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So I am looking to take somewhat of a unique approach to my business, and unsure of the strategy... - Page 4

post #46 of 48

 I am not sure you understand the kind of person I am


Understand what kind of person? Eh? When I buy baked goods, I do not even think to inquire into the personality of the baker…I watch the staff's food-handling skills.  I look at the cleanliness of the display dummies and the floor.   I look at and smell the goods.  I look at the "best by" date to get the freshest package of strudel…or I ask the counter help to tell me when the strudel was baked.


I'm not  sure that an "immersive experience" bakery is going to make a profit.  Are you planning to design in-store toys which you would then have to protect with buckets of legal fees for  patents and/or trademarks?  Can you afford to risk kids bashing up your custom electronics?  Are you prepared for foot traffic that will try to come in and play and then not even buy a snack?  A mini-mall location with a laundromat will provide plenty of wear and tear on your setup and little income.


Me, I don’t believe that you should plan to distract customers from the food.  You want your shop to enhance the baked goods and make people interested to BUY your variety of goodies.  You want to be able to suggest a dozen whenever somebody comes in for a single.  You want people to keep coming back to see what's new and yummy by changing part of your menu every two months.   There are many effective styles of retail design that all focus the attention of the customer on the FOOD. 


OP I suggest you work a few months in the front end of FOOD operations.  When food is involved, all sorts of sanitary regulations kick in to actively prevent vermin.  You must design for daily disinfection.  A local shop here closed down because the owner made the mistake of installing domestic display cabinetry with an ideal place for mice to nest undisturbed, instead of having all her custom-built units set clear of the floor on casters. That one stupid detail wasted her year of hard work on her dream as well as her $100,000 investment.


One last thing to think about.  You write about planning an operation that markets your personality.  Customers are going to expect to have direct contact with YOU if YOU are supposed to be part of the product…You are not going to be mixing/baking, actively decorating, and  serving/delivering  at the same time.  So you will be paying a salary or two right off the bat. 


Baking from scratch demands more direct supervision than you think…I am telling you from my own business experience.  Your week's profit can go down the drain in a heartbeat if a hangover shows up for work.  You should plan baked goods that can be produced by a team, you will need to hire and train that team, and your special recipes will be in their hands.  You will need a hands-on partner that you can trust to carry out YOUR vision in your time off.  Very few business owners acquire or retain such diligent managers for minimum wage. 


I think you would greatly benefit from a six-month professional pastry course.  In your spare time, you should visit scratch pastry shops that have been in business for more than 10 years, to learn from their varieties of success.  And please, work in a real scratch bakery for a few years before you commit to any  plan.  You should see the worst cases in action on somebody else's payroll. 

post #47 of 48
Originally Posted by TheNerdyBaker View Post


I currently work at a bakery that bakes absolutely NOTHING from scratch, and it is slowly killing me inside.  I was raised on the ideals of fresh food, and I most definitely plan to carry that over to my bakery.  Everything I offer will be scratch made for sure.  There is no budging in that regard...

I'm very comfortable and confident to say baking is my area of expertise. My mother was a pastry chef and I was raised in a bakery. I've been a working professional pastry chef for over 28 years now. I've taught baking, I've hired bakers, I've been the pastry chef at high class places and large banquet halls The BIGGEST obstacle to bakeries is finding people that can really follow a recipe consistently/always. Baking from scratch is soooo difficult very few schooled chefs bake well. So it becomes economics and the desire to keep your business open, that is why bakeries turn to using mixes and pre-packaged frosting and fillings.


It takes a life time to learn how to bake well and you'll never master baking everything (like I don't even try baking breads that's a whole different art taking another life time to learn). I've had apprentices, I've hired culinary school grads and stood next to them and watched them screw up making things as simple as rice crispy treats (with no exaggeration). SO, having a scratch bakery is beyond difficult! You'll have to know about production like you can't learn in books or a pastry school. Then as the business owner realize your the business person, you won't be in the kitchen baking yourself, if your successful.


So I'm sorry I don't mean to lecture. I just want to stress to you that two years of professional baking is nothing. You've yet to start learning just how much you don't know yet. If you want to be successful (and I do want you to be successful) you'll need a plan B when you struggle to hire a decent baker that can follow a mix accurately..

post #48 of 48
Based on OP's target market, I'd say providing an immersive experience is exactly the right way to go, to an extent of course. This can even be done without a storefront if OP can stage a meeting area for consults and tastings, with the CA cottage food law there is time to start small and scale up as necessary. There's no need to design custom toys or electronics, as there is already a wealth of licensed products available for decor or even resale. I would almost say the food is secondary to the domain knowledge OP brings to the table for this particular niche (just being "one of us" is a significant advantage already).

While I agree that professional experience and a culinary school program is helpful, it is by no means a requirement. When we decided to launch our business, my wife and I had zero professional baking experience. She had just completed a 6 month culinary school pastry program (mostly because we were focusing on specialty allergen-free products), she spent several months on recipe R&D while I set up the business side, and we were good to go.

The most helpful pieces of knowledge were the chemistry side of baking from culinary school, and my own business background (especially my MBA classes in accounting, marketing, and operations). If you already have this knowledge or are confident you can learn it on your own, you don't really need any additional formal education.
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