Need Some Advice ~ Grocery Store Bakery Opened But Strugglin

Business By CakeDiva73 Updated 4 Jan 2010 , 8:49am by FromScratch

CakeDiva73 Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 10:25pm
post #1 of 38

So I went with the grocery store to rent their commercial bakery in mid-Nov. (for anyone who followed the whole bakery vs. cafe lady fiasco). For the first month, I baked all their bread in exchange for free rent. LOL - um, FYI: when you are baking the bread, hoagies, dinner rolls, pastries, frozen cookies etc FOR AN ENTIRE STORE, it takes a while! icon_biggrin.gif Like about 5-6 hrs a day!

Long story short, after a month I finally came to realization that working 25-30 hrs per week for $500 a month didn't make the greatest sense. They were very understanding, went back to having their bread shipped in daily from a sister store and dropped my rent from $500/mo to $300 if I simply shelved the bread/cookies M-F. Great deal.....now I can actually bake my stuff.

The only problem, very little of what I make here is selling (out of the store). I basically have a mini-storefront and am able to make darn near anything I want and sell it in the store. The downside is a somewhat modest income area surrounded by elderly retirement communities and several schools. We get older people and teenagers by the ton. Not exactly 'custom bakery' clientele.

I got 2 orders for cakes from walk ins (one for a 2 tiered $75 and another for a single 9" $30) plus one cookie bouquet order. What I think will sell doesn't. They love the truffles, but apparently don't want to buy them. And I dropped my prices HARD to try and make some sales (see my website for current prices) . Hand decorated sugar cookies also tanked. The only things that seem to have legs are Whoopie Pies and Caramel Apples. That's it...... on to plan B.

I have no intention of giving up so I need to figure a way to make some $$ so I can make this work. There are huge hot & cold cases at my disposal (no rent increase if used) and apparently they used to sell chicken & JoJo's, etc with good success. I am contemplating selecting a few savory items to fill the hot case with (basically food-to-go) and baking stuff for the cold case: cheesecakes, carrotcakes, cupcake varieties, truffles, along with holiday offerings.

My problem is I have 4 kids and I can work 40 hrs a week but I can't do the 12-15 hr days like I did in the beginning. I don't see how I can do this alone. Should I nix the hot food idea and focus on full service bakery, even though there seems to be limited sales? Should I just put some basic (i.e. simple) foods in the hot food case?

Also, YES! Selling cakes at a grocery store is a struggle - they all want 1/4 sheets for $16.99. My solution is to buy them pre-frozen and sell under the grocery name (for the budget clients). The store mgr said they used to sell them like mad. I need to get 'in' on that.

Cripes, I am all over the map. Anyone who can read this mess and see my dilemma and perhaps have some pearls of wisdom would be appreciated. What it comes down to is a great opportunity that I don't want to blow. thanks icon_smile.gif

37 replies
CakeDiva73 Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 10:41pm
post #2 of 38

omg, I just re-read this and I have somehow gone from not even making sheetcakes to buying them frozen. The most-taboo thing here at CC, lol. Don't get me wrong, I still want to do my custom baked stuff, but if I can't offer a cake for under $20 and a large % of the clients can't afford one over $20 then if I can buy a frozen one for $9 and sell it for $19 then at least I am making something. Blech.....

So hard. I have to find a way to make enough money so I can hang onto this.... and for the cafe lady update, she randomly contacted me thru the website a couple of times and then I ran into her at Michaels right before X-mas. I had already looked at her and moved on before it registered who she was but my 12 year old was with me and saw her look at me. eh, I just kept walking......

ok, well I just felt the need to comment on the horror of the frozen-cake-buying realization. Why did I think being the boss would be easier then being the employee??

myslady Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 11:06pm
post #3 of 38

Random thoughts.........

Have you advertised at the schools and retirement communities? My nephews' school is notorious for having bake sales and according to my sister, I was the only one who actually baked something for the last one. All other parents bought items from a store and sent it in.

Are you doing in store samples? People seem to respond better after they taste something.

What about a customer survey to get an idea of what your customers are looking for in baked goods. How about having an introductory special like the $100 wedding cake except yours would be birthday cakes, etc.

Have you introduced yourself to the community you're in or do you just rely on the grocery store traffic?

LaBellaFlor Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 11:11pm
post #4 of 38

Um, it's only the end of December. Sooo, you been there like montha and a half? No one really knows there is a custom cake shop in that store. Don't drop your prices. Have your site set up that when someone googles cakes or bakery, yours is the first to come up. Don't know how to do this, but know it can be done. I say start networking with wedding & party people. Network, network, network, advertise, asvertise, advertise. Oh yeah, a bakery owner usually puts in 15 hour days.

CakeDiva73 Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 11:25pm
post #5 of 38

hmm...well if 15 hr days are pre-req then I might have to rethink. Like I said, I have 4 kids and they are still little. The days I did 12-15 hrs were ugly, I didn't see them and they were a mess. Guess I have some reflecting to do.

Great ideas about sampling, survey. I have done a couple days of sampling, which everyone seemed to love! But no one bought any! I mean they even came back the next couple days and commented how good they were, lol, but didn't buy any.

I ordered flyers and sent them to all the schools, local wedding businesses, etc. I also have about 250 postcards that I am going to send out. I already adjusted the prices and ordered accordingly. (for cakes, I mean) My per item price for everything else changes. I was only charging $1.99 for the caramel apples and got tons of orders for Xmas but didn't make a great deal so I upped them to $2.79 each...then they wouldn't sell. I hate to raise the price after the customer becomese accostomed to the lower one, I think it sucks. In this case, I did them more elaborately decorated.

The good new? My kids are enjoying everything that doesn't sell, lol. Perhaps they are hexing me so they get more goodies? hmm....

4them Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 12:00am
post #6 of 38

I am sorry this is happening to you, do you mind telling where you are? I have had a lot of success with business. but remember your business is also your baby, you have to nuture it, I have 4 children (7-17) it takes away a lot of time, for a while, until you can afford to hire help. I had to do 12hr days for about 8 months and now I have 3 employees, I still sometimes do about 10 hours a day, because I am still babysitting
my business, my savings and my good name.

Put some more thought into it.

CG

CakeForte Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 12:07am
post #7 of 38

Just read it really quickly...but you need to have a split marketing plan.

One for the quick stuff - the frozen cakes for $20, then a plan that focuses on marketing to the brides/hotels/caterers, (etc), that wants the custom cake orders.

Hire an intern or two as well. I think I recall you having one...get one more if you have to. They can do all of the prep stuff for you, etc, etc.

indydebi Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 12:09am
post #8 of 38

Bridal shows are coming up ..... do you have any plans to participate in those?

CakeDiva73 Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 12:25am
post #9 of 38

I don't have an intern or anything....not sure how that works. As for bridal shows, I had not thought that far ahead. To be honest, I had heard they are rather pricey and right now, the idea of spending alot of money is scaring the heck out of me.

I know you have to spend money to make money so I guess I need to get past that, right, lol?

all4cake Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 12:36am
post #10 of 38

I would put focus where you want the most business to come from...if you'd like to be doing more tiered cakes, focus on those. Make displays. Cross sell in other areas of the store(pending store approval of course)even if they're flyer and/or coupon stand out(like near the greeting cards/balloons/front check-outs/near the ice cream. Ask to put a display up at a nearby florist. Put your prices back to where you want them and offer a 10% off(or whatever incentive)first order. Check on the net to see if there are sites in your area that will add a link to your site on their's.

http://www.displaypeople.com/Photos/SHC220.jpg

http://www.displaypeople.com/Photos/SHC210A.jpg

The store may have some similar to these in their fixture room/area

Doug Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 12:43am
post #11 of 38

birthdays, anniversaries, etc. come but once a year.

they may have tasted now, but that b-day or anniv. won't be around for up to 11 months!

patience.

ditto to bridal shows.

like idea of quicky baked goods in cold cases

hot foods -- hmmm....that would definitely be something if intern help

jenmat Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 12:46am
post #12 of 38

when i go into a grocery store to buy a cake, I expect to pay grocery store prices, with grocery store designs. Its going to take a while to build up a reputation for your custom cakes, so I think the frozen cake idea is may be a good stopgap. Then, when someone comes in to order a cake, you can ask them "would you prefer my case line, or my gourmet?" they may choose case cakes at first, but will probably come back to order custom things too.
You're in a tough position- it may help to bring someone in to give you advice, a consultant.
I also like the thoughts of bringing someone else in with you (intern, or partner). You really do have a great product, and a great opportunity. But its going to suck you dry before it gets off the ground if you don't watch it. I wish you all the best!

Deb_ Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 1:06am
post #13 of 38

Did you have a custom cake clientele prior to moving into the grocery store bakery?

If so, are these people still ordering cakes from you or are you relying solely on walk-ins from the store?

I have to agree with a prior poster that stated grocery store clientele expect to pay grocery store prices.

It may be difficult to market custom cake prices to these people, so the trick is to offer enough product in their price range, while reaching out to the higher end client that may not shop at this store.

I think post cards are a good idea. I think I'd also offer my existing clients a referral discount.....they refer a client and upon completion of their order the existing client receives a 10% off future cake coupon (or whatever discount you find appropriate).

Good luck....try and not get discouraged, it takes time to establish a good solid client base.

CakeForte Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 1:15am
post #14 of 38

Building on previous posts...Every product you offer is going to have its own target market and its own marketing plan.

This is where the business skills are going to have to kick into high gear. Each piece of the pie (or slice of cake) is going to have to be carefully thought out and the marketing plan implemented. The way you are operating now will have you shut down in a matter of months.

Just like each brand of soda made by Coca Cola company has a different marketing strategy (Sprite vs Coke vs Diet Coke vs Coke Zero) you will have to do the same. Casting one big net won't work. The numbers for each piece will be different as well.

For example....my plan primarily consists of Birthday Cakes , Brides, and Vendors. All of them are for custom cakes, but the numbers are different and my marketing tactics are different for each.

CakeDiva73 Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 5:45am
post #15 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by CakeForte

Building on previous posts...Every product you offer is going to have its own target market and its own marketing plan.

This is where the business skills are going to have to kick into high gear. Each piece of the pie (or slice of cake) is going to have to be carefully thought out and the marketing plan implemented. The way you are operating now will have you shut down in a matter of months.

Just like each brand of soda made by Coca Cola company has a different marketing strategy (Sprite vs Coke vs Diet Coke vs Coke Zero) you will have to do the same. Casting one big net won't work. The numbers for each piece will be different as well.

For example....my plan primarily consists of Birthday Cakes , Brides, and Vendors. All of them are for custom cakes, but the numbers are different and my marketing tactics are different for each.




I would love to understand more clearly what you are saying. What am I doing wrong? I am only partially understanding the 'Coke' analogy.
Thank you icon_smile.gif

Cake_Mooma Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 6:32am
post #16 of 38

OK let me get this straight....

You are trying to sell a higher end cake in a lower end market (demographic, not supermarket) at supermarket prices. Well, I'm sorry hun but I don't see how this is going to work. If I go to the supermarket for a cake (which I never do not even before I got into cakes) I am looking for supermarket prices. I'm not going to pay a bakery/gourmet price on a supermarket cake. Think of it this way.....I want a Prime piece of steak, would I go to Denny's for dinner and expect a Steakhouse steak or go to the Steakhouse?....Point 1

Now point 2:
If you are going to have custom cakes, having frozen everyday cakes doesn't seem to much of a good idea either. Ok I go to your store and you have samples, I will pick up a larger cake if I like it because I might want some cake left over so I can have a lil later. If I am getting lower quality cake (pre-made/frozen) for an ordinary event, what would make me go back and get the "master piece" of a cake for my special event, from the same place that had OK cake. So I don't think I would serve potential, big $$$$, future, customers cake that I didn't do myself. Because for all they know you made that cake and they don't get to taste what you actually make....I'm sure it's very yummy. So I would want them to taste that.

What I see is that you are competing against yourself and the supermarket. You are trying to figure out a way to serve your higher quality, high end, custom cake to a lower priced, "I forgot to order my kids cake", "It's only the office people", "no one eats that much cake," "so I don't mind if there is any cake left over", customer. I'm sorry but I don't see it working out.

I would try to get out before I lose any more money. That's just me.

I know that it sounded like a great idea to you when you started but I don't see where it will work out. icon_cry.gificon_cry.gif I'm sorry to make it sound so bad, but sometime we need an outsiders point of view (hence that's why we ask for help from each other here, thumbs_up.gif ) to see what is going on.

Hope it helps, and I hope that it all turns out well whatever your choices are.

Vic

brittanydear Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 7:51am
post #17 of 38

The only way I can see the business working out is is you stop focusing on selling through the grocery stores and focus on high-end, big sales at nearby more metropolitan cities. People will basically drive to your location for the cake or you can deliver it.

But you need to somehow un-affiliate with the grocery store (you can still cook there -but dont sell there - since stuff is not selling anyways!!

I would focus on big weddings/events in SanFran or other places where you can make 750 - to 2,500 a wedding (make the cookies, cakes, favors etc for the wedding shower, wedding parties, wedding, and then follow up with the baby shower cake, kids birthday cakes, etc. as the client goes through life .
Try to get 2-5 of those a month.

Stop trying to sell gourmet/custom/ fondant cakes out of a mom and pop grocery. Go to work only when you have a custom order. Find another caterer or cook to share the space/rent with you until you build up your orders. Offer to bake cakes for free for friends (big) events at churches/schools.etc. where you know there will be a very large audience.

Let friends have you make their kids bday cakes at cost (if they have friends/family members who will be likely high-end cake customers). When everyone wants a cake like Susy had at her bday- you will start to get more business.

Make a business plan and see if it is worth it. If you sold 30 of those frozen cakes 1 every day of the month - you could just pay your rent. Then what? How much would another job pay??

SomethingSweetbyJ Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 1:15pm
post #18 of 38

I know you are a busy women, but invest time into knowing what type of product your clients want. Gluten free, low fat, and low sugar are a growing concern for many people, and it is a huge trend in the baking industry to offer products that support healthier baked goods. Many senior citizens need to watch their sugar intake...

I would suggest created 2-3 products that you make specifically with low sugar that the elderly tend to like on short notice, like a quick bread, cookies, or a pie. Provide samples of them, and for the first purchase allow them to buy at a discounted price. Just to make them try it.

Is there a nursing home or assisted living area in your neighborhood. Take over a basket of your new healthy items with a bunch of marketing media describing your new products...and also put information about your deli cakes and other items.

I am not sure about the exact figures: but I do know that teens have one of the strongiest spending capibilies of all age groups. Teens love trendy small items like an easy, but designer looking cupcake with a slightly exotic flavor like green tea, or blood orange, or pomegranite.

Have a cupcake punch card. Kids LOVE facebook and twitter and it is completely free. Get a facebook account for your business. Everytime a young person comes into your bakery, have them sign up.

Run specials on a certian flavor of cake or cupcake and post it every morning on your facebook accout. Use your older and younger generations to give you business until you can build a bigger reputation and have more speciality cake orders.

KHalstead Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 1:33pm
post #19 of 38

all I wanted to add, is you're already out there in the public's view.....you could do your own little bridal show by yourself in the store.

Set up a table with cards and info and a couple dummy wedding cakes that really show off your talents. Might be something they'd let you just have sitting off to the side all the time to showcase the more elaborate cake designs you do.

Sell the cheapo frozen sheets if you have to, put the stores name on it, then have more elaborate smaller things out for sale (highly decorated cupcakes or something) for $3.00 a piece with your business name on them and superior packaging and such.

Most brides don't think they can get "custom" anything at a grocery store (and I wouldn't think you could either). Let the people who are shopping know that they can get that sort of thing.

I think the way you package your products makes a HUGE difference in what you can charge for them, and what people are willing to pay for them.

Make some dummy cookie bouquets (u could make them from that salt and flour dough stuff/ or real cookies) and set them out with a "display only" tag. I think the main thing is people probably don't know what you have to offer!

You go into a grocery store, you think grocery store cakes and that's it. Then you see $30.00 for a 9" round.....heck nooooooo...I can get one for $7.99 at wal-mart....but they're thinking GROCERY STORE CAKE, not CUSTOM CAKE


edited to break up some larger blocks of text lol

cakeladyatLA Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 2:10pm
post #20 of 38

Well, let me tell you my 2 cents, for a person who has worked in the "grocery cake business" a long time, let me tell you, you have it made, I would keep baking their goods, and make grocery cakes, I mean do you think that if it wasn't profitable, markets would sell them? they have to pay a lot of overhead and you have it made girl! True, it would not be as creative, but, you can have something to make money out of. If you keep making those sheet cakes, believe you me you will have profit. You will even have enough to get an employee. If you want to keep doing those beautiful custom cakes, you can do it "on the side" but baking them in there. Hope that helps, thats what I would do, and if you want out... I want in!! lol

Patty*

cakesdivine Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 3:29pm
post #21 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cake_Mooma

OK let me get this straight....

You are trying to sell a higher end cake in a lower end market (demographic, not supermarket)at supermarket prices. Well, I'm sorry hun but I don't see how this is going to work. If I go to the supermarket for a cake (which I never do not even before I got into cakes) I am looking for supermarket prices. I'm not going to pay a bakery/gourmet price on a supermarket cake. Think of it this way.....I want a Prime piece of steak, would I go to Denny's for dinner and expect a Steakhouse steak or go to the Steakhouse?....Point 1

Now point 2:
If you are going to have custom cakes, having frozen everyday cakes doesn't seem to much of a good idea either. Ok I go to your store and you have samples, I will pick up a larger cake if I like it because I might want some cake left over so I can have a lil later. If I am getting lower quality cake (pre-made/frozen) for an ordinary event, what would make me go back and get the "master piece" of a cake for my special event, from the same place that had OK cake. So I don't think I would serve potential, big $$$$, future, customers cake that I didn't do myself. Because for all they know you made that cake and they don't get to taste what you actually make....I'm sure it's very yummy. So I would want them to taste that.

What I see is that you are competing against yourself and the supermarket. You are trying to figure out a way to serve your higher quality, high end, custom cake to a lower priced, "I forgot to order my kids cake", "It's only the office people", "no one eats that much cake," "so I don't mind if there is any cake left over", customer. I'm sorry but I don't see it working out.

I would try to get out before I loose any more money. That's just me.

I know that it sounded like a great idea to you when you started but I don't see where it will work out. icon_cry.gificon_cry.gif I'm sorry to make it sound so bad, but sometime we need an outsiders point of view (hence that's why we ask for help from each other here, thumbs_up.gif ) to see what is going on.

Hope it helps, and I hope that it all turns out well whatever your choices are.

Vic





I totally agree with Vic. I too was in the grocery store cake biz for several years. You will never attract the client you want in that environment, it just isn't possible. And to try to run a storefront bakery by yourself is just impossible. Even a slow bakery that has to produce product for the store needs at least 2 full time workers and 1 part time worker.

Now if you can convince the store to hire a part time bakery clerk to sell their store items while you are not there and you hire a full time baker (only bakes, you do all the deco) You might pull it off. But to stop offering the store items will do you more harm than good. If you have no choice but to do it all yourself I would again begin looking for other accommodations.

I know what you were thinking at first...everyone has to grocery shop and not all shoppers are going to purchase grocery store cakes for their major events and those are my target customers...good in theory BUT that client will then inturn look elsewhere when buying that highend cake for their major event. The grocery store bakery won't even be on their radar EVEN if you have samples of your work in plain view...they just will never equate the two.

So you have to decide...is it more about making money or is it more about getting to do the cakes I love to do. If you are just out to make a buck you can easily turn this around and make that money. Offer dessert cakes for the store at dirt cheap prices, and put their lable on it not yours and get a cut of each sale but still make it from your recipes!

Then if they want a custom cake that is where you talk to them about a higher price as it is a custom cake and not a basic dessert cake. Some will begin to get the picture, others will decide to buy the dessert cake and stick some candles on it and have you write on it. But you still made some money.

Now if it is more about you doing your highend custom cakes...find somewhere else to go. When I was the manager of a grocery store bakery (which basically is what you are) I had to work 12 hour days, I had 2 full time bakers another part time decorator who did all the case & dessert cakes - no orders, and one bakery clerk, why? because I had to run that business and make sure the bread racks were full, the cake cases were full, the backup was full, and all special orders done when they wanted them done.

If I had 20 cake orders all due at noon on Saturday I had to make sure that every single one of them was done, boxed and labled for pickup by noon on Saturday and it didn't matter that I also had 5 cakes due at 10, 15 cakes due at 10:30, and another 6 cakes due at 11...get my point.

To be in that Grocery store environment means LONG hours. Just to rent the place to bake your goods would be a whole other story! Let them go back to offering the shipped in stuff, have a sign about your cakes with some of your cakes on display.

Consult from home or they can book to come up to the store for a consultation. But use it only as a kitchen to bake in, and not your storefront. Get a website as your storefront.

Doug Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 3:39pm
post #22 of 38

(may we interject for just a moment please...

in the name of readability -- remember to break large blocks of text into paragraphs.

in journalism - 1 sentence can be a paragraph

in English class -- there was that (horrid IMHO ) rule of 5 sentences.

it really helps if in shorter blocks)

thank you -- you may now resume your discussion of how best to wring some profit out of this situation while not loosing sanity or life

CakeForte Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 5:04pm
post #23 of 38

Expanding on my coca-cola analogy. Since you are in the grocery store environment..you will have to make each product that you offer appear "separate", even though it IS one business.

The grocery store items for last minute or quick birthday parties/ desserts and such - well the promotion for those items will need to reflect what you are selling. (Examples: "Valentines day is around the corner...get your heart cakes at the store bakery case this week. On Sale for $15.99!" July 4th Celebration cakes - Red White and Blueberry Special!, so on and so forth).

The custom wedding cakes - that marketing will need to be focused to that market only..basically NOT done in the grocery store at all. The grocery store aspect doesn't even need to be mentioned at all. A separate business name (dba) might even be needed if you start to become associated with the grocery store. That marketing needs to be the bridal shows, local wedding guides, separate wedding website, etc etc. If you want to promote a budget wedding cake with the grocery store cakes..it still needs to be separate from your "custom wedding cake" marketing.

Food-to-go - That needs to promoted within the store as well and nearby stores if it's a shopping center type of set up for those that want the quick lunch.


I totally think you can make it work.....You just have to plan it out, get the strategy in place and get some help. If you find some things are NOT* cost-effective (which it is too early to say which items are) then cut it loose.


*edits

all4cake Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 5:25pm
post #24 of 38

Why couldn't you fill the case with pre-made cakes (make up extras for back stock)...and go with a "Did you forget to order?" (kinda sorta) line that consists of sheet cakes or any cakes that you prefer not to focus focus on.

Then, custom cakes for those who've had the forethought to place an order.

jenmat Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 5:37pm
post #25 of 38

I love CakeForte's approach- that could totally work. You need to be seeking two different demographics/client bases if you want it to work.

Otherwise, you need to do what others have said and switch your focus to one or the other- a grocery store bakery, or a custom cake provider who happens to bake at the store but is not affiliated with the grocery store.

I too worked in a large store and I loved it. There's a reason they make money, and its fun to put out so many cakes at one time. There is nothing wrong with wanting to offer basic delicious cakes at a grocery store price. Wouldn't it be cheaper to just bake your basic flavors and offer them vrs paying $9 for a prebaked cake? That seems awfully steep.
If I were in your area, I'd totally want in!

all4cake Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 5:41pm
post #26 of 38

Sam's was selling cases of 6, 1/2 sheet cakes for less than 30 dollars...and cases of 12, 10" layers for less than 20 dollars...

littlecake Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 7:29pm
post #27 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by CakeForte

Expanding on my coca-cola analogy. Since you are in the grocery store environment..you will have to make each product that you offer appear "separate", even though it IS one business.

The grocery store items for last minute or quick birthday parties/ desserts and such - well the promotion for those items will need to reflect what you are selling. (Examples: "Valentines day is around the corner...get your heart cakes at the store bakery case this week. On Sale for $15.99!" July 4th Celebration cakes - Red White and Blueberry Special!, so on and so forth).

The custom wedding cakes - that marketing will need to be focused to that market only..basically NOT done in the grocery store at all. The grocery store aspect doesn't even need to be mentioned at all. A separate business name (dba) might even be needed if you start to become associated with the grocery store. That marketing needs to be the bridal shows, local wedding guides, separate wedding website, etc etc. If you want to promote a budget wedding cake with the grocery store cakes..it still needs to be separate from your "custom wedding cake" marketing.

Food-to-go - That needs to promoted within the store as well and nearby stores if it's a shopping center type of set up for those that want the quick lunch.


I totally think you can make it work.....You just have to plan it out, get the strategy in place and get some help. If you find some things are NOT* cost-effective (which it is too early to say which items are) then cut it loose.


*edits




this is EXACTLY what i do and it's been paying my bills for 8 years....as my sole income....well except for the lunch food.

you can make a lot of money in volume sheet cakes if you are fast...they do need to be more than 16.99 tho...theres no shame in sheet cakes...it's steady money...you can do 2k worth of sheet cakes on a saturday...by yourself....it's prolly 70% of my biz.

you did open in slow season...don't panic...i have sold almost nothing in the past month...it'll start picking up the second week of jan.

as for not selling nice cakes to a grocery store clientele......my ex partner couldn't stand the stress...so she quit me and went to work at a rinky dink grocery store...after 6 months people were coming far and wide to get cakes done by her...she built their business up so much...it got all stressful again, so she went into another field.

make cool cakes and they will come. icon_biggrin.gif

Trish43 Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 7:52pm
post #28 of 38

I think you are in a perfect situation to showcase your talent sometimes we have to sell the small things in order to get to the top. I agree with other ccer's who commented about you displaying cake dummies in the store to show your talent, sometimes if we can see a person works it draws our attention. Remember in order to have a sucessful business you have to put in long hours, but in the end your rewards will pays off.

WykdGud Posted 1 Jan 2010 , 11:17pm
post #29 of 38

I think you should hire a consultant or get some free advice from SCORE.

I'm so sorry to hear that you are having a hard time - I was leary of this from he beginning because you seemed to jump into it without a solid business plan. I do think it's a good opportunity if you are willing to change your focus. I don't think you will be able to do high-end cakes from a grocery store - you just won't. If I go into Big Lots, and they have a booth in back selling gourmet foods - my first reaction is going to be "EWWWW..." simply because it's Big Lots. Just like with friendships, we are judged by the "company we keep".

I think if you are going to make it in the grocery store, you need to alter your focus and determine what needs need to be filled there. Start some focus groups... pass out flyers inviting people to attend a focus group and offer them free samples plus a coupon for a future purchase (free food?!? People will come and provide you with very valuable feedback). I worked in a grocery store bakery and single serve items are very good sellers. Offer party platters. Use those sheetcakes and make "gourmet cake slices" (grasshopper, souther caramel pecan, strawberry shortcake, etc.), chocolate dipped cookies, and other inexpensive, impulse items - very little effort and large profit.

I really hope you're able to make a go of it - I know how much you wanted this to work.

zdebssweetsj Posted 2 Jan 2010 , 12:56am
post #30 of 38

I don't think anyone has suggested fresh made donut if you've never made them but have access to deep fryers and proofing oven a glazer is pretty easy to rig.

Fresh donut are great for fundraiser and the smell alone will pull people to the bakery area, if you're interested Google Ed Chastain he has some really good tutorial on donut making.

I worked in a donut shop when I was 15 yrs old. Before 6 months was out I was running the show pretty much alone. It's not hard to learn, hard part is not sampling all day long LOL.

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