so after more than 10 years of cake decorating and home bakery dabbling, I decided to open a retail space in the town I grew up in. I have been open for 3 months and a month ago took advantage of the space next to me being open and the fact that there was no ice cream anywhere around and opened an icecream parlor. I have had great hope that the employees I hired would be able to give me some time away from the bakery/parlor however in the past few weeks I have noticed their great work ethics change to not giving a crap as well as I had one of the college girls steal from me on her second day of employment- needless to say she was fired- I was floored, I unfortunately didnt listen to people and when people would come in and say are you oing to have bread or pies, or what have you, said yes, yes we will. We now dabble in a bit of everything and I am there from 6am- 10pm at night with both spaces . I am missing out on my 3 year olds life- she has become a totally different personality in the past few weeks and have missed so may things with my three boys ranging in ages from 8-12 yrs old. My body completely aches, I break down crying every single day out of complete exhaustion and dread going in tomorrow. (the bakery is closed on Sunday and Monday and I have someone else running ice cream parlor on those days) I no longer even enjoy carving cakes which is what I loved. The idea of having to cook, let aloone bake, brings out a dread you would not believe. I do not know what to do. The bakery is making a little more than what I need. Of course if I got rid of the employees it would be making a whole lot more than what I need, but I would hate being there even more. I wish I could sell it but dont know of anybody that would be interested, plus of it falls through I wouldnt want it toget around the small town that I already want to sell cause buisness would slow. Suggestions and Advice needed!!!!!!
I'm so sorry this happened to you.
Could you lease out the ice cream parlor part so you still have the rental income from it but not all the responsibility?
If I were you, I would revisit my business plan to see how the business could be simplified. For example, cut down on the number of products, reduce operating hours (this can be done immediately), scrap the retail shop completely and focus on custom cakes only, focus on cake decorating classes and parties, etc.
Another option would be taking on a partner who would handle the operational day-to-day stuff, but you may have to give up some equity to do this.
It sounds like you are doing too many different things. Can you close the ice-cream parlor and just do cakes? The first few months/years of a business are difficult and emotional, as well a learning experience (not to mention a HUGE investment). I hope you are able to lessen your hours, maybe by hiring a partner or raising prices and working less. If you are breaking down in tears everyday, though, you might reconsider and go back to home baking. It's not giving up or failing, it's realizing that you have a life to live. No one can do it all and of course, money is not everything. I am also going to tell you that you are going to get sick if you continue to work from 6 am to 10 pm...as in going to to the hospital sick. (Don't ask me how I know...) I wish you the best whatever you decide to do.
you've spread yourself too thin. Quit adding inventory to worry about and concentrate on custom cakes by order only.
I agree about either leasing the Ice cream shop or better yet, selling it. No harm in admitting you have taken on too much with the ice cream shop. You won't lose cake business because of it.
Get back to what you loved or you WILL burn out and your family will suffer.
Once you establish a normal schedule and things are going smoothly, then perhaps revisit your bakery plan, but right now, IMO, cakes are plenty to worry about.
I agree, you are doing too much. Just because a customer inquires about a particular item does not mean you need to offer it. Focus on those items and tasks you do well and love doing. That's why you got into this business.
Scale back you hours and the size of your business and you'll be happy again, successful and have more family time...win, win.
Close for 'inventory' and 'reorganization' take a well deserved break, and reconnect with your family.
Then decide what you want to do. If it's just carved cakes, then just do that. Stop making the items you don't like to make, or else contract hire them out if they are a money maker and/or customer draw for you.
Make sure your business plan includes a vacation every year, you can simply block off those 2-3 weeks and refuse orders during that time.
You might consider restructuring your baking so that pies and bread are only available on some days (which you clearly post). Your cakes should shift over to custom orders and iced but not decorated layer cakes in a limited flavour menu. Like "cake of the day" or two "cupcakes of the day". That might actually get people coming in more often.
But you need to start asking ASAP not for employees but a partner. That way each of you would work 4-5 days a week. You ask the partner to invest cash so that you only get the serious ones.
My online company has everything, but my retail store will not. The online huge menu will be available through the store just like now... prepaid special order.
You do need a trusted person who cares as much as you. This means someone with a cash investment. But that will be hard to do if the profits can't support a partner.
With a lease, closing the ice cream side may be very harmful to both your income and credit. Closing may not be an option.
If you want to pm me, I'll share that part of my business plan because I have no intention of working more than 30 hours.
There are two ladies who run a local cake shop. They have gone from home based to retail & are getting consistant coverage in the press.
I'm not sure if this model truly works for them because I'm not in their finances...but when they first opened, they ran the shop by appointment only. No walk in biz. Once they got situated, they started offering certain goodies on Friday & Saturday with regular retail hours. I've seen dessert cakes to go, cupcakes, cake balls, sugar cookies advertised for these days.
There is different young lady who specializes in cookies at a different shop. I just saw a friend of a friend had her little girls' b-day party there. I'm thinking they decorated cookies...
When considering my own retail space...I did have a marketing-wizard-friend comment to me I offered too many things. I was into cookies, jelly cake rolls, nutrolls, scones...you name it...I was into it. Maybe streamlining your offerings & scaling back your hours will help. When are your slowest afternoons? Perhaps you can scale back there first on hours.
Take a deep breath, evaluate the pro's advice on here & of course your imediate family - - - and refocus. You can do it. Be proud that you took the chance in the first place...lots of people are too afraid. The best things are worth fighting for.
I'm so sorry you find yourself in this position. Running a profitable storefront is such a huge responsibility compared to decorating cakes from a home studio. Burnout sucks.
I agree, definitely scale back on your menu. We have a storefront as well, been open about 4 months now, and just about every day we get someone asking us if we are going to offer _____ (fill in the blank). As a PP said, just because someone asks about it doesn't mean you need to offer it. We have people ask us about offering fresh baked bread all the time, but we don't offer it, nor will we ever, because that's not our vision for our shop.
Scaling back on your menu is something you can do fairly easily and quickly, so that's one way to take some of the load off.
I agree with the advice from the other posters. Either find someone to take over the ice cream parlor or focus on cakes only. Many bakeries in my area have certain times that they are open or until their day items run out...whichever comes quicker. Unless they are bought out early in the day then they make one more batch. You should cut down on the selections or offer some on certain days. A cupcake shop in my area has a menu for the day. So people go on their FB or site to see what cupcakes are available that day.
Yes a business is work but I'm sure you didn't get into it to hate what you are doing. Cut down on some of the orders too. It is ok to turn down orders if you are too swamped. Also, there are other young bakers out there who will want a shot to work for a real bakery. I'm sorry your first employee was a thief. It will get better.
Your business, your products, your hours, your decision. Congratulations on being so busy and having the clientele to justify the expansion.
As others have said, you have to decide where your priorities lie. Money, cakes, ice cream, family . . . . ? Just because someone asks about bearclaws doesn't mean you need to offer them. When my dh and I owned a restaurant, we wouldn't consider adding anything to the menu unless we had at least 10-15 requests.
My advice would be to open fewer hours each day or close an extra day or even two. Take a little more time when hiring so you're able to weed out the problem children a little better. Reduce the number of products you offer. Make your time off a priority. If you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of your business.