The special of the week is…
When I first started running my microbakery I decided to take quite paused steps to scale up and diversify my range of products…. And I really mean really *paused* steps. So much so that the only product I started with was a 16th C. loaf from colonial Mexico, more specifically a bread profusely mentioned in the ordinances for the baker’s gild in the Province of Puebla.
I chose to deliver exclusively to two different universities in order to make both deliveries and promoting much more efficient. But only after two weeks I was swarmed with orders from only one of them and soon decided to increase the days of deliveries by eliminating one of the other university.
By the end of the first month I was faced with the possibility of either refocusing my marketing strategy to increment sales or focus all my attention in the one with the best revenue and constant growth of customer base. I went for the latter.
The savoury loaves that came after the colonial bread were: Mustaceus, a roman bread made with grape juice, recipe appears in Cato’s De Agri Cultura first published in 160 A.D.; next was a Victorian potato loaf described by Elizabeth David who attributed the research to Eliza Acton and last Nan e Barbari a spiced seeded flatbread from the Levantine region, variations of this breads have been documented since c. 2000 A.D.
And that conforms the “fab four”, the staple savoury loaves that I permanently produced for the following months. Eventually and just during the last month I baked Potato Pullman loaves topped with sesame seeds.
As the sales fluctuated due to a “normal” curve of novelty, increase of demand the followed by a stagnation phase I resolved to start introducing what I called the week’s special and this gave me the chance to test historical recipes –in the sense of tasting them for commercial purposes- and to boost and compensate sales as it is easier to sell individual or small treats either sweet or savoury whilst my regular customers still were working their way through their weekly loaf.
The specials proved indeed to serve its purpose and some did so exceedingly well to my own surprise. These were:
What the specials taught me about taste and preferences of my customers:
Never overlook the power of snacking.
Sweet treats will always sell.
If you make a consistently good and unique product the margin of profit you can have over small treats pays off the effort.
Be prepared to multitask… multitask hard.
Keep the specials “special”, a limited availability will increase the interest of the customers creating the idea of exclusiveness and opportunity.
Don’t let long hours and overload of work take your attention from your social media platforms-which in my case were my main marketing tool.
Always photograph, make irresistible but minimal descriptions and again upload and update all your socialmedia timelines.
Make sure your side projects don’t take over the whole of your production.
Draw the line when it comes to indulging your client’s cravings. Remember it’s a business not an on-request bakery. It is important to let each of your clients know they’re special by adding a little extra of their favourite ingredient or giving them a special deal but keep it profitable.
Those are some of the reflections derived from my first entrepreneurial project. I have now relocated again from Mexico to England’s Midlands. In the following months I’ll continue my ongoing research projects. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you! Kepp in touch here, on twitter and Instagram.