they offered? What kind of bakery items and coffees did your competitors offer? Did they use fonts or size variations to emphasize particular food items? Did they have branded products such as their own branded fresh bottled juices or smoothies? Were their bakery products and coffee good? What about their prices? Where they above or below your prices? Did they offer some particular bundles, discounts or promotions? How were their products? For example, were they high-end, locally sourced, etc.? What did their menu look like? Did they offer gift or loyalty cards, points systems, daily promos or visit-based points? Did they have a to-go, pick-up system or delivery?
Take the time to talk with other customers when visiting each bakery store to better understand what it is that they like about this bakery and their preferred products.
I suggest that you talk with your customers as they will offer insight into your competitive field. They will know about prices, menu options, customer service and the differences between your bakery shop and your competitors’. For example, could you differentiate your bakery shop with a different type of service and products?
- Understand your unique selling point
After surveying the marketplace, you should be able to understand your unique selling point or USP — your “special thing” that makes your bakery store different. Understand your USP, and then leverage it to make your bakery stand out. Once you do identify your USP, don’t keep it a secret. Tell your employees, store managers, and customers.
A thorough competitive analysis will help you see where you stand in the marketplace and identify new opportunities. Next, think about what you will do in your bakery to stand out from the crowd. Now that you have spent some time in different bakery stores, you should know the market they are targeting and how they differentiate themselves.
Once you have compiled all this data about your competitors, and with this knowledge, you will come to understand how your bakery will give customers the best experience possible. Then, it’s time to take your bakery business to the next level. Take the time to remain competitive by finding a gap and filling it with something that no one else has thought of.
Respect all of your competitors for their hard work, and find your own place in the bakery industry. As you find your niche, I can guarantee that your sales and customer base will grow.
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.