Every bakery strives for perfection and uniformity, but with three locations, Susan Lozier Robert had to establish precise systems to keep the products consistently perfect no matter which Frederick’s Pastries’ location sells it. Robert, who now runs the bakery her parents, Frederick and Gloria Lozier, began in their home garage in Nashua, N.H., in 1980, has grown the business into three locations since taking over in 2004.
“There is a Frederick’s way,” Robert says. “When we started expanding is when we needed to be more controlled. We needed it to be black and white that this is how you make things.” Frederick’s moved to Amherst, N.H., in 1987 and opened its second location in Bedford, N.H., in 2007 with the third opening in North Andover, Mass., in 2010. Each location is similar in appearance with the Frederick’s purple walls and identical product line.
All products are produced at Amherst and then delivered daily to the other two locations for finishing. Amherst functions as the commissary but both Bedford and North Andover have ovens to bake off a few products like cookies. The double rack oven in Amherst can bake 150 cakes at a time with two bakes per hour and production begins at 5 a.m. The satellite locations also fill and decorate the tortes as well as decorate the simpler custom cakes. Shaped cake orders are usually filled at Amherst, which has the majority of the tools required for such cakes.
Robert and her staff have developed a detailed “playbook” that takes all aspects of a product into account, from measuring ingredients to decorating details, to ensure that a caramel toffee torte displayed at Amherst looks exactly the same as the one in the Bedford showcase.
“Everything is scaled. It’s all pounds and ounces,” says Frederick Lozier, founder of the bakery. “If you get a product today and you come back 10 years from now, it will be the same–unless we’ve improved it.”
All products are made from scratch using fresh ingredients, such as butter, eggs and whole milk. Finished products are never frozen. Robert acknowledges that freezing doesn’t take away from the integrity of the products, but it does have a stigma attached for many customers. “If we take a product and freeze it before we sell it, we’ve already gone through a few processes before they get it home,” she says. “Customers can take our cake and freeze it themselves. Now they’re the ones who are in control of what’s going to happen to it.”
While baking is handled by two full-time bakers and one part-time employee, the pastry and cake staffs have to know exactly how to finish the products, down to how much filling should be used on an 8-in. torte and how many rosettes need to be piped on top.
“Everything is written down and has a formula,” Robert adds. All employees are trained according to the formulas, and every employee begins at the Amherst location and undergoes a two-month training process before moving to the location where they will work. All employees start in the pastry department, where they learn how to mix the icings and mousses and assemble product. The pastry department also doubles as the customer service department and Frederick’s stresses excellent customer service.
Working for customers
“Every day we remind the employees that we’re not the ones paying them, the customer is,” Robert says. “So the longer they wait before waiting on a customer or the more times the phone rings, they’re not upsetting me as much as they are the customer. It’s about making the customer happy, not about making Sue happy.”
Lozier puts it simply: “If they’re not smiling, they’re not working for us. Smiling is important. We think service is just as important as product, and it really is.”
Frederick’s sampling of prices
Caramel toffee torte, 8 ins. $32.99
As much as Frederick’s stresses customer service, the bakery also focuses on the staff working as a team. Each store holds weekly meetings to ensure ideas, problems and needs are addressed and several members of management, including Robert, spend time in each store every week. To help ease communication, Frederick’s recently added a production facilitator to track orders. All store managers contact her when they need anything and she makes sure all store deliveries and orders are filled correctly.
Excellent customer service played a role in the design of the stores’ interiors as well. Each location has an open plan so customers can see everything that goes on. All of the decorators and pastry personnel work in view of customers. Only the oven is in a separate room in Amherst.
“It’s open for a reason,” Robert says. “We’re proud of our establishment and how clean it is. There is no ‘I’ll be right back,’ and then we disappear around a wall.” Customers can see if employees are filling another customer’s order or are working on a custom design cake.
Robert also stresses complete customer satisfaction. If a customer isn’t completely happy with the design on a special occasion cake, for example, she has no qualms about telling the customer she’ll start over and deliver the cake to them in a few hours.
“If we don’t get the expression of ‘That’s awesome,’ on a customer’s face when we show them their cake, we ask what’s wrong and we’ll redo it if they aren’t completely satisfied.”
The bakery’s Sweet Rewards program, which operates similarly to a supermarket’s loyalty card, is another way to keep customers happy. Customers who participate in Sweet Rewards (they simply have to supply the bakery with their email address; Frederick’s currently has 12,000 addresses) are awarded points for every purchase. Points equate to dollars spent. Once the customer reaches 400 points, the bakery gives them a $10 gift certificate. They also will occasionally receive an email for a free product, such as a chocolate chip cookie, and they simply have to show the email to receive the product. They can forward the free product email to their friends as well.
Frederick’s in turn is able to track customers’ buying habits, and if they ordered a cake last year and want the same thing again, the staff can easily look up the order on the POS system.
Every customer is asked to supply their name, which allows the staff to easily attach the Sweet Rewards points to participating customers’ accounts. Frederick’s currently has 37,000 customer names in its POS system, and Robert estimates that about half of the customers each day decline to provide their name.
When Lozier began the bakery in 1980, he made a full product line including breads and rolls but soon trimmed the line down to cakes and pastries. “I said, ‘I’m going to make one thing and make it the best I can.’ It’s still the same today. In any business, if you just do one thing, you can do it better than anyone else,” Lozier says.
Customers won’t find donuts or croissants at Frederick’s. And, they won’t find pies, even during the holidays. But they will find a Dutch apple torte–gold cake layers sandwiched with apple filling and iced with whipped cream–or a pumpkin cheesecake cup–New York-style pumpkin cheesecake topped with whipped cream. Many of the items are only available seasonally.
The bakery keeps the product line simple–from 40 different formulas, the bakers and decorators at Frederick’s use a variety of combinations of batter and filling to produce the hundreds of different products available. The cakes and tortes are offered in a variety of sizes, from individual slices or cups to rounds ranging from 8 ins. to 18 ins. “We try to make new products out of the ones we’re already making,” Robert says. “How can we take our brownies and make them into something else? It’s another step for production but it’s not a whole new list of ingredients and a whole new process to go through.”
One of bakery’s signature items is purple velvet, Frederick’s answer to the popular red velvet. “I’m a purple person,” Robert says. “I like the color a lot and we like to be different.”
Frederick’s purple velvet is a white pound cake, not a chocolate-based cake like red velvet, colored purple and the various cakes and cupcakes feature cream cheese filling and buttercream icing. The flavor is simply vanilla, not the grape that many customers expect due to its unique color. “It kind of nice because it’s our own thing. I don’t know anyone who has purple cake,” she adds.
While purple velvet sets the bakery apart, it is the chocolate indulgence cake that has proven to be most popular in all three locations. While some products sell better in one location over another, it seems both New Hampshire and Massachusetts’s customers love their chocolate. The chocolate cake is layered and topped with fudge icing for an extreme chocolaty flavor.
Robert’s personal favorite is the Milky Way torte–dark chocolate cake filled with caramel and chocolate mousse then iced with whipped cream and garnished with chocolate ganache.
Pastries range from the éclairs–pâte à choux filled with Frederick’s signature pastry cream and topped with fudge icing–to chocolate chunk cookies to the Strawberry Romanoff Tea Cup–a swirled chocolate cup filled with gold cake, Grand Marnier liquor, pastry cream, strawberry filling topped with whipped cream and garnished with a fresh strawberry and sliced almonds.
Frederick’s also is well known for its wedding cakes. Among the three stores, the staff creates about 20 wedding cakes every week, with July and August becoming the busier months. The more traditional wedding cakes months of May and June now have more orders for graduation cakes, Robert says. Five decorators handle the consultations for all three locations. With the bakery’s no-freezing policy, all wedding cakes are baked on Wednesday and Thursday and cooled so they are ready for decorating on Friday. This also allows the bakery to make last-minute changes to the size of the cakes customers may have ordered.
It’s all about branding
To keep the bakery’s name in front of customers, nothing leaves the bakery without Frederick’s trademarked logo. The logo is on all packaging, including cups, boxes and bags, and many products feature a chocolate medallion that has been imprinted with the logo.
Frederick’s also uses a variety of marketing tools to get its name out. Lozier, who is an avid golfer, had golf balls printed with the bakery name and $5 off a purchase. While he won’t admit to losing them on the golf course, he often leaves them in the cup when finishing a hole so the player behind him will find it. “If the person is already a customer, I’m just saying ‘thank you.’ And, if they’re not a customer, then they’re going to be,” he says.
The bakery also is active on social media with Facebook and Google+ pages, posting several times a day–from a new cupcake variety to promoting a feature in the local media–and generating a lively discussion with customers. Frederick’s has almost 4,000 likes on its Facebook page. It also has teamed up with a local radio station for monthly live remotes in one of the bakery’s locations where customers/listeners can come in for a sampling event.
All of the marketing, customer service and commitment to quality is paying off for Frederick’s Pastries. Its customers have voted it Best of New Hampshire in New Hampshire magazine for 10 years in a row. “It makes us pay attention and keep improving,” Robert says. “Because now after 10 years, you don’t want next year to be the year you don’t get it.” MB
Frederick’s Pastries at a glance
Headquarters: Amherst, N.H.