Volume/waste..need advice


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Hi everyone! I recently landed a job as a baker and am struggling with volume/waste! I have only ever worked in fast paced restaurants where there has been little waste due to many outlets for creativity, but I'm feeling a bit stuck with the baked goods. For example, last week we sold 5 cheesecake slices TOTAL. This week, I pulled 5 from the freezer for the week. We sold NONE. All went home with staff. Its just so hit or miss and now I feel we haven't even profited.

To preface, we are a restaurant in California, located within a very large commercial business park that has just recently become "busier", but (due to many people working from home) still basically dead! we anticipate it slowly becoming busier, as more and more people return to work, but for now I am trying to find ways to provide quality product, and variety, without much waste.

We are currently doing banana bread, coffee cake and muffins in the morning...chocolate chip cookies, ginger molasses cookies at lunch, a cheesecake, and a couple of Gf and Vegan items(the longest lasting!). I recently attempted a danish and brioche morning bun. We ended up getting rid of too many because we just had too few customers that day and I'm not a fan of day old pastries unless they're toasted up in my home oven first.

So...I've hit a wall.

I've never encountered this issue, and I am not sure I am handling it the right way. One day I'll run out of cookies, the next I'll sell none....is this a common issue with bakeries? How can I combat it? Any ideas for repurposing product? I've been researching ways to extend shelf life..


p.s. this is my first post and I am SO happy to have discovered this forum! What a great way to learn from, help and support each other in the baking world!
Not sure what kind of response I'm looking for, and I'm kind of unsure why I am even posting this haha I think maybe I just needed to vent? But truly, ANY advice would be greatly appreciated....

P
 
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Hi everyone! I recently landed a job as a baker and am struggling with volume/waste! I have only ever worked in fast paced restaurants where there has been little waste due to many outlets for creativity, but I'm feeling a bit stuck with the baked goods. For example, last week we sold 5 cheesecake slices TOTAL. This week, I pulled 5 from the freezer for the week. We sold NONE. All went home with staff. Its just so hit or miss and now I feel we haven't even profited.

To preface, we are a restaurant in California, located within a very large commercial business park that has just recently become "busier", but (due to many people working from home) still basically dead! we anticipate it slowly becoming busier, as more and more people return to work, but for now I am trying to find ways to provide quality product, and variety, without much waste.

We are currently doing banana bread, coffee cake and muffins in the morning...chocolate chip cookies, ginger molasses cookies at lunch, a cheesecake, and a couple of Gf and Vegan items(the longest lasting!). I recently attempted a danish and brioche morning bun. We ended up getting rid of too many because we just had too few customers that day and I'm not a fan of day old pastries unless they're toasted up in my home oven first.

So...I've hit a wall.

I've never encountered this issue, and I am not sure I am handling it the right way. One day I'll run out of cookies, the next I'll sell none....is this a common issue with bakeries? How can I combat it? Any ideas for repurposing product? I've been researching ways to extend shelf life..


p.s. this is my first post and I am SO happy to have discovered this forum! What a great way to learn from, help and support each other in the baking world!
Not sure what kind of response I'm looking for, and I'm kind of unsure why I am even posting this haha I think maybe I just needed to vent? But truly, ANY advice would be greatly appreciated....

P

California is very different than most places in that the customers are very food conscious. so offering product based on the customers profile is important. Who’s coming into your business? What are their expectations? I’m in the Napa Valley. Whether you’re a tourist for a local there is a certain expectation for product. When people walk into a bakery here they expect to see a few of the American classics, but they also expect to see an array of French pastries and artisan breads. And since we are so close to San Francisco, anyone offering sandwiches here better offer a Dutch crunch roll as a bread choice. The typical bakery fads that you see on IG are not going to be in a Napa Valley bakery. They cater to the fine wine crowd.

So you have to know your customer base. What are they looking for product wise? Why are people eating and when? Being in a commercial business park does cheesecake really make sense as a product at breakfast or noon?

In the middle of a pandemic, nothing is normal. So you can’t offer a full menu. you have to scale back to the basics. Ginger cookies are not a favorite. Offer what people like. Chocolate chip cookie is the way to go. You have to make make choices for people right now, so make the choices that the majority will pick.

it’s not a lot you can do and so far is repurposing. So create a day old basket. If people know too that they can get a deal on a day old bag of chocolate chip cookies that will draw them in.
 
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Wow..thank you so much for your response!! You’re so right. I’ll focus on customer base and check the surrounding area. And scale back to where it makes sense. We’re in a suburb of San Diego. Funny, ginger molasses cookies are my fav but you’re right, I’ve noticed they are not at all a big seller! Guess I have to rethink a few things. I love the day old basket idea! You are so kind. I am so grateful for you’re input. Thank you.
 
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Wow..thank you so much for your response!! You’re so right. I’ll focus on customer base and check the surrounding area. And scale back to where it makes sense. We’re in a suburb of San Diego. Funny, ginger molasses cookies are my fav but you’re right, I’ve noticed they are not at all a big seller! Guess I have to rethink a few things. I love the day old basket idea! You are so kind. I am so grateful for you’re input. Thank you.

You’re welcome. Think about why people are eating. That time of day people are looking for more for nutrition than they are snacks. They also want some thing very portable. Maybe try out a savory vegetable & meat hand pies; or miniature quiche, or breakfast sandwich from an English muffin. A friend of mine loves ginger cookies too, he’ll take it over a chocolate chip any day. Lol.
 

DLB

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Wow..thank you so much for your response!! You’re so right. I’ll focus on customer base and check the surrounding area. And scale back to where it makes sense. We’re in a suburb of San Diego. Funny, ginger molasses cookies are my fav but you’re right, I’ve noticed they are not at all a big seller! Guess I have to rethink a few things. I love the day old basket idea! You are so kind. I am so grateful for you’re input. Thank you.
I live in the hills NorthEast of San Diego and unfortunately cannot leave my home due to high COVID Risk. Where are you located? As soon as I can obtain my vaccine I would love to visit your bakery. I love European breads and pastries because they are made so one can taste the real fruit, butter, and not filled with sugar or hydrogenated oils. I hate American baked goods. If you want you can email me at (e-mail address removed) with your bakery address and if you have a website address. I agree about the 'Day Old' baked goods basket. When I was actually able to shop in person I would definitely check that out. Also, online orders that someone could do 'curbside pickup' might help you because many of us are so afraid of in person contact but we obtain all our groceries now online, by telephone, or email, then arrange to pick them up without getting out of our car so we can remain safe. Please stay safe and we hope you can turn a good profit soon! Although I don't personally do Social Media, my sister who is self employed said that is the only way to advertise these days. Have you contacted local restaurants to see if they might be interested in your bakery supplementing their 'Take Out Oders' with some nice baked goods?
 
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I live in the hills NorthEast of San Diego and unfortunately cannot leave my home due to high COVID Risk. Where are you located? As soon as I can obtain my vaccine I would love to visit your bakery. I love European breads and pastries because they are made so one can taste the real fruit, butter, and not filled with sugar or hydrogenated oils. I hate American baked goods. If you want you can email me at (e-mail address removed) with your bakery address and if you have a website address. I agree about the 'Day Old' baked goods basket. When I was actually able to shop in person I would definitely check that out. Also, online orders that someone could do 'curbside pickup' might help you because many of us are so afraid of in person contact but we obtain all our groceries now online, by telephone, or email, then arrange to pick them up without getting out of our car so we can remain safe. Please stay safe and we hope you can turn a good profit soon! Although I don't personally do Social Media, my sister who is self employed said that is the only way to advertise these days. Have you contacted local restaurants to see if they might be interested in your bakery supplementing their 'Take Out Oders' with some nice baked goods?
I don’t retail work. And I am not comfortable information about my private business on this forum.
 
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I can buy just about every item you listed at the supermarket, tell me why I should buy from you instead?
Bakeries need to up their game, most failed to adapt and were gone long before this covid came along.
Many that survive have shifted reliance to lunches, sandwiches, corp catering and wholesale.
 
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Good point. We were going with comfort in familiarity. Fortunately it wasn’t about survival of the business. More of a “I can’t handle seeing waste” (food+money) situation. I like repurposing which is why I was so happy to hear about the day old basket idea. I do agree with your comment on the importance of lunch/wholesale and catering. The lifeblood of our organization has been just that. It was such a weird transitional time when I had posted. Luckily I was able to vent here. Now that people have returned to work our store front has picked up. No more waste issues and we are able to do much more than just the basics! Thanks for your input.
 
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Watch out for the day old basket, customers are smart and will beat you to the wait.
Its counter intuitive but its cheaper to throw product away because the customer will key in on the day old product.
They will go without buying full price today knowing they can buy it discount the next day.
 

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