Question For Cake Shop Owners

Business By JoanieB Updated 21 Jul 2011 , 2:42pm by cakecoachonline

JoanieB Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 8:51pm
post #1 of 13

I'm curious to hear your stories of transitioning in to your own shops. Did you previously work for another baker? Did you work from home? Did you rent a kitchen? etc..

What kind of volume were you experiencing every week that you decided on making the leap and what was your first year on your own like?

What did you find to be your biggest challenges with this enterprise and is this something you saved up for or just straight up went for a loan?

I appreciate those taking the time to answer. I'm no where near this but it has always been a goal of the hubby and mine to own our own business when he retires and was curious how y'all did it icon_smile.gif

12 replies
SweetpeasBakery Posted 12 Jul 2011 , 6:05am
post #2 of 13

Read your post but unfortunately I'm no help! Hopefully someone with more experience will come along and provide you with some answers. icon_smile.gif

scp1127 Posted 12 Jul 2011 , 7:49am
post #3 of 13

I don't know if this will help. I have a full commercial kitchen in my home. We also own a commercial office building two miles down the road. The decision to do the home renovation was just for convenience. Our HD requirements are close to FDA standards (mine has all FDA requirements), so it was about $25,000. I just finished posting this on another thread, but I saved every penny before I started. Then my husband surprised me with some additional help. I saved for two years without his knowledge. I guess he never wondered why he started getting dessert every night.

With this commercial kitchen built, I can now expand to our commercial space for a retail shop only, or I can have a small space in my main market, about 15 miles away. All production would still be at home, so no more kitchen expense.

indydebi Posted 12 Jul 2011 , 10:57am
post #4 of 13

The biggest thing I noticed was how much FASTER I could do things in my own commercial kitchen. Instead of spending 7 hours baking a 5 tier wedding cake, I could have the whole thing baked in under 2 hours. Instead of making 4 or 5 batches of icing, one at a time in a little KA, I could make the same amount of icing in one batch in a 20 qt mixer. Instead of baking 20 cookies at a time on one cookie sheet in 15 minutes, I could put 10 baking sheets in the oven and have 200 cookies baked in 15 minutes. I was absolutely more productive in my own comm'l kitchen.

JoanieB Posted 15 Jul 2011 , 3:21pm
post #5 of 13

Thanks for your comments guys! It does seem like you would be more productive with commercial equipment so the orders could increase.

SCP1127, that cracks me up about the secret saving since I've considered it as well LOL.

tracycakes Posted 18 Jul 2011 , 12:33am
post #6 of 13

We started our custom cake business in Sep 2009 and are now in the process of opening a full retail bakery which is scheduled to open in November.

I started renting space in a donut shop while still working full-time. I realized quickly that I was going to have problems in that space (long story I won't go into) but found out about another place in a catering company. I would have my own area to work and store stuff in and my own 2 door commercial fridge. I would share their ovens, sink and freezer.

By the following March, I was having to turn down business and I didn't even have my website up. I was never at home and frequently exhausted. In April of 2010, I went part-time at my job and we were able to open store hours. I worked 7 - 12 Mon - Thur and was at the shop after that and all day on Friday. Except Monday, we are closed on Monday. My retired hubby would man the shop in the mornings. I thought I would have some free time now....HA! Still working long hours and by the end of the year, we were turning down orders almost every weekend. OH, and I had hired a part-time decorator to come in on Fridays and some Thursdays to help and I was still turning down orders.

In January 2011, I quit my dayjob. Now, I will have some free time.....not hardly. We were getting more and more business and my part-time decorator started working every Thursday and friday. Now we are in the process of opening the retail side so I still have no down time. We did turn down all orders for July 4 weekend and went out of town. Our first weekend in about a year.

So, the moral of this story is that it takes hard work and dedication. Most of your time is NOT spend decorating, it is spent meeting clients, taking phonecalls, handling the mounds of paperwork, updating your website, planning for future marketing, ordering supplies, and the list goes on and on.

So that may have been more than you wanted that but that has been my experience. I expect to be totally nuts and sleep-deprived by Christmas. And your family doesn't get birthday cakes, anniversary cakes or anything else because you are busy working on everyone else's cakesand the house is a constant disaster because I have no time to clean. It's still better than my dayjob was, without a doubt.

Carmen500 Posted 18 Jul 2011 , 1:28am
post #7 of 13

tracycakes I'm a hobby baker ,my situation is no different than yours,yesterday was my birthday I was busy baking cakes and cookies for my cake for the b-day girl but its ok this is what I love to do, someday I would love to open my own bake shop

tracycakes Posted 18 Jul 2011 , 1:54am
post #8 of 13

WE've had my nephew's 21st Birthday, niece's 17th bd, hubby's bd, parents 50th wedding anniversary and no cake for any of them since they all fell from the middle of May to middle of June. We usually spend our anniversary at the Tulsa Cake Show.

mombabytiger Posted 18 Jul 2011 , 2:46pm
post #9 of 13

The biggest challenge is money. It slips through your fingers pretty quickly. Also - if you have a "real" storefront, you will not have time to do much decorating. It will be cheaper to hire a decorator than to hire someone to do all the things you have to do as an owner/manager.

Second biggest challenge: Time. There is never enough of it. If you have a family and think that owning your own business means you will have more time with them - wrong! Unless they are working with you, you will never see them. And when you do come home, you are exhausted and thinking about the business and what needs to get done, etc. Dinner? Housework? Laundry? Forget it! If you have the kind of family who has previously regarded you as the maid and cook, they are in for a rude awakening!

And to the person who saved up $25,000 - kudos to you! Don't know how you did it without selling yourself or drugs, but congratulations! I could never have done that!

scp1127 Posted 18 Jul 2011 , 8:08pm
post #10 of 13

I didn't save the whole $25, 000. That was the final cost. I saved up the money to open. When I told my husband, he made additional changes, such as moving the hot water heater out of the middle of my long wall and remodeling the bathroom (already had a half bath, but he changed it to a full so that we could sell the house with the bakery or convert it to an apartment). I did not have that additional money, but with the changes, the bakery looks very nice. And part of that money I saved was buying the many multiples of pans, beginning supplies inventory, three KA mixers, etc. Most really can be done in advance. I found and stored my sink (used) and a great conventional oven. I think buying the stuff little by little is easier.

Now, my husband is pushing me to open a retail shop. I have bought almost all of my display stands and trays, and clear glass jar containers. I already have plenty of ornate white antique furnitue to fill the space for displays. My bakery walls are filling with art that can be transferred to my retail space. But again, everything will be purchased before I open so that I won't have any loans hanging over me. The retail space will not be a kitchen. It will be retail only with the baking done at the current location.

Annabakescakes Posted 19 Jul 2011 , 8:22pm
post #11 of 13
Originally Posted by scp1127

I didn't save the whole $25, 000. That was the final cost. I saved up the money to open. ................part of that money I saved was buying the many multiples of pans, beginning supplies inventory, three KA mixers, etc. Most really can be done in advance. I found and stored my sink (used) and a great conventional oven. I think buying the stuff little by little is easier.
....... But again, everything will be purchased before I open so that I won't have any loans hanging over me. The retail space will not be a kitchen. It will be retail only with the baking done at the current location.

We are a lot alike in that aspect. I found almost everything I needed before hand, and stored them. I had a 3 compartment sink sitting in my basement for 3 years, and then in the garage in our new place for a year before we converted.

No loans hanging over my head! (Besides the mortgage icon_rolleyes.gif )

scp1127 Posted 20 Jul 2011 , 9:23am
post #12 of 13

Another big plus to waiting to open: I was already very experienced as a baker and a small business owner. In the beginning, I made my business plan, menu, etc. But in that two years of waiting, my business evolved from one that would have been just fine, to a fine-tuned, perfectly branded, well-thought-out business with the potential to expand. There is so much research and planning. Even my recipes, two years later, are incredibly better. My costs are also more contained. My friends and acquaintances, who are the correct income level for my products, have had my baked goods for two years free and are my best customers and the very best referrals. what I am trying to say is that your mind will constantly be on your business planning for the wait time and in two years, you will be so much more educated in your market, how you want to run your business, your skill level... anything that you strive to do better during that time.

Several months after I opened, my mom had a stroke. She will recover, but she is in a nursing home rehab, I am having to move her to an easier apartment, and I have to see her every day for a few hours to keep her morale up. This will go on for about two more months and she will be fine. I stopped the sampling, talking about it, passing out cards, and I put off the wrap on my vehicle. I take only the orders that fit in my schedule. I am able to work around spending a big part of my day with her and putting the business in the background. With everything paid and no bills except the insurance, I can do what I need to do for my family. If you have this option for opening debt free, you will be able to handle an unexpected crisis like I had to do.

And for anyone with little business experience, this wait time is the perfect opportunity to take a night class on Quick Books, accounting, tax for small business, etc. Many areas offer Adult Ed in these classes which makes them affordable. Plus, the book stores are filled with books on running small businesses, marketing, e-commerce, anything you want to learn.

cakecoachonline Posted 21 Jul 2011 , 2:42pm
post #13 of 13

A friend who I studied sugarcraft with - worked at home for ages - and even had a second kitchen built in an extension. Eventually she moved to a shop - but instead of spending her time cake decorating has disappeared under a pile of things - like cash flow, invoices, rules and regulations, web site updating, staff issues, etc. etc. She only said to me the other day - all I want to do is decorate cakes! So on taking on a premises - make sure learn how to delegate the things you hate doing - and keep all the things you love doing!

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