You might have dreamed since you were young of a case full of skyscraper cakes and rows of cookies. Or maybe you came to the bakery dream in your twenties, working for a living while paying your way through college. Then your vision of being in business for yourself and selling confections might have gotten its spark. Or it could have been even later. Many successful bakers report that they were working for a prestigious law firm or in an unrelated job in banking or retail before wondering what they were doing with their lives.
It’s easy to see why bakeries are popular businesses to start after college or after a midlife crisis. A bakery impacts people’s lives. You’re doing good for your community by feeding people and hope. Your bakery will employ artists and craftspeople, and you’ll be able to close the doors at the end of every day measuring your success by full bellies as much as a full till in your register. But you might be wondering how to make your bakery stand out. There are a lot of ways to do it. Here are a few.
Find a Great Location
This almost seems like it’s a gimme for any business, and yet it’s both more critical and more difficult than you think at first. The best locations in your city are probably already taken by longstanding businesses. Places that stay in business for generations create the best locations by making memories: They’re the places where fathers take their sons to learn the business of being a man; they’re places where mothers and daughters go for coffee and conversation. These businesses are started by people who aren’t looking at the next quarter but at the next generation. That kind of business is your competition.
Restaurants and bakeries aren’t in the business, after all, of making food. They’re in the business of making memories. They want to be part of family conversations year over year and decade over decade. To do that, you must make sure that the place where your restaurant is sitting isn’t just any street address, but that it’s in a place that has the potential to become the center of a neighborhood. Your livelihood depends on the lives and strength of your neighbors, and your willingness to support the place where your business lives.
Remember that even though you depend on your neighbors to survive, they have plenty of choices. Your best bet is to be part of the neighborhood. Be a local. Consider moving next to where you plan to work, or if there’s a place near you that will make a good start for a business, make an offer as part of your business plan.
Update Your Bathrooms
Bathrooms are one of the first spaces in your new bakery that should be renovated. You know how to make your bakery stand out: Making the spaces that everyone needs to visit is one of the first and most important steps in that process, and an inviting bathroom with a bright, textured, nonslip floor and easy-to-clean walls is a start to that. If you have single-stall restrooms, as most small businesses do, making them gender-neutral can be a simple way to welcome all guests. Few customers like the idea of pretending not to feel discomfort in a line when there’s an unused restroom right next to the one, they’re waiting for.
You need to have a local plumber on speed dial. One of the most underrated problems of business is that you’ll have to have people available who can handle your worst problems at the most inopportune times. Bathroom malfunctions and damage will make even the best business hard to stomach, so you’ll want to make it so that your business is consistently inviting to all customers.
Keep Pests Away
When you’re thinking of how to make your bakery stand out, you might not have an exterminator in your first row of priorities – and it certainly doesn’t rank on the glamour charts like having a lemon zest cupcake that graces the cover of your local area’s business magazines, to be certain. But local pest control companies are a critically important part of your business plan.
An infestation of ants can devour sugar and flour and worse, can make your place look poorly managed and dirty. An ant extermination company isn’t a glamorous ingredient for how to make your bakery stand out, but it is a necessary one that you’ll need to have on call to succeed.
Expand Your Services
One of the best ways how to make your bakery stand out is by having strong food catering options from the beginning. Your bakery’s bread, rolls, and cakes are a great supplement for corporate meetings and other events like weddings and parties. You can become a quick surprise hit by having memorable desserts served at a local event and including business cards with QR codes leading directly to your website, your DoorDash order page, or other contact information.
Speaking of DoorDash, third-party delivery services have become a crucial part of the ecosystem for new restaurants and bakeries, putting your food within an easy impulse-shopping trip on the Internet away. If you’re not familiar with DoorDash, Bite Squad, and other delivery services, make that the highest priority to learn. They can transform your whole business simply by their presence.
Renovate Your Space
If you’re not interested in staying in business for very long, renovation won’t be much of an interest to you. If you want to be in your bakery for more than a few months, though, you will need a complete renovation plan before you open your doors. Converted spaces have a bad history of looking like previous businesses, so you’ll want to know the identity you want for your space and have a plan for a commercial builder to build the space you move into, to the space you want.
Modern business owners get their best financial and social performances out of spaces that are bright and airy, with touches of home. White and light-colored tile surfaces tell the customer you’re serious about cleanliness, and modern architectural touches like stone countertops and polished metal is inspiring to come back to time and again for customers. Your commercial building is your partner in your plan for how to make your bakery stand out in the interior design of your space.
Another crucial area of concern for you is going to be climate control. Your central heating and cooling units will get a major workout because customers do not enjoy standing in a sauna. Heat has a proven effect on harming the mental and physical health of your customers, too. When you’re thinking of how to make your bakery stand out, you probably aren’t thinking immediately about your HVAC solutions. But you will need to, because commercial ovens running 24/7 generate a lot of heat – and your coolers will create more waste heat than you think, too.
Get Creative With Your Advertising
Your creative department to start is probably going to be you and another creative or graphically inclined employee. Not a lot of bakers are also graphic designers, but that’s ok because many of your competitors are in the same boat as well. Custom sign companies have graphic designers on staff who can turn your ideas for a logo into a reality. As well there are plenty of independent graphic design studios in your area that can help build logos.
An unusual suggestion is to talk to a local sports organization. Chances are, they’ve had a graphic designer design or redesign their signage in the recent past. Rebranding is an important concept in the sports world, and many organizations don’t have the money or the people to have graphic designers in-house. Once your logo is designed, make sure it looks good on letterhead as well as on your signs. Then you know it’s something that will work well for your bakery in any context.
Car wrap graphics are a great way to make your bakery stand out. If your primary vehicles, especially with the catering service we discussed earlier, are professionally wrapped with a logo design and easy-to-read contact information, they’re a great way to bring your catered bread and rolls to the offices of your clients, and their eye-catching design will be a great way to get word very literally on the street that your bakery is open for business!
Update Your Storefront Window
Part of opening your new business and how to make your bakery stand out is your new window install. When you have a new business, one of the first things you need to do is make sure that your windows sparkle, and probably the windows you inherited from the last business to be in your space aren’t going to hold up to that charge. Getting a new window installed, preferably with the logo that you designed with your custom sign company, will help you drum up that business you’ve been dreaming of since your bakery entered your mind as a possibility.
Keep Everything Spotless
It can’t be overstated how important spotless cleanliness is to the good fortunes of a restaurant. “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean” may be an utterly loathed platitude in the employee world, but it illustrates the kind of dedication to cleanliness that a food-serving establishment must have to succeed in the cutthroat world of bakeries and restaurants. A bakery that has visible signs of dirtiness in the dining area will quickly either go out of business from customer disgust/departure or create a situation such that regulators will be forced to shut it down. Your janitorial sanitation solution is important to make sure that your business is clean from top to bottom.
Make sure that floors are routinely mopped (and wet floor signs are readily visible). Signage should be clear, and workers should feel empowered to correct messy or dangerous situations wherever they occur. You shouldn’t wait until your business’s mess reaches a critical mass before you start to take corrective measures if you know how to make your bakery stand out. You want to make sure that everything looks as tidy and businesslike during the height of a rush as it does when you have no customers in the shop.
Your Specialties Are The Least Important Part Of Your Menu
Every bakery and restaurant wants to have that one signature dish that they’re known far and wide for, the one that the Zagat Survey or Yelp says is something that everyone who visits your establishment must try. The truth is, that one dish is only a tiny fraction of your business, and you’ll be serving it much less than you think you will. You can get a lot more business with consistent items that have durable demand, like cookies, cakes, and bread, than you can with an expensive signature confection. So, make sure that everything on your menu has the same polish as the things you most want to draw attention to your business.
Your signature sweet might get you on the cover of local business magazines and even maybe a look by the James Beard people. The thing that will keep you in business and make you stand out to your regulars and new customers alike is how you execute the simplest parts of your business, week in and week out. An extravagant specialty won’t help you if your customers come away from your shop thinking they can turn out the same sweets from their home kitchen.
When you go into business as a baker, you’re going into a profession that is probably the third or fourth oldest in human history. Bakers serve the basic needs of hundreds of people daily. So long as you follow some basic tips on how to make your bakery stand out, and make sure and do the basic parts of your business right, your customers will be happy to follow you through to the exciting specialty desserts that you’ve been dying to serve them.