I have a home-based cake business right now. I'm doing fine but a hotel recently approached me for dessert buffet cakes. It's not what I do but the opportunity is awesome! It could mean tens of thousands of dollars in a yearly contract and the hotel chain is adding 2 hotels in the next year. They do not have a pastry chef and are not interested in having a pastry design kitchen for their hotels. They want to outsource and save money by not paying salaries for 3-4 staff. I would also get wedding cake referrals from them.
I would like to open a retail storefront to give me space to produce in volume. But I have 2 preschool age children.
Realistically, I know the start up stage will require ALL of my time. But once it's up and running, how many hours on average would be absolutely necessary? Would it be significantly more than 8-9 hours per day? Is anyone running a storefront bakery with small children at home? Any advice would be great!
That is really exciting!! I don't have a storefront or anything but I would think that if you hired some good quality help it would cut back on the time you were there. You would also have to have some good management strategies in that case. Would this be more of studio or would you be selling stuff daily? It will also depend on how busy you are with production. It may help if you talk with some SCORE counselors at your local chamber office...they are helping me with my business now and they are a great help to get your thoughts and ideas organized into something that can truly happen! Or if its something thats not currently feasible within your budget or business, its really helpful to hear it from someone else.
Congratulations on the opportunity!
I purchased a bakery/lunch place in May 2010, with a partner. Keep in mind, we also do sandwiches and salads, which takes a lot of prep. All fresh veggies and we make all our own sandwich fixings. That aside, we also make cupcakes, bars and a couple of cakes for everyday. Once we purchased the bakery, we added specialty cakes and pies, including wedding cakes. My partner and I split the time 6 - 2 and 9 - 5:30. Take turns working Saturday, with no lunches sold that day. Once we get home, one of us takes care of bookkeeping and the other returns cake request calls, figure quotes and takes care of website. We both have teenagers and are still very active in their lives. It's a long day, but with a partner, we are able to enjoy our families. Thursday and Friday nights can be long when we have a wedding cake due. We also have another full time employee, who has actually worked at this bakery for 17 years (we are totally blessed with her), one part time lunch and baker and two teenagers who take turns helping us close in the afternoons.
Don't know if this helps. It's a great business and we have a lot of fun. But I would advise you to go into it with your eyes wide open.
Thank you both for your thoughtful replies. You both gave me some great info.
Yes, I think I'd have to hire employee(s) to make it work. Good thing there are gov't incentives to pay for a part of wages these days. There are a lot of people out of work and this way the gov't gets them working and it costs less than paying them employment insurance.
It would be wonderful to have a loyal employee for 17 years! And teenage kids to help out....wow!
Ideally, I'd like to work 7am-6pm and go home and stay home. Does that sound about right?
I think part of it depends on your location. We had a small restaurant in town for a few years. I knew they wouldn't last because they close at 2. Small town=fewer people around during the day. If they had changed their hours to be open for dinner, perhaps they would not have had to close the doors. If your customers need to pick up orders after work, will your hours accommodate that?
I know of bakeries that are only open until 4:30pm so I thought 6pm was generous! I think if people have to pick up a special cake after work, they'll make it happen before closing time. It's not an everyday event for them to leave work early.
Also bear in mind that production in a comm'l kitchen is MUCH faster than in a home environment. For example, I did a 5 tier wedding cake that I baked at home and it took me 7 hrs baking time. JUST in baking the cakes. In a comm'l kitchen, with my 2 comm'l ovens, I could bake the whole thing in one hour.
Mixing up 5 or 6 batches of icing in a KA takes more time than you think, especially when you factor in the clean up after each batch. In a 20qt mixer in a comm'l kitchen, its all made at once in less than 1/4 of the time.
So dont' measure your output based on what you are doing in a home kitchen. You are MUCH more productive in a comm'l environment.
I did catering and cakes. Catering is a TON of prep work and all of it in the day or two before the event. I did all of this as a one-man show, having my staff come in the day of the event just in time to load up the van.
Thanks Debi! reading your post makes me want to start it TODAY! I love the idea of getting more done in less time. I hate the tedious tasks of baking and prepping to decorate.
I have a shop I just opened in November. Right its just me and my assistant who works part time right now. I am there a little after 5 every day and I get there early every day. The weeks that I have more than 6 cakes on a Friday/Saturday I am typically there until 9 sometimes 10 at night..its comes with the job.. but right now I can't see myself doing anything else. Commercial ovens are definitely a help and can get the job done in less time than the traditional oven.
I just opened a shop and am never home. My husband commented the other day that he didn't recall me opening a 24hr bakery. It is only me because I just opened and don't want to hire help until I know exactly how business is going to be. I'm making money but since I just opened and owe a good bit in startup costs I'm still not actually turning a profit so I'm trying to save by doing it all myself. That is with 2 children who get off the schoolbus @ shop after school. My life is pretty crazy right now. It would be a lot better if I had family that was helpful. My children are @ shop a couple of hours daily until their Daddy gets off of work and he takes them home. I can literally see my sister's house from shop, no help from her. My Mom drives by on her way home daily, she doesn't even stop in. I see my mother-in-law circling the block every other day for some reason but she never stops in either. Today was a bad day... too much work with no help and my son missed bus. Point is, if you're doing it all on your own, no outside babysitters, its going to be a tough road.
I really honestly would not open a storefront until all your kids are in school...but that's just me....
A friend and I joke all the time about working together someday...but we both know, with our younger kids, we just aren't ready for it yet, because we know the time we'll need to invest.
Indy's post is very encouraging though! I totally identify with those long baking hours...hate the baking part! haha.
Do you have a business plan? Do you have projections of revenues and expenses? Will you sell cupcakes or other pastries? Do you have a good accountant? Do you know your start-up costs?
There are so many factors when starting a storefront, I am in a similar situation and just exploring all my options right now. I am close to negotiating a lease so things are getting hectic. It's hard to predict the future but a business plan and some research will help make an educated guest. I feel I have a base for a business system but in reality, I wont know until the doors are open for business.
In April. I will start my 17th year in the cake business with a storefront.
For the first 8 years, I worked 70 -80 hours a week. I then felt comfortable with my staff that I had trained to back off and ONLY work 60 hours a week. This winter I had a knee replaced and took off 6 weeks...but was in and out of the store, doing paperwork at home, and answering the e-mails. I came back to work (part time) last week. I counted up the hours I worked last week and discovered my part time job requires 36 hours of work.....seems like part time to me!
My sons were in jr. high and high school when I started the business. If you really want to make a go and and have a successful business, I think you need to work many hours. I would not recommend it with small children. They will grow up and you won't even see it. You only have them once!
My husband complains about my hours alot. He complains every time I hire someone because I still work the same amount. It has gotten much easier that last few years. I now have 12 employees.....and it started with just me. But no matter how good your employees are, NOBODY will do it like you.
Have you considered building a commercial kitchen instead of a storefront? You could continue to do custom orders and take care of your contract work with the hotel chain without having to invest as much time as it would take with a true storefront bakery. You can always grow into a storefront later and not have to miss watching your kids grow up now.
I'm with Christy_71,
If I was sure I was going to get that kind of dessert cake business, I would look into renovating my garage or part of my house to install the commercial ovens, mixer and workspace but not give up the ability to work from home. The store front you always run the risk of them changing your lease, upping your rent or dealing with not so nice or clean neighbors. I pretend that some day I'll have a separate bakery kitchen ...but then again I dream that this year TX will pass the cottage food law to let me turn my hobby into a side business
Yes you can bank on 60 to 80 hours per week, so I too would suggest waiting on the storefront until the kiddos are much older. But if you rented a commercial kitchen on an as needed basis that might work for you. Then you don't have to deal with the walk in customers and staff issues that can keep you tied to the shop. If you work out a production schedule that fits in with your current place in life you could juggle both family and cake business and it be a win/win proposition.
Sorry - I didn't get notice that there were new posts.
My business plan shows that this could be profitable and do very well. The money is VERY enticing and sometimes my greed makes me want to jump in and do it. The biggest obstacle is child care and my time. I know I would be there all the time. I'm considering all kinds of scenarios eg. a room in the back just for the kids so they could be with me and their babysitter, 1/2 daycare and 1/2 grandma's babysitting, nanny, etc. Everything costs money.
Thank you for your input. Big decisions have to be made and I appreciate your honesty.
Christy - thanks for your idea of doing it from home. I don't have a lot of space but perhaps with the right equipment, I could do it.
Classiccake - 17 years! Way to go. Obviously, your hard work has paid off!
kimbordeaux - sorry to hear that your family isn't supportive. It's just not right...even one day a week to come in and help you....I don't understand people.
Kima920 - sounds like you're in the position that I envision for myself. I'd love to see some pics of your shop someday...hopefully you'll post them here.