So, you’ve opened up a local bakery, and now it’s time to grow. There’s plenty you can do to increase your customer base and your sales.
We’ve put together our best advice drawn from what we’ve seen craft and artisan bakeries do across the globe to achieve growth.
Starting with a growth strategy is a good idea. For growing bakeries, especially local craft bakers, you want to set yourself some SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) goals.
These goals could include:
- Marketing spend
There will likely be other things you want to add to your goals, depending on your current position and speciality, but these four are a good starting point.
Setting revenue goals will keep you realistic with your expectations and will help you plan out your staff growth.
To know if your customer base has grown, you’ll need to measure. You could consider customer counter technology for in-store visits and be keeping an eye on your website or social media traffic (if you exist online).
You will likely need to increase your marketing spend to grow your bakery. Whether this is branching out into the online space or getting your business into local publications—you will need to be ready to spend money to make money.
We’ve put some of our best advice together. We’ve seen these strategies work for small and medium bakeries across the globe. Hopefully, you can take value from them.
Now, more than ever, consumers are hyper-sensitive to the food they consumer and this goes for baked goods too. Aswell as the treats your customers will come in to buy week-after-week, their buying behaviours have adjusted to seeking goods which can provide something nutritonally benefitial. Try and include these items into your core range.
Bread products boosted with fibre, protein and essential nutrients are sure to catch their eye and while indulgence remains in high demand, smaller portion sizes for sweet treats offer customers more permissable options.
If you don’t care for the customers you have, you’re unlikely to find more. That’s because word of mouth is still one of, if not the best, marketing tactic for brand awareness and increasing your direct sales.
Research shows that 92 per cent of people trust recommendations from friends or family over any other type of advertising.
The best customer care is the first step you can take in achieving good word of mouth ratings. You could focus on your staff and how they treat or communicate with your in-store customers. They do have a big part to play, but they can’t carry a business that doesn’t show how they care.
Make active efforts to communicate and build relationships with your customers. You could do this by:
- Engaging with them on social media (more on that later)
- Offering promotions and competitions
- Offering membership with benefits
- Get your customers involved (more on that later too)
If you connect with your existing customers, they will advertise for you.
Build a website
Having a digital footprint is pretty much a necessity to survive as a business in 2020—unless you’re already well established. But if you’re looking to grow your bakery, and you’re not online, here’s a sure-fire way of achieving that.
You do not have to start with a highly complex site designed by a specialist agency if you don’t want—but there’s nothing wrong with that either. There are plenty of platforms that can help you easily build your website.
Some platforms you could explore (which require a monthly sign-up) are:
There are plenty more. If you’re looking to include eCommerce features (you want to sell on your website), this adds a layer of complication. We’d advise looking at a how-to guide for your platform (if it offers it) before trying.
Your website will offer you a space to build your brand, tell people who you are, attach contact and store details for your customers and much more.
You can also attach your website to your social media and your Google My Business (which we’ll now discuss).
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Register on Google My Business
If you haven’t already registered a Google My Business account, now is the time.
It’s a simple set-up, and you can optimise your account to tell searchers about your bakery, what you specialise in, your opening hours and more. This way, if people are looking for a bakery in your area, they’ll find you.
Having an attached website works wonders here, as they can find out more about you.
You’ll also be subject to Google reviews (don’t forget the customer care section) which can give you some excellent social proof to work with.
Creating your account will quite literally put you on the map.
Get active on social media
Social media is a powerful channel for bakeries to spread the word about their existence. Lots of bakers make use of image-based channels such as Pinterest and Instagram to communicate and build relationships with their customer base.
If you’re not on social media yet, create yourself an account. There are things to consider, like:
- Why you want to exist on social media
- What you can offer your audience
- What you want to get out of the channel
Then you’ll need content to push out, and time to interact with your audience.
Yes, it’s not a small investment, but done right social media can really be fuel to the fire of your growth plan.
If you want a more in-depth guide on how to grow your bakery through social media, we wrote an article on this.
Think about your displays
Ok, we’re done with the online demands for now. When it comes to what you can do in the physical world, think about your display lighting.
It’s a commonly held opinion that lighting can have a significant impact on sales. Match your lighting choices to bright, colourful product selection. Pairing lighting with colour works exceptionally well with fresh cakes, cupcakes and patisserie options.
Put extra emphasis on any “specials” you may be hosting—but try not to do this every day. Making your specials exclusive, alongside your display, will have them stand out further to your customer base.
Seasonal products are important as they keep your range fresh and dynamic, always welcome additions to your core lines.
Last but not least, think about your labels. You’ll be surprised the difference a clear and attractive label can make. Make your messaging easily readable, the further away they can see it, the more attractive it may initially appear.
For customers that may suffer from allergies, you should strongly consider printing your ingredients, or other warnings on your baked goods. Obviously, don’t be giving away any secrets, unless that secret is nuts. Alternatively, have a prompt on the label for customers to ask a member of staff.
Build partnerships with local restaurants and coffee shops
If you’re a local craft bakery, you could build relationships with restaurants and coffee shops. It isn’t just customers walking in your door that could be generating you revenue.
Relationships like this could be invaluable. You could offer things such as:
- your products
- hiring out your space (if you’re a sit-in bakery) for meetings or gatherings
- classes – these could be open to anybody
- tasting sessions where local businesses can endorse you (and get something in return)
When it comes to forming relationships, try to think outside the box and make the partnership mutually beneficial. You’ll find this will help boost your brand and likely get some more word of mouth recommendations circulating.