Fellow Grocery Decorators: Do I Suck Or Is This A Lot To Do?

Decorating By Naivohw Updated 24 May 2015 , 11:51am by embersmom

Naivohw Posted 24 May 2015 , 1:34am
post #1 of 4

Sorry, weird title and I wasn't sure where to post this. I've had my decorating job for a year now and I'm feeling very overwhelmed, and tired of my managers acting like I'm failing at my job. I was just curious what the workload is like for other stores, wondering of this is normal.

So, we have a 6' pastry case and an 8' cake case. Things I make for the pastry case:

Carmel apples, choc dipped strawberries, 2", 4" and 9" fruit tarts (shells come in, I add filling and fresh fruit), 6" and 8" torted and filled fancy cakes, gourmet brownies and eclairs (I dip and fill premade shells). And probably a couple other things I'm forgetting.

Cake case: the usual suspects, single and double 8" rounds, 1/4 sheets, 1/2 sheets, single and double carrot cakes, 6 ct and 12 ct cupcakes, etc.  Plus back stocking everything.

As far as orders, I usually have at least 6-8 custom cake orders Thurs-Sun. 2-3 on the other days. The last 3 Saturdays I've had 12-15 orders, which I finish in 5 1/2 hrs. Plus with the holiday weekend I've had to do a ton more for special displays. I just hate going home every day with a big list of things in my head I didn't get finished. Is this just normal life for a grocery decorator?

3 replies
embersmom Posted 24 May 2015 , 2:33am
post #2 of 4

Fellow supermarket decorator here :)

Are you the only decorator?  Is there anyone else trained to do, say, the pastry case?

In every store I've worked in, there are at least 2 decorators, usually 3 if it's a larger volume store.

In my current department, excluding myself (I'm the FT decorator) we have two PT decorators who also do both cake and cream (aka what you call pastry) case.  I do both, too , btw.  Both our manager and assistant can pitch in with both if we get backed up.

This wasn't always the case, btw -- in recent years corporate has stepped up  training to make sure everybody can do something so one person isn't burdened with the workload.

Your cases aren't particularly large but it sounds like you've got a lot of items in it, particularly on the pastry end.

I've gone nuts in previous years with that mental list of things I never got to because I had X number of custom orders.   It also didn't help that I tended to have managers who were very particular about the cases, so if they were anxious about sales or such they'd start in on the whole "work faster" spiel, which, in turn, made me a nervous wreck.   So yes, it is normal, especially if you're the only one and you're in a busy store :/

Naivohw Posted 24 May 2015 , 2:43am
post #3 of 4

Yeah, it's just me basically. I'd say we're pretty busy, on crazy holiday weekends like this one we sell about $5,000-$6,000 a day in bakery. There are two part time people that used to be the decorators (both got pregnant and left, one after the other, and then came back) so I'm very lucky that one of them can "be me" on my days off, so at least I don't come back to chaos. However, both will be leaving in the next few months and I doubt they will hire people that know how to decorate. Both managers can also step in, but with the massive amount of new programs corporate has started (whole other can of worms) they barely have time to do their own work. Sometimes on holidays I am very lucky and get another of the decorators for a whole shift. I think I am extra frustrated right now because it is Memorial Day and we are running on a skeleton crew all weekend, because we aren't being given the hours to schedule more people.  I love making cakes and I think I'm pretty good at it. I am also very lucky by grocery store standards, in that I am given a lot of creative leeway when doing orders for people. I'm just tired of the "corporate-ness", I guess.

embersmom Posted 24 May 2015 , 11:51am
post #4 of 4

We've  had decorators who left because of the "corporate-ness" too, so I get that, especially if they came from having their own at-home business or had worked at one of the longstanding area retail bakeries.  Production work, IMO, is a VERY handy skill for a decorator to have, but not everybody is cut out for it on a day-to-day basis.

It's a holiday weekend, so of course things are going to run on the slimmest margin possible.  We've been running not so much a skeleton crew as the PT people having their hours cut so they're only around for maybe 4 hours at the most as opposed to their usual 6-6-1/2.  It's been mostly our manager, our assistant, and me all week.  Graduations don't start up in my area until next weekend and a lot of people went away this weekend, so it hasn't been as busy as we'd predicted.  Never say never, though -- they all could be coming out of the woodwork today for all I know!

Can't say when this finally dawned on me, but in the past few years I've gotten to the point where being constantly worried about what I didn't get done doesn't do ME any good.  I am only one person with two hands.  Management is ALWAYS going to want you to do more than you can handle.  If I don't get everything done, so be it.  There's always tomorrow.  OTOH I always make sure that I do "just a bit more" than I'd normally do so they can't come back and accuse me of not doing enough.  It's a delicate balance but it seems to work.

It sounds like you really need more consistent PT help.  Who's going to do your days off when those two girls leave?

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