A low-cost, high-impact plan for your business is to aggressively leverage social media. Now is not the time to retreat. Use your platforms for more than updating customers on changed hours or business plans. You can inspire, engage, and give people a much-needed break from the steady stream of serious news. Post product pics, ideas for baking at home, or how your business is supporting local efforts such as donating to food banks or shelters. Consider doing a daily or weekly ‘How to Cake Decorate’ video or videos on other helpful topics to keep customers engaged. The key is to be creative and post more than ever to keep your business top of mind.
Meet Customers Where They Are
If feasible, consider offering delivery service within a certain radius of your business. By bringing baked goods to your customers (and leaving them at the door), you can help drive more sales. People now have to stay home – help them support their local bakery at the same time.
There are still people who work outside of the home in essential industries. Offering a drive-thru or ‘curb-side’ delivery option helps limit your exposure as well as the consumer's while still meeting their needs.
Take Advantage of Technology
The importance of this strategy for succeeding continues to grow, in and outside of our current environment. Be sure to let customers know you have online ordering or that you are part of the apps that can deliver. From Deliveroo to Just Eat, be sure to be a part of the foodservice ecosystem that people are turning to now.
Investigate Your Options
Many local communities are doing their work to support each other. Check with your local chamber of commerce to find out how they are investing in local businesses by promoting them, sharing information, or offering financial services and advice. Community newspapers, radio stations and other outlets for promotion are offering greatly reduced pricing. Consider investing in advertising to help drive business for your takeout and online business.
Get Creative and Crafty
Think beyond how you typically sell – a customer coming in and buying one item or a box of baked goods. Consider things like ‘Bake at Home’ kits where customers can buy donuts, cinnamon rolls or muffins by the dozen that they can take home and bake themselves. Or sell ‘Decorating in a Box’ kits where families can buy a dozen cookies complete with icings and sprinkles for home. These are fun ideas for homebound families looking for something to do. And, it keeps revenue coming in.
Prioritize Your Product Assortment
Now is the time to focus on what you can make well, at a low cost, and with minimal waste and errors. Put a pause on more complex recipes and decorating to stick with the staples that sell well and remind customers of the traditional comfort they’re looking for in trying times. You will keep your costs lower and appeal to a broader audience.
You might also be able to partner with other local businesses such as farms/farm shops to offer a wider range of necessities to your customers including eggs and milk.
Most importantly, communities are suffering and everyone should do their part to help. As much as you can, support local first responders and healthcare workers. We are all in this together. It can be hard to give when businesses are stretched but taking care of others is something bakeries do every day when we mark the important moments in the lives of our customers. Now more than ever, hold onto the truth that bakers, and what you create, always make people feel better, safer and more connected to each other.
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