Growing too Comfortable or Getting Sucked into Tradition
It’s human nature to want to get into a routine. Even Dunkin’ Donuts had the old bakery commercial and adage, “Time to make the donuts” that depicted an exhausted baker waking up in the early hours of the morning day after day. All too often we get into our cog of tradition and can’t see when we’re failing to keep up with the demand of the industry’s changing tides. The best way to combat this is to identify your top 7 items. Keep them close and remind your customers that you’re known for those specific things. Your “world famous” or “traditional style” offerings will maintain a steady base clientele and allow you to grow and maintain within your community. Next, identify three slots that you’ll keep on rotation. Call it your Innovation Rotation. Push yourself to research industry trends, new flavor profiles, or innovative techniques. When your steady clientele stops in to buy your top items, they’ll also be inclined to give one of your more innovative items a try.
Producing too Many Items
It’s so easy to find yourself wanting to fill your bakery to capacity. If you’re finding success then it may be tempting to bring in more work, and as a result, make more money. But before taking on those extra contracts, keep in mind the effects of having to produce more items. Additional products means more ingredients in your cooler and dry storage, more packaging, and more man hours. Before long, you’re looking at mounting stress for you, your team, and your equipment. The slope is even more slippery yet with overworked and disgruntled employees, slimmer time frames, and additional overhead. Consider speaking with your team, crunching numbers, and working towards finding ways to get more products out of single processes (like making croissants and cruffins from a one dough.)
Spreading Yourself too Thin
This goes along with producing too many items. Bakery owners are no strangers to long hours and often grueling work. By the time you bake the cake, make the icing, answer the phone calls, cook the fillings, bake the bread, roll the croissants (and on and on and on and on) – you’re spent! Taking time to establish exact working hours and knowing when you’ve overexerted yourself will keep you from baker’s burnout. I know it’s a dream concept to actually be able to control the number of hours you work, but taking some time each week to find out where you’re wasting time and money, or whether you need to hire additional help, will make a big difference in product quality AND quality of life.
Overvaluing or Undervaluing Employees
Sometimes it’s easy to forget how much skill it takes to perform even menial bakery tasks. When you have a new hire, spend time with them to either encourage their creative and professional growth, or truly learn their potential within your workforce. Undervaluing an employee can make them feeling useless or like a cog in the machine. Putting too much pressure on them can cause unnecessary stress and can harbor tense working environments. If you notice an employee who seems to be under-performing or letting newfound responsibility go to their head, take the time to reiterate the importance of a team mentality and then reevaluate your production structure.
Forgetting that Baking is a Science First
If you were to take a look into our test kitchen, you’d notice that it’s not quite what you imagine when you think of a bakery. There’s no flour lightly cascading across a beautiful butcher block countertop or ceramic measuring cups full of sugar and spice. It’s closer to a workshop with weights, measures, and formulas scribbled on sheets of paper. Baking is a science. This is why, oftentimes, chefs hate to bake and bakers hate to cook. It’s tedious and requires tiny changes, diligent note-taking, and a colossal amount of patience, trial, and error. Without respect for the process and science of baking, it’s easy to fall in to creating mediocre products and not quite understanding why they’re not coming out correctly. Taking the time to understand basic formulas and test out equipment (see the video below) will give you a solid foundation for exploring the more creative and artistic side of baking.