5 Tips to Help Your Home Bakery Business During COVID-19
In December 2019 I made a long list of all the blog posts I’ll be writing this year… THIS post definitely wasn’t one of them.
Wherever you are in the world right now, I’m sure you can feel the tension, fear and mourning across the globe… COVID-19 has made its way around the world. Every day things are changing and escalating.
Schools are closed.
Businesses are closing.
Hospitals are overflowing.
And now comes the question; What should Home Bakery Business owners do during the COVID-19 pandemic?
In this post I’ll share some facts to help you feel more prepared and confident about what you CAN do during this time of uncertainty.
1. COVID-19 will absolutely affect your Home Bakery Business
The COVID-19 situation WILL affect your sales. That’s a guarantee. We need to accept that and make peace with this fact as fast as we can manage. You won’t be able to carry on with “business as usual” and still get the same income.
You’ll need to open yourself to the idea of doing things a bit DIFFERENTLY during this pandemic.
Whether you feel panic OR that people are exaggerating, none of your feelings are really relevant in your BUSINESS right now.
During this time your business will be shaped by how your CLIENTS are feeling.
Some clients will be too cautious to buy any goods from you and others will feel that it’s actually safer to buy from a home business (which it IS by the way! More on that later).
You can’t control how your clients are feeling about this pandemic.
And honestly I feel everyone has a right to feel and do whatever they feel is necessary to cope with the situation – whether it be to panic or to be in denial. One response isn’t “better” or “worse” than the other. It’s just how we cope with our emotions and we all cope differently with uncertainty and fear.
But the bottom line is here that WE (Home Bakers) are PEOPLE and our clients are PEOPLE. People have emotions. And scientifically we know that emotions determine our decisions and actions.
So it’s not so much the virus itself that will directly influence your baked goods or something. The real thing that WILL affect your business is the EMOTION that people are experiencing.
All of the emotion in other people is totally beyond your control.
And please don’t judge any of your clients that are too scared to buy baked goods from you in this time. Make a point of respecting their emotions and their decisions.
You will get fewer sales. Your income will feel it. Try to make peace with this as soon as you can because you can’t avoid this effect and it’s outside your control.
That being said there are things WITHIN your control that you CAN at least try. You might not be able to make money from your Home Bakery the same way you always have, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do!
There’s plenty other income ideas you can test. Some of them will work more effectively for you than others. It all depends on how your clients respond. But it’s totally worth a shot! Some of these tips might really help you to use your home baking skills in NEW ways to earn money.
2. COMMUNICATE with your clients.
Personally I feel that the one WORST thing you can do in this time is to say NOTHING about COVID-19. You need to say something about it to your clients. Even if you just talk about what you’re feeling right now.
When you say nothing you’ll unfortunately come across as a heartless person and business. You and both know that’s not who you are. But when something serious like this is happening, your CLIENTS NEED you to show your humanity.
Your humanity is what connects your clients to you.
Home bakery businesses are all about humanity! The word “home” is in our trade. We HAVE to always represent the humanity of “home” to our clients.
So I encourage you to share an Instagram post, Facebook post and preferably also an email with your clients and followers to share your feelings and thoughts about the COVID-19 situation.
And since we’re talking about client-communication, also inform your clients THOROUGHLY about the extra precautions you’re taking to keep them safe.
Wash your hands, wear gloves while you’re baking. Tell them that your entire family is staying home during this time for THEIR safety (hopefully you are). Don’t just tell your clients about these precautions, SHOW them as well.
You can also offer to deliver goods to their home or to take goods to them in their car when they park outside your home.
Explain how it’s a LOT safer to park alone outside an isolated home than it is to go buy baked goods in a public grocery store with loads of people! Home Based businesses are safer because the public don’t gather there.
3. Alternative Income Options for Your Home Bakery
As I’ve said earlier, no matter how many extra measures you take to keep your clients safe, some of them just won’t buy from you anymore during this time of pandemic fear.
You’ll need to start getting creative with using your baking skills in DIFFERENT ways to generate an income for yourself.
I don’t have all the answers here, I only have suggestions. You’ll need to take responsibility to tap into your own creativity and brainstorm ideas!
You could consider hosting online baking classes through Zoom or doing a bake-along video like Cupcake Jemma on YouTube. People are confined to their homes so they ARE spending more time on social media and watching videos online.
Be sure to ask your clients if they’d be interested in something like this before you do it. That way you’ll know if it will actually add value to your clients’ lives.
You could also do Instagram lives while you’re decorating your bakes. Your skills might be boring to you, but they’re extraordinary to your followers! This is a great time to show people what goes into baking goods at your home and build relationships with them.
If you keep creating regular opportunities to connect online with your clients during this time, you’ll come out the other end with STRONG client relationships. And when a client has to choose between 2 bakers who bake similar goods they’ll ALWAYS choose the baker they feel they know, like and trust more!
Another idea is to make and sell baking kits for your recipes to your clients!
Package the measured and weighed dry ingredients and extras in baggies, print out instructions and put everything together in a pretty box. Since people are at home it might be a fun activity for them to bake with their kids.
This way they also have the peace of mind that any possible traces of the virus are being killed in their own oven. If they BAKE the goods in their own protected home, the treats will be 100% safe.
Baking from scratch seems too overwhelming for people who don’t bake often, but with a baking kit you’re making it easier for them.
Focus on easier things like brownies, cookies and various muffins. It’s baking fun to keep your clients and their kids busy!
4. USE your extra time WISELY!
In April 2015 I went through the most HORRIBLE & STRESSFUL time in the history of my Home Bakery Business.
First, one of my wholesale clients cancelled because they wanted to cut costs and try to rather bake themselves. I was sad, but this wasn’t a huge setback because this client provided about 15% of my income.
But then, just 2 weeks later, my biggest wholesale client cancelled… I baked everything for their FIVE coffee shops! So in a way I was losing FIVE clients, not just one.
In total I lost over 70% of my income in just 2 weeks.
It was devastating. My husband and I were honestly just getting by, living from month to month in between all the study debt and mortgage breathing down our necks every month.
That worst case scenario we all imagine… That picture we have of FAILING… Here it was! It was happening. It was REAL.
Fortunately this failure wasn’t because my products were bad. It was because my products were GOOD and not cheap.
For the first time in my baking journey I didn’t feel inferior to the coffee shop owners. I always thought that they were better than me in some way because they were more successful.
But in this case I knew that I did nothing wrong as a BAKER. As a business owner I did plenty of things wrong, lol! But as a BAKER I’d done nothing wrong.
And it was the first time I really started EMBRACING my unique baking voice. I’m NOT willing to compromise on quality and flavour just to save or make a buck. I’m NOT going to apologize for having a great product.
The WORST experiences in our lives can transform into DEFINING MOMENTS when we become humble and teachable.
Before this whole incident happened my husband told me for MONTHS to read this book called “The $100 Startup” #ad.
I kept telling him “WHY should I read it? My business is doing great!” That, my dear friend, is what pride sounds like. And nothing destroys a business as quickly as pride does.
When I lost those clients and 70% of my income I unexpectedly had some TIME available!
I started reading this book my husband kept going on about; not because I felt I needed to. I was still too proud to admit that! In my mind it was still the coffee shop owners’ faults. But I started reading this book because I didn’t have much else to do!
Over the next few days of reading I finally realized how little I actually know about building a successful small business! I was humbled. And therefore I finally became teachable.
The information in this book helped my business to go from -70% income to being fully booked for 3 months in advance just a year later.
And it’s all because (by FORCE of circumstances) I had TIME to invest in my knowledge and skills.
So right now you may be facing unfortunate circumstances with COVID-19, you’re also now in the fortunate position to have TIME. Use it wisely!
Don’t spend all this time being sad or frustrated. USE THIS TIME YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN. Use it to educate yourself on business and marketing.
Use this time to GET AHEAD in your skills! This pandemic will end at some point. Won’t it be amazing if you’re way ahead of other Home Bakers simply because you considered your FUTURE instead of present reality?
I know it sucks t have less sales. This is NOT ideal.
But PLEASE do your future self a favour and start using this extra time to grow your marketing knowledge and skills. Read my previous blog post! Here’s the link >> The 5 best (and cheapest) resources to grow your Home Bakery Business!
5. Be HONEST with yourself and be safe
Here’s where I’m going to get a bit fierce. If there’s even a 1% risk that you might have the Coronavirus, please close your Home Bakery for now. You could always get tested to make sure and then re-open your Home Bakery.
Please consider your clients’ safety as if they were your own children. Don’t sell them things if you’re not 100% sure that you’re fine.
BUT please keep baking for as long as you feel it’s safe though, because people really need comforting home baked goods right now!
They need experiences that remind them of the BEAUTY of life.
They need HOPE and perspective.
Home Baked goods provide that for people.
Be the band that plays on the Titanic while it’s sinking. Super sad analogy, but I saw it on Cupcake Jemma’s Instagram Stories and I feel it’s such a noble pursuit to serve people with BEAUTY during panic.
And then as a last encouragement I just want to tell you that 80,9% of COVID-19 cases are mild.
Be careful what you consume in the media. The media knows that people are scared and they’re taking advantage of the situation by creating “click-worthy” articles and titles.
Their goal is to make money from people’s fear. And they do this by getting as many people onto their websites with ads.
Please be careful and only consume information from credible sources.
I struggle a lot with fear and anxiety – I’ve had to use strong medication for it in the past. I’ve resolved to only watch videos from Doctor Mike on YouTube. He’s really on top of things and has an “Alert, but not anxious” policy which I feel is very helpful and sustainable.
Also feel free to tell your friends not to send you panic-inducing content if it triggers you. Protect your body from stress, because stress only weakens your immune system.
Please be safe.
We’re going to get through this. It shall pass 🙂