The coronavirus (COVID-19) is having a massive economic impact on everyone, including businesses often at the center of local communities: bakeries. To ensure bakeries across the country have the information needed to continue delivering baked goods to its customers, Dawn Foods has created a list of resources for bakers, including using technology to reach customers during social distancing, creating at-home bake kits and ways to give back to the local community.
A low-cost, high-impact plan for your business is to aggressively leverage social media. Now is not the time to retreat. Use your platforms for more than updating customers on changed hours or business plans. You can inspire, engage and give people a much-needed break from the steady stream of serious news. Post product pics, ideas for baking at home or how your business is supporting local efforts such as donating to food banks or shelters.
If feasible, consider offering delivery service within a certain radius of your business. By bringing baked goods to your customers (and leaving them at the door), you can help drive more sales. People now have to stay home – help them support their local bakery at the same time. There are still people who work outside of the home in essential industries. Offering a drive-thru or ‘curb-side’ delivery option helps limit your exposure as well as the consumer's while still meeting their needs.
Many local communities are doing their work to support each other. Check with your local chamber of commerce to find out how they are investing in local businesses by promoting them, sharing information, or offering financial services and advice. Community newspapers, radio stations and other outlets for promotion are offering greatly reduced pricing. Consider investing in advertising to help drive business for your takeout and online business.
Think beyond how you typically sell – a customer coming in and buying one item or a box of baked goods. Consider things like ‘Bake at Home’ kits where customers can buy donuts, cinnamon rolls or muffins by the dozen that they can take home and bake themselves. Or sell ‘Decorating in a Box’ kits where families can buy a dozen cookies complete with icings and sprinkles for home. These are fun ideas for homebound families looking for something to do. And, it keeps revenue coming in.
Now is the time to focus on what you can make well, at a low cost, and with minimal waste and errors. Put a pause on more complex recipes and decorating to stick with the staples that sell well and remind customers of the traditional comfort they’re looking for in trying times. You will keep your costs lower and appeal to a broader audience. You might also be able to partner with other local businesses such as farms/farm shops to offer a wider range of necessities to your customers including eggs and milk.
Most importantly, communities are suffering and everyone should do their part to help. As much as you can, support local first responders and healthcare workers. We are all in this together. It can be hard to give when businesses are stretched but taking care of others is something bakeries do every day when we mark the important moments in the lives of our customers. Now more than ever, hold onto the truth that bakers, and what you create, always make people feel better, safer and more connected to each other.