In an uncertain economy, people often behave like squirrels in autumn, hoarding everything they come across for a day when the situation will get worse. It is difficult at any time to spend money to improve your business when there is no guarantee of increased sales to cover the investment. And with this protracted recovery, it seems to go against nature to spend instead of to save.
But that is exactly what you should do, according to William Seppi, Costeaux French Bakery, Healdsburg, Calif. Now is the time to take those renovation or expansion plans that have been moldering in the back office and act on them. Seppi acknowledged that obtaining capital in this current economy may be tough, but the news is looking up on that front.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that U.S. banks are starting to open their coffers again with the number of loans extended edging up for the first time since the recession. JP Morgan Chase & Co., the country’s second largest bank, said its total loans increased 6 percent since the end of September with most of those going to businesses. The Journal went on to say more consumers are getting credit cards and are increasing their spending with them–all good news for bakers. Money should be easier to come by, both from banks and customers.
However, some bakers caution that the increased spending may be more for one-time outlays on durable goods and not an indication of higher allocations for food spending. But consumers’ growing desire to buy local often includes shopping in local businesses, such as retail bakeries, a trend Michael Manni Jr., LaSalle Bakery, Providence, R.I., is seeing in New York City and thinks will spread across the country.
As at any other time, the onus is on bakers to provide high-quality products to keep shoppers making the trek across the supermarket to the in-store bakery or driving to another store while running errands. While customer desire for locally produced foods may be currently high, if you don’t supply the quality customers are looking for, you won’t retain them. That doesn’t change, no matter the economy.
If you wait for the economy to improve before investing in your business, you may miss an opportunity. Granted, only you know your market, and only you can take the plunge, but now may not be the time to be timid. So, in as many clichés as I can fit into one sentence, seize the day, and if you build it, they will come.