These are challenging times for bakery businesses, to put it mildly. Not only are you being slammed with unprecedented costs of doing business, from the ingredients to make your products to the gasoline to deliver it, but your customers are struggling as well.
Jobless rates are up, gasoline prices have surpassed $4 a gallon and food prices are inflated. Consumers are finding that their hard-earned money simply does not go as far as it used to. While the climate here is nowhere near the food-riot proportions in developing countries, the American public is clearly concerned and trying to figure it all out.
It is tough to be a business owner in this climate, let alone a bakery operator with hin profit margins compared to other business sectors. However, there is a giant up side to operating a bakery in this economy. No matter how you cut it, people have to eat.
Customers may be more selective in what foods they purchase, but it is critical now more than ever to keep your bakery front and center to their options. This is much easier said than done, especially during tough times. Rather than promoting your bakery or investing in its future, the natural reaction for most businesses is to stay the course, cut costs and simply hunker down until the economic tide turns for the better.
Of course you need to analyze costs, and cut where it makes sense. Most bakeries are adjusting product lines, reviewing labor needs and raising retail prices. But, I urge you not to skimp on quality, and, more importantly, plan beyond the now. Shift business thinking from reactionary to proactive.
Believe it or not, now is the time to make business decisions/investments that will make your bakery more successful in the future. You've probably cut as deep as you can by now in your labor, keeping only the cream of the crop in management, production and sales people. You've already examined your product lines, adjusting product sizes/selection and dropping poor performers completely.
You're lean, and you're mean. Now, make the shift before it is too late. Where do you see your bakery five and 10 years from now? How are your customers changing? Are there any new opportunities you see emerging? How can you make your business better today to prepare for new growth ahead?
Because when that time comes-and it will-you want to be ready for it. Otherwise, your business may be left in the dust.