Business and Operations
By Diane Chiasson
Got the post- holidays sales blues? Here are eight great ways to make the most of your downtime.
By Diane Chiasson
There are certain times of the year when business is relatively slow. These slowdown periods are a common cause of cash flow shortages for many bakeries. Don’t let the seasonal slumps get you down! Use this off-season time to properly market your bakery and get ready for your peak season.
To keep the income coming in, you need to think creatively. Here are eight great ways to boost your sales after the holidays.
1. Review goals
This is a great time to review your business goals, increase your employee training, have brainstorming sessions with your team, catch-up on your administrative or marketing tasks, reassess your inventory, and look at new ways of setting some new objectives. Use this time carefully and review with your entire team which areas drive the most profits in your bakery. Get as much information as possible from each member of your team and write down every idea and comment. Don’t be shy to ask for input and make sure that you listen carefully to what everyone on your team has to say. Try to brainstorm on some new, unique and exciting ideas to increase revenues. Discuss new products that could be developed, products that could be taken out of your inventory or any new demographic areas where you can promote your business.
2. new products or services
Introducing and testing new products and services during your slowest season to attract new customers or appeal to a larger target group will certainly help you build momentum just in time for your peak season. It will allow your customers enough “trial” time to test and buy your new products and services, and to come back for some more just before your busy season.
3. investigate online
Use this quiet time to learn more about your customers. Continue using your website and social media networks to draw more customers. Take the time to analyze your Facebook likes and your current fans and to check out the most frequent hashtags used by your followers on Twitter. Email marketing is the most effective way to advertise your online business. Try to post some of your regular and new bakery products on a daily basis on your website, and make sure to include your telephone number, location and hours of operation. You may consider setting up an online ordering system where customers can plan their orders and walk in to pick up their bakery products with no waiting.
4. Ask for reviews
By now, you must know a lot of happy customers. Why not ask them to leave positive reviews in an area on your website or simply ask them to write testimonials? Don’t forget there are a number of events to plan for in the not too distant future, such as Easter and Mother’s Day, and you want to get these good reviews on your website right away.
5. Review communications
Review carefully each communication piece to see whether adding, deleting or expanding communication to new and old customers, vendors and suppliers and strategic partners could help increase sales during these slow months. Take a good look at your own flyers, email blasts and marketing, direct mail campaign, website, social media networks and paid advertising.
6. Take it on the road
This is the perfect time to think more creatively about your bakery. Customers may not be walking through your doors, but maybe it’s the perfect time to look at your local events calendar to see what types of events your perfect customer would likely attend. Perhaps you can set up a table or booth at one of your community events, fairs or festivals. It is a very inexpensive way to not only connect with your existing customers, but to broaden your reach with new potential customers. Try to think of ways to bring new groups of people into your bakery. Talk to your customers and find out what their interests are and what they do for entertainment in the winter.
7. Check your database
One of the best ways to stay in touch with your existing customers is to maintain an accurate database. If you are sending regular mail or emails, keeping track of birthdays and anniversaries, or keeping other information about your customers, an up-to-date database is a ticket to making more money.
8. Throw an open house
Another great way to bring customers back into your bakery and increase sales is to have an open house at your place of business. Invite your best customers to an open house where you can showcase your latest bakery and retail products.Set-up a small “sweet dessert” buffet and have each customer sample your latest products. Send them away with gift bags filled with a gift certificate, flyers and business cards.
I hope these eight tips inspire you to make the most of your downtime. Before you know it, your bakery will be hopping again!
Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 25 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.