Store Hours? Closing After Sell Out?

Business By mrsdelish Updated 2 Apr 2010 , 2:31am by JustToEatCake

mrsdelish Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 5:05am
post #1 of 49

Advice needed please icon_cry.gif

We are opening a cupcake bakery after a year of building a customer base and perfecting our operations selling at local farmer's markets. We have a GREAT reputation in an upscale area with approximately 100,000 residents and lots of tourist traffic. Additionally, we are 1-2 hours from two major metro areas. Our store location is on a main street a few blocks from the major tourist draw and is also heavily traveled by locals. We have great visibility with locals and tourists. I suspect we will do great business, but have my bases covered for the worst.

During the process of securing our property, husband (owns his own company, but not related to hospitality) and property owner (claims to have researched cupcake bakeries/business herself in the hopes of putting a cupcake bakery in said location) concluded that we should be the type of bakery that closes upon sell-out. They feel this will create a spirit of exclusivity and will encourage potential customers to rush out first thing to get their cupcakes.

I disagree. I believe sporadic hours will be frustrating for customers and they could very well take their business elsewhere (Baskin Robbins, Toll House, Cold Stone, etc). On top of that, if it happens to be a non-sell out kind of day and there is inventory at 8 pm, for instance, do customers go out of their way to stop if they never know if we are open. Let's not forget to throw out there the potential staffing nightmare/drama that would come with fluctuating hours...

In all honesty I'd love to sell 150-200 cupcakes by 1:30, lock up shop and enjoy the afternoon, but my gut tells me set in stone hours is WHAT IS BEST FOR BUSINESS AND CUSTOMERS, which is what it's really all about. I would love feedback from business owners who operate under the "close at sell-out" theory or set hours. Has anyone started one way and switched to another? THANK YOU SO MUCH in advance!!

*Any links to topics on this subject would be appreciated...maybe I've missed it in the forums? It's been A LONG time since I've been here....

48 replies
indydebi Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 5:34am
post #2 of 49

I cant' say I've ever heard of a place that just closes when they run out of inventory. icon_confused.gif

Sidestory: In my hometown, a new donut shop opened up. Family members were telling me that "when they run out of donuts, they (gasp!) MAKE MORE!!!" icon_surprised.gif This was shocking, because my family tells me another place in town, you'd never know if they had any donuts or not. If a company in town was having a big meeting and bought out all of the donuts they made that day, then "sorry .... we're out" was their attitude. The idea of "making more" ..... even at 8:00 in the morning!!! .... was foreign to them.

Which could explain why they are out of business now. icon_rolleyes.gif

As a customer ..... working moms with daycare deadlines, groceries to buy and dinners to make, homework to oversee and ball games to get to .... just don't have time to drive all the way over to your shop to see if you're open or not. I wouldn't do it. My attitude would be "I'm not going over there ... you never know if they're open or not and I don't have time to waste a drive over there just to see a closed sign on the door."

Now there is some merit in having something on the exclusivity thing. Maybe a Flavor of the Day, which might sell out, "....but we have plenty of vanilla and chocolate cupcakes left!" thumbs_up.gif Perhaps that mght be a compromise that everyone can agree on?

JanH Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 5:40am
post #3 of 49

Just what indydebi said. thumbs_up.gif

And do you really want to be constantly answering the phone when you are open to answer calls asking if you're still open.

HTH

carmijok Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 5:51am
post #4 of 49

I am of the opinion that if you make it hard on the customer, you won't be in business long. Set hours. Whether you open at 9 and close at 3 or whenever you want...just be consistent. You'll find out soon enough what kind of demand you have. Don't forget, you'll have custom orders to do in addition to what you have in stock.

mkolmar Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 6:01am
post #5 of 49

Don't do it. There is a business near me that closes up when they sell out. They have lost so much business it's crazy. People got mad when they would drive sometimes a longer distance to find out they were closed.
Depending on the business I can see why this would be necessary but for cupcakes I wouldn't think so.

If you did a menu featuring certain items/season items at different times that might drive in some people to get them before they sell out. Kind of along the lines of Indy was saying.

If you have staff on hand and they see a product getting low they could just go and bake it.
If no staff is involved you could have HD approved containers with portioned out flour,baking soda, baking powder, salt.....etc dry wise portioned out. Then all you have to do is grab your eggs, butter, milk...etc. That way your not having to run around and measure as much. Less time in the back, more time helping customers.
Obviously, this would be marked with which item name it's portioned out for.
I have to do this sometimes at work and it helps when I'm in a really big rush, but I bake by myself when I'm there.

The only bad thing is that the crumb won't be as tight since it's baked fresh and doesn't have time to rest. However, that's also one heck of a selling point. Fresh from the oven cupcakes...I'd be all over those. Have a fresh product and people will flock to you.

If I was to ever have a baking/pastry business I would do what Snarky does on here. She has her staff bake in small batches throughout the day so everything is always fresh. She has a booming business and I'd love to pick her brain one day.

tinygoose Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 6:31am
post #6 of 49

I managed a chain bread/pastry company years ago.. Their strict policy was that we were to have 80% of our listed variety(and it was a big list) available upon closing. So if we had 20 types of bread, croissants, etc, at closing, there were 16 different items still on the shelf to choose from. Yes, there was a lot of leftover pastry, which was picked up nightly by a soup kitchen and "written off" the books at full retail price. Really, writing off baked goods is a good thing. Cupcakes cost you $.30 ea to make if that much, you write it off to charity at $2.75 ea. What's to think about really? That's a great deduction. Customers get soo mad if they go out of their way to go to a shop only to find out you are out of a product, or worse closed. Stay open, bake plenty.

miss_sweetstory Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 7:20am
post #7 of 49

In the late 80s I worked in a brownie bakery that closed at the owner's whim. She needed a manicure? The pup needed to go to the vet? She didn't feel like being there? All excuses were valid. If only the shop had been so popular that we actually sold out! Needless to say, the shop didn't stay around into the 90s.

People had a real issue with the shop not being open when they wanted to stop in... during the time that the surrounding businesses were open. So they found other "treats".

Also, you mentioned that you are close to a major tourist attraction... tourists aren't around to be trained as too shop closing practices, so you would be relying solely on locals.

I think you are right, and DH and landlord need to look at this from another viewpoint.

jlh Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 10:03am
post #8 of 49

When I'm traveling, I hit the streets, looking for places to eat. If your door is opened, I'll buy your cupcakes. My father owned his own business (plumbing). He'd often have to make calls at odd hours. He always told us..."kids, closed doors don't make money". He kept his doors opened for 20 years, and retired at a ridiculously, early age. He and my mother are setting off for a cruise through the Panama Canal in two weeks. When I open my bakery (one of these days)...I'm going with his business motto. Good luck to you, and congrats on realizing your dream.

JGMB Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 11:16am
post #9 of 49

I'm not a business person, but I love cupcakes icon_lol.gif , so here's my opinion! I'd heard of a great cupcake shop 2 towns away, and I was excited that I was going to be in that vicinity for a meeting. I was really, really disappointed to see a sign in the window saying that it was sold out -- at 1:00!!! As my friend and I stood on the sidewalk for a few minutes saying goodbye, at least 3 other groups of people came up and tried the door.

But, a year later, they are still open and seem to be doing well. So, I'm not sure what the answer is, I just know that it wasn't a good experience for me.

leah_s Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 12:19pm
post #10 of 49

I'll attempt top argue the other side.

We have a long established (decades) and very successful donut shop in town, and when they're out, they're closed. Everyone knows if you don't get there by 10 or possibly 11, there will be no donuts. It's part of their "charm."

Cupcake shops in larger cities have made themselves relevant by having limited supply and creating buzz.

THAT'S the difference. You have to have a loyal Twitter Following and be tweeting constantly about what's coming out of the oven and how they're about to sell out. People will run to you to get what they think they might not be able to get later. Heck, have you heard about the dessert truck in New York that doesn't even have a set location? They tweet where they're headed, pull over, open the tuck window and sell to the assembled crowd.

It's ALL about the marketing.

If you're going to be an established shop, will a target market of soccer moms and birthday parties, then, yes, set hours are the way to go. If you're going to be the "in", "hot" thing, targeting Gens X and Y, then it's ALL about the marketing.

Kiddiekakes Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 2:12pm
post #11 of 49

Here where I live there is a popular cupcake bakery who does just that...When they run out of cupcakes for the day...they close....They now have 3 locations but I too would be really pissed if I wanted to stop and get cupcakes at 1pm in the afternoon only to find it closed.They apparently are lined up everyday before they open..I guess they have trained their customer's to be there or you get nothing and apparently it works..For me though....I wouldn't do it...

cakesdivine Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 2:17pm
post #12 of 49

I still say there are more CONS than PROS to the closing when out of inventory. As someone else said, tourists won't know to get there early and every person who comes to your door, and it is locked you just lost a sale. I don't see the positives in closing when out of inventory...don't let yourself get out of inventory.

cai0311 Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 2:25pm
post #13 of 49

There is a very successful cupcake bakery near where I live. Once they are sold out, they close. I know that if I don't get there before 11:00 am I will only have 2 or 3 flavors left to choose from. And if I don't get there before 1:00pm they will be closed for the day because they are sold out. This is also knowing that they open their doors with HUNDREDS of cupcakes baked the night before. It has a niche and works it well.

leah_s Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 2:43pm
post #14 of 49

Really, folks, it's ALL about the marketing.

"Score! I was able to get Mrs.Delish's cupcakes today! I'm lucky!!"

versus

"I'll stop and get some cupcakes on the way home. What's the name of that store again?"

jadak Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 3:02pm
post #15 of 49

Great marketing and it being the "in" thing might work for some consumers. I can see a lot of younger people buying into it. I, however, would be so put off by this. The first time I went and it was closed, that'd be the last time too. That just frustrates me. I agree with the person who mentioned you'd be constantly answering the phone while you were there with people checking to see if you had inventory before making the trip. I'm just not an "exclusive" type of gal. I don't buy things for the brand name or "hip-ness" or whatever stigma is attached. And I think I'd have to laugh if someone bragged to me that they got cupcakes from somewhere! icon_lol.gif

I do realize, however, that I do not represent the entire population (or any of the cupcake buying population since I just make my own), and there are all kinds of people out there who all respond differently to different tactics, so what works for some won't work for others and vice versa.

Good luck with however you choose to proceed. I wish you great success.

leah_s Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 3:05pm
post #16 of 49

Nope, you don't answer the phone, you Tweet.

It's a new world, jadak.

newmansmom2004 Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 3:35pm
post #17 of 49

I've been a victim of the "close when we sell out" shops and I HATE it. I'd rather go in, find out they're out of the cupcakes, but that they offer OTHER delicious treats to satisfy my sweet tooth. icon_smile.gif

I appreciate Leah looking at this from another point of view as there are both pros and cons, but if I had to rely on Twitter to find out what my favorite bakery was making it would frustrate me to no end. I just don't have time to constantly be checking Twitter. It would be a big turn off for me. I'd rather take my chances and just stop on my way from work, running errands, etc., and know they're open so I can see what they do have.

Best of luck with whatever you decide. This has to be very exciting for you!

rosiecast Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 4:45pm
post #18 of 49

I'm a NYCer and not all of us have the time or even care enough to be following trucks or tweets or even making long lines. Those fancy bakeries that have mile long lines are selling to young adults/tourists. Most of us that hacve to go to work don't have time for that nonsense. BTW: I have tried the truck's cupcakes and they're nothing out of this world.

I vote for the a flavor of the day (once is gone is gone) and regular hours. Best of both worlds.

emrldsky Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 4:46pm
post #19 of 49

I'd be one of the Twitter followers, sitting impatiently, waiting for news on the bakery. icon_smile.gif But, I GET Twitter and social networking. I'm of the w00t Off! generation.

It works for some, it doesn't work for others. The question is...would it work for YOU? If it won't, then go with what will. No sense in catering to the whims of people like me if it drives you nuts. icon_wink.gif

indydebi Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 5:07pm
post #20 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by emrldsky

I'd be one of the Twitter followers, sitting impatiently, waiting for news on the bakery. icon_smile.gif But, I GET Twitter and social networking. I'm of the w00t Off! generation.



icon_lol.gif And I'm one of those in the generation who would look at this statement and wonder "Geesh, don't you have a JOB or something, to do all day?" icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

(I had one experience with an employee who texted and tweeted while working for me, which is what caused me to implement the "cell phones in your coat pocket .. coat hanging in the coat room while on the clock" rule. You can't scoop cookies, wrap silverware or dip strawberries with a phone in one hand.)

emrldsky Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 5:09pm
post #21 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by emrldsky

I'd be one of the Twitter followers, sitting impatiently, waiting for news on the bakery. icon_smile.gif But, I GET Twitter and social networking. I'm of the w00t Off! generation.


icon_lol.gif And I'm one of those in the generation who would look at this statement and wonder "Geesh, don't you have a JOB or something, to do all day?" icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

(I had one experience with an employee who texted and tweeted while working for me, which is what caused me to implement the "cell phones in your coat pocket .. coat hanging in the coat room while on the clock" rule. You can't scoop cookies, wrap silverware or dip strawberries with a phone in one hand.)




Oh, I hear you. And while I may keep Twitter up, or Facebook while I work, I still output twice as much work as several of my coworkers. icon_smile.gif I generally ignore those windows until I'm at a point to take a break.

One side to having a job where I sit in front of a computer all day, and no customer service to worry about. icon_wink.gif

all4cake Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 5:17pm
post #22 of 49

There WAS a pie place I'd gone to with my sister that's a good hour and a 1/2 drive (yes, I do drive a distance for dessert when it is known for its' taste!). He closed his shop when all the pies made for that day were gone. We didn't know this until we'd gotten there and just happened to be lucky enough at 10:30a.m. to get to choose from the 4 pecan pies that were left. We were going to make it a regular jaunt when she'd come for a visit...but the place closed (maybe they moved/relocated/whatever). After knowing they closed after selling out and knowing that they could sell out before noon, I wouldn't dare attempt another visit without first calling.

I'd say, it all sounds good...but in reality, it sucks for the very reasons you described.

Couldn't you have regular business hours...like until 1p.m.? That would prompt people to either place an order, get there early to get the goods, while giving you ample time to enjoy the remainder of the day....

talk about a lunch hour rush!

carmijok Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 5:19pm
post #23 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s

Really, folks, it's ALL about the marketing.

"Score! I was able to get Mrs.Delish's cupcakes today! I'm lucky!!"

versus

"I'll stop and get some cupcakes on the way home. What's the name of that store again?"




Are you kidding? Why not post snipers at the entrance and make it a real challenge! "Hey, score! I survived Mrs. Delish's!" You can sell T-shirts to those who make it.
Maybe that's a little over the top, but I'm a firm believer in making it easy for people to buy your product. I've been in marketing and advertising for well over 30 years. Newspaper, radio, TV, Magazine, I even owned my own agency. It never failed that whenever there was a promotion a company or store wanted to do, they wanted somehow to make the customer work for THEM. Such as, if there was a radio promotion they wanted the customer to come in tell them they heard their ad on the radio and then they would get whatever discount or special deal was involved. Which in theory sounds like a good idea to make sure your radio advertising was working, but in reality most people don't know where they heard, read or saw something. The idea is to get them through the door and once they're there they need to have a wonderful experience. And that doesn't mean making them ASK for the special deal...you offer it to everyone. The idea that you believe someone is going to feel special just because they showed up at the right time is ludicrous. How do they feel when they don't? If you don't want to work an entire day, set your hours accordingly...just set them! As I said in another post, you will find out soon enough what kind of demand your product has and you can adjust as needed. If you sell out of product before closing, why not use that as an opportunity to take orders for the next day--or remind them about any special occasions they might have coming up and get them on the calendar. At the very least if you find yourself selling out at certain time, you'll know when to close...or how much more you need to bake. Just provide a quality product, be accommodating and provide good service. Consistency is key--and to me, that includes set hours. You know I've learned that just about any marketing can get people in the door--once. The idea is to make them want to come back and that's up to you to decide how difficult you want to make it for them.

FierceConfections Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 5:33pm
post #24 of 49

There is a really (locally) famous cupcake place in one of the poshest neighborhoods of my town. They've been around since I was a kid, and they are known for opening at 10:00 am sharp and closing when the last cupcake is sold. They will hold cupcakes for you if you call and pre-order, though.

And let me tell you, they aren't hurting for business.

Of course, they are on Facebook, Twitter and have a blog which is updated pretty regularly.

I agree with Leah. Utilizing technology is key.

rosiecast Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 5:33pm
post #25 of 49

Carmi- LOL at your avatar- that kitty's just too cute and at the thought of coming out of the bakery with bullet holes all over your cupcake. LOL

Spuddysmom Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 5:40pm
post #26 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by carmijok

Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s

Really, folks, it's ALL about the marketing.

"Score! I was able to get Mrs.Delish's cupcakes today! I'm lucky!!"

versus

"I'll stop and get some cupcakes on the way home. What's the name of that store again?"



Are you kidding? Why not post snipers at the entrance and make it a real challenge! "Hey, score! I survived Mrs. Delish's!" You can sell T-shirts to those who make it.
.




icon_lol.gif Okay, now I totally see a "cupcake bakery" video game here..... complete with battling HDs, spying on the competition, speed twittering, guessing closing times, dodging snipers, etc.....

indydebi Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 5:41pm
post #27 of 49

This thread is an interesting observation into the world of generational marketing.

I've shared this before, but one (expensive) marketing guru told me that 20-somethings have no problem sitting thru one of those 30 second commercials before going into a website, if it means they can get into the website for free. Baby Boomers HATE being forced to sit thru a 30 second commercial before going into a website, free or not.

As a Boomer, I was silently cheering 'YES!!' As a Boomer, I'm not sitting on pins and needles, glued to my phone or laptop for the latest Twitter or Facebook update on who's in the bathroom and who's going to Taco Bell.

This thread is a great illustration on the importance of identifying your target market first ..... and then marketing to them in the method that best attracts that particular market segment.

Great info on here! thumbs_up.gif

leah_s Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 5:45pm
post #28 of 49

Just providin' another view. Don't shoot the messenger. Marketing to Gen X and Y is *different* than traditional marketing. That's all I'm talkin' about.

Back a page or so ago, I did suggest defining your market segment and targeting your marketing strategies to that segment. If your segment is traditional folks, then do traditional hours.

I do really like the special flavor of the day and when it's gone it's gone, but having standard flavors throughout the posted hours.

Spuddysmom Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 5:55pm
post #29 of 49

I especially like Leah's last suggestion. I persuaded my former chocolate shop boss to add seasonal flavors on a "when it's gone it's gone" basis. She would tweet/facebook about the "now available" seasonal flavor and it really brought lots of folks in. Some times they arrived too late for their favorite, so would buy something else from our regular stock- other times they would respond to the tweet and order. It did create a rush.

jadak Posted 29 Mar 2010 , 5:55pm
post #30 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by emrldsky

I'd be one of the Twitter followers, sitting impatiently, waiting for news on the bakery. icon_smile.gif But, I GET Twitter and social networking. I'm of the w00t Off! generation.


icon_lol.gif And I'm one of those in the generation who would look at this statement and wonder "Geesh, don't you have a JOB or something, to do all day?" icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

(I had one experience with an employee who texted and tweeted while working for me, which is what caused me to implement the "cell phones in your coat pocket .. coat hanging in the coat room while on the clock" rule. You can't scoop cookies, wrap silverware or dip strawberries with a phone in one hand.)





I agree. I guess this is the "new world," but it's not me and it's not a lot of people in my age range and older. I would go crazy having tweets all day and keeping a phone on my ear or in my pocket all the time. I want to live my life and not worry about what everybody else is doing. If that causes me to miss out on a cupcake, so be it. icon_lol.gif

I guess it's all about who your target consumer is. I wish we could all just slow down a little bit. icon_smile.gif

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