Bakers Journal

Frozen Assets

December 5, 2007
By Michelle Brisebois

Michelle Brisebois suggests using frozen dough strategically can actually grow your business.

Let’s talk about balance. You know, the balance between your work life and your personal life. If you’re like many who run a business, the only balancing you do is to your tires – and that’s only once a year. Your family sees you so infrequently, they’re starting to ask you for ID when you show up at the front door. But heck, your business can’t run without you, it’s all part of being an entrepreneur. Right? Maybe not.

Every year businesses close and add to the sobering statistics. According to Statistics Canada, less than one in five new firms will survive their tenth anniversary. What’s important to note is that it’s often not because of a flawed business idea, lack of customers or owner disinterest. A major reason for business failure is due to overworked business owners needing to escape a business that started as a dream and has become the most demanding boss they’ve ever had. It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, it’s imperative to your survival and to the survival of your business that you put systems in place that will allow you to remove yourself from the tactical work. Value-added products, such as frozen dough, may be the perfect means of freeing up your time where you’re needed most: leading your business.

Businesses are like children. Although we have a hand in creating them, they are entities totally separate from ourselves. Your business is not you. This shift in perspective is vital to getting our heads out of the weeds and up to a higher level where we can stop working “in” the business and start working “on” the business. Your business was started by the entrepreneur that’s in your blood and you started a bakery probably because you’re familiar with the industry. You’re a baker. Start by asking yourself which of your alter egos is showing up to run your operation – the entrepreneur or the baker? List all of the positions needed for your business: CEO, vice-president of sales, human resource manager, bookkeeper, baker. Now, who fills those positions? Chances are you’ll see your name down beside most, if not all, of those jobs. How much time do you spend on each role? You should be spending most of your time in the more strategic roles such as CEO, marketing and sales. If you’re spending the lion’s share of your energy on the tactical stuff then you’re not staying in your lane. Think of it as though you were a passenger on a plane flying over the Rocky Mountains. How would you feel if mid flight, the pilot wandered back to the galley and starting serving coffee and fluffing pillows? Although you may be moderately impressed with his or her dedication, you’d probably also be thinking about those looming mountains and who should be maneuvering them. Your business needs you to pilot it too and value-added products, such as frozen dough, can allow you to develop systems to be handled by others – leaving you time to focus on what you need and want to.


Many bakeries hesitate to use frozen dough because they believe that it will limit their options to customize their product offering. But many frozen dough products offer the flexibility of customizing if the user so desires, or baking the product as is.

Some operations may be concerned about whether or not frozen dough can provide the quality they’re looking for in a final product. Since many bakeries stake their brand image on producing products that are of superior quality, this is an important issue. Make sure you’re clear in your mind how quality is defined for your bakery. If it’s freshness, then value-added products may allow you to bake smaller amounts more frequently to have the freshest product on the shelf more often. Frozen dough manufacturers have stringent quality control processes in place to ensure the weights and sizes of the product are uniform. The product is sampled from the production line and samples are baked off in laboratory settings to ensure peak performance. These companies are audited by the government regularly. They often also ensure that any potential contamination by allergens such as peanuts is avoided by using separate production lines and thorough chemical clean ups.

As with any process improvement program, the key to success is to implement the change strategically. Utilizing frozen dough in your operation need not be an all or nothing proposition.

“When we work with a customer who wants to use frozen dough, we encourage them to go with their strengths,” says Stuart Bolton, marketing manager of Rich Products of Canada. “If a bakery is smaller in scale and it’s well known for a signature product then we suggest that this bakery continue to make that signature product from scratch and use frozen dough for the more mainstream offering. On the other hand, if a bakery has high volume business in its Italian and French breads and has developed efficient manufacturing methods to produce this volume internally, then they’d probably be better to use the frozen dough to expand their niche product offering.”

When considering a move to frozen dough from scratch, you also need to account for equipment cost, insurance for that equipment, availability of skilled labour and cost to manage multiple ingredients. Most of these costs will now be absorbed by the manufacturer if you move to frozen dough. Don’t forget to factor in scrap costs due to botched batches. If your staff forgets about a tray of frozen product on the proofing shelf, the cost will be much less than losing an entire batch. How could your sales grow if you were able to covert some of that production area into storefront? Heavy equipment may be taking up some significant real estate.

Giving up control can be an uncomfortable proposition for the entrepreneur. However, if proper systems are put in place before you hand the reins over to your staff, then it will be a much more successful transition. So fire yourself from the grunt work and promote yourself to a leadership role. It may just be the ticket to saving your business and your sanity.

Michelle Brisebois is a marketing professional with experience in the food, pharmaceutical and financial services industries. She specializes in helping companies grow their brands. Michelle can be reached at OnTrend Strategies by e-mail at:

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