What is in this article?:
- Dorothy Lane raises the bar
- Coordinating production
With three locations in Dayton, Ohio, this in-store bakery sets the industry standard for on-site scratch-baking and commitment to both customers and staff.
What makes one supermarket stand out from all the others? Its products and its people. Dorothy Lane Market (DLM), Dayton, Ohio, has made it its business to treat its people (both employees and customers) well and focus on providing only the best products, especially in perimeter departments, such as bakery. “What department in a grocery store can you be so different from all the other competitors?” asks Scott Fox, bakery director. “In bakery you have an opportunity to be so different–if you make a commitment to it.”
That differentiation began in 1994 when DLM was looking to change its production method from mostly frozen and bake-off product to scratch/mix. The chain retained Fox as a consultant to develop a scratch artisan bread program, and he moved into a full-time position in 1996. At that time, the Washington Square store was selling $13,000 in product a week and Oakwood was doing $17,000 a week. Today, with the focus on quality products and customer service, the two bakeries bring in $55,000 and $35,000 a week, respectively.
The success of the bakeries was rooted in the revamped bread program and its key tenets of made today, sold today and customer service.
“We’re servicing every loaf of bread we sell, that will never change,” Fox says. “Customers can get it sliced, unsliced, by the whole loaf or half, or placed in a paper or plastic bag.” For customers wanting a half loaf, DLM charges 60 percent of the whole loaf price.
Bread now accounts for about 34 percent of DLM’s bakery sales, averaging about $40,000 a week for the three stores combined. About 18,000 to 20,000 pounds of bread dough are produced weekly, and retail bakery managers keep a close eye on shrink.
“If you don’t have enough bread on display, your sales go down. We’re running about 20 to 24 percent shrink,” he says. “It sounds crazy high, but it’s really not. If we go below 20 percent, then our sales start to suffer.” In comparison, DLM tries to keep shrink around 7 to 10 percent on other products.
Artisan bread production, led by production manager Joey Wrobel (left), is done mostly by hand.
While the scratch production began with bread, it didn’t stop there. “Seventeen years ago, we were bringing in a lot of product from the outside, and now we’re making more of our own product every year,” Fox says. Bagels are from a base; yogurt and crumb cakes are from a mix; pretzels, laminated sweet dough and hamburger buns are purchased frozen from Servatti Pastry Shop in Cincinnati, which are then baked off in house, but all cake and pastry items are from scratch.
By 2002, the bread program was well established, and DLM was opening Springboro, its third location. The time was right to add a scratch patisserie program. The new bakery was designed to include a pastry kitchen, and DLM worked with local chocolatier Ghyslain Mauris to develop the product line and train DLM staff.
A central bakery, opened in 2004, further enhanced DLM’s commitment to providing the best quality products, and provided production space for the Killer Brownie® and Laura’s Cookies. The central bakery is designed as a support for the stores and operates to break even, with the bakeries purchasing product from the central bakery at cost.