Business and Operations
Editor’s Letter: Carrying on through take out
By Bakers Journal
In April, Bakers Journal hosted Innovation Day, which featured Justine Martin, the owner of Guilty Pleasures Bakeshop + Catering. Prior to the pandemic, her bakery was known as Guilty Pleasures Bakeshop + Bar, combining booze and pastry for an innovative spin on the social element of pastry baking. Martin told viewers how her background in PR helped her to promote her new company, but even her training didn’t help her anticipate the pandemic.
Viewers loved hearing about her approach to getting rid of her stock, and dealing with new ways of selling when foot traffic was at an all-time low. She rebranded her cupcakes as Emergency Cupcakes, with instructions to open the glossy pastry box like a “Break Glass” Box. (And what is a pandemic if not an international emergency? In case of emergency, Martin urged, open the box.)
The pandemic has been a wild roller coaster ride, which meant high hopes met with many low financial dips for the food industry. Café owners in Ontario who hoped to open their patios in the summer had some rude shocks when another lockdown was called; many restaurants lost inventory. The companies that did thrive were the ones who had lively social media accounts. The cafés that posted at least three times a day with content that reflected their wares, specials and hours of operation did well. The social media accounts that kept their customers interested with funny videos, posts and “behind-the-scenes” tips and baking advice brought new customers in.
Martin started her social media accounts with images of her creations. Eye catching, artfully decorated cakes were popular, and online visitors stayed for the narrative. Martin shared stories of how she met the man who would eventually become her husband. During a pandemic, people want more than sweet treats; a sweet story, or being included in someone else’s narrative brings a sense of connection that customers crave as much as sugar during bitter times.
Many bakeries are frustrated that even with lively TikTok, Instagram and Twitter accounts, they are not seeing the volume of customers they would like. Some bakers gripe that their job is to create pastry, not social media content. Some delegate the “social media coordinator” position to their younger members of the family, to keep their account current and the content relevant.
New methods of reaching out to potential clients are not the only concern. Prior to the pandemic, many had a skeleton of a website that only advertised hours, address and contact information. Some thought adding a few photos of their wares was enough. Today, with foot traffic further reduced further with lockdown measures, the only way clients can come across a bakery would be word of mouth, social media or the occasional passerby. The speed of information has picked up: many don’t feel like browsing websites, so a quick post on social media that takes less than five seconds to watch should contain your order information to bring those customers in.
Guilty Pleasures ensures that her website features options like “custom order requests” for her clients. Among her personalized touches to keep her clients feel noticed is her edible photo cookies, where she offers clients the option to decorate cookies with a photo of their choice, printed with edible ink.
These days, we are all looking for ways to bring the outside in. Bakeries that can offer a brunch experience without the lineup or a café that offers the perfect breaktime treat will promote it successfully on social media and then provide it store for pickup or delivery. We all need to think outside the pastry box, these days. / BJ