I did post this at the bottom of another old post so maybe someone will answer there- but I thought I'd try to this post as well.
I so could use your help. My sister and I have been running a home bakery and supplying restaurants, etc, so we decided to open a store front in our town. Everyone in the town is so excited and we have had everyones support, especially with bthe trying to revitalize the town and not having a small town bakery for at least a century. We will be opening (hopefully) barring construction is finished etc, in the middle of March. All of a sudden, I realize, how do we know how much to make per day? Can we sell the stuff that didnt sell the day before? It seems like your hours, days and products will be similar to what we will be offering. I know this seems really stupid, but this all started as a hobby and then turned into doing cakes for friends and family and then on a made to order basis. I was so relaxed with this and now all of a sudden I am freaking!!!!!!
You really can't predict. You may sell out the first day and have leftovers your first weekday.
Read Gesine Bullock-Prado's memoir, My Life From Scratch.
I transitioned from a home bakery to retail storefront. The key for my decision was having a solid wholesale business that would get me through the initial process.
There are many daily variables to a retail business (weather, customer count, etc) so all you can do is research the market and write a good business plan. Then each day your production is an educated guess. Make batters and doughs that can be refrigerated and baked-off as needed. Restrict the items that have a one-day shelf life. Also restrict anything that you cannot make and sell in quantity (such as certain slow-selling artisan breads).
You must keep track of shelf life and know when a product is too old to sell. To a customer, fresh means the product was made ten minutes before they walked in. To a business owner fresh is equal to tastes great. (Biscotti can be fresh after one month.)
Give yourself time to learn what your customers want; it's important to have enough capital to pay the first year's bills. And PLEASE watch your employees. Just because someone smiles at you and says you're the best boss ever, doesn't mean they won't steal whenever your back is turned.
You may feel wonderful about being a business owner. It can give you true inner strength! Just pay attention to the steep learning curve. Be flexible and make sure to take time off so you can always remember that life is more than running a business.
What great advice MimiFix! For anyone doing this on any level.
I have been open for a little over a year now.I am in a very rural area. I cannot judge how much to make. I have dumped alot.
One week you will be so busy you cant keep stuff baked. The next week you dump every thing. I have got to the point to know. If it snows or its raining don't make much or none at all. They don't like to come out in the weather. If its sunny and warm. They come like flies. If its really hot they come but whine about it and buy very little. I do have the coal truck drivers call a day ahead to tell me they are running the route. I then bake for them donuts and coffee.
Its a big trial and error.
Also, taste your items so that you know what they taste like each day!! I worked for a nightmare woman who thought that the bakers were "idiots" because the cinnamon rolls were STALE 5 days after they were made. She was always throwing things because we couldn't make them be "fresh" days after they were baked and allow to sit open to the air, day after day.
The lowest sellers were these breakfast things because she insisted on keeping them up front day after day if they didn't sell. After the third day they would wrap them in plastic film and they looked horrid, but she would still keep them out to sell.
So......you will have to bite the bullet for the items that have a very short life, like cinnamon rolls, muffins etc. Pitch them and keep out fresh.
Also, some customers come in and really don't know what they want, a good sales force can be your largest asset. When a customer approaches a good sales girl will point out the attributes of certain items, like "Our cinnamon rolls just came out of the oven 30 minutes ago......" Come ON, who can pass up a FRESH from the oven cinnamon roll?? OR, "We just restocked the chocolate fudge wonder cupcakes, they sell out by 11am everyday!"
Also, this same boss wanted the front case EVERYDAY to be stocked with everything. I once tried to explain that if you limit the selections to certain days, then people would schedule their purchases to their favorite item days, she couldn't get this theory in her head and wanted everything, everyday. And then would yell and scream when things went to waste. If you do one special flavor of the day, and limit it to that day, then it becomes exclusive, and people will flock to "get that item before it's gone".
Maybe have a cookie flavor of the day, or a special danish etc that is only available that day, with a small basic daily menu. You can offer items for special order and still not have it stocked 100% everyday. Sometimes you can have so much that a customer can not literally make up their mind. Have a more limited stock, with a few special flavors and that way items can be more fresh and fresh sells best!!
It is hard to know how much to produce for the counter. I have been open for around 15 months now and I'm just now at the point where I can pretty much guess how much I need. I know that Mondays and Tuesdays are really slow. Wednesdays are hit and miss. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays are my biggest days. Someone mentioned the weather and that is mostly true...however, it was really cold here on Fri and Sat and I thought no one would be around. I sold out on both days and had nothing in the freezer to back me up, and lots of cake orders to work on so I had no time to bake!!!
My situation could be slightly different since I am located in a place where there is no passing foot/car traffic - you have to know I'm here. I did this on purpose so I can work on my custom orders most of the time. Most of my business is generated from word of mouth and Facebook so I have got busier and busier as time goes by. You really have to keep the counter stocked as much as possible, I think it helps sales when people walk in and have lots to choose from. But DO NOT stock the counter with stale stuff! People may buy it cos it looks nice, but after they try it they certainly won't come back, which is what you are essentially looking for - repeat customers.