Business and Operations
Editor’s Letter: October 2015
By Laura Aiken
Hello Canadian bakers! I’m back at the editorial helm after a wonderful year at home with my daughter, and looking forward to catching up on what’s new in the baking industry.
At first glance, it seems that much of what was newish at my departure in 2014 has become even more mainstay now. Gluten-free, GMOs (or lack thereof), sugar-free, low sodium, natural, local, organic, clean label, whole grain…these are, in no particular order, the conversation of yester-today.
I suppose what’s changed is they just don’t seem to be specialty anymore. Most bakeries are on board with some facet of these trends. Consumers demand, the industry gives. Such is the nature of the business beast.
Offering a clean label, artisan (in actuality or feel), free-from product won’t give the edge it once gave the grassroots. It has become necessity to innovate in the realm of these trends to stay competitive. There is no “if you build it they will come” – not anymore, and perhaps there never was.
This begs the unabating questions that rob the winks from the night: How am I to keep my customers, get them to spend more, and find new ones? How do I get more word of mouth? The lack of easy answers ought not to stall the search. You’re already in one good place to forage! For 75 years, Bakers Journal has helped the industry grow their businesses, and I am committed to continuing that tradition in my new-old post.
On that note, I offer a few sentiments gathered during many moments of stroller-strolling reflection. Yes, people want healthy, convenient food. They are demanding it. But giving it to them doesn’t make them tell their friends about it. Even if it was deliriously delicious, they may not tell a soul. Their experience, from the first encounter with your brand to the last bite, must evoke enough emotion to compel the telling.
Food has a lot of power to stir the heart, but not near the capability of people. It’s your hands, your heart; your passion sifted in flour that brings your customers back. It’s the friendliness and helpfulness of your staff that cements the connection. Writers, of fiction or non-fiction, all know that stories are about people or you haven’t got a story at all no matter how elaborate your plot of details. The story of your bakery is really about people too. Perhaps finding ways for your customers to get to know you and your staff better would foster the kind of connection you want to forge for repeat business. Sharing expertise and knowledge is one way to allow people to get to know you, for you can only deliver it in the unique way that makes you, you. Encourage conversation and time spent with customers who seem eager for it. The more time they spend with you, the more they will spend (not counting the laptop/one coffee/many hours lot).
I have some experience with being a new customer lately. I recently moved to a new neighbourhood, and have the spent the last couple months ferreting out new haunts, which include several bakeries for various items. There are many highly regarded cafes where I am, but I have only tried one and gone back several times since. I was too impressed with the gracious, knowledgeable staff and the excellent coffee to bother with anywhere else. Therein lies a great goal for any bakery: be so good that your customers don’t even care to try your competitors.
It is my goal for Bakers Journal to help you reach that potential. It’s good to be back in touch, and if there’s anything you’d like to see in your industry magazine, please reach out to me at 416-522-1595 or firstname.lastname@example.org.