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Top Ten Tips for a Successful Bakery

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An overhead shot of a person shaping dough on a wooden table covered with flour, rolling pins, nuts, spices, and other baking items.

Last Updated: May 13, 2024

From cakes to cookies and bagels to donuts, bakers are in the business of bringing joy to their customers with each delicious batch of goods they pull from the oven. 

While having a passion for crafting carb-filled treats is an important part of running a successful bakery, it’s not the only thing that matters.

Like any business, there are a lot of moving parts to manage, which can sometimes feel too hot to handle. Especially when you’re regularly waking up at the crack of dawn to make and provide freshly baked goodies to your customers.

Whether you’re just getting started or have been running your business for years, we’ve got the recipe for a successful home bakery business!

1. Protect Your Investment With Bakers Insurance

Nothing will cause a bakery business to shut its doors quicker than a lawsuit and its financial fallout. 

Picture this: While moving fast on a busy day, you accidentally use the cookie scoop you were using for peanut butter cookies for your Snickerdoodles. A customer with a nut allergy purchases a batch of snickerdoodles thinking they’re nut-free and then suffers a serious allergic reaction because of the cross-contamination.

That customer ends up suing you for selling them cookies that contain unlabeled allergens. A small mistake suddenly turns into thousands of dollars in legal fees.

The good news is that bakers insurance can provide you with a financial safety net if something like this occurs. A policy from Food Liability Insurance Program (FLIP) can protect you against claims like this and many others, including:

  • Damage to a rented space, like a commissary kitchen 
  • Accidentally injuring a customer
  • Damaged or stolen baking equipment
  • And more

 

Insuring your baking business is the best way to ensure you can keep your ovens hot and your cash register ringing regardless of accidents. 

Your home bakery business is your dream. Don’t let a potential liability risk turn into a nightmare. Learn more about the benefits of bakers insurance and how you can get covered.

2. Build a Social Media Following

Did you know that 32% of people will visit a restaurant after seeing their posts on social media?

There’s a lot of opportunity to grow your business and expand your customer base by having a strong presence on socials. When you connect with your customers on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and/or TikTok, you can build a following by offering enticing deals or build hype for your food by showcasing your special of the day.

Instagram is a particularly good platform for promoting your at-home bakery business. You can set up a business profile that gives you access to a variety of settings that aren’t available on personal profiles, like the ability to turn any post into an ad and insights into how your followers engage with your posts.

You can also connect with other small business owners on sites like LinkedIn to collaborate and look for new business opportunities.

As a bakery, there are many other food service businesses you can network with, like caterers, to create opportunities to grow your business. This could be anything from being featured in important business meetings to participating in upcoming fairs and conferences.

3. Optimize Your Website

Even if you have a stellar social media presence, you need to have a professional website for your bakery as well. Having a website legitimizes your bakery business and serves as a hub for everything customers need to know. 

Ideally, your website should have the following information about your business:

  • Contact info (phone number and email address)
  • Your business address
  • Social media handles
  • “About Us” page
  • Pictures of your baked goods

 

Site builders like Wix and Squarespace make it simple to build a good-looking site even if you don’t have any experience with web design. Choose from a selection of visually appealing templates and customize them to fit your brand. 

Both sites also offer Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools that help your site appear higher in results when people search for bakeries.

By using SEO-friendly keywords on your site, people searching for bakery products in your area will be more likely to find your business. Use a free keyword research tool like Moz Keyword Explorer to find the best keywords to use on your site.

Or, if websites and SEO writing aren’t your forte, consider hiring a professional to help you build and maintain your site. Sites like Upwork and Fiverr are great places to hire freelance web designers and SEO writers.

4. Network With Other Businesses

Not everyone loves networking, but the proof is in the pudding: forming professional relationships with other people in and around the baking industry can help you achieve your long-term goals. 

Networking brings many different benefits to your business, like:

  • Expanding your opportunities: You might meet potential investors, mentors, or business partners.
  • Growing your business: The small food business market isn’t for the faint of heart, but by networking with other small business owners you can support and uplift each other.
  • Getting referrals: The more people in and around the industry who know you, the more likely it is that they’ll refer you to potential customers, clients, event organizers, and partners.

 

These days, a lot of networking is done online. Join local bakery Facebook groups to meet and interact with other bakers in your area. These groups can be great places to exchange advice and keep each other up to date on news that could impact your bakery business or events you might take part in.

In-person networking is still the best way to form meaningful connections in the industry. Attend a baking expo or trade show in your area. If you specialize in baked goods or confections for weddings, attend a local bridal or wedding expo. These are great places to meet other people in your business as well as potential customers. 

5. Collaborate With Your Community

It can be tough out there for a small business, but community support keeps the (oven) lights on. Giving back to your community is a great way to say thanks and show them the support is mutual.

In a survey of small business owners conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,

  • 66% donate to local charities;
  • 64% donate goods or services to local events or sponsor the events; and
  • 56% offer discounts to specific members of their community, like veterans and teachers.

 

The takeaway? Uplifting your community is the name of the game for small businesses. You don’t want to give away your shop for free, of course, but strategically choosing charitable opportunities can bring about huge rewards when it comes to growing your business and being part of your community.

People don’t just think about your products when choosing to buy from you. In one study done by Harvard Business Review, 64% of customers said they have a relationship or connection to a brand because they shared the same core values. 

When you pick charities, organizations, and events to support, you can demonstrate your business’ values to people in more communities. In turn, people will be more likely to support your bakery because they feel a shared sense of purpose with your business.

A home baker puts individually wrapped cookies into a white delivery box while wearing rubber gloves.

6. Standing Out From the Competition

Every business has to find a way to set itself apart from others in that space, and your baking business is no different. If you want to know how to make your bakery stand out, give these strategies a try.

Do What Your Competitors Aren’t Doing

Sometimes it’s tempting to try and keep up with what goods and services the other businesses in your area are offering. But what about what they aren’t doing? 

For example, are the other at-home bakery businesses in your area offering delivery? If that’s something you can afford to do while still maintaining your profit margins, consider working it into your business model.

If you run a dessert food truck, try offering coffee or other beverages in addition to your baked goods if your competitors aren’t doing the same. You don’t need to do something huge to set your business apart—even little changes can make a big difference!

Offer Specialty Menu Items

While people tend to be creatures of habit and like a sense of familiarity when it comes to food, having signature items on your menu grabs people’s attention and can get them interested in everything else you have to offer.

Take VooDoo Doughnut, for example. This iconic Portland, Oregon-based company didn’t rise to fame because of their more conventionally flavored donuts. Instead, they got national attention because of their “weird” options, like Oh Captain, My Captain (a vanilla-frosted donut covered in Captain Crunch cereal).  

Let your creativity flow and dare to be different! Your original menu items just might be the next big thing.

Perfect Your Packaging

In the age of Instagram, having aesthetically pleasing packaging is just about as important as the quality of your baked goods! Sure, looks aren’t everything, but your customers are far more likely to post a picture of something they bought from you if it comes in a cute or clever package

Pinterest is a great site to go to for packaging inspo. Once you’ve got some ideas, try Stomp or PakFactory to create custom packaging with your logo.

7. Get Feedback

Many business owners feel anxious about getting feedback because they’re worried about getting bad reviews. However, feedback helps you keep your finger on the pulse of what customers like or don’t like about your business, which allows you to make adjustments in a timely manner.

Your customers are your best source for feedback. If you don’t already have one, create a Google Business Profile where people can leave reviews and star ratings for your business

Carefully monitor any complaints and be responsive. It’s far easier to retain a customer than it is to attract a new one. Responding and offering to make things right with a disgruntled customer shows them and anyone reading their review that you care.

Other great ways to get feedback from customers include:

  • Posting polls on your Instagram Story
  • Offering incentives for customers who leave you a review
  • Ask customers to fill out a short survey after purchasing something from you

8. Hire Help When You Need It and Take Time Off

Burnout is a serious problem for bakers. The early morning hours, the long hard days, the hot ovens, and the everyday demands of running a small business in a competitive market can drive even the most dedicated baker out of the business.

To be successful and stay successful, you can’t do everything for everyone at all times. Hire help by posting jobs on sites like Indeed and ZipRecruiter. Even if you only have the budget for one employee, having another set of hands around can make a huge difference for both your productivity and mindset at work.

Beyond expanding your team, you need to take time off every once in a while to rest and recharge. It can be hard to step away from your business—it’s your passion and your livelihood, after all! But running yourself into the ground won’t do you any good.

Two bakers kneading dough on a a wooden countertop in a commercial kitchen surrounded by racks of freshly baked bread.

9. Pay Yourself First

It’s tempting to throw all your earned money back into your business, but there are a few things you should do to secure your future. 

All bakers should invest a portion of their income into retirement savings. Aim for 10–15% of your earnings, or use a retirement calculator to determine how much you need to or are able to comfortably save.

In addition to saving for retirement, planning for emergencies is critical. Purchase health, life, and disability insurance in case something goes wrong and aim to put away 5% of your income for short-term savings

Nobody likes thinking about these worst case scenarios, but having a financial safety net in place could be the difference between needing to close your business because of the unexpected and being able to keep it going without too much disruption.

10. Diversify Your Income

Having multiple income streams is a surefire way to ensure success and it’s a great way to start growing your business. Even if one income stream dries up or is seasonal, having diverse income sources can mitigate the losses. The good news is that you have a ton of options when it comes to growing your small bakery business

Consider ways to expand your business, like:

  • Starting a food truck (Just make sure you have all the licenses you need to legally operate one!)
  • Catering
  • Wholesale distributing
  • Starting a subscription service

 

When diversifying, make sure to assess your capabilities, workflow management, and the costs associated with expanding. Steady expansion is more sustainable than a rapid rise. You don’t want to create an unsustainable surge in business and deflate like a bad soufflé.

Learn more about food business trends and how other businesses are diversifying their income by watching our webinar hosted by Clint Bishop, Vice President of Marketing at Veracity Insurance Solutions, and JoAnne Hammer, Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) and FLIP Program Manager. 

Your Recipe for Success

There are many factors that determine what makes a bakery successful. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, following these tips can help you grow and maintain your bakery in a way that stays true to your brand.

Ready for more helpful tips? Discover kitchen requirements for home bakery businesses you need to know before selling your home-baked goods. 

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