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New to Bakery Business - question about freshness and variety in product

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

Ok, this really sweet lady and her sister started a cupcake and fudge place in our little town. She and her sister had a falling out and she was left to run this business PLUS do her full time "regular" job so she is only in the shop from 5 to 7 pm every night. I have been hired as "baker" but really I am more of a manager and  I am trying to help her build her business by offering from scratch cupcakes, special flavor cupcakes, cookies, decorated cakes, special occasion cakes, etc. I am also making sure that our product is as fresh as possible. They were selling dried out cupcakes that were stored incorrectly and were several days old. A very quick to kill your business! UGH!  Thankfully I have corrected THAT problem.

 

Anyway, as per our owner, currently we offer chocolate cupcakes with vanilla or chocolate butter cream, vanilla cupcakes with vanilla or chocolate butter cream, red velvet with cream cheese frosting, and pumpkin spice with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Every day...same thing. I want to venture into more variety but we don't have enough customers per day to support several different flavors per day. However, how to you encourage customers to come in when you only have these very basic cupcakes every day?  How do I have different flavors every day, yet keep them as fresh as possible when we are not even selling 1 dozen cupcakes per day? I can't make cupcakes that go bad and get tossed week after week. 

 

There is lots of potential in this business, but I have never done this type of job before (I have always been a home baker).... and we are really learning as we go. 

I do not want this business to fail, but if we don't do something to get customers in this shop she will end up closing her doors by January.

 

Any tips or hints for the new girl on the block? 

post #2 of 24

wow--you stepped off the dock onto a sinking ship--not that you don't know that--sounds like a marketing issue among other things--are yous selling anything?

if you had your own tv show what would be your favorite commercial/sponsor

i think i'd like ghirardelli and hershey for starters...

Reply

if you had your own tv show what would be your favorite commercial/sponsor

i think i'd like ghirardelli and hershey for starters...

Reply
post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 

Oh yes, I totally agree with you! I keep telling myself I am going to quit, but I feel bad for this lady. I am only there Tuesday-Friday from 9 to 2 so I am truly a part-time worker (and that is all I ever wanted!) 

 

 And yes, marketing is a MAJOR issue that we are addressing. Any suggestions? ;)

 

We are selling cupcakes and fudge everyday but not even $100 per week day. I am not there on Saturdays and that is her busy day, but even at, that she doesn't always break $200 on a Saturday.  Business has increased since I have been there (thankfully) but really....why stop in if every day the flavors are the same? 

 

We do have a local business that is giving us their business .... we recently did goodies for a chocolate tasting event for them and we will be doing boxed truffles as Christmas Gifts they are giving.

 

It is the day to day stuff that is killing us. :(

post #4 of 24
What if you did something like special flavors a couple days a week. Instead of only once a week? Like Monday and Wednesday have a couple different flavors then do that instead of a new flavor each day. The cupcakes will be fresh and your less likely to waste as much. Also, if people find a new flavor they may make a point to come in regularly and that is when I'd throw samples out, in the form of mini cupcakes. See what people like and maybe then switching up the menu will be easier and more justifiable.

I'm not a business owner, but I do frequent a cupcake shop near my work, but only on the days they have smores cupcakes, until I was offered a pumpkin spice mini cupcake, now I go by more often.
post #5 of 24

in one of the bakeries i worked for--they did barter trade with a radio station for airtime when the dj's wished the lucky listener 'happy birthday' and the bakery gave the listener a 6" b-day cake--worked like crazy for her!

 

does she know or could she meet the morning dj's? or the ride home time dj's--or any of them? the station manager -- the cleaning crew ;)

 

it's too bad this is going down--it's hard to watch huh--

 

i had a tea room for about 20 minutes---hahaha yeah not funny ;{ but oh well

 

can the friendly local business refer yous maybe to another business?

 

i'd recommend that she deliver the leftovers to the local e.r., police station, firehouse staff

if you had your own tv show what would be your favorite commercial/sponsor

i think i'd like ghirardelli and hershey for starters...

Reply

if you had your own tv show what would be your favorite commercial/sponsor

i think i'd like ghirardelli and hershey for starters...

Reply
post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by -K8memphis View Post
 

in one of the bakeries i worked for--they did barter trade with a radio station for airtime when the dj's wished the lucky listener 'happy birthday' and the bakery gave the listener a 6" b-day cake--worked like crazy for her!

 

 

then at christmas we put out dozens of quarter & half sheet cakes decorated with a simple holiday design and those went out as gifts from the radio station to it's advertisers and customers and whosoever and then my bakery owner received some cool items too--it was this big swap-o-rama at the end of the year--the dj's came and picked up & delivered all of it--kinda fun--lotta work at christmas when we were already booked (more than) solid but it all worked--probably would not have been booked solid without the radio influence too--this was a well established neighborhood bakery back in the day--more than 20 years ago

if you had your own tv show what would be your favorite commercial/sponsor

i think i'd like ghirardelli and hershey for starters...

Reply

if you had your own tv show what would be your favorite commercial/sponsor

i think i'd like ghirardelli and hershey for starters...

Reply
post #7 of 24
If this were my business here's what I would do: I would have special cupcake flavours for every day of the week. For example, Strawberry Lemonade on Mondays, Oreo Cookie Crunch on Tuesdays, etc. And one "wild card" day where I could try out new flavours. This way people will get to thinking "Oh, it's Thursday! I need to go get my favourite cupcake today!" kind of thing. I would handle the problem of too few sales to justify a full batch of cupcakes every day by choosing flavours that can easily be adapted by using different flavour buttercream but on the same basic cupcake, so at the beginning of the week I could make up a few dozen chocolate cupcakes and a few dozen vanilla, pop them in the freezer and just take out as many as I expect to sell that day, top them with a swirl of that days buttercream choice, and my daily special would be good to go. I would also make up a batch of buttercream at the beginning of the week and divide it into seven containers for the week's buttercream flavours, then just keep them in the fridge until I need them.
I hope this makes sense! It feels long and wordy!
Best of luck!
post #8 of 24
Bake and freeze and only put a few of each flavor in the case each day. After a day or two, cut up the cupcakes as free samples. ALWAYS have samples out if you want to increase sales. That way, it's not "waste", it's "advertising".
Plank.
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Plank.
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post #9 of 24

i have a great story about freezing cupcakes--i was at an interview at a 'cake place' and the owner tells me this story--he had an employee that revealed to him that a certain certain cupcake place where they used to work used frozen cupcakes a lot -- so he would use this information to sell his stuff--comparing how that he does not do this but so& so does--well he was giving his spiel to some customers and saying so & so uses frozen cupcakes--and come to find out he was talking to so & so's owners--they had come in just for the purpose of getting him to get a "new spiel"--and that they did not in fact use frozen product--yikes--busted!

 

this post has little to do with the subject--but it's a great frozen cupcake story--

 

carry on ;)

if you had your own tv show what would be your favorite commercial/sponsor

i think i'd like ghirardelli and hershey for starters...

Reply

if you had your own tv show what would be your favorite commercial/sponsor

i think i'd like ghirardelli and hershey for starters...

Reply
post #10 of 24
You could do flavored buttercreams with the vanilla and chocolate - that doesn't require you to bake extra flavors of cupcakes which cuts down on the waste.
elsewhere.
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elsewhere.
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post #11 of 24
To help keep cupcakes fresher longer, brush or spray with cake syrup before freezing (allow to soak in before freezing) and dip the tops in either white or chocolate ganache before icing to seal them and keep the cake from drying out. If you are going to filling the cupcakes, core and fill before freezing, otherwise you have to let them sit out to thaw before coring, which is air exposure your cuppies don't need.
Plank.
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Plank.
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post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bignlittlesmom View Post

And yes, marketing is a MAJOR issue that we are addressing. Any suggestions? icon_wink.gif

If you were hired to help with marketing and you don't have marketing expertise, I recommend enlisting a professional ASAP. Playing around with different flavors is fun but it won't help if you aren't reaching your target market.
Quote:
It is the day to day stuff that is killing us. icon_sad.gif

How much of the day to day stuff is necessary? What's profitable and what's not? Does the shop need to be open to the public during the week? Is a retail shop even viable long-term with the current business model, and would you be better off downsizing to a smaller space or rented kitchen with a focus on wholesale and custom orders?
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bignlittlesmom View Post
 

How do I have different flavors every day, yet keep them as fresh as possible when we are not even selling 1 dozen cupcakes per day? I can't make cupcakes that go bad and get tossed week after week. 

 

Are you certain there is enough potential business in this town to support a bakery?  If you aren't selling 12 cupcakes a day, there is either 1) a great deal of untapped potential to market to, 2) not enough people in the town to market to, or 3) you have a product that isn't worth buying.  What is the population of your town?  How is the quality of your product?  We need more information to help you.

 

Liz

Follow me on my Twitter handle: @Sugar_Iowa

Or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SugarFineBakedGoodsAndConfections

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Follow me on my Twitter handle: @Sugar_Iowa

Or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SugarFineBakedGoodsAndConfections

Reply
post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 

This sweet lady decided to do this business on a whim and 9 weeks later she was open for business. At the beginning her cupcake product was not "up to par" and I am afraid  that it really affected her business before she could get off the ground. Her fudge does well and it is a great product. Now that the cupcakes are better quality and fresh, sales are picking up. We are tucked in a little tiny shop and I think folks just don't know we are here yet (she opened in August, I started in Oct) We have low income, middle income and high income all in our area. The closest bakery would be 20 min away. If you want a cake or cupcakes your choice was Walmart or drive into the next town!  

 

My question is more about variety of flavors and how to offer different choices while we build our customer base :) 

post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft View Post


If you were hired to help with marketing and you don't have marketing expertise, I recommend enlisting a professional ASAP. Playing around with different flavors is fun but it won't help if you aren't reaching your target market.
How much of the day to day stuff is necessary? What's profitable and what's not? Does the shop need to be open to the public during the week? Is a retail shop even viable long-term with the current business model, and would you be better off downsizing to a smaller space or rented kitchen with a focus on wholesale and custom orders?

I was hired only as a part time baker. Marketing is not my area at all! This is her business to run and manage, not mine. I am thinking as the baker, not owner.

 

What I mean by "day to day stuff" is not enough cash walking in the door each day ;) I think with better marketing we will have the customer base to keep the doors open. Right now we are open Tues - Sat 11 - 7. Lots of this issue is she works a full time job Mon - Fri and  isn't in the store or in the community to promote her products.

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