The only problem with new technology is that it's always new. Just when you think you've figured out some computer software to help with the books or purchased new hardware or redesigned your Web site, all your efforts feel out of date once you get there. It's hard to keep up with the different ways new technology can help a bakery business, but that's no reason to avoid it.
I guess you need to pick your battles and find areas in your business where new technology can make your life easier, less tedious. That area may or may not be the biggest project. Researching the right technology, learning the system, entering data and training staff may be tedious. But if implementing a new program allows you to see the true cost of producing your products, creates a larger community of customers through online communication or saves fuel costs by better organizing your delivery schedule, that new technology should pay for itself.
Have you noticed the young people you're hiring are scarily tech-savvy? Well, these folks are the future of your bakery, and they are your customers now and into the future. If possible, harness some of their talents with the new technology your business is looking to implement. These young people at the very least will be a quick train and may revel in the consultative leadership role you're giving them.
Slade Grove, owner of Wicked Bakery in Phoenix, is unusually tuned in to new technology in his bakery. As the featured bakery professional in our Baker's to Watch article this month, Grove is a former IT exec who got the chance to follow his first love of baking. While he left IT behind to pursue bakery and pastry, he implements what he learned in his previous career in his retail and wholesale bakery operation. In fact, his computer systems are integral to his business, from running the back of the house to his newly designed Web site, on track to launch by the end of the year.
Grove is planning to host video classes on his Web site and is tailoring his weekly e-newsletters for differing customer needs. He plans to offer classes/demonstrations in his new bakery, so doing this on his Web site is a natural extension of his brand. Many bakeries have started building customer e-mail lists to send online promotions and e-newsletters to keep customers involved in what's going on with the bakery. Whether we like it or not, this form of communication with your customers is likely replacing the daily visit. But it's not necessarily replacing the regular visit. Your customers still crave the sense of community that local businesses, such as bakeries, can offer. Why not remind them of that by communicating with them in the way they've become used to…via e-mail, Web site or text?
Once you get them in the door, then you can appeal to their sense of nostalgia with your bakery products and old-time customer service.