Thursday, February 26, 2004
We'll be travelling to Texas this weekend to visit 5 bakeries and speak with the owners and bakers at them. And collect pricing ideas and menus.
OK, to be honest, I already have several of the menus garnered from online. By collecting menus from assorted bakeries, we can see what our competition is offering, what we have that's special and different, and what we can expect to receive for our offerings.
We've decided we'll not be offering biscuits, but we will have scones. Granted, there's not a lot of difference, but the primary one is a doozy: biscuits are best served hot, scones travel well and may be eaten cold.
Should we ever do biscuits (and at this point, even in our expansion plans, we don't foresee that happening), they will be small batches, spur of the moment, maybe a special treat for customers in the shop.
I think perhaps the biggest thing we're looking at on this trip is decorating ideas - see how they look, what equipment they have, how they're set up, and how we can adapt it to the locations we'll be looking at.
Manager wants to let cauldrons be the theme of our bakery - big ones, filled with rolls, little ones filled with flowers, and others setting about for ambiance. Adding a Celtic knotwork wall paper (border, full wall, murals?) and stone look floor will add to the rusticity of it. We'll be adding in live herb plants, as well, mostly in hanging baskets (more cauldron uses!).
Colors, however, are definitely something we need to consider. I kind of like using that dull Oklahoma red as a base color, it will blend well with the stone look floor (there's an Arby's here that has the perfect floor, and they told us who the supplier was so we can duplicate it - and stencil a few Celtic knotwork designs in special areas to make it ours). But we don't know what other colors to add. A green, I think, slightly blued. And should we add a third color, something bright as an eyecatching accent?
And on a totally unrelated note, when I was in talking to the baker at Best Donuts, a fresh fruit and vegetable deliveryman came in for donuts. We got to talking, and I now have his card. We'll need fresh fruits for the pies and pastries, and veggies for the soups.
I called up some old friends of mine - John at Hobart Herb Farm and Carol at Golden Trowel Herbs, and the kids at the OSU Agriculture Extension (those blackberries they grow are phenomenal! If I can't grow them, we can at least buy them for pies and jellies.), and the gal at Shawnee Flour Mill. Slowly, we're building up our supplier network.
As much as possible, we'd like our suppliers to be local. I know this isn't realistic on some of our supplies, like some specialty flours, but where we can, buying local to help boost the local economy. Recycling at its best.
The Friends of the Library sale netted us 2 interesting books: one on QuickBooks for Dummies (which, after reading the first 3 chapters, looks like a program we could use), and one on building and maintaining networks -business and personal.
Oddly enough, we'd already been doing some of this own our own in our own bumbling stumbling way. This book pulled it together for us, and helped us organize what we're doing. I don't have the book here with me, but I'll post the title tomorrow. If you haven't read it, and are like us, bumbling to open a business, it is a truly useful book. I especially like how she handles people who are "network drains" - those people who take and take and take, but never pass anything along, never give back.
There was an article in a recent Good Housekeeping Magazine (working acros the hall from a library with a ver friendly librarian is also a big help!) on handling people who were always late. With this book on networking and that article, I think we'll be able to formulate a good policy for building our business and handling employees. Employees are also a part of a network, right?