Do You Have What it Takes to Open a Retail Bakery?

Do You Have What it Takes to Open a Retail Bakery?

Do You Have What it Takes to Open a Retail Bakery?


**Guest content further down by Tina McJunkin from The Cautiously Optimistic Kitchen**

Welcome back to PART 2 of my Retail Bakery Series! If you missed my last post, I strongly encourage you to read it. I had the privilege of chatting with Tina McJunkin from the cautiously optimistic kitchen about the 4 LIES Home Bakers Believe about Owning a Storefront Bakery.

She shared her TRUE story of what it was like to run her own Retail Bakery for 2 years. Her story is absolutely incredible! It has really brought a HEAP of perspective and truth about the realities of owning your own bakery.

If you’ve read last week’s post and you STILL feel that opening your own Retail Bakery is a dream you want to pursue, today’s post is for you!

Tina has put together some questions for you to figure out if you have what it takes to open your own Retail Bakery.

 

Please note that Tina & I are NOT doing this Retail Bakery series to trample on your dreams, but rather because we want you to make INFORMED decisions and be successful!

Over to Tina 🙂

 

Dearest Home Baker,
I have been right where you are now.

 

Dreaming and obsessing over all the things I would do if I had my own cute little cake shop. How I would decorate the front of house and how I would charm every customer with a free sample as they strolled in the door. How people would FINALLY take me seriously as a baker!

Oh yes, I’ve been there.

I’ve also been on the other side of there.

I’ve actually owned and operated a real life Retail Bakery. And that, my friends, is why I’m here today. You really NEED to think about these things before you take the leap and dive in!

So… do you have what it takes to open a retail bakery? Let’s find out!

1. Do You Know WHY You Want a Retail Bakery?

I know you dream of doing this, but why are you REALLY doing this?

Do you want to make more money than you are now? Or maybe you want the fame of having a wildly successful bakery?

Is it because you want to be busier with more customers? Do you just want all that cake stuff out of your house and to stop taking over every spare inch you can find to shove more supplies?

Could it be because you want the opportunity to hire employees and delegate some of the work so that you have more time for your own family?

Do you have what it takes to open your own retail bakery? Here are 6 questions for you to answer so you can know for sure!

If you are only opening a bakery to satisfy your daydreams, you may need to think about the next few things first.


2. How Much Time are You Willing to Sacrifice?

Operating a retail bakery will take ALL of your time. I truly mean that.

As the owner, you will work 24/7/365.

Not. Even. Kidding.

If you have a storefront you will absolutely be busier than in your home bakery. Not only will you need to spend time on actually making cakes, you will spend time on so many more admin & logistical issues like:

The book work, paying bills, ordering supplies, taking inventory, hiring/firing/managing employees, handling advertising, answering calls/emails only you as the owner can respond to, creating recipes/menus, shopping, etc., etc.

It’s everything you are already doing in your home bakery, but 100 fold. So take the amount of time you spend working on your cakes now and multiply that by 100. Now you have how many hours you will work in a week.

You might think it’s impossible to work a 130 hour work week, but I’m telling you now that it’s very real and imminent when you own a Retail Bakery.


3. Do You Have a Plan?

I don’t just mean a plan of how things are going to look and how everyone is going to think your yummies are the best in town. I mean a real deal business plan.

If you are going to finance this venture, you will be required to have a plan anyway. But even if you aren’t financing you MUST have a plan!!

You Need a Plan for ALL the following things:

  • Know what your operating hours will be.
  • How many employees you will need and what schedule they will work.
  • If you will purchase ingredients locally or if you will use a food service.
  • Have your menu and recipes ready and flawless.
  • Have business cards and brochures printed before you ever open your doors.
  • Know exactly how much your items, supplies, packaging and ingredients cost per unit.
  • Know exactly how much your overhead will cost you.
  • How much will your workers comp insurance, unemployment insurance and liability insurance cost?
  • Will you pay sick days or maternity leave?
  • How much will you pay out in salaries, sales taxes, business licenses, and deposits?
  • Call the utility office and ask what an average bill costs for the unit you are going to operate in.
  • Is your building already set up for a food service business?
  • Will you need to get permits or build out your building?
  • What is the cost of your equipment?
  • How long will it take the Health Department to allow you to open once you’re ready?
  • Shop around for internet, phone, advertising, insurance, etc.
  • KNOW HOW MUCH THINGS ARE GOING TO COST.

There will be even more things added to this list as you get deeper into it and it is absolutely essential that you have a SOLID plan.

 

All Home Bakers DREAM of having their own Storefront Bakery with a line of eager customers wrapping around the block! But it's not the party we imagine it to be. Here are 6 questions for you to answer and figure out if YOU have what it takes to open your own retail/storefront bakery. #homebakery #bakingbusiness #cakebusiness #retailbakery


4. To Finance or Not to Finance?

How are you going to fund this venture?

If you are going to finance your bakery yourself you will need to have that business plan ready. There are different types of loans you can get, so be sure you research them all. You can find tons of free information on small business loans and other funding options on bank websites.

Decide if you need a down payment, collateral, or if you will be using credit cards. Also, be sure to think about how you will handle the financial situation if you are not able to make those payments.

 

How is that going to affect other aspects of your life? Are you using your home or vehicle as collateral and will you lose those items? Are you about to sink your entire life savings into this? Will you be maxing out those credit cards?

Once you decide on how you will finance your Retail Bakery’s start up don’t forget about those operating costs.

Be sure you have some kind of financial cushion for slow times!

Whether that is a personal stockpile of cash you have set aside, a line of credit, or one credit card you held back from maxing. Whatever it may be, just be sure you have it at the ready. You will need it – even if you’re 100% sure you won’t.

 

 

5. Are You Ready to Be a Boss?

Are you really prepared to be a boss?

Now look, I’m the first to admit I can be considered to be a bit bossy (Or so I’m told by my younger sisters, my kids, my husband) I’m the eldest child in my family, what can I say, I come by it honestly, right?

But here’s the kicker. I may be great at being bossy, but I’m a terrible boss!!!

There’s more to being a boss than bossing. You’ve got to be able to manage people. You need to be prepared to interview, hire, delegate, and even fire people.

 

Trust me it’s much harder than it sounds. You also need to be able to be respected (and be respectful). You need to be taken seriously, you need to be fair, and you need to be able to set standards that you expect to be met by all your employees.

Also remember that you are their employer, not their friend. You must keep those two relationships separate, even if you’re friendly with your employees (and you definitely should be!). If you don’t you separate the two you will never be able to manage employees to the best of your ability.

One other thing you will realize pretty fast is that YOU are the employee of the month – actually of the year!

You will need to know how to perform EVERY job and be willing and able to do them. If you have an employee call in sick, be prepared to jump into that position.

Be prepared to work every position at once because sometimes you just might have to!

 

There may be times when it’s slow enough that you need to decide if it’s worth it to pay another person to do a job you can actually do yourself.

Holidays and weekends are another time when you get to work but may decide to let your employees enjoy the time off. You will need to consider these things when you are deciding on how much time you’re willing to put in as well when you are creating your business plan costs.


6. Are You Ready to Develop a THICK Skin?

Once those doors open, you are now considered a professional. If you are still working on those decorating skills and you’ve only been doing this just a little while, no one will be considerate of that. As soon as you establish yourself in a brick and mortar store, the customers will expect you to be an absolute expert.

There won’t be much room for error.

  • Everything you do will be under scrutiny.
  • Everything your employees say and do will be under scrutiny.
  • Anything and everything that goes out your door will be criticized and picked apart.

The fact is when you grow your audience you open yourself up to more opportunities to be placed under the microscope. Not everyone will like your work. Heck, not everyone likes your work now. But when you open a retail bakery, you lose that personal touch.

People aren’t afraid of hurting your feelings anymore if they aren’t completely pleased. Now they’re racing to social media to let the entire world know how awful you are, all without ever letting you know they were unhappy. It’s just reality.

The thing is that it will bother you. It will ruin your weekend when you get that first call complaining about your work.

The first time, the next time, and the last time will all hurt the same. Just be prepared and know that unfortunately not all people have the decency to treat others as they would like to be treated.

There are plenty of people who are ready to spew whatever junk comes to their minds. So you have to decide how you will handle the situation when it comes – because unfortunately, it WILL come.

Do you have what it takes to open a retail bakery? Every Home Baker carries this dream in their pocket at some point! Here are 6 questions for you to answer so you can know for sure if opening a storefront bakery is the right step for YOU! #cakebusiness #bakingbusiness #homebakery #retailbakery

 

So there you have my six things you definitely need to think about before opening a retail bakery.

Now that you’ve thought about these 6 questions, have you considered baking from home may be just where you need to be?

Tina

 

Thank you so much for sharing these questions with us Tina! If you haven’t read Tina’s full story on the Reality of Owning a Retail Bakery, you can read it here.

I hope Tina’s questions have brought some clarity, perspective and shed a lot of light on your baking journey – as it has done for me!

If you have any questions, please comment below and either Tina or I will respond.

Chat soon

Aurelia 🙂

Got a question? Something to add? Let’s chat in the comments section down below! (I respond to every single comment)

4 Lies Home Bakers Believe about Opening a Storefront Bakery

4 Lies Home Bakers Believe about Opening a Storefront Bakery

4 LIES Home Bakers Believe about Opening a Storefront Bakery

**Guest content further down by Tina McJunkin from Cautiously Optimistic Kitchen**

 

This 2 PART SERIES I’m starting today is probably the most important one I have shared with you to date. It’s not a fun one, but it is ABSOLUTELY necessary.

The reason why it isn’t going to be fun for you to read is because it will address a BIG and sacred dream you probably have. I know you have this dream because I had this dream too for 5 long years.

For 5 years I used to pin beautiful images to a Pinterest board I named “If I had my own little bakery“.

MANY (in fact MOST) of my readers confirm for me every week that this is a home baker’s ultimate dream…

To own your very own storefront bakery.

 

This dream in itself CAN BE a good dream to work towards, but honestly we all have unrealistic pictures and expectations in our minds about what this kind of life looks like on a day to day basis.

Over my years as a full time home baker, I’ve been through a lot and the ideal of my own retail bakery started to lose its glossy veneer. I can honestly say that I absolutely LOVE being a full time HOME BAKER.

It feels like having your own retail bakery is the ultimate GOAL in baking. A heap of my clients, friends and family still ask me: “WHEN are you going to open your own Retail Bakery??”

My immediate, content answer is “No, thanks” 🙂

Because I am truly happy where I am as a full time HOME Baker.

And a lot of this perspective came from reading a post by Tina McJunkin from The Cautiously Optimistic Kitchen.

SO I ASK OF YOU TODAY TO BE OPEN AND LISTEN TO TINA’S STORY BECAUSE SHE HAS BEEN THERE AND DONE THAT! 

Here’s what Tina has to say about her baking journey. She was a Home Baker, just like you and me, but for the whole 2 years she baked from home, she always dreamed of owning her very own retail bakery.

 

Here is Tina’s TRUE Story

Most every home baker dreams of having their own retail bakery. It’s something you start thinking about the very moment someone loves a cake you baked for them!

On television and online you see the financial industry, business card, credit card, and website designer commercials showing all of the smiling business owners talking about how great it is to have their own store.

You see the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube pages, videos and posts all touting how it’s the way to go and you won’t regret your decision if you go for it!

Want to have your own Retail Bakery? This is the side of the story that no one else is talking about. Most every home baker dreams of having their own retail bakery. Here is the TRUE story and the realities of owning your own retail bakery - because I want you to make INFORMED DECISIONS.

But is it really all it’s cracked up to be?

Well… that’s going to be for you to decide. But for me, the short answer was NO.

Today I’m going to share my experience with you. This is the side of the story that no one else is talking about.

 

I Decided I was Ready for My Own Retail Bakery.

After nearly two years of baking from home I was ready to open my very own retail bakery. I had built a pretty good clientele of loyal customers and felt my skill level was up to par (haha!).

All my days and nights I spent dreaming – obsessing about what I would name my shop, how I would decorate the front of house, what my logo would look like, and how customers would come strolling in one after the other from opening time until closing time.

Although, the biggest dreams I had were how much money I would make, how much room I would free up in my home, and all the extra time I would have to spend with my family! <sigh>

Boy was I wrong! About most of it anyway. There is so much more to having your own retail bakery than you realize.

 

**I want to say right now, this is the story of MY experience. So many others have opened their own retail bakery and loved it. In such cases it was the absolute right decision for them. My goal is NOT to bring you down and stomp on your dreams.**

I am only here to share the realities of owning your own retail bakery with you because I want you to make INFORMED DECISIONS.

It can be the greatest experience you’ve ever had, but it can also be heart-breaking. A Retail Bakery can be exhausting and it is absolutely challenging.

 

There are many people with a mind and spirit made for business. I unfortunately realized I was not cut out for this type of thing. I made a lot of mistakes and my biggest mistake was my IGNORANCE about HOW to actually operate a retail business.

So here’s my story. Please read it with an open mind.

I will share my story in light of 4 Misconceptions I had about owning my own retail Bakery.

 

1. I Believed a Retail Bakery Would Make More Money

The truth is I paid every penny out to others.

I did not profit a single cent even though we “made” six figures the first 9 months we were open. Yes, 6 figures. But NONE of it was in my pocket. It cost us several thousands to open the bakery plus the huge burden of overheard.

The electric bills alone were $500-800/month in the moderate size unit we were in. I also had to hire employees (please don’t think you can do this alone!). Paying sales taxes, unemployment taxes and insurance, and salaries (now the employment laws are getting even crazier), advertising, liability insurance, and credit card processing fees took huge chunks of money every month.

I needed to constantly add new items and run promotions to keep walk in business, as people are bored very easily, and it’s exhausting!  ALL food businesses do it so don’t expect to be the exception.

Even if you opened a CAKE shop like I did, people will expect you to be a full service bakery.

It was the right thing for me to open my own retail bakery because I was obsessed with the thought. OBSESSED I tell you. I couldn’t think of anything else. I thought this was what I was meant to do and had total misconceptions of the "storefront bakery dream"... #homebakery #bakingbusiness #retailbakery #cakebusiness

 

With all the new orders I had to buy more ingredients/packaging to keep up which was more money out the door. You will probably need to add something to bring customers in if you aren’t a full service bakery, like an ice cream parlour, lunches, or even sell merchandise in your store.

 

There are busy seasons and slow seasons in the cake world.

I didn’t take into account that the summer and winter would be so slow!

I never had any issues before booking up in my home bakery during these times of year. But I also only needed a fraction of the business to operate.

When you have employees and overheard you need steady orders and walk in traffic ALL year long! Take advantage of busy times (Valentine’s Day, Graduation and Wedding seasons) and promote lots of specials.

It is an absolute MUST that you raise your prices drastically from what you are charging at home. Don’t be surprised when your loyal customers aren’t happy about that.

Not everyone realizes how much money it takes just to keep the lights on and they will not understand why you raised your “great” prices from back when you were the “cheap” cake lady!

 

2. I Thought Customers Would Be Kind

I have to be completely honest with you.

I didn’t want to deal with people EVER again after I closed my shop.

Even though there were many, many, many more satisfied customers I dealt with than unhappy customers, those very few unhappy ones made a huge impact on my view of the world. People change as soon as you have a store front.

People expect WAY more from you and are not afraid to tell all of social media about when they are not happy about anything.

Want to have your own Retail Bakery? This is the side of the story that no one else is talking about. Most every home baker dreams of having their own retail bakery. Here is the TRUE story and the realities of owning your own retail bakery - because I want you to make INFORMED DECISIONS.

They will even expect refunds for their own mistakes that they made while ordering. They become much pickier.

They become hateful and quick to judge without giving any thought to the fact that this is how you feed your family. It is just fact that not every single customer will be happy and love your work. I completely understand that. I am a consumer too!

But so many people forget that you are just a woman chasing her dreams and rather than speaking with you about any issues they will just run your name through the mud instead. That’s the reality of this digital world we live in today.

When I did have a customer approach me with an issue it was ALWAYS dealt with. You cannot ignore unsatisfied customers. You MUST take every measure you possibly can to turn the situation around. People remember the single negative review and will scroll right past the 1000 positive reviews you may have.

I was sure to be quick with a sincere apology (even if it wasn’t our fault) and I offered a refund as well as a replacement for the product. When customers came to me unhappy I can gladly say they left with a changed attitude and I nearly always saw them back in my shop as a repeat customer!

I unfortunately wasn’t always given the opportunity to make things right and that really got to me. It really hurt when people chose to be negative and stir up conflict without ever addressing the issue with me.

Not only was this difficult to deal with, but I lost the personal encounters with my customers.

They just became an order form that my employee filled out. And I had to hope they got all the info and wrote everything down correctly. I also had customers that refused to deal with any of my employees and only speak with me because they were long time clients.

The thing is, I didn’t have time to deal with customers personally because I was busy running the business end of things.

 

3. I Thought I Would Have Much More Free Time!

Except in my own retail bakery, I was now the boss. I was not only responsible for my own quality of work but I was also responsible for my employees quality of work and customer service.

Finding good, reliable employees can be extremely challenging! No one cares about your business like you do.

 

Even when you have a good staff you will still work

EVERY.

SINGLE.

DAY.

I worked 80+ hours a week and had no time for my children.

Want to have your own Retail Bakery? This is the side of the story that no one else is talking about. Most every home baker dreams of having their own retail bakery. Here is the TRUE story and the realities of owning your own retail bakery - because I want you to make INFORMED DECISIONS.

I kid you not, I missed an entire year of my children’s lives. I cleaned out some boxes awhile after we closed our shop and found so many school papers and order forms for school pictures I had never seen before!

I wasn’t able to take time off or go on vacation. I had to worry about bad weather and not being able to be open during winter. Winter and Summer are extremely slow times of the year for bakeries.

You also can’t just not take orders or not go to work because you are tired or don’t feel up to making cake that day – which is something you can always do in a home bakery setup!

 

4. I Thought I Had the Right Mind & SPIRIT for Business

Owning a business is so, SUPER stressful – especially a busy and successful business.

I was STRESSED OUT WHEN…

  • We were so busy that I didn’t go home on Friday nights because we had to get orders finished for Saturday morning.
  • We sold out of cupcakes in our case every day the first week we were open and had to disappoint customers.
  • Every time a customer picked up a cake because I was terrified their order may not be right or they may not like it. If they didn’t like it I was stressed that they would run straight to Facebook and let the masses know without ever telling me.
  • My other decorator needed to take off work frequently.
  • I couldn’t take even a Sunday off because I had to buy supplies for the following week from a local store.

I WAS STRESSED.

ALWAYS.

The bucket loads of STRESS eventually took a toll on not only my relationships but also my health.

Thank the great Lord above for giving me a truly amazing husband. Most relationships probably wouldn’t have made it through the effects of the stress we endured, but my husband not only hung in there, he carried me through. He is my rock and I learned to love him in a completely new and deeper way.

 

It took another year and a half after we closed up shop for my mind to begin to heal. My body on the other hand decided to blow its adrenals and damage not only my thyroid but it’s entire endocrine system. That is a battle I’m still fighting.

I clung to God like I had never done before.

My spirit was broken and I prayed NON STOP.

That’s not an exaggeration. If I was awake I was talking to Him. He pulled me out of the lowest place I had ever been and He brought me back to life. I got to know Him like I had never dreamed possible. I promise you, He is there for you. Don’t blame Him when you are in a bad place, turn and RUN to Him!

Realizing my mind, body and spirit couldn’t handle the stress any longer (I was truly on the verge of a nervous breakdown) and after operating a storefront for nearly 2 years, we closed up shop.

I wasn’t sure when we closed our doors if I ever wanted to bake another cake. The plan was for me to completely quit and I was going to return to the work force.

I was actually called and offered a job I hadn’t even known existed. After much prayer and lots of discussion we decided that I would decline the position and stay home. But that meant continuing my cake business. I realized in that moment I wasn’t finished.

With God’s help, I knew my mind would heal and I would be able to love my work again.

And I do.

 

There Was a Silver Lining Though

I can’t say that it was all bad.

I learned how to bake/ice/decorate a cake in less than a few hours as opposed to an entire day! I tweaked my recipes until they were just right. I learned how to bake a dozen cakes and only dirty a few dishes in my kitchen instead of messing my entire house!

Want to have your own Retail Bakery? This is the side of the story that no one else is talking about. Most every home baker dreams of having their own retail bakery. Here is the TRUE story and the realities of owning your own retail bakery - because I want you to make INFORMED DECISIONS. #homebakery #retailbakery #storefrontbakery #bakingbusiness

 

I did gain new loyal customers.

Most importantly I learned that I would much rather work from home and pick and choose my customers.

I would much rather be home working all night instead of across town until 3:00am to only be back at 7:00am.

I learned that sometimes you already have all you need right where you’re at doing exactly what you’re doing.

So that was my experience.

 

Here’s My Advice

Do what God is leading you to do.

I know that it was the right thing for me to open my own retail bakery because I was obsessed with the thoughtOBSESSED I tell you. I couldn’t think of anything else.

And the Lord knew that if I didn’t see all of these things on my own I would never stop thinking about it. That I would never learn the valuable lessons I learned and I’d always wonder if I could have or should have done it.

So He let me do what I thought I wanted and find out that I already had what I wanted. Let’s say, I had to learn things the hard way…

I hope that my story has helped you take a closer look at what it means to have your own retail bakery.

Tina

 

Thank you so much Tina for sharing your priceless story on Philosophy of Yum!

DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO OPEN YOUR OWN RETAIL BAKERY?? In my next post you can discover the truth for yourself 😉

RELATED: Do You Have What it Takes to Open a Storefront Bakery?

I hope Tina’s story has brought some clarity, perspective and shed a lot of light on your baking journey – as it has done for me!

If you have any questions, please comment below and either Tina or I will respond.

Chat soon

Aurelia 🙂

Got a question? Something to add? Let’s chat in the comments section down below! (I respond to every single comment)