Thursday, March 04, 2004

Hi-Tech Bakery 

So, on the trip to Texas, we talked. What else can you do in a car hurtling down a highway at 70 miles an hour?

So, we talked. Bakery stuff.

One of the things I planned to do for myself while in Texas was look at new computers. Mine bit the dust months ago, and I was ready to replace it.

This brought us, naturally enough, to discussing things like recipes and inventory control and customer service at the bakery.

Because of our chosen location, we will be easily accessible to downtown and the state capitol. These people are almost always in a hurry. We haven't decided on a drive-through, so we considered other possible options. These options will determine, in part, how the bakery is operated. It's more than bread we have to think about.

One idea, which has a great deal of appeal because it will be neither expensive nor onerous to implement, is the concept of emailing or instant messaging in orders. Like phone-in orders (which we will also take), I'm sure we'll have a number of flakes abusing it. After a while, though, we'll be able to tell if the email is from a legitimate customer, especially repeat customers. Wouldn't it speed things up for people to place an order, get confirmation and know the price before they arrive, and have it waiting for them so all they have to do is get it and go?

This will probably work best for regulars - "hey, I'm low on bacon bread, bake me a loaf, willya? I'll get it on Tuesday."

One benefit from advance or standing orders like this is knowing in advance how much we'll have to bake.

That is going to be the hardest opening detail for us: inventory.

How many loaves of bread a day, how many cream puffs, how many napoleans, how many little doll cupcakes or individual angel food cakes? What will be popular, and what will be sinkers that need to drop so far off the menu they'll never be seen again?

Equipment, cash registers, employees, chairs and decor, these are the easy things.

Even getting adequate financing is easy, compared to the daunting task of how many loaves of bread?

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