Slow economy and slow business period give bakers the time to take stock.
Summer is almost over, and if you're like me, you're not sure where it went. It's already back-to-school time and before you know it, the holiday season will be here with its rush of customers and hectic production schedules.
Now is the time to take a step back and evaluate your business. Ask your customers what they want from your bakery. And, most importantly, listen to what they say. You may think you know exactly what they want — they've been buying it for years. But what if they really want something different or new and would buy even more if you offered it?
Listening to customers can take you in a completely different direction than you envisioned. Clear Flour Bread Bakery is an example of this. (See page 34.) When Christy Timon first opened her business, she planned on offering wholesale bakery products to high-end restaurants and specialty food shops. Now, almost three-quarters of the bakery's sales are from Clear Flour's retail store. Timon listened when her neighbors began coming in to buy the bakery's products, and it took her and the bakery on a new path. She may never have envisioned operating a retail bakery, but that is what customers demanded, and business is booming.
Retail bakers are not the only ones that need to listen to customers. At Modern Baking's recent in-store baking roundtable (see page 26), figuring how to offer customers what they want was central to the discussion. Continuing to meet customers' needs is the backbone of the industry, after all.
On that same note, we at Modern Baking also take some time during the summer to evaluate how we can best meet our readers' needs. While we think we have a pretty good idea of what you want, I'm going to practice what I preach and listen to you — Modern Baking's customers. Let us know how you think we're doing. Are we providing the information you need to run your business? What are we missing the boat on? What do we do that you want to see more of?