Small business owners wear multiple hats—accountant, marketer, IT specialist, HR director—and devote a significant part of their day to administrative tasks. Juggling is hard work, and that’s especially true for bakeries, where inventory is perishable and the heat is always on.
But today’s smart technologies can help bakers flourish, by automating processes and leaving more time for dreaming up new recipes, cooking and chatting with customers. Here are five ways you can incorporate technology into your daily operations:
Post in your down time
If you want to succeed as a bakery owner today, you must engage with your customers on social media. It’s become the most important advertising tool for restaurants, so it’s worth the time to build a strong content strategy. But it’s not always realistic to interrupt your day to draft new updates, especially if you start work before the sun has risen.
Tools like Hootsuite and Buffer not only enable users to schedule posts across their social media channels, they also feature powerful analytics to help you better understand what types of updates appeal to your target audience and which platforms they prefer to use. Try posting photos of fresh baked goods (particularly in the mornings and during mid-afternoon slumps), share simple recipes and baking tips, or hold a weekly contest for a free treat.
Find new customers with ads
While Hootsuite and Buffer allow you to schedule “organic” status updates and tweets, today’s social media algorithms favor paid promotion. And it doesn’t necessarily need to cost a lot.
According to Wordstream, the average Facebook CPC (cost-per-click) across all industries is $1.72 while the average Facebook CPC for retailers is just 70 cents. That number drops to 63 cents for businesses in hospitality and travel.
Facebook’s intuitive advertising platform is a good place to start; geo-target potential customers in your local area as well as people that already follow your competitors’ pages. This is an excellent way for bakeries to capture attention during the holidays and promote new flavors and menu items throughout the year.
Use email to entice loyal fans
That said, social media should not be a modern baker’s only digital marketing endeavor. Email marketing is an essential platform for nurturing your fanbase and keeping your bakery top-of-mind. The most difficult step can be gathering email addresses, especially for businesses where most customers don’t visit the website before making a purchase.
Luckily, POS systems like Instore capture email addresses with every sale. It also gives you the ability to email custom receipts that encourage customer retention, like a “buy one, get one free” offer for a future visit. Once you have a solid customer list, import it into your email service provider to build beautiful emails featuring mouthwatering desserts and inform your most loyal fans about upcoming promotions and community happenings.
Today’s tech will help free up your staff from mundane tasks, giving them more energy to focus on customers and running a more efficient workspace. Modern POS systems eclipse the payment functionality of yesterday’s cash register—making it easier to track inventory, which has a direct impact on your bottom line. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2016 Industry Report, though wholesale food costs dipped slightly in 2015, after five years of increases, prices remain unusually high.
A modern POS can also calculate profitability, manage rewards programs, schedule staff and analyze labor costs, load and redeem gift cards, help reduce mistakes (like not charging for add ons), and remind employees to upsell with every purchase. They also make it easy to replicate these features in a new location, ensuring your system grows with you.
Low-cost legal support
Every four years, the National Federation of Independent Business asks small business owners what keeps them up at night and summarizes their responses in a report called Small Business Problems & Priorities. In 2016, nine of the top 10 challenges were associated with the government, including healthcare, regulation, and taxes—beating out poor profits, cash flow, and a desire for more sales.
If you’re losing sleep over legal issues, consider a low-cost monthly membership with companies like LegalShield or Rocket Lawyer, which make it possible to create contracts on your own and reach out to professional lawyers for advice. For bakeries, that might include questions about trademarking a unique logo, zoning laws for commercial kitchens, health regulations on food products, or labor policies for part-time employees under 18. Though low-cost legal services won’t decrease the cost of adhering to government regulation, they can help ensure your bakery stays sweet in the eyes of Uncle Sam.
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