Concepts for Success: What bakery operators should expect this year
February 17, 2022
By Diane Chiasson
Restaurants and café operators, as well as bakery wholesalers, have tapped their creativity and are taking bold steps in 2022
For almost two years, the restaurant industry, including bakery-café operations, was hit harder than any other industry during this pandemic. As a result, maintaining a profitable bakery-café or a wholesale bakery operation has proven very difficult. You are perhaps one of those bakeries with a sit-down bakery-café serving lighter meals and snacks, including a retail counter service bakery, and operate a wholesale bakery selling your products to restaurants, institutions, grocery stores and other businesses.
Restaurants and café operators, as well as bakery wholesalers, have rolled up their sleeves and tapped their creativity to continue staying in business. They are now taking bold steps to continue staying in business. Here is a look at what bakery-café operators and wholesalers may expect this coming year with some convenience, digital, and safety issues, emerging trends and concepts.
Contactless ordering and payment, safe pick up, and delivery are here to stay
Contactless ordering helps keep everyone safe and healthy. It’s hard to serve your customers outside your bakery-café if you don’t have a drive-thru area. However, there are many ways to get food quickly to your customers, even if you don’t have a drive-thru. For example, you can offer curbside or pickup options that allow customers to order without having any social interaction.
Contactless mobile menu ordering and payment
In a few studies, more than 80 percent of customers showed that they would feel safer eating at restaurants if contactless ordering and payment were available.
Contactless ordering and payment options are done using a mobile device and scanning a QR code. Digital QR-code menus and touchless payments will undoubtedly become more mainstream in upcoming years. A QR code is an online menu that allows customers to scan and access a digital menu displayed on their smartphone devices once scanned. You should consider displaying a highly visible QR code on your front windows or countertop; this will direct your customer either to your website or on multiple online ordering apps. Make sure that you put a digital menu with excellent food quality in place, and you should also consider the delivery.
These days, many customers are more interested in curbside pickup because of convenience and a faster alternative to third-party delivery and drive-thru service and at no extra costs per order.
Try to figure out where you can safely drop the food for a contactless curbside pickup. Again, these orders can be placed through the phone or online, and in both situations, can inform the customer through text and/or mail that the order is ready to pick up.
You should find and advertise a suitable place for your customers to park safely and pick up the food. It would be a great idea to search for a location that provides the convenience of customers being able to stay in their car, and if possible, look for a nearby parking lot with a safe, secure drop-off place where you could drop the food or for pickup.
The pandemic prompted the trend to digital and delivery, and this trend is here to stay. Delivery has increased again and again over the last two years, and customers using food delivery apps have increased one hundredfold in demand spurred by the pandemic.
Some bakery-cafés have let a third-party delivery company handle their orders. Just remember that the key to success during this situation is to integrate a top-notch multi-function POS system that will enable you to take phone orders, process payments, oversee the kitchen, and offer delivery options.
Building, improving and increasing your website and social media presence
You should know that many customers are delighted to support the restaurant industry. Approximately 70 per cent of consumers would rather use a restaurant’s website or app for food delivery rather than a third-party app and be able also to access an online menu. To eliminate expensive third-party delivery services, many restaurants and cafés are now working together to keep as much revenue as possible and are building local-only delivery services. You should carefully decide whether you need the benefits of a third-party delivery service or if you can make a delivery system work independently. Just take the time to estimate if doing food delivery is worth your effort.
Some online review forums and even Yelp have dropped in popularity, and this is the right time to use your bakery website and social media accounts to take orders from your customers directly.
I know that there are a lot of small restaurants and cafés, small-chains, standalone, or mom-and-pop operations that still don’t have a website. Although it’s a significant investment for your restaurant, creating a fun and colourful website for your bakery operation should be on your list. It’s the best way for your customers to easily find your bakery store, book a reservation, order some food, review your menu, get directions, and leave positive reviews.
Another way to build your online presence is to create and grow an email list. Use a call-to-action on your website and social media pages to promote your email newsletter or blog that users would have to sign-up to receive.
Diversifying your food and beverage revenue stream
Many restaurant and café establishments went into survival mode during this crisis by trimming their menus to streamline their operations. A lot of operators quickly found out that they could no longer rely on a single revenue stream and have created one-stop-shop hybrids of retail and restaurant concepts. You should definitely explore some alternative revenue streams such as these mentioned below, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
Prepare some meal kits
Many restaurant operators have found a way to innovate by creating premium meal kits so that customers can recreate the whole indoor dining experience from the comfort of their home kitchen. Sell these meal kits at your bakery store, on your website, and consider reaching convenience or grocery stores to sell fresh or frozen ready-to-make meal kits, including pre-portioned ingredients and step-by-step instructions.
Set up a small retail-pantry area
First, start selling products related to the products you already offer. For example, many restaurants and cafés have now set up a mini pantry area to sell ingredients and other food items in bulk. How about selling organic ingredients and gluten-free baked goods?
Try adding a few unique drinks to your menu and some sealed to-go packaged bakery items such as fresh bread packages with healthy side items for some homemade artisanal sandwiches. In addition, consider selling cookbooks, t-shirts, tote bags, and reusable mugs with your logo, as well as gift baskets. Don’t forget that this is also a great way to grow your brand awareness.
Most of the food items in your bakery’s pantry could be repurposed into takeout options such as using your cheeses, condiments and meats to make beautiful charcuterie boards. Of course, you could also sell your dough, signature sauces and a lot more.
Finding your additional revenue niche and developing your brand identity should be the two most important things. Make sure you put your team members and food up on social media and encourage your customers to share their meals and experience on your website and other social platforms.
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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