Haydel's Bakery manages through empowerment
What do Mickey Mouse ears and king cakes have in common? Haydel's Bakery in New Orleans. In 2008, owner David Haydel Sr. sent his sons, David Jr. and Ryan, to the Disney Institute for a week-long conference on successful business management practices called Disney's Value Chain: Unlocking the Magic in Your Business.
“I went to an RBA (Retail Bakers of America) convention where Disney had six hours, two hours each day, on management, service and employee benefits. I saw what it was all about, and when I came back to the bakery, I enrolled the two boys in the Disney training,” says David Haydel Sr. “Even before they went down there, they were really up on management techniques, but it made them even better. You get inspired when you go to things like that.”
Haydel's sons brought back several ideas that have since been incorporated into the bakery, such as regular meetings between management and employees, incentives for good ideas, training manuals and even product merchandising, consisting of four TVs in the front of the shop playing a video of all of Haydel Bakery's products.
David Jr. and Ryan also came back with the idea to give all employees job titles and business cards. At Disney, all employees are called cast members, so Haydel's gave inspiring titles to their employees as well. For example, sales associates are called sales design specialists. They all are trained to take cake orders, and the new title gives the customers the impression that they are dealing with someone who knows what they are talking about. The title fits, Haydel says, because the employees are in sales and they do help design wedding cakes as they take the order. Even the production staff, who don't deal directly with customers, are given business cards to hand to people when they aren't in the bakery.
Due to its location in New Orleans, Haydel's Bakery does a booming business in king cakes from Christmas to Mardi Gras. It makes 60,000 king cakes a season, which requires the bakery to hire 25 temporary employees, or double its regular staff. Haydel's has several systems in place to manage this influx of both production and staff.
The bakery has an on-staff manager that runs the order entry department with 10 operators who are trained, even if they are temporary, on how to specifically handle bakery orders. They all know the products, how they are shipped and what the packaging looks like. “They walk through the plant as they walk to the operator room every day, so they get to see us icing the king cakes,” Haydel says. “It's a good tool to let them see what's actually going on with the product they are selling.”
In production, all regular employees are cross-trained and almost every employee can perform any production task. During the busy season, Haydel's regular employees are spread out among the temporary workers to help keep production running smoothly. One of Haydel's sons runs the packaging room to ensure the cakes are iced, bagged and packaged properly while Haydel and his other son work in production, making sure the doughs are correctly mixed.
Haydel's tips for managing a successful bakery: keep an open mind and listen to what is going on around you. “It's the people out front who are talking to your customers. They are the ones who can give you the feedback on what the customers are looking for, what the customers aren't really happy about and what you can do to make things better,” he says.
Brookshire's in-stores make data functional
About three years ago, Brookshire Grocery's management team decided to change the company's business model in order to move into the next generation. They opted to convert the chain's 150 stores located in four states to the category management model and implement a new company-wide software system.
“The large part of the software move was to really support the category management process, which with respect to bakery, meant that the category manager drives the program based on data to support decisions,” says John Rose, category manager-bakery for the Tyler, Texas-based chain. The new business model is more customer-centric and provides Rose the necessary information to align the appropriate bakery products with their respective store banners, which include Brookshire Food Stores, Super 1 Foods and Olé Foods.
“It has little to do with what the CM (category manager) likes or dislikes and more to do with what our customers specifically want,” Rose says.
The switch from a committee-based operation to category management also allows quicker response times in introducing new products. Rather than waiting for the next committee meeting to review and approve a new product, now Rose can begin moving on it almost immediately.
Once Brookshire decides to launch a product, the scan data for the software is assigned and an instructional sheet on how to make the product is e-mailed to bakery managers. The sheet also includes a photo showing how the finished product should look, what packaging to use and where it should be displayed. (All bakeries operate on schematics or planograms, which were developed by the chain's bakery supervisors and are a critical component of the CM model.) Rose also provides a launch date with the product showcased in ads a few weeks after launch. About three months after a product launch, Rose reviews the data along with feedback from bakery supervisors and managers, then makes any adjustments necessary to price and/or product mix.
The real success of the program is the “great job our bakery managers do in following through with the programs, notes Linda Wiggins, vice president, bakery/deli operations.
Another reason for the success of the CM model is the company-wide software system that connects all components in all departments. The software tracks the scan data from the checkout registers as well as the amount of inventory in the warehouse. Almost all bakery items have a manufacturer's UPC or an in-house assigned PLU code, which makes tracking of the specific products easier. The computer software allows Rose and his team to see sales of any product within about 24 hours and how it contributes to bakery sales and profits.
“Data becomes functional; it's just not numbers on a page,” Rose says. “That's one of the biggest advantages of the CM business model in the bakery department. We have the data to support our decisions as in contrast to years past, when a lot of the decisions were based on gut instinct.”
The thing that hasn't changed is that people still want old-fashioned bakery products. It's just how they go to market and how we track them that's changed, Rose says. “I feel category management has benefitted our bakery program tremendously. We're offering better products and the applause is measured by our customers' repeat sales, so we're doing something right.”
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