Taking Customers to School

Bakeries like DŌ, Cookie Dough Confections are teaching customers how to make their treats.
 
It’s early January, and students of all levels are heading back to class to begin a new semester. Their heads will soon be filled with facts and statistics, but they certainly aren’t the only ones who will be learning some new tricks.

Bakeries across the country are finding a new way to reach their customers and build relationships with their communities by offering hands-on classes that teach participants how to bake their signature treats. Consumers value transparency, and there a few business tactics more transparent than bringing them into the shop and sharing your baking tips.

One bakery that has mastered this strategy is Zingerman’s Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Recently celebrating its silver anniversary, the Bakehouse knows what it takes to build a successful and enduring business. Zingerman’s wants to share its knowledge with its customers because it knows that that will help to generate even more interest in what it is doing in its kitchen.

Through its ‘BAKE!’ hands-on teaching classes, Zingerman’s seeks to preserve baking traditions and inspire new ones. Dozens of classes are offered, giving students the opportunity to thrive in areas such as fondant, cakes, cookies, breads, pastries, pies, and even traditional Hungarian foods that Zingerman’s specializes in providing to the Ann Arbor community.

Zingerman's Bakehouse looks to pass on its baking knowledge to students.

Some of the classes that Zingerman’s is offering in January of 2018 include dynamite donut recipes, pot pies, coffee cakes, and classic Detroit cuisine. Each class that it offers can range in price from $100 to $125.

“I guess we believed from the start that it is hard work, so some of the people who took the classes would realize that it was difficult to do, which in turn makes them happy to pay for that loaf of bread instead of baking that themselves. We also believed that it would appeal to people who wouldn’t want to buy our products, but who would want to learn that craft and be able to do it in their homes. It would increase our exposure and not jeopardize our business,” says Zingerman’s managing partner Frank Carollo.

True innovators in the baking world are looking to pass along that creativity to others. That’s the case with DŌ, Cookie Dough Confections’ new program. The Cookie AcaDŌmy features a series of courses aimed at baking and cookie dough-making enthusiasts.

Customers will learn how to bake DŌ’s signature cookies and make safe-to-eat cookie dough. They also receive a souvenir spatula, recipe packet, box of cookies, and two 8-ounce customized containers of cookie dough. The classes are offered in three categories: Cookie Dough 101, Kids Class, and Couples Class.