Business and Operations
Setting the scene for sales
By Michelle Brisebois
By Michelle Brisebois
It’s a well-known fact that the first step in eating something takes
place with our eyes. We see, we perceive and we desire. You know that a
beautiful cake will appear more delicious than a plainly decorated cake,
so why shouldn’t a pretty bakery sell more than a plainly decorated
|Combining vintage pieces on one table is a consumer trend that’s starting to show up in some restaurants.|
It’s a well-known fact that the first step in eating something takes place with our eyes. We see, we perceive and we desire. You know that a beautiful cake will appear more delicious than a plainly decorated cake, so why shouldn’t a pretty bakery sell more than a plainly decorated one?
In 2004 a Santa Monica, Calif.-based mall conducted a survey to determine which triggers would cause shoppers to spend more. To their surprise, they discovered that fountains had huge power to attract shoppers and enhance customer mood. Furthermore, they reported that happy customers spent on average $25 more per shopping experience. While fountains may not be in the cards for your bakery, the insight behind the observation is clear: décor affects mood, which in turn affects spending. So which areas are the most important to focus on?
What’s your curb appeal?
If you are located on a busy street, intercepting traffic both on foot and in cars will be the most important goal. The exterior is your bakery’s best marketing tactic. It is the first thing a person sees and it is meant to attract future customers. Attractive urns, flowers, awnings and, yes, even perhaps a fountain, may be a way to stand out and look inviting. Hello Cupcake in Tacoma, Wash., displays a pink bicycle in front of its store. The bicycle’s basket holds a seasonal bouquet and is an easy way for fans of the store to describe its location to each other.
Make sure everything in the bakery is completely finished. No open sockets or wires dangling from the ceiling and keep the floor looking as new as possible. Invest in some designer switchplate covers. For a relatively low cost, they’ll make your bakery look much more upscale.
Turn on the charm
“Charming and approachable” is a great image to portray as a bakery, since baked goods are largely meant to evoke warm, comfortable feelings. Wooden chairs with matching wooden tables can still be rustic and warm. Fresh flowers are lovely on the table and can be well worth the investment. The website www.zazzle.com is a great source for posters with a charming bistro vibe. For less than $30 you can get posters for your bakery that say “Keep Calm, Eat a Cupcake” and “True Love – Cupcakes,” complete with an illustrated pin-up girl.
Pick a tone, a time, a vibe and make it your guiding force for all decisions around décor. Try to resist picking up pieces for your bakery that are a great deal just because they’re inexpensive. A mish-mash of décor themes will only dilute your brand. If you don’t have the budget for artwork, try partnering with a local art gallery to see if you can display some pieces on their behalf. They’ll have a trained eye for what looks best.
A lovely loo
A nice, clean bathroom is always appreciated by customers, but it also has financial benefits. The Journal of Food Service reported in 2009 that a clean, well-cared-for bathroom had a positive impact on the customer’s perception of the establishment concerning food safety. The study also found that a clean latrine encouraged repeat visits to the establishment.
Tune the tunes
Music is also part of the ambiance and can be one of the most difficult things to get right. While music isn’t, strictly speaking, décor, it does have a huge impact on ambience. Pick something upbeat but fairly neutral (Starbucks gets it just about right with its choices). Chances are your staff is made up of young people and they’ll want to switch the channel to something with more of a grunge vibe. Keep in mind your target audience may not share the same taste and will avoid your operation if they don’t like the choices, so it’s imperative that you keep things in check.
Here are a few foodservice décor trends, established and emerging.
Wood with a story: Vancouver’s Pourhouse bar showcases 28 feet of reclaimed Douglas fir. The floors at Taylor’s Genuine Food & Wine Bar in Ottawa are made from lumber that resided at the bottom of the Ottawa River for 100 years. Beautiful cutting boards are a great way to present breads and other items and these décor items can often be made from reclaimed wood.
The industrial look: Many operations are housed in spaces once dedicated to industrial purposes. Brick walls, roll-up doors and concrete floors should be highlighted if you are converting an industrial space into a bakery. Minimalism is a big trend right now, with white, open spaces providing a canvas for beautiful food.
Let there be light: The Edison bulb lighting trend is linked closely to the industrial trend. Exposed bulbs dangling from the ceiling have been around since about 2002, when trendy eateries in New York first started displaying them. This trend also nods to the Steampunk design theme that’s prevalent in fashion right now. It combines vintage/Victorian cues with a touch of technology. Think of the movie The Golden Compass or Sherlock Holmes and you’ll understand the vibe.
Mismatched crockery: Combining a number of vintage pieces on one table is a consumer trend that’s starting to show up in some restaurants. The mismatched crockery fad started in the U.K.’s trendy teahouses last year, but the trend really took off after the 2010 box office hit Alice in Wonderland, in which Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter’s characters are seen using an unconventional tea set.
Above all, your décor should make your bakery memorable, distinctive and buzzworthy. It’s not just window dressing – it’s good business.
Michelle Brisebois is a marketing professional with experience in the food, pharmaceutical, financial services and wine industries. She specializes in retail brand strategies.