Business and Operations
Concepts for success: Ways to boost winter bakery sales
By Diane Chiasson
Healthy eating resolutions and bad weather keep clients away: 8 tips to bring clients in.
By Diane Chiasson
The winter months, especially just after the holidays, can be the most depressing time of the year. Research has shown that weather has a negative effect on consumer buying habits. Many bakery and restaurant operators report that bad weather often results in a decline in sales.
The post-holiday months are also a time when people start their New Year’s resolutions, with the most common resolution being weight loss. Consider the factors affecting your customers’ consuming habits during the winter and try to market with them in mind. Bakery operators can take the opportunity to grab this segment of the market by trying take-out delivery and comfort food.
Match the menu to the season
As the weather turns colder, customers will seek heartier comfort food. As a bakery operator, consider creating a winter menu, with an emphasis on “comfort food.” Adding delicious homemade soups, quiches, meat pies, and other classic warm foods will be sure winners with your customers. Turn any leftover dough into fresh, hot rolls that can be used to dip into the soup. Create winter meals that feature such hearty food items such as roasted root vegetables, squash, caramelized onions, fennel, roasted pears and apples, and roasted tomatoes. Don’t forget to put more hot beverages on your menu! Drinks are one of the best margin opportunities in your bakery operation.
Cater to take-out customers
During the winter months, people like to stay home. Many hungry consumers opt for the comfort and convenience of take-out food. You can cater to these consumers by offering a curbside take-out service or a pick-up area that’s not in the space reserved for guests waiting for tables. Consider offering clients the ability to place their orders and pay right from your website or Facebook. Not everything from your regular menu must be on your take-out menu. Make sure your signage is very clear, and I would advise you to have a few extra parking spaces near the entrance for customers to get in and out more easily.
Maximize home delivery
Offering delivery will help boost your sales. When it’s freezing cold outside, most customers might feel less compelled to travel to restaurants for a meal – especially if they have to drive through a snowstorm or ice. Your bakery can get a leg up on competitors by promoting delivery. There are plenty of services you can partner with if you don’t want to hire a driver. Hiring a third-party delivery service can help you reach more customers without the cost and hassle of implementing your own delivery program. You will be able to experience a constant flow of business because customers will be able to order by phone or online and have meals delivered right to their homes.
Create a direct mail marketing campaign through a variety of channels such as email, texting, brochures, postcards, flyers, and targeted online ads. Be sure to offer free delivery to sway potential customers from ordering food from other delivery services.
Implement online ordering
Add an online ordering service to your website; it will make it easier for your customers. Your customers will be able to get their food delivered, and you don’t have to manage the delivery process yourself. Use established food delivery services, such as Foodora, DoorDash, and UberEATS.
Ramp up your mobile marketing
During a snowstorm, most people are bundled on the couch, scrolling through their mobile phones. People are also more apt than usual to take to mobile and social channels to monitor the weather and see how others are coping. Use winter storms as an opportunity to reach customers on social media and pull them into your bakery. Upload photos of fresh, steaming hot, delicious meat pies coming out of the oven. Offer special deals to encourage people to get out of their houses and come to your bakery.
Offer promotions and give out ‘snow day’ coupons
Offering deals is a relatively easy way to draw in new customers to your bakery. Offer “snow day” specials to draw more customers into your bakery. Create a marketing campaign that will get consumers to choose your bakery over anything else. For example, tell customers that if more than an inch of snow falls in your area, you will offer a discount on your daily soup.
New Year’s resolution meal
While many customers are seeking carb-loaded, comfort foods, don’t forget about the many people who have vowed to lose weight as their New Year’s resolution. Consider adding low-calorie, healthy options to your menu that still offers comfort, for example, some crustless quiches with low-fat cheese that is loaded with vegetables, or a warm meatless pies.
Make your bakery warm and cozy
People tend to hibernate during the winter months, so why not create an environment where your customers feel comfortable enough to hibernate? Consider installing an electric fireplace or bringing in comfy couches with pillows and blankets. Invest in some board games, magazines, and books. Turn your bakery into a comforting place where customers will love to visit on a cold, winter day.
Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 30 years. She’s recognized as the industry leader in providing innovative, revenue-increasing foodservice and more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or firstname.lastname@example.org: visit www.chiassonconsultants.com