I should preface this by saying that I live in an area with 15,000 people. There are 2 other bakeries in town. One does cakes to order with a very limited selection and the other is more of a donut place that does some cakes. Both have been the only game in town for over 30 years. I am the first bakery to open since then. And I am the first cupcake place ever here.
I opened my bakery selling grab and go sweets (specializing in cupcakes) and coffees in Oct 2012. I never went to the other bakeries to scope them out. I just wanted to do my own thing without being influenced by the others. I did call the donut place to introduce myself, tell them what I do, and that I would love a working relationship with them( if there is something I/ they can not do). I have worked my behind off to build my business and feel like I did it without doing anything underhanded.
1. A friend of mine had been coming into the shop quite regularly. She then announces on Facebook that she is looking into opening a bakery/coffee shop because we need something like that around here. Really??? You were just in one today and got a variety pack of cupcakes! She never once mentioned to me that she was interested in opening her own place. So I left a comment asking if she was thinking about becoming my competition. I know she is in the process of designing her "brand" and I'm just waiting for the day she announces she has an opening date. This is the one that bothers me the most because we were really close friends. Or so I thought. She hasn't said 2 words to me since that post was made. Whats sad is that I probably would have given her some advice if she ever talked to me about it.
2. My brother met a girl online. Once she found out he was my brother ( he just moved here from another state) she was constantly asking questions about me and the bakery. She did tell him that she was interested in opening her own bakery one day. I didn't think anything of it because I hear that so much. Fast forward 3 months.... She is opening her bakery in about a month. The place she has her store front in is extremely expensive and you can tell she has been in the planning stages for a while. She is also planning on specializing in cupcakes. I have also found out that she has been trash talking me all over town and sending her friends in to buy product from me so they can see what I do. This just makes me mad on a whole 'notha level. Don't talk bad about me and my business just to make yourself look better when you open.
3. A girl came into the bakery to look around. Tell me she wants to own her own cake decorating business some day. Ok. Then tells me that her husband told her she can get all of the stuff from Walmart. She is so happy because she thought she would have to get everything online. I kinda chuckle to myself. She then proceeds to say that she has heard so many great things about my cakes and wants to know if I can write down some of my recipes for her. This is where I lost it. "NO! I would be crazy to write down 24 years of experience on a piece of paper for you to use to compete against me!" Of course I don't think I will see much from that girl.
Am I wrong to be bugged by the first 2 though? I generally get along with other decorators. Its nice to have that one thing in common with people and be able to bounce ideas off each other. We have also been known to send business to each other if we are booked up or just cant accept a cake But these just rubbed me the wrong way.
I apologize, I have to get back to work and so I didn't read the whole post. Just want to encourage to you be as proactive as possible to stay ahead of these guys, which is sounds like you are anyway. The "friend" in number one is out of her mind to think a town of 15,000 needs a fourth bakery.
If she does actually open her shop it will actually be the 5th one in town by the time she gets it open.
AUgh. I'm in a smaller town too, same population. We have one in-store bakery for the whole town, but about a gazillion home bakers (most of which are not legal). I'm dying to open a bakery, but it takes so much money, it's not possible at this point. I do understand your frustration with 'snoopers.' I worked with a lady who bashed every single other person in town who baked anything. I guess it made her feel better. She's out of business now, for several reasons. First of all, terrible business sense, but because she couldn't bake worth a lick, and was unprofessional all the way around. Our town desperately needs a bakery, and people still wanted to patronize her shop even though she sucked. Sorry, got carried away... I think I'm trying to say, stay professional, keep your quality above everyone else's, and when they are coming to snoop around, your confidence in your product and service will shine. Make 'em shake in their boots after they leave your shop, because their own confidence will be shaken.
AI don't know where I was going with that rant about the now-closed bakery. I had an idea, but I can't get the words to make sense! OP's comment just made me think of that bakery, and I started typing... Sorry!
I knew this was the right place to turn. You wouldn't believe how much this has been stressing me out. I am still in the phase where everyone is finding out about me. I don't mind having a little competition, I just don't like the underhandedness of it.
Oh, and I forgot that we have a Walmart bakery too. So, this will make 6 bakeries here.
AI live in a small town too, there are always people jumping into business 'because it looks so easy' or 'they want the easy extra cash' blah blah blah. It's very frustrating at times!
It sounds like the networking you've done with the other shops in town has been very professional and smart! I always try to be nice to other vendors in my area, not only because it's a strategic move (people sending business each others way if booked or if they want something less expensive), it's just well more professional to behave that way :)
I have had people try to take advantage of me, pull fast ones, you name it. So number 1 & 2 are different people and one of them is your brothers' gf? Wow, I hope that doesn't hurt your relationship with your brother. Does he know she's been saying bad things about you & trying to hurt your business? I don't know which situation is worse! Your friend and your brothers partner it sounds like a very frustrating situation. I would confront her about the things she's been saying about your business, there's no need for that. It's difficult to be supportive when she's trashing your name.
You have been in business for almost a full year, I would just focus on your business. I imagine you have much more experience then either of them anyway. Definitely keep your recipes secret! I don't know what kind of advertising you do, perhaps you could step that up now or when it gets closer to their openings. Hopefully, they won't carbon copy your shop, and if they try to start out underpricing you they won't last. Maybe even expand on what your doing if that's possible. You said you did grab and go cupcakes and coffee, maybe you could start working on cakes, offering custom cakes, wedding cakes.
If business is going well, then keep doing what your doing.
Number 3, doesn't seem like she's going to be any sort of competition. I'm so sorry about your situation.
ABashing your competition is not very professional, but doing research on your competition is an essential part of any business plan. This can involve visiting your competitors' shops, purchasing sample ready-made products, getting quotes for custom products if prices are not listed, etc.
The best thing you can do is make sure you have a strong competitive advantage relative to the other businesses in your area.
A#2 never became my brothers gf so there isn't any love lost there. I do specialty cakes and weddings as well. But I only carry cupcakes and some other things in my every day display case.
Jason- I'm not upset about them looking in to what I offer. It's just the way these 2 particular people went about it. Like I said before, I am on good terms with most people that decorate around here.
AOh I misunderstood, well that's good! I was thinking she might cause problems between you and your brother (I don't know why I read that as they met online and she moved there to be with him lol).
I noticed the cake as your icon after I wrote that, it's beautiful. It seems like the way #2 went about getting info was a bit devious and #1 shutting you out seems hurtful as well, especially when you said you would have been happy to give her advise. It's silly to lose a friendship like that but she seems to be the one acting strange.
Most of the competition I have is unlicensed home bakers, Walmart, Krogers, and a couple bakeries but they do a lot of sheets cakes and old fashioned (Wilton floating stand and fountains) type cakes. In my small town, it's way too much, literally flooded with undercutting and cake wrecks. This has made me step up more really, I've expanded my kitchen, I'm in the process of branching out to surrounding towns in my area (15-45miles there are towns in every direction), being up to date with new trends and perfecting older ones, working on advertising, and attending upcoming Bridal Shows and events. Other then that, I just try to focus on producing the best quality I can and creating unique pieces to try and set myself apart.
I was just venting about this the other day, so I completely understand where your coming from. I'm just sorry that you have supposed friends trying to poison the market against your products.
Thanks a lot. That cake was done for my first bridal expo. I knew people were taking me seriously when they featured that as the centerpiece for the runway show.
I am not the only one going through these things.
ANo your not! And most of the bakeries here pop up for a while and go away just as quickly. You have the first year down (almost) and you seem to be thriving, that alone is a major accomplishment!
AI know her rent is at least $1200 a month in that location. That doesn't include any utilities or other expenses. I wouldn't open there no matter how well I was doing. This is certainly an area where most people are looking for the cheapest thing. It has taken me a long time to convince people to pay my prices (regular size cupcakes range from $1.50-$3.00) but they are finally coming around. I would never tell someone not to follow their dream. Even if it does give me more compitition. I just don't get the sneakiness of it all
I'm a bit of a history buff and it's taught me a lot about human nature. There are alot of people who will do anything to get ahead. Most of us are not like that. But the ones who are not only know that we have trouble understanding that there are people like that, but also take advantage of our relative innocence. The smart ones may run circles around us and the stupid ones get caught. Also, some people are excellent at fooling the people they need to fool but openly run roughshod over others without the power to do anything. That may all sound pretty cynical, but it's just the way things are. I wish my mother had explained this to me.
Haha - that sounded so ominous! Sorry, didn't mean to be so serious :)
AOh, howsweet, I have known people like that. Manipulative, conniving, rotten, ugly people. They deliberately don't pay you for your time, and when you go to the labor board with wage complaints, the time cards you filled out mysteriously disappeared. Prove it.
AMan! Me and my rants today!
ALol. That reminds me of a customer I had today. When discussing all the cupcake flavors she asked "does that have cream cheese frosting" I finally told her I was going to grab her a block of cream cheese from my fridge.
AI should clarify. She asked that after every cupcake description.
I have been bred to not be sneaky like that, lol. Anytime I lie, or mislead, my face turns red, then purple, and my eyes get all bulgy, and I sweat, and stammer. It's really UGLY... So I tell the unadulterated truth!
I haven't understood this most of my life and it still amazes me. I have usually made excuses for people who behave badly rather than believing they know exactly what they're doing. It was a huge paradigm shift for me when I first heard the Maya Angelou quote: "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time".
Same here - it's horrible.
Well, THAT explains a lot Anna!!! LOL
LOL! Yeah, it's a medical condition, hahaha.
AI ate an ice cream cone. I feel better now :-) I am a terrible liar too. It's just not worth the trouble. "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive."
AThey are putting you down out of fear, they are scared that they won't be able to get customers on the merits of their product alone. That is a compliment to you and your product.
Others notice when someone stabs a supposed friend in the back and they remember. Your other friends will have already started losing respect for the friend who has been saying stuff about you behind your back, the ones that are worth keeping as friends will remember it down the line.
AYou guys are awesome.