I'm sure our bakery is similar to other full-line operations in that we use a lot of chocolate. It's good-quality chocolate, but it's not premium grade, which costs more. Would the extra expense for top-quality chocolate pay off?
Question: We have a small, full-line retail bakery. Competition for customers’ bakery food dollars is coming from all directions: local specialty stores, such as cake shops and pretzel outlets, and from online businesses. Social media activity also exposes customers to competitors. How can a small operator like me fight this?
Question: As the economy slogs on, I'm searching for opportunities to inject life into sales at my retail bakery. Gourmet, or upscale, donuts are one such example. The term, "gourmet donuts," sounds like an oxymoron; still, some specialty donut shops are scoring sales. What can I learn from them?
Question: For many years, cookie sales along with cake sales have formed the bedrock that supports our in-store bakeries. During the recession, however, growth in cookie sales slipped some. Do you have any ideas on how we can put more growth back into cookies?
Question: I see more food trucks selling gourmet products in my city. They seem to operate anywhere there’s a crowd. But, I haven’t seen a truck that offers bakery foods actually baked in a truck. Is this something worthwhile to consider?
Question: We sample bakery foods in our in-stores and occasionally have demos (product demonstrations). However, the effort has little impact on what's important-sales. Do you have a suggestion on how to improve the promotions?
Question: My field merchandisers and I would like to try a bakery product that would be new to our market--something popular elsewhere but untried in our territory. Do you know any in-store operators who have done this?
Question: I agree with the notion that no in-store bakery can be all things to all customers if it wants to remain in business. An in-store operator must limit products to a manageable number of SKUs and then choose the appropriate production method (scratch/mix, frozen raw and par-bake, and thaw-and-sell) for each product. We're still struggling with this situation. Does any operator have recent experience dealing with this?
Question: As the economy slogs on, our in-store bakeries need something to inject life into sales. We've toyed with the idea of using chocolate as an ingredient. But, preparing chocolate can be tricky, and good chocolate is expensive. Is now a good time to consider this?
Question: I'm a bakery field merchandiser for a large supermarket chain in the Northeast. Everywhere I go, every store I visit, I see-and hear-people using smart phones to communicate on Facebook and Twitter. This form of connecting seems so obvious for in-store bakeries. What's happening?
Question: Cheap commodity pies unfortunately persist throughout the in-store baking industry. They drive-down consumers' expectations of in-store pies, and they don't return real CTO. Some one- to five-unit operators have scored success with gourmet pies. Have any larger supermarket chains done it?
Question: Our central bakery, which supplies five in-store bakeries, runs three shifts, seven days a week, which requires associated cross-training at several different production stations. Maintaining product consistency and finding and retaining high-quality associates are challenges. How can we improve these issues?
Question: Our bakeries have seen some improvement in sales this year after 18 months of slight declines. However, one category, crusty and artisan breads and rolls, still is experiencing flat to lower sales. Do you have suggestions as to how we can put some life back into these products?
Question: I've read articles describing how consumers during the recession have turned to supermarkets for on-the-go foods and away from restaurants and fast-food outlets. Our bakeries and delis could do a better job of capturing such sales. Do you have any suggestions from operators that do this well?