We are new to the business and orders come in very sporadically. We hate to turn down the small orders, but it's such a pain to make a whole batch of dough, icing, etc. For you seasoned cookie bakers, do you have dough always made up and in the freezer? What about royal icing--how do you store yours? Do you have batches of differennt colors made up? We are in the process of turning a bedroom in the basement into a legal kitchen. We are hoping that it will be much easier to manuever in it. Right now, cooking from my kitchen is a pain. Do you guys have it set up that if an order came in, you could just literally thaw some dough, and use icing that is already made up. It seems like it takes so much time for one order. But if we could do the prep ahead of time, it would be so time-saving. I want to get this thing down to a well-oiled machine.
It's also the reason that my 3-cookie bouquet avg's $7 a cookie and my 12 cookie bouquet comes in at about $5 a cookie. Small orders have higher overhead.
Yes, I keep dough in the refrigerator and pull out just what I need. You could keep some pre-cut shapes in the freezer and pull them out and throw them in the oven. (Rounds, hearts, etc).
.....and remember, those small orders can lead to bigger and better orders ! I find it helps to keep chanting that mantra in my head as I'm going through the hassle of smaller orders!
When I do my Christmas cookies I make the cut-outs and then have a large rectangle rubbermaid dish that I freeze the individual cookies between sheets of parchment paper. That way I can do them ahead and if a surprise order pops in I am somewhat ready, just need to do the baking and frosting. Like indideby said, you could do the "generic" shapes and keep two dozen of each on hand or something like that. Also, what do you consider a small order? Half dozen? two dozen? Just curious.
I have a lead time of 1 week for any order...gives me plenty of time to make dough, icing, whatever. I think that is the key to being prepared for orders. I have frozen dough for busy times-holidays, graduation, etc..
Also, when you have some in the freezer, pre-cut, you are able to tell the last-minute customer what they CAN have. I keep cookie dough balls in the freezer (choc chips, snickerdoodles, etc) ... got a call late yesteday for a 3-dz order today and she wanted variety. No way am I making up 3 new batches of cookie dough for 12 cookies each (each of my batches makes about 100+ cookies).
While on the phone, I opened the freezer and said, "You can have this, that, or the other. What combo do you want?"