Business and Operations
Editor’s Letter: January/February 2012
By Laura Aiken
Happy New Year! I hope you started off 2012 on a positive note, for
that’s half the battle if any resolutions are to be stuck to at all.
Happy New Year! I hope you started off 2012 on a positive note, for that’s half the battle if any resolutions are to be stuck to at all. I spent this year’s countdown amongst thousands in front of city hall in Toronto, where it took until all of 12:05 a.m. for a fight to break out. Let’s hope that’s not a bad omen, for other than that brief chaos in a typically peaceful Torontonian crowd, the energy on the street was an intoxicating blend of excitement and hope (and plenty of plain intoxication).
After the customary clink and kiss at midnight, most of us spend January resolving to eat less and spend less. My resolve lasted until Jan. 2 when I nearly had to be rolled out of Guu Izakaya, a Japanese tapas restaurant. Small portions do not always a small meal make. While dipping my chopsticks into various dishes, I kept getting distracted by the flash of a camera from the group next us. A young guy had a portable flash and was taking close-ups of his food. I have been seeing more and more people using cellphones to document their meals but this flash was pretty sophisticated.
Have you seen people taking shots of products in your bakery? We are truly a culture of food photographers and I don’t see this trend losing any steam whatsoever. I live near the new and much-hyped Loblaws that opened in Maple Leaf Gardens. Typically I see people waving cameras around every time I buy groceries. I often see at least one or two lenses snapping away at the downtown St. Lawrence Market on a Saturday. In general, I see more people taking pictures of food – no matter what the location – than I’ve ever noticed before.
For a baker, this means that if you had to pick one thing going on in the melee of food trends right now – and only one – for your bakery in 2012, it would be to pay rapt attention to your online reputation because lots of those photos are accompanied by blogs and reviews.
Somebody at a bakery told me once that people were lying about some of the incidents described in their horrible reviews. That’s unfortunate, if that is the case, but irrelevant at the end of the day. Most of your customers are reading reviews and taking the overall claims to heart, not approaching them as probable lies. People will put aside the odd negative remark, knowing perfection is beyond probability, but several bad comments about your place is most likely losing you customers. This can happen as easily as one bad employee stinking up the joint for a little while. Respond when you can. Be proactive. Find out what is being said on Twitter, Facebook, Chowhound, Yelp, Google, and in newspapers and magazines, about your bakery. Let’s not forget the blogosphere. That’s where many of these snap-happy eaters are sharing their food experiences. Many of us have joked about social media and people sharing what they had for breakfast as if it were riveting information. However, keep this in mind. It is absolutely incredible how many people have personal websites dedicated to reviewing where they’ve gone to eat and what dishes they’re cooking up at home. There is even an association called Food Bloggers of Canada (www.foodbloggersofcanada.com ). I imagine many of the bloggers have full-time jobs in various industries, but they all classify themselves as passionate foodies and they are breed- compelled to share. No surprise, since the act of eating and preparing food with others likely dates back to shortly after the Big Bang.
Perhaps it’s a good idea to incorporate a blog of your own into your bakery’s website. At the very least, put your ear to the virtual speaker and have a long listen to what’s being said.