You might think that the hardest thing about the baking industry is to start a bakery business. Sure, it takes a lot of effort and you might experience a few sleepless nights and some anxiety. However, after your bakery opens, surviving the competition will become your main concern. Moreover, your goal is not just to stay afloat but to become a go-to place for people looking for delicious pastries.
As an entrepreneur you aim to make a profit in the bakery business. This will require you to handle your finances, reports, and inventories with great care, but there’s a side of the business that is often neglected: Marketing.
Whatever products your business specializes in, croissants, donuts, buns, bread, healthy gluten-free pastries, mini pastries, and so on, you should build a strong marketing and sales strategy for your bakery. Otherwise, it will be challenging to reach new customers, increase bakery sales and brand awareness.
Benefit from efficient operations
Despite the fact that most sales in the industry are hauled in by large bakeries, mass production is beginning to lose its dominant position in the market to artisan bakeries. They are gaining popularity because it's much easier for small and medium businesses to adopt new food trends.
Thanks to more flexible operations small bakeries can experiment with different products and marketing solutions. By adapting to customers' ever changing preferences mom-and-pop bakeries can successfully compete with big chains.
When introducing specials and trying different trendy pastries, you should ensure that constant changes and innovations won’t undermine your business operations. One of the best ways to achieve this is to choose a flexible management software for your bakery.
You want your future POS and inventory management system to let you add and delete pastries in your menu with ease. And you'll also need dashboards to track sales numbers and identify the best selling items and rotate them based on their popularity.
Therefore, when choosing a POS system, you should look for a program that can accommodate your experiments. The best way to find one is testing several systems with your business goals in mind.
Make the most out of your promotions
Of course, it can be hard to make a profit in the bakery business without having unique and high-quality products. However, if you don't promote them, people will never find out that your brownie recipe is the best in town. One of the great advantages of a timely promotion is that it can turn a random buyer into a regular customer.
Quite often entrepreneurs manage to make effective promotions and marketing campaigns for their bakeries without any help from advertising agencies. If your operation is running smoothly and you have some free time, try to uncover your own creative potential.
You can start by using some of the following strategies to boost your sales. They will help you come up with your own bakery marketing ideas and avoid common mistakes.
Be nice to your customers
To improve bakery profits, you need to find the right way to communicate with your customers. Figure out who frequents your place, get to know them better, and find out what their interests are. Try your best to develop meaningful relationships with your customers!Good service means that you remember your regulars’ favorite pastries. It’s much more pleasant to have a chat with a nice, friendly baker on your way to work than to grab a bun in a plastic bag from the nearest supermarket.
Nothing beats arriving at your favorite bakery, seeing a smile on the baker’s face and being asked “How are you? Do you want me to heat up your vegetable croissant as usual?” These moments can become great pick-me-ups, and your customers will grow to appreciate this kind of gesture.
But don't think your team can fake being nice! Hire people who are passionate about what they do and get along easily with customers. Your choice of staff matters and they can have a strong influence on sales and your customers’ experience.
Care about your customers
People do appreciate when your employees care about their experience and make them feel welcome. They'll come back again and again even if your prices are a bit higher than in another bakery around the corner. Try to do everything to make your customers’ lives as easy as possible. For example, use colored price tags to mark diabetic, vegan and gluten-free products.
For extra comfort, provide your guests with a few bike racks, build a convenient ramp and make an entrance that makes it easy to walk in with a stroller, place a little bench outside right next to the entrance, etc.
This kind of attention to detail will impress your customers and show them that you care. It will help you earn some brownie points and improve your reputation. But you should remember that word-of-mouth marketing is still one of the best ways to attract people to your bakery.
Be ready for the holidays
Don’t miss a chance when people are in a festive mood and ready to spend more money to make themselves feel even better. All national holidays can significantly increase profits in a bakery and improve your brand’s exposure. Don't miss these opportunities to promote your bakery and hold small, relevant events for your customers.
For Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, you can go for heart shapes, flowers shapes, and other cute molds for pastries so that people will use your products as a present or order them as party treats. Or you can organize an event where you hand out free samples of cinnamon buns and other festive treats during the Christmas holidays!
It's best if you sit down and write a list of holidays and plan for promotions in advance. This way you’ll be all set and have enough time to get ready properly.
Offer loyalty programs
Get a loyalty system going to encourage people to buy more. When people know they stand to gain something from spending spending a few dollars on your pastries, they'll keep spending! POS systems with built-in loyalty program allow you to keep information about discounts and bonuses that your customers earn right in your POS system and apply them appropriately.
Reward and discount cards work best for bakeries. For example, a guest can get every 5th or 10th bun for free. Or you can give coupons for the next purchase every time a customer buys pastries for more than $25 or after they spent $100 since they got their discount card.
It's hard to make a profit in the bakery business, so you need to be inventive. For example, if you introduce freebies, you can kick-start sales of new products on your menu. When you come up with new toppings, or start selling seasonal pastries, invite people to try them out for free.
Besides going to your bakery to enjoy something new free of charge, customers will feel that you are open to their feedback. They'll appreciate your intention to take their preferences and tastes into account. This creates a special vibe of creative cooperation.
Tap Into Social Media
There are some bakery promotion ideas, for instance campaigns on social media, that don’t require a large investment, but which still work well for raising people's awareness of your brand. This is especially useful if you plan on opening new locations or franchising your business in the near future. Instagram is the perfect platform to share beautiful pictures of your products, interior design and team.
Don’t try to build your content strategy around advertising only. Just be honest and communicate with people. Show the behind-the-scenes of your cooking process and introduce the bakery team to your followers to give your business a personal touch.
Tell your followers about your events and inform them about new promotions. Don’t try to sell them anything and post interesting and entertaining content instead. Social media works best when it’s used to engage in a conversation with your customers, equal parts entertainment, education, and advertising. There are many different promotion strategies you could try out on Instagram: hold contests, offer freebies, collaborate with Instagram influencers, etc.
Cooperate with local media
There are a lot of ways to improve bakery sales, and traditional media is one of them. Think about paid articles on popular local websites that mention or feature your bakery. It would be a good idea to work directly with the editor to find the best way to promote your product while delivering value to the reader.
If you’re commissioning a paid article, you don’t want your core message to be something fake and superficial like“look at how amazing we are”. It’s best to focus on what makes you different from everyone else and a place that is truly worth a visit.
Share the recipe of one of your bestsellers or document the day-to-day life of your business! People love to read stuff like this. It inspires them!
For example, you can create a special project and hold a master class on baking or decorating cakes. The master-class idea will depend on the concept of your bakery and on what your specialty is. This is your chance to prove to people that you are unique! Don’t blend in with the crowd and find new ways to try to stand out.
Try different distribution methods
If you want to make more profit and reach more customers, try to use a couple of different distribution methods. Consider going online. You can develop your own website marketing strategy for a bakery, or try to cooperate with popular online ordering and delivery platforms.
Try to participate in local events, festivals, concerts, etc. It doesn't require a huge investments to organize your own pop-up and cater to people attending an open-air event. At the same time, it's a chance to reach people who don't frequent the area where your bakery is located.
Add more healthy options
It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like any sweets, chocolate, cakes, or pastries. But people often try to cut down on pastries to reduce their daily caloric intake. Although they enjoy what they’re eating, they have to pay the price in the gym.
Over the past few years, the organic products have been gaining popularity, and people have started to follow healthier lifestyles and alternative diets such as vegetarianism, veganism, gluten-free diets, etc. Considering the high demand for better-for-you foods, you should try to attract lovers of healthy eating by introducing some of these items on your bakery menu.
Desserts made from raw products are often prepared without processed ingredients, ingredients that require the use of pesticides or fertilizers, and are usually uncooked or cooked at very low temperatures. They are light, low-calorie and will be of interest not only to raw foodies and calorie counters, but also to people who want to try something new.
The success of every bakery is determined by the quality of their products and their ability to offer a wide assortment of products. In comparison to large bakeries with more complicated production processes, mini-bakeries are flexible and easily adapt to concept changes, and can experiment with their menus.
Add beverages to your menu
If you don’t yet sell drinks in your bakery, you are making a mistake. Beverage sales can amount to a third of the daily turnover of a bakery. The perfect option would be to hire a barista working your coffee machine and offer five different types of coffee: Americano, Latte, Cappuccino, Espresso, and Americano with milk. Also, with drinks you can make various special offers to promote new items on your menu.
Consider different themes
This works for bakeries just as well as for any other restaurant type. You need to understand that this is about the concept as a whole, not just the interior design. The menu should also match your theme of choice.
For example, if you focus on pastries for kids, you can allude to themes that are trending among kids in your country, such as wizardry, princesses, cars, fairy tales and so on. Can you imagine the massive reaction you’ll get? Kids will be dragging their parents to your bakery!
Don’t want to use a popular concept? Great! Then bet on something unique and choose your personal niche. Try to come up with a new pastry shape, your own combination of ingredients, chef’s specials, etc. Remember the success of cronuts? Maybe you’ll become the next trend maker and improve bakery sales through your unique approach.
Offer different portion sizes
Have you ever caught yourself thinking you would like to eat a beautiful chocolate bun, but it’s too big. Would you want to resist buying it, even if it’s one of your biggest guilty pleasures? This wouldn’t be a problem if you could buy the same bun but in a smaller size instead.
Let’s say a person goes home from the gym and decides to gratify themselves with a tiny piece of cake. If they can buy a slice that is small enough for them to eat it without feeling guilty afterwards, they'll be happy.
Offer different sizes for your most popular positions (if possible). You can start by offering Small, Regular and Large, but don’t be afraid to experiment if you believe there’s a demand for even more variety. Or just make mini versions of your bestsellers. Bite-sized products have become very popular so don’t miss out on this opportunity to earn more.
Watch your customers and react to their feedback! Remember that these people influence your income. No matter how profitable a bakery business is, if you don’t work hard to keep up with the times, you’re going to lose out on great opportunities. Don’t be afraid to try something new, you won’t know what can work for your business until you try it. That is why developing a marketing plan for your bakery business is one of the most important things to pay attention to if you want to improve your sales as fast as possible.