Bignlittlesmom Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 7:13pm
post #1 of

Ok, this really sweet lady and her sister started a cupcake and fudge place in our little town. She and her sister had a falling out and she was left to run this business PLUS do her full time "regular" job so she is only in the shop from 5 to 7 pm every night. I have been hired as "baker" but really I am more of a manager and  I am trying to help her build her business by offering from scratch cupcakes, special flavor cupcakes, cookies, decorated cakes, special occasion cakes, etc. I am also making sure that our product is as fresh as possible. They were selling dried out cupcakes that were stored incorrectly and were several days old. A very quick to kill your business! UGH!  Thankfully I have corrected THAT problem.

 

Anyway, as per our owner, currently we offer chocolate cupcakes with vanilla or chocolate butter cream, vanilla cupcakes with vanilla or chocolate butter cream, red velvet with cream cheese frosting, and pumpkin spice with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Every day...same thing. I want to venture into more variety but we don't have enough customers per day to support several different flavors per day. However, how to you encourage customers to come in when you only have these very basic cupcakes every day?  How do I have different flavors every day, yet keep them as fresh as possible when we are not even selling 1 dozen cupcakes per day? I can't make cupcakes that go bad and get tossed week after week. 

 

There is lots of potential in this business, but I have never done this type of job before (I have always been a home baker).... and we are really learning as we go. 

I do not want this business to fail, but if we don't do something to get customers in this shop she will end up closing her doors by January.

 

Any tips or hints for the new girl on the block? 

23 replies
-K8memphis Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 7:27pm
post #2 of

wow--you stepped off the dock onto a sinking ship--not that you don't know that--sounds like a marketing issue among other things--are yous selling anything?

Bignlittlesmom Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 7:37pm
post #3 of

Oh yes, I totally agree with you! I keep telling myself I am going to quit, but I feel bad for this lady. I am only there Tuesday-Friday from 9 to 2 so I am truly a part-time worker (and that is all I ever wanted!) 

 

 And yes, marketing is a MAJOR issue that we are addressing. Any suggestions? ;)

 

We are selling cupcakes and fudge everyday but not even $100 per week day. I am not there on Saturdays and that is her busy day, but even at, that she doesn't always break $200 on a Saturday.  Business has increased since I have been there (thankfully) but really....why stop in if every day the flavors are the same? 

 

We do have a local business that is giving us their business .... we recently did goodies for a chocolate tasting event for them and we will be doing boxed truffles as Christmas Gifts they are giving.

 

It is the day to day stuff that is killing us. :(

just4fun26 Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 7:49pm
post #4 of

AWhat if you did something like special flavors a couple days a week. Instead of only once a week? Like Monday and Wednesday have a couple different flavors then do that instead of a new flavor each day. The cupcakes will be fresh and your less likely to waste as much. Also, if people find a new flavor they may make a point to come in regularly and that is when I'd throw samples out, in the form of mini cupcakes. See what people like and maybe then switching up the menu will be easier and more justifiable.

I'm not a business owner, but I do frequent a cupcake shop near my work, but only on the days they have smores cupcakes, until I was offered a pumpkin spice mini cupcake, now I go by more often.

-K8memphis Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 7:53pm
post #5 of

in one of the bakeries i worked for--they did barter trade with a radio station for airtime when the dj's wished the lucky listener 'happy birthday' and the bakery gave the listener a 6" b-day cake--worked like crazy for her!

 

does she know or could she meet the morning dj's? or the ride home time dj's--or any of them? the station manager -- the cleaning crew ;)

 

it's too bad this is going down--it's hard to watch huh--

 

i had a tea room for about 20 minutes---hahaha yeah not funny ;{ but oh well

 

can the friendly local business refer yous maybe to another business?

 

i'd recommend that she deliver the leftovers to the local e.r., police station, firehouse staff

-K8memphis Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 8:04pm
post #6 of

Quote:

Originally Posted by -K8memphis 
 

in one of the bakeries i worked for--they did barter trade with a radio station for airtime when the dj's wished the lucky listener 'happy birthday' and the bakery gave the listener a 6" b-day cake--worked like crazy for her!

 

 

then at christmas we put out dozens of quarter & half sheet cakes decorated with a simple holiday design and those went out as gifts from the radio station to it's advertisers and customers and whosoever and then my bakery owner received some cool items too--it was this big swap-o-rama at the end of the year--the dj's came and picked up & delivered all of it--kinda fun--lotta work at christmas when we were already booked (more than) solid but it all worked--probably would not have been booked solid without the radio influence too--this was a well established neighborhood bakery back in the day--more than 20 years ago

as you wish Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 9:43pm
post #7 of

AIf this were my business here's what I would do: I would have special cupcake flavours for every day of the week. For example, Strawberry Lemonade on Mondays, Oreo Cookie Crunch on Tuesdays, etc. And one "wild card" day where I could try out new flavours. This way people will get to thinking "Oh, it's Thursday! I need to go get my favourite cupcake today!" kind of thing. I would handle the problem of too few sales to justify a full batch of cupcakes every day by choosing flavours that can easily be adapted by using different flavour buttercream but on the same basic cupcake, so at the beginning of the week I could make up a few dozen chocolate cupcakes and a few dozen vanilla, pop them in the freezer and just take out as many as I expect to sell that day, top them with a swirl of that days buttercream choice, and my daily special would be good to go. I would also make up a batch of buttercream at the beginning of the week and divide it into seven containers for the week's buttercream flavours, then just keep them in the fridge until I need them. I hope this makes sense! It feels long and wordy! Best of luck!

BrandisBaked Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 9:47pm
post #8 of

ABake and freeze and only put a few of each flavor in the case each day. After a day or two, cut up the cupcakes as free samples. ALWAYS have samples out if you want to increase sales. That way, it's not "waste", it's "advertising".

-K8memphis Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 10:25pm
post #9 of

i have a great story about freezing cupcakes--i was at an interview at a 'cake place' and the owner tells me this story--he had an employee that revealed to him that a certain certain cupcake place where they used to work used frozen cupcakes a lot -- so he would use this information to sell his stuff--comparing how that he does not do this but so& so does--well he was giving his spiel to some customers and saying so & so uses frozen cupcakes--and come to find out he was talking to so & so's owners--they had come in just for the purpose of getting him to get a "new spiel"--and that they did not in fact use frozen product--yikes--busted!

 

this post has little to do with the subject--but it's a great frozen cupcake story--

 

carry on ;)

kikiandkyle Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 11:06pm

AYou could do flavored buttercreams with the vanilla and chocolate - that doesn't require you to bake extra flavors of cupcakes which cuts down on the waste.

BrandisBaked Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 11:25pm

ATo help keep cupcakes fresher longer, brush or spray with cake syrup before freezing (allow to soak in before freezing) and dip the tops in either white or chocolate ganache before icing to seal them and keep the cake from drying out. If you are going to filling the cupcakes, core and fill before freezing, otherwise you have to let them sit out to thaw before coring, which is air exposure your cuppies don't need.

jason_kraft Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 11:50pm

A

Original message sent by Bignlittlesmom

And yes, marketing is a MAJOR issue that we are addressing. Any suggestions? ;)

If you were hired to help with marketing and you don't have marketing expertise, I recommend enlisting a professional ASAP. Playing around with different flavors is fun but it won't help if you aren't reaching your target market.

It is the day to day stuff that is killing us. :(

How much of the day to day stuff is necessary? What's profitable and what's not? Does the shop need to be open to the public during the week? Is a retail shop even viable long-term with the current business model, and would you be better off downsizing to a smaller space or rented kitchen with a focus on wholesale and custom orders?

liz at sugar Posted 4 Nov 2013 , 12:24am

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bignlittlesmom 
 

How do I have different flavors every day, yet keep them as fresh as possible when we are not even selling 1 dozen cupcakes per day? I can't make cupcakes that go bad and get tossed week after week. 

 

Are you certain there is enough potential business in this town to support a bakery?  If you aren't selling 12 cupcakes a day, there is either 1) a great deal of untapped potential to market to, 2) not enough people in the town to market to, or 3) you have a product that isn't worth buying.  What is the population of your town?  How is the quality of your product?  We need more information to help you.

 

Liz

Bignlittlesmom Posted 4 Nov 2013 , 12:40am

This sweet lady decided to do this business on a whim and 9 weeks later she was open for business. At the beginning her cupcake product was not "up to par" and I am afraid  that it really affected her business before she could get off the ground. Her fudge does well and it is a great product. Now that the cupcakes are better quality and fresh, sales are picking up. We are tucked in a little tiny shop and I think folks just don't know we are here yet (she opened in August, I started in Oct) We have low income, middle income and high income all in our area. The closest bakery would be 20 min away. If you want a cake or cupcakes your choice was Walmart or drive into the next town!  

 

My question is more about variety of flavors and how to offer different choices while we build our customer base :) 

Bignlittlesmom Posted 4 Nov 2013 , 12:45am

Quote:

Originally Posted by jason_kraft 


If you were hired to help with marketing and you don't have marketing expertise, I recommend enlisting a professional ASAP. Playing around with different flavors is fun but it won't help if you aren't reaching your target market.
How much of the day to day stuff is necessary? What's profitable and what's not? Does the shop need to be open to the public during the week? Is a retail shop even viable long-term with the current business model, and would you be better off downsizing to a smaller space or rented kitchen with a focus on wholesale and custom orders?

I was hired only as a part time baker. Marketing is not my area at all! This is her business to run and manage, not mine. I am thinking as the baker, not owner.

 

What I mean by "day to day stuff" is not enough cash walking in the door each day ;) I think with better marketing we will have the customer base to keep the doors open. Right now we are open Tues - Sat 11 - 7. Lots of this issue is she works a full time job Mon - Fri and  isn't in the store or in the community to promote her products.

jason_kraft Posted 4 Nov 2013 , 12:58am

AAre you saying that the owner and manager also has an unrelated full-time job? How many other employees are there besides you, and what are their responsibilities?

liz at sugar Posted 4 Nov 2013 , 1:02am

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bignlittlesmom 

 

My question is more about variety of flavors and how to offer different choices while we build our customer base :) 

 

I am sorry that I got off track - selling less than a dozen cupcakes a day really stood out to me as the real problem, not that you don't offer enough flavors.

 

Good luck!

 

Liz

Bignlittlesmom Posted 4 Nov 2013 , 1:26am

Thank you all for your input and advice! I really love the idea of a Flavor of the Day and changing up the cupcake by changing the frosting.  Last week we had a special order cake for Reese's Cup Cake and I took the left over frosting and put it on some of our chocolate cupcakes and they did very well. Sounds a like a very "do able" way to add variety. I also like the idea of mini's as samples. Our shop is located smack dab on a MAJOR paved walking / bike trail that brings lots of foot traffic to our town each week. I am going to encourage her to get out of the shop and give away mini cupcakes and samples of fudge :)

 

Thanks again for your expertise! 

-K8memphis Posted 4 Nov 2013 , 1:28am

all i can say is if i had a shop--i'd want you to work for me ;)

Bignlittlesmom Posted 4 Nov 2013 , 1:36am

Quote:

Originally Posted by jason_kraft 

Are you saying that the owner and manager also has an unrelated full-time job? How many other employees are there besides you, and what are their responsibilities?THe owner

There is one owner. She works another full time job Mon - Fri. She comes to the bakery every day at 4:30 and closes at 7 and she works at the bakery 11 - 7 on Sat.

 

I work Tues - Fri and I do all the baking and any cake decorating and I am there from 9 am - 2 pm.

 

There is one other employee and she works from 2 - 4:30 Tues - Fri. She is learning to make the fudge but mostly just watches the front after I leave. 

 

I just sort of "fell" into this little job situation and I feel bad for her and hate to see her fail....not that there is much I can do about that.

-K8memphis Posted 4 Nov 2013 , 1:38am

quick--slap a good business plan  together and be ready to buy her out ;)

Bignlittlesmom Posted 4 Nov 2013 , 1:49am

Quote:

Originally Posted by -K8memphis 
 

quick--slap a good business plan  together and be ready to buy her out ;)

LOL! NOOOOOOO!!!!!! My hubby is already a business owner (we own a small ice company) and I have 4 kids ages 7, 10, 13 & 15! I only took this job as a part time thing while they are at school, you know ... not quite empty nest, but not needed at home full time anymore........ I am thinking about finding someone to replace me so I can leave without leaving her I bind LOL.

Bignlittlesmom Posted 4 Nov 2013 , 1:51am

Quote:

Originally Posted by -K8memphis 
 

all i can say is if i had a shop--i'd want you to work for me ;)

Awww..... k8memphis ..... I am honored and humbled! 

chwdg10 Posted 5 Nov 2013 , 2:15am

Definitely marketing. Try creating small sample-sized cupcakes or pieces of your products and either sample them at the bakery or visit local businesses and provide the samples for free with a brochure or business card. Get some advertisements in the newspaper or mail.

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