As you know, Modern Baking makes a point every month to spotlight successful bakeries and share their tips, techniques and ideas for succeeding in this business.
With bakeries being so different, not all ideas can apply to everyone, obviously. But, looking deeper into what connects the successful bakery operators, a few common rules apply:
Have a plan, and stick to it.
Know that quality is the only way to go in bakery.
The bakeries featured in this magazine, particularly the ones you'll read about in this month's issue, demonstrate how these rules work.
Sticking to a plan doesn't mean you shouldn't adjust your business to market changes. It means staying true to the “big picture” mission of what you want your business to be. This is especially true of new bakery businesses. Bountiful Bread, for example, set out to be a retail bread bakery, but has evolved into a bakery café with more foodservice business. Founders Mark Burgasser and David White adjusted their business accordingly, but stuck with the plan. It is still all about the bread at Bountiful Bread.
Stew Leonard's offers truly fresh foods in its supermarkets by producing as much as it can on premise. In-store baking has become a key avenue for sticking to that plan. A whirlwind of activity hits you when you walk into a Stew Leonard's store. A robotic cow moos at you from the left, donuts are produced from the frying machine in front of you and a sales person offers you samples of soup on your right. Some shoppers, including myself, would call this “fun.” Others might find it “chaos.” Whatever you want to call it, Stew Leonard's is definitely not like other supermarkets, and it is all part of the company's mission. The bakery products the company chooses to offer, such as donuts, pies and bread, stay true to its “farm fresh” brand.
Founders of The Baker Boy's bakery followed a trend-cupcakes-but saw the real trend behind the potential fad. Certainly many consumers have a new found appreciation for cupcakes, and Baker Boy's does offer them, award-winning ones in fact. But, the bakery's broader product line appeals to the bigger consumer desire for desserts their mom (more likely their grandma) used to make. Open a little less than a year, the Baker Boy's owners too have made changes in their business. After testing products with customers, they dropped bundt cakes from their product line.
Quality goes without saying for all three bakeries and for others in this issue. Going against the grain drives innovation, and change is necessary to bakery longevity. But, if you venture outside the box under the umbrella of these two rules, the odds are stacked in your favor.