Bakers Journal

News
Reinventing Your Business


September 23, 2008
By Jane Ayer

In May, during Bakery Showcase, Bakers Journal convened a roundtable of
bakers, suppliers and industry consultants to discuss many of the
challenges the industry is currently facing (yep, the topic of
commodity prices was way up there on the list of talking points).

In May, during Bakery Showcase, Bakers Journal convened a roundtable of bakers, suppliers and industry consultants to discuss many of the challenges the industry is currently facing (yep, the topic of commodity prices was way up there on the list of talking points). We carried coverage of the meeting in our July issue, and continue with that in this issue and in the upcoming October issue (and that’s with some editing because of space limitations in each of the issues, baking industry folk can be very opinionated). A common refrain we heard, one most people at the roundtable agreed with, is that too many bakery owners are great in the production room, but lousy on the sales floor.

“I think there’s a fundamental problem in the baking industry of having too many bakers that are not business people running bakeries,” said Jack Kuyer, owner of the long-running Valley Bakery in Burnaby, B.C., “That is really a big part of our issue. When I see a small little bakery that can’t afford to paint their store on the inside and there’s an owner slugging it away 12 hours a day, six days a week — I just don’t want to even be in there.”
And chances are he’s not the only one. The care and thought you put into the premises of your business say much to customers. As good as your products might be, a shabby storefront can do more to deter your clientele than the smell of freshly baked bread might do to attract them.

In this issue, we once again offer up our Cross Country Tour. We’ve visited five bakeries across the country, sampled their baked goods, and spoke with the owners about what inspires them and what they do (or have done) to reinvigorate their businesses. Bouillabaisse Café & Bakery in Parrsboro, N.S., recently underwent a change in ownership and a change in name (how’s that for reinvigorating a business?). Liz Garnhum, the new owner, also initiated a switch from mix products to scratch products, and, as evidenced by how quickly the bakery runs out of its goodies each day, the bakery’s customers are thrilled with the results.

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Then there’s Boulangerie Grains de Folie, way up on the tip of northern New Brunswick. Talk about an invigorating business: it’s the only bakery of its kind (selling European-style breads, pastries and viennoiseries) for hundreds of kilometers. The owners brought in a set designer to create the atmosphere they wanted and even managed to attract a pair of husband and wife bakers from France.

Fred’s Bread, a Toronto-based wholesaler of really great breads and sourdoughs (I can never get enough of their products), keeps its business fresh by constantly looking to grow, whether it be by expanding its production facility or branching out to exhibit at a foodservice trade show for the first time or introducing new and unusual products (see this year’s annual recipe collection, Baking Across Canada, for a sampling of one of Fred’s Breads unique grape pizza).

All of the businesses we feature in this issue are making great products, they know their customers and they’re not afraid to shake things up a bit.
Step back from your business, see what other bakeries are doing (whether it be through the pages of our magazine or visiting bakeries when you’re travelling), connect with each other, get out to trade shows.
“I go to (Bakery Showcase) to look at the exhibit spaces,” says Jack Kuyer, “but more than that, I need to get a little motivated, I want to get a little excited about things again.”
Bakers Journal is always excited about the baking industry and looking for ways to share that excitement with you, our readers. Let us know how you get reinvigorated about your business, and how you turn that around to spice up your business, energize your staff — and ultimately motivate your customers to come back for more. v