So You Want To Open A Bakery? (And good advice no matter WHAT you want to do as your business!)


by Darrell Crosgrove

Recently, in a Facebook small business group, someone posted a query asking for advice on what the should do to open their first bakery. Naturally, they received a slew of one-sentence suggestions, and the typical “Hey! Contact me so *I* can make YOU rich!” spam.

I decided to write him a reply that I am presenting below:

  1. Get a good website that allows YOU to modify the offerings and prices on a whim. You do NOT want to have a crappy website that requires you to pay your “designer” $100.00 every time you want something modified.
  2. Get a logo. (Fiverr)
  3. Learn how to photograph your food products. You don’t want to, or need to, pay a professional. (Here is a link to an article I wrote on the subject.)
  4. Business plans are… OK. Some people swear by them, but in today’s digital and Social media age, I think they are secondary to being adaptable. Have an idea of what you want to achieve, and move towards it. As situations and opportunities change–adapt quickly.
  5. YOU decide WHAT your market is. No, it is NOT everyone who eats bread. (Imagine trying to market to parents who want healthy organic wheat products right next to kids who want creamy sugar-laden donuts–If you generalize, and market to everyone, you are more likely to fail.) Figure out WHO who you want for customers, and build everything from your company name to you your logo to your prices to your menu to them.
  6. Copy others who have been successful in your field. For your reference, I refer you to Papa Moose’s Donuts–a local baker. They post lots of pics of their delicious treats in the “Toledo To Go” group, and they have a cult following. I would STRONGLY suggest you study everything they have done, because in my opinion, they are getting it right.
  7. And, don’t spend a lot on a web page. You will get lots of offers of 50% off their usual $5,000 web page package. Those web pages take maybe an hour to build and are little better than you could build yourself on Wix.
  8. Read The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. Too many new entrepreneurs make the mistake of being an employee to their business. YOU. DO. NOT. WANT. TO. DO. THAT! Your goal is to get your company up and running to the point where you can employ other people to do the work, while YOU promote, grow, and manage your business. (Actually, here are 8 books I recommend ALL Entrepreneurs to read, and how to get them all digitally from your local library IF it subscribes to the HOOPLA service .)
  9. Post pictures–good pictures–of EVERYTHING you make. Your entire menu should be online, and you should be posting 1-2 pics of fresh creations all across the social media platforms every day.
  10. Focus into LOCAL groups if possible. You share business questions here, but you MARKET your bakery products in LOCAL groups and pages! Focus on ones that serve YOUR town!

And if you have any more questions, please DM me 🙂

PS. YOUR picture goes on the website too. No, no one cares what you look like, but posting your pic tells everyone that you stand behind your product, and are proud to do so. That is something sorely lacking in most marketing by solopreneurs and small businesses. If you will stand up in the public square and proudly proclaim that you bake the best bread… People are a lot more likely to believe you care about your wares, and are more likely to try them.

While this reply was tailored specifically to a bakery, NONE of what I suggested is exclusive to bakeries. All ten pointers ally equally to almost any business most people are likely to open. Beautician? Tree trimmer? Child care? Today they ALL follow the same rules–get onto social media and build a following by impressing them with steady and RELEVANT posts showing them WHY your service or product is the one they need.

Already, I can hear objections:

“Darrell, what if I am an auto mechanic? My pictures would suck–no one wants to see them.”

I disagree. You should show pictures of the cars your have repaired. The sports cars and the sedans. The mini-vans and the “junkers”. Post pictures of some of the worst case problems brought in by customers, what you did to fix the problem, and how sharp the car looked when it left your shop. Post pics of the time someone brought in the family care with a strange rattle and weird smoking smell, and it turned out to be their daughter’s Barbie melting on the manifold.

Remember Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe? NINE seasons and 173 episodes of him doing dirty and smelly and hard jobs that most people are thankful they NEVER have to do themselves. Mike made us like watching how things get cleaned and repaired. He did it with a smile and made us like and respect the people who had those jobs.

The reason why they are taking your car to you is because they CAN’T, or don’t WANT TO do the work themselves.

Your pics help show them that you are the mechanic to come to.

Whatever your profession is, you need to impress upon people that you are a professional, you take pride in your work, and that whatever they throw your way, you are the person who can fix their problem.

And you do that with pictures and posts in your local groups if your products or services are local in nature, and national groups if they are national in nature.

Yes, it takes some planning–but it is your marketing. Educate your customers. Entertain them. And make them want to come in and purchase goods or services from you.

And if you do it right, it doesn’t cost anything–remember, posting on Facebook is free.

Restaurants, diners, and food trucks–you probably NEED better pictures of your food!

by Darrell Crosgrove

I’ve seen a lot of food merchants with web pages that do NOT show off their food products very well. If your product is food, and you can’t sell a “dining experience atmosphere” (food trucks, diners, hint!) as a major selling point, you need to impress upon your online viewers that your food is the best there is, and you have two, and only two ways of doing that:

  1. Reviews.
  2. Pictures of your food.

Reviews are difficult to generate, because a customer must do them on their own.

But pictures? You can do those all day. Most cell phones now take pictures that are professional enough for high quality food photography. You could post an image of every food item you have and generate a lot of interest. As an example of someone who does it well, I refer you to:

Their menu shows their donuts, including specialty donuts, party tray, donut cakes, and prices for each. As I am dieting right now, that website, and PM’s posts on the groups I am in, are sheer torture. I can look at those fresh cake donuts loaded with flavorful toppings and know, with 100% certainty, the songs of joy my tastebuds would sing upon biting into one of those.

And that is how it should be—those images make me want to go and eat now, so that when I have an open slot for a meal, I will go there and eat.  

Now, make no mistake, I would advise more than just pictures on your site—you also want certain types of videos to bring in customers, but that is another subject for another day. For right now, you need to get good images of your food that look professionally done and make people want to come in and order your “Anti-Hero Hero” or “Blazin’ Hot Steak Fry Nachos”. You want them to look at the picture, see the elements, and imagine how wonderful it would be to sit down and eat those delicious dishes that you serve!

And I’ll let you in on a little secret—if they walk in expecting to eat the very best meal they have ever had—they probably will feel that is the meal they got. People have the quality of thinking something is great just because they thought it would be great. If the experience gets to within… 80% of what they want, they will fill in the remaining 20% themselves.

That means more tips, more good reviews, and more repeat customers.

Again, you do NOT need a professional photographer. Photographing food is easy if you follow a few basic steps. I am including two good articles that will teach you how to easily make professional quality food images that shout out the flavors and textures of your dishes. Once you have made them, you simply post them on your webpage. Then on your social media sites, you link to that item’s menu listing and you have a sales funnel, taking someone from your Facebook post to looking at your menu on your website, thinking how good EVERYTHING looks…

More customers will appear at your restaurant door or food truck!

Here are the articles:

5 Tips to Seriously Improve Your Food Photography Techniques

99 Food Photography Tips To Blow Your Mind

As always, send me a message if you have any questions!