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    EOL Coverage of Chefs Championships at IHMRS

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    Preparing Lobster for Competition


10 Tips

to Unleash the Potential

of Your Bake Shop

by Diane Chiasson, FCSI

Running a bakery operation takes much more than just displaying the regulars like fresh bread and muffins. As an operator, you must think of what will lure your customers into your bakery and it has to be creative enough that they will be coming for years to come. Freshness is an obvious key factor and should not be overlooked. Nothing should go on the shelves that is older than a day unless it is reduced in price. Remember, as a bakery facility, you have that fresh baked aroma, which means an increase in impulse sales, so use it to your advantage. Much more thought and work must come into play if you want your bakery operation to be a huge success.

Research rituals

It is important that you know your customer inside out, as you want to serve them as best as possible. Survey your current customers to see what they think of your bakery items. Ask them what they like and what they think you could do better. Are your items as fresh as they could be? Is your staff as friendly and helpful as they could be? It is also equally crucial to research the competition so that you are always one step ahead of them.

If you build it, they will come

Yes, this is an old saying but nothing could be closer to the truth. Operators should build their bakery displays so customers can see them from across the facility. Use nothing but the freshest ingredients and food items in your display. Display bakery items such as bagels, baguettes, cookies and dessert bars using unique plates, dishes and rattan baskets. Use fresh fruits, fresh and dried flowers, in addition to ears of wheat and corn to add to your displays. Custom-design wood tilted racks to display breads, pies and Danish so your customers’ mouths will be watering from the minute they walk in the door. Do not forget to change your display every 10 days, and label each item so customers know what they are buying. Your display could be the best one on the block, but your customers will get bored of it if they see the same thing every time they enter your facility.

Creating color eye-catchers

Color is one of the most important factors when dealing with bakery display. Because most of the colours in bakery items tend to be browns and beiges, it is necessary to pump up your operation with bright colours such as red, orange, or yellow, that will complement any bakery display you build.

Have fun with cross-merchandising

Cross-merchandising is a unique way for you to get your point across. Whether your bakery is a sole operation, or it is located in a grocery facility, a lot can be done to merchandise and sell your bakery items with other relevant products. When displaying specialty breads, do not be afraid to merchandise the ingredients as well. Display fresh herb breads near fresh herbs. Then cut up a few of the loaves so customers can capture the taste. Or, cross-merchandise bakery items with the deli and soup counters. Coffee is the next best thing to display with any bakery item – display beautiful packages of coffee next to your mouthwatering bakery items and they will by flying off the shelves. Also, try cream cheese and bagels, focaccia bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, or fruit and lemon cakes with whipped cream.

Selling with signage

It is important to be clean, concise and to the point when designing the signage for your bakery operation. Make it as easy as possible for customers to purchase bakery items in your operation by providing proper signage. After all, the reason for putting up a sign in the first place is to inform your customers about your products so they will buy them! Signage can be displayed in all shapes and sizes and should be used accordingly. Use small chalkboard signs for muffins, cakes, cookies and bars and bigger signs for sectioned areas of your operation. If you insist on handwriting your signs, be sure to make them legible and graphically appealing.

Lively lighting

Lighting is a very important role when it comes to bakery items. It should be an aspect you think of at all times when designing your bakery display because it helps to sell your products. Do not over- or under-light key areas of the facility. Lighting is meant to add life to your bakery products, while showing off the details of your products. Strive for a warm, comfortable environment that encourages sales. While you will not be asked to conceive and implement a lighting system, you will be asked to keep an eye on lighting systems to ensure cleanliness, accuracy of beam, and that burned out bulbs are identified and replaced immediately.

Make it spotless

Cleanliness will help to ensure your customer will come back for more of your tasty bakery items. The last thing a customer wants to find is a dusty food counter or a spotty sneezeguard. This goes for three-tier displays, display racks, utensils, shelves and employee uniforms. Ensure your staff wears hairnets, hats and disposable gloves while handling bakery items. Post signage that lets customers know you are in control of your cleanliness.

Keep them stocked up

Keeping an eye on your bakery stock is pertinent to running a bakery facility. Make sure to have all the favourite bakery items in stock at all times, in addition to some new and improved items that are sure to knock your competitors off their feet. Feel free to try a variety of items, as your customers will get bored of the same bakery items over and over. Again, keep in mind your customer base. Ask them what they would like to see on your shelves everyday and be sure to follow their requests.

Crucial customer service

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