Bakery Biz Tips: How To Expand Your Menu

When you first decide to expand your menu, the idea of it all is so exciting! Having your team be creative in the kitchen to dream up new products and mouth-watering flavours, seeing the variety of finishing touches from a passionate team that elevates the product, and aiming to create something your customers will love is all a thrilling piece of adding a new item to your menu.

As the testing of items and flavours moves from testing to the final touches stage, the stress can kick in… will customers like the product? Will they like the flavours? Will it sell as well as we think it will? All of these questions and more begin to creep into your thoughts and you realize how strategic you must be to introduce a new item to your menu.

 

We are sharing a few of our top tips for expanding your menu, along with some examples from the changes we’ve made to our menu over the years so you have a real-world example of things that worked and those that didn’t.

 

Tip 1 – Consider your space.

One of our biggest challenges with expanding our menu is always cooler space. Our coolers are packed so if we want to add a new menu item, it either needs to be an item that doesn’t have to be kept in the cooler or we have to swap out a menu item to make room for the new one. This is something you’ve probably seen us do often under the guise of ‘putting a recipe into the JRC vault’. We did this with our mini cheesecakes when we wanted to make room for cream puffs.

 

Tip 2 – Consider the customer.

What have your customers been requesting? What are their favourite flavours? What price point do they feel comfortable spending? All of these questions and more regarding the customer should be taken into consideration. We’ve introduced items to our menu that we thought our customers would LOVE that ended up not being popular at all– our tarts being one of those items. All that effort into dreaming up a new item, recipe testing again and again until we created a beautiful item for our customers and, as it turned out, they weren’t that into it! While our team was so proud of the product they made, it wasn’t a fit for our client base so off the menu it went. Even when thinking of expanding the flavours you offer, consider the majority of the customers you serve and what they like the most.

 

Tip 3 – Consider your team.

If your team is anything like ours, your team is filled with amazing, incredibly talented and creative bakers who love to try new things. Consider the strengths of your team– what do they like to make? What are their hidden talents? Do they love chocolate work? Do they enjoy making candy? Are they a wizard with flavour ideas? Consider what your team is capable of doing and what they would like to try their hand at and allow them to experiment while keeping the customer in mind. Some of the best ideas can come out on the fly as your team members are working away and chatting about fun items they’d love to make one day.

 

Tip 4 – Package like a pro.

The final touches, including any specific packaging an item might need, can be just as important as the product itself. Consider our new Hot Chocolate Bombs; they are stunning but, since they are a sphere and a gift item, they needed to be packaged. Instead of just putting them into the pink bags we already have on hand, we decided to create custom packaging that shows off the beauty of the bomb itself. Each bomb sits on a bed of pink crinkle paper in a clear vinyl box and is sealed with a white and gold foil sticker that has the instructions printed right on it! This packaging is very on-brand for us– our pink, white and gold foil colour palette along with a clear box that matches other specialty items like our mini meringues.

The way you package your product sells your product. If you’re introducing a new item to your menu, be sure to consider the packaging for a consistent and beautiful customer experience.

 

Tip 5 – Reassess and adjust as necessary.

The time spent introducing a new menu item also includes tracking sales and customer comments once it is launched, then reassessing after a few weeks and adjusting anything that needs it.

When we initially removed cream puffs from our menu it’s because they weren’t selling as well as when we first introduced them to our customers. When we brought them back we knew we needed to make changes to make them more in line with what our customers wanted. We replaced dipping each and every cream puff with fondant or chocolate (which was making them too sweet for some customers) with colourful craquelin that gave the same look without the sweetness. Then, we made them mini! For our shop, anything mini tends to sell well– it has the adorable factor our customers love! Mini cream puffs mean a lower price point and customers can try all the flavours in one visit! These little adjustments were necessary for the longevity of the item on our menu.

 

Expanding your menu can be fun and challenging and is always work that, when approached with the right attitude, will always help you learn more about your loyal customers and will allow you to serve them better. Treating your customers well curating a menu of sweet treats that effectively utilize the skills of your team while simultaneously serving your clients treats they love is what this industry is all about.

 

Good luck with expanding your menu! We hope you enjoyed these tips and can put them to use when you consider adding a new treat to your menu.

Bakery Business 101: Packaging

 

When we first started sourcing the packaging that happy customers would take home their treats in, there was one thing we knew for sure– the packaging had to be ‘on brand’. When we say ‘on brand’, we mean that we were going to intentional about the packaging choices we were making so that the packaging would be an extension of the in-store, and social media, experience.

 

An ‘on brand’ packaging experience was important to us because of the hard work the entire JRC team puts into creating the products that you sell, creating a welcoming atmosphere in our shops and keeping an engaged presence on social media. We try to make every last detail in those areas as close to perfect as possible and the idea of having packaging that didn’t match what we were doing would put a damper on the customer experience. Now, when a customer comes to our shop, even the box their product comes is in Instagram worthy. The packaging itself continues the store experience into their homes.

 

One of the main factors our ‘on brand’ packaging stands out is the custom design. Ashley takes every design project for Jenna Rae Cakes very seriously and has been since the very beginning when she first crafted some basic branding for Jenna’s side cake business. When Ashley custom designs each and every packaging material, from tissues to macaron boxes, she is putting the heart and soul of Jenna Rae Cakes into every little flourish.

 

We are often asked about some of the places we source our packaging so today we are sharing some of our favourite places we source our packaging from. These are the products we are asked about most often and we hope the companies below are a great resource for you and your business.

 

Macaron sleeves – Georgette Packaging

We love Georgette Packaging— especially for our custom macaron sleeves. We have custom macaron sleeves printed for major holidays and having a supplier who you’ve loved working with for years is always nice for bringing your holiday designs to life.

 

Tissue – Noissue

Finding a place who would make custom tissue paper for our boxes was an adventure. When we found Noissue, we fell in love with being able to create custom printed tissue paper. No longer did we need to use plain tissue but could now apply our branded design to the tissue that lines our boxes.

 

Acrylic Boxes – Uline

Those little 2x2x2 acrylic boxes have always begged the question, ‘where do you find those?’. The answer might surprise you! For such cute packaging, Uline is your standard shipping supply store.

 

Acrylic Cake Boxes – Paper Mart

When we first showcased our 4″ Valentine’s Day Cakes for Two on Instagram, one of the most popular questions was ‘where are those boxes from!?’. People loved these and anytime we post an image where a cute cake is in one of the boxes, people start DMing. The answer is Paper Mart, where a quick browse of their website will leave you spending hours looking at all of the beautiful products they have available.

 

Cupcake Boxes – Friesens

Our custom printed cupcake boxes are printed by Friesens. We’ve made many additions to our cupcake boxes over the years, including the addition of patterns to the box, locations and cake instructions. Friesens has been a joy to work with, plus, we love that they are a Manitoba company.

 

With all the attention to detail to sourcing and designing our custom packaging, we love seeing customers reuse their pink boxes, macaron sleeves, and acrylic boxes. All of our boxes are lined with tissue paper so the box itself can stay free from buttercream smears and cookie crumbs, making it reusable. We love when customers bring back their boxes into our shops to be refilled with their daily treat selection. We also love seeing how you repurpose your packaging once you’re home. Small acrylic boxes can hold little treasures you wish to display or treats you’d like to share with others and macaron sleeves can be repurposed into jewelry boxes or as organizers in your bathroom drawers. The possibilities are endless when you aim to reuse what you have.

Finding great packaging that you can customize to match your brand can be a lot of work but it is 100% worth it by the enhancement of the customer experience. We recommend starting slow with what you can afford, and adding custom packaging when you can. We had standard pink tissue paper up until about a year ago when we made the switch to custom printed tissue paper. Just remember to stay ‘on brand’, keeping the colours in line with your branded colour palette and ensuring your spending money on the packaging that will really leave an impact on your customers.

Bakery Business Tips to Live By

Jenna Rae Cakes is more than just a pretty Instagram feed and tasty treats. We are a business that aspires to keep growing, learning and expanding the horizons of what we know so we can keep our customers coming back for more. As a business, there are a few foundational things we have committed to over the years that helped take us to where we are now. While we fully understand there are other incredible business out there with amazing tips, we are often asked about our business– what works, what doesn’t and how we’ve been able to grow.

We put the following principles to action and we have seen growth in our company keeping these principles in mind. Take a read of our ‘Bakery Business Tips to Live By’.

 

Tip 1 – Hire Up

Something we’ve tried to instill since the beginning of JRC is to always hire up. If you want to see growth in your company, you need to hire people who are more skilled than you in areas that you want to grow your company in. We have been implementing this as long as we’ve been around because we want to be sure we keep hiring individuals who can help us reach our goals. This is as simple as hiring trained bakers with experience and finding people who have skills that wow you.

 

Tip 2 – Encourage Creativity

We love encouraging our staff to be creative! Some of the best ideas we’ve executed, from fun new flavours to product ideas and more, have come from our talented staff. Encouraging your staff to be creative and come up with ideas will help your staff feel valued and like they, and their opinion, matter. We recently featured one of our bakers, Beatriz, and created a flavour of macaron and cream puff that remind her of home. People loved learning about her and trying out a flavour that was new to them.

 

Tip 3 – Better, Not Bigger

Growth is great, but doing what you are known for really well is even better. When you learn something new, you take your time to do it well before expanding and growing. We take the same approach to our business. We want to do things really well before growing. That makes growth sustainable and ensures we can keep growing more in the future.

 

Tip 4 – Be Ruthless About Your Brand

Your brand is important and we ensure everything we do is branded to perfection (or as close to perfection as we can get it!). Also, just about every single thing affects your brand. From a customer interaction with one of our front of house staff, to how we respond to your inquiries on Instagram, the images we post and how we present our treats on our menu, our brand is important and helps people understand who we are as a company. We take our brand seriously and ensure every bit of communication we have and everything we put out into the world is in line with our mission and values.

 

Tip 5 – Never Stop Dreaming

We dream BIG at JRC! From the very beginning, we’ve had big dreams of where we’d like to see our company go and keeping those dreams alive is what pushes us each and every single day. There’s something special about seeing a dream become an attainable goal, then watching the hard work of yourself and your team bring it to life. No matter what we do, we don’t stop dreaming of where we’d like to be.

 

These five tips are just a few of the many things that work for us to keep growing as a company while committing to high standards in all we do. If you are a business owner, we’d love to hear from you! What are your top tips for success? What works for you to help your business thrive?

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