Handling the Holidays 2020

The holidays this year will look different from the year’s past, but that doesn’t mean that people won’t be craving warm cookies, fresh-baked bread, and all the other seasonal goods your bakery offers.

November to the end of the year brings a massive uptick in bakery business—but this isn’t news you. You’re busy thinking about how you’re going to manage the high production demands and deluge of orders on the horizon. 

Our mission is to help bakers like you streamline your business, so we’ve compiled these tips to help you handle the holidays!

The Power of Prepackaging

This year, prepackaged goods will be especially helpful for customers who are limiting the time they spend around other people. By offering products that are boxed up and ready to go, customers have the option of a quick pick. Sell them in your bakery or in your online store. 

With prepackaged baked goods and gift baskets, you can increase your sales by simplifying your customers’ choices and getting them back to their holiday shopping quickly. Match various items to create spreads ready for a holiday party or sell personal gift baskets. Get creative and use prepackaging to make your busy season a little easier. 

Prepackaged products are also great as corporate gifts. Many companies send winter holiday gifts to their clients, partners, and employees. These gifts not only spread holiday cheer and appreciation, they may be tax-deductible as well. You should know that organizations can deduct gifts up to $25 for each individual. That might help you as you choose goods to prepackage and how to price them. 

Baking Kits

Similar to prepackaged finished baked goods, baking kits can also offer your customers a way to bring a bit of your bakery home with them when they can’t make it out or don’t want to spend a lot of time around other people. The basic construction of a baking kit includes all the premeasured dry ingredients and instructions people need to make baked goods at home. For the holidays, you can even include fun seasonal decorations. 

Baking kits are a great revenue boost for your bakery because you’re really only supplying two things: dry goods and the time it takes to put them together (which you could do while you watch your favorite show). There are no equipment or staff labor costs. You can sell them on your e-commerce page or directly in your bakery.

If you’re worried about others replicating your recipe, you can package multiple ingredients together, such as spices. Everyone knows you’ll most likely use flour or sugar for your baked goods; the exact blend of spices you use is what can set you apart. You can even get cutesy with the packaging of the spice blend and call it “secret spices” or “mystery blend.”

You should also consider kits that appeal to those with food allergies or sensitivities, such as gluten-free, nut-free, or vegan options.

Keep Your Helpers Happy

Even with the potential for fewer in-person holiday gatherings of friends and family, that doesn’t mean that won’t still appreciate time off. Your team will be working hard during the next few months, so you’ll need to make sure they’re given time to recharge and enjoy the holidays. Holiday staffing can become more daunting this time of year, but with proper planning and open communication, everything will work out.

First of all, be transparent from the start: depending on how schedules play out, it may not be possible for employees to get the day off for every date they’ve requested. Cushion the blow by asking for vacation requests early on and doing your best to fairly honor everyone’s schedules. It’s very possible there will be no hiccups thanks to employees taking part in diverse holidays or celebrating on off-days. Either way, giving your team a balanced and thoughtful schedule in advance will do wonders for morale as the busy season approaches.

Socially Distanced Holiday Rush

With a generous amount of people still social distancing, bakeries can take advantage of delivery and curbside pick-up to encourage customers to buy your goods. 

If you have the ability to do curbside pick-up, it’s a good idea to designate a pick-up area with as little contact as possible. If your bakery has dedicated parking spots, think about labeling the spots and adding signage with the phone number they are supposed to call. Numbering the spaces makes it easier to identify which orders go to which cars. You wouldn’t want someone to spout off their make and model only to realize you have no penchant for identifying cars.

Your business phone line may have the option to hold multiple phone numbers on one phone. You can use this feature to attach a different phone number to each of your numbered parking spaces so you can make it even clearer where an order needs to go. Label the extra outgoing numbers with their coordinating parking spaces for simple identification. If your business line doesn’t have that option, an alternative could be as simple as displaying different staff members’ phone numbers (if they’re comfortable).

To avoid confusion, let your customers know the process for picking up their baked goods before they get there. Add it to your website as a pop-up or send it out on social media. Do what you can to make the curbside pick-up process as smooth as possible.

Delivery

Delivery is another great contactless, socially distanced option. Customers can place their orders without leaving their homes and without clogging up your phone lines. During these times, online ordering can make all the difference in a customer’s buying decisions. With e-commerce sales skyrocketing, your bakery stands to benefit. 

  • If you don’t have a parking lot that your customers can use for curbside pick-up, see if you can work with businesses close to you to designate temporary curbside pick-up locations.
  • Double-check your limit settings to make sure that you can feasibly fulfill the number of orders that come in, especially if you’re operating with less staff than normal. 
  • If you can deliver right from your online store, that’s even better.

If you don’t already have an online store, check out how BakeSmart Online can build one in minutes and offer your online customers same-day pick-up. Check out our live example site or schedule a BakeSmart demo today.

If you’re using an outside delivery service, then you’ll want to cut down on the opportunity for miscommunication. Give your customers all the options ahead of time so that there is very little need for special instructions calls with questions. Similarly, you can restrict your menu to only your most popular items so that you can ensure that you will have them in stock instead of needing to make a new batch to fulfill an order quickly. For example, if you offer 12 different flavors of cupcakes, maybe only offer four or five on your delivery menu.

Generally, Know Your Limits

Managing orders on this scale requires a detailed plan and an organized system. Set deadlines and realistic timelines, so you and your customers are on the same page about your capacity, especially for custom orders. BakeSmart’s Production features can help you keep track of exactly what to make and when to make it. You’ll be able to stay on top of every order and also know when you’ve reached capacity for production. Say goodbye to messy paper trails and unwelcome surprises.

The holiday season can be crazy or profitable (and likely both). Throughout it, you’ll need to keep your eye on payroll, overtime, production time, ingredients, and all the other tips we’ve shared in this list—but don’t worry! Planning ahead for all of these business elements will help your bakery run more smoothly.  It doesn’t do any good to take a large number of orders only to find that you can’t fulfill them in a timely manner or without overworking yourself and your staff. 

Most of the year, you probably have a good idea of when the daily rushes and lulls occur for your bakery. However, things get much more tricky around the holidays since people are on vacation from their typical routines. Regulars come in at unusual hours, and new customers randomly appear. You’ll need to keep a finger on the pulse of your bakery in real-time.  Use any historical data you have to give you a leg up on planning for holiday rush times. This will help you understand if and when it makes sense to expand or reduce hours for the most value.

BakeSmart can pull historical data that analyzes operating hours and orders to give you optimized schedules. This is how bakers can work smarter, not harder.

If you need help, BakeSmart keeps track of your product and ingredient inventories, so you know what to make and what to buy more of. It also assists with time card tracking and integrates with QuickBooks to simplify payroll. Your bakery will be streamlined and optimized with BakeSmart’s library of features, and you’ll have no trouble handling the holidays.

Even for bakers, the season should be about friends, family, and fun. Schedule a free demo of BakeSmart today to see how it can help run your business so you can focus on what really matters: spreading fresh-baked holiday cheer. 

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