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Managing a home based baking business

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I am just starting out with a home based cupcake business. I have no idea how busy I will be but have received very positive feedback about my cupcakes. I am looking for tips on how to manage orders as they come in. I am planning on making all my frostings and storing them in the freezer and using them as I need them which will be a big time saver. My cupcakes are available in dozens only. My customers get to chose 2 flavors (6 of each flavor) in the dozen. I require a 48 hr notice for delivery. Would it be acceptable to freeze freshly baked cupcakes and pull them as I need them? Or should I just bake the orders as they come in. Thanks for any tips or ideas that you can share.
post #2 of 15
As long as your cupcake and frosting recipes don't lose quality after being in the freezer (you need to test how long you can keep each recipe frozen) there shouldn't be a problem. Just make sure you have a dedicated freezer for the business.
post #3 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pattycake12

I am looking for tips on how to manage orders as they come in.


Write everything down. Keep track of orders, preferably on a large calendar so you can see the week (month) at a glance. Stay organized. Make lists.

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post #4 of 15
If you are serious about your business you should also invest in order management software. I used QuickBooks Pro, it is also a full-fledged accounting system and can integrate with Turbotax to make corporate taxes easy (assuming you carefully track your expenses and income throughout the year).
post #5 of 15
Liability insurance is also important, just in case someone makes a claim of illness, etc. after eating your cupcakes. It's fairly inexpensive. I've never had a claim against me and don't anticipate one, but I still carry insurance just in case... helps me sleep at night!
post #6 of 15
You can also freeze your batter and scoop it into your pan and bake just as many cupcakes as you need.
post #7 of 15
I would suggest you have a dedicated fridge was well as a dedicated freezer. For just frostings, the freezer can be a half size to save space. Freeze your frostings in single-batch-sized containers and date each one.

If possible, bake the cupcakes fresh. You may need to refrigerate them after icing for just a few hours. That will be determined by your delivery schedule.

But you really need to be collecting a 50% order deposit (and if you can swing an online pay service, so much the better). Most businesses say that the deposit is what confirms the "order".
post #8 of 15
If you're going to freeze your products, just make sure that the freezer is solely for your baked goods. Otherwise, they will absorb the smells of other items left in the freezer. You don't want your cupcakes tasting like meat and an assortment of herbs. I currently work in a bakery that freezes products and they still taste amazing after defrosting. Just make sure not to keep anything frozen for too long or you risk the chance of freezer burn. Maybe your could bake the product upon receiving the 50% deposit from customers and then decorate & frost once the event is closer. That way, nothing should stay frozen for too long and you will be able to anticipate the items that will be needed.
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post #9 of 15
This is just my opinion, but if I was specialising in cupcakes, I would not freeze them and just pull them out as needed to sell, I would bake fresh for each order. This enables you to maintain quality control and make the claim that your cupcakes are, indeed, baked fresh to order.

You might be able to get away with freezing cupcake batter, however, as this will not impact on the end product as much as freezing a delicate baked cupcake would. Again, you need to do a lot of research to see the impact on freezing each particular batter would have.

Just my 2 cents.

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post #10 of 15
I am only booming in the order department around November & December. Especially in those times, I like to separate my tasks - depending on my orders for the week, I like to prep all day one day including mix dough. And, bake all day the next day. In those super busy months...I do package properly and freeze in a dedicated freezer if need be.

I set up specific delivery days so I could come up with a system that works for me. I found that I COULD be delivering every day if I didn't wrangle it in. So, consider that. Also, delivery fee! It's not so much the gas....but the time away from other orders baking & packaging and what not.

You will definitely find out what works for you and what doesn't. Don't be afraid to adjust.

And, tracking is key. If you cannot afford a really great program yet..you can make your own with a spreadsheet. I know...that's a bit old fashioned as far as computer programs go for the small business. But, google offers a free spreadsheet in google docs. You MUST make sure you know what's going in and out. It's easy to work your bum off for peanuts. Model it after a program meant for a baking business...I'm sure you can look a couple up online for a general guide. Taxes are not that horrible especially when you start. If you anticipate earning more than the $400..I think it is...print out the forms on the IRS site now so you know what kind of info will be needed. Easier to organize yourself now...then when it comes time to file.
post #11 of 15
Evoir - great point. Even when I'm super busy - there are some cookies you have to mix & bake right away. Even refridgerating the dough impacts the final cookie. There are a few in this category. Also, when it comes to cookies with chocolate pieces, or dipped in chocolate, etc....they don't freeze well for a long period of time. I have pineapple tarts that lose their "zing" after a certain period.

Research IS good.
post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evoir

This is just my opinion, but if I was specialising in cupcakes, I would not freeze them and just pull them out as needed to sell, I would bake fresh for each order. This enables you to maintain quality control and make the claim that your cupcakes are, indeed, baked fresh to order.


There's no reason you can't maintain quality control while freezing completed cupcakes. Just as you mentioned with the batter, you can research which finished products hold up to freezing and which don't.

The claim that cupcakes are "baked fresh to order" sounds great, but as your business scales up it is not reasonable to assume that you will always be able to do this.
post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

The claim that cupcakes are "baked fresh to order" sounds great, but as your business scales up it is not reasonable to assume that you will always be able to do this.




I agree, to a point. It simply depends upon your business model. If you are a small home-based business, and are not aspiring to be turning over thousands in cupcake sales a week, then IMO there is an opportunity to offer something better than the massive supermarket bakery practice of baking in bulk then freezing (with the only difference being you wouldn't then transport them to all your stores). I see it as a marketing opportunity as well as a point of difference. From my experience there is a huge market for freshly made, freshly baked cakes and cupcakes.

I know I'll get caned for my opinion, but please understand I have a different view about home-based cake businesses. I do understand not all of them want to scale and become *that* big icon_smile.gif

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post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evoir

I agree, to a point. It simply depends upon your business model. If you are a small home-based business, and are not aspiring to be turning over thousands in cupcake sales a week, then IMO there is an opportunity to offer something better than the massive supermarket bakery practice of baking in bulk then freezing (with the only difference being you wouldn't then transport them to all your stores).


You don't need to be grossing thousands of dollars a week to have this problem. If you add a single large event (e.g. something on the order of 20-30 dozen cupcakes) to your regular order rotation you simply won't have time to bake fresh, especially in a home kitchen.

I'm also not sure why you think freezing products in bulk automatically means they are now equivalent to the quality of a supermarket bakery. High quality baked goods that are frozen and thawed correctly are indistinguishable from the same recipe freshly baked, and in some cases are actually better after they have been frozen.

Of course there are some recipes that cannot be frozen without losing quality, and for those I would recommend freshly baked.
post #15 of 15
I agree with Evoir. My business model is based on never frozen, from scratch, made to order. And I can totally tell the difference. I have experimented just because of the posts on CC about freezing. The consistency always changes. It has to. It's science. If the consistency of the recipe was created to have optimum crumb, moisture, etc, when freshly baked and cooled, the freezing will alter those aspects.

If shortcuts are taken, the model begins to fall into the mainstream market where the most competitors will be found. They will resemble the cupcakes found in that mid-market segment. With the saturation of cupcake busnesses in even small areas, one must look at the demographics and the market to determine if another mid-range cupcake business will be viable. Also, even if this segment is not saturated, it is the most likely segment to get future competitors.

The OP can do whatever she likes. Evoir and I are just suggesting that she be aware of her place in the market.

And I must respectfully disagree about the larger orders. First, it can be done. You may have to work longer that day, but I did it all the time in my home kitchen while baking for charities before my commercial kitchen was complete.

Second, we all have limits, even "Buddy". We should only do the amount of business that does not compromise our quality. Home kitchens will be the most limited (fixed with a double oven, can be found cheap used). But if mainstream is the market of choice, again, the quality is usually compromised in several aspects to meet the lower price.
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