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.

Jenna and Ashley’s Tips For A Great Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving coming up this weekend, we checked in with Jenna and Ashley to find out what their tips are for a great Thanksgiving celebration! Take a read below to find out Jenna and Ashley prepare for gatherings with their friends and family and keep reading right until the end for a sweet surprise!

 

Tip 1: Flowers

I always start with the flowers! Chat with your florist (we love Heather from Academy Florist) about the size you want your arrangement to be, and the colours you’d like to use. You’ll also need to set a budget at this point. I usually ask for something narrow and low, since you want to chat with your dinner guests and not be too crowded at the table! If the budget allows, I also like to add a little “something” to each place setting, like a floral wreath or a little bouquet of flowers for each guest to take home.

 

Tip 2: Place Settings

EQ3 is one of my favourite stores, and I’ve outfitted my home with quite a few pieces of theirs! My favourite piece for fall is their Onyx serving platter, which I used as chargers in our Thanksgiving Shoot this year. They’re insanely pretty and I plan to use the one I bought as a serving platter. EQ3’s Sienna Stoneware is gorgeous and has a handmade feel to it. Jenna owns a complete set and loves it!

 

Tip 3: Dessert

We’re usually in charge of dessert for our Thanksgiving Dinner (shocker!) and we’ve been bringing a Pumpkin Spice Cake and a Party Platter consistently for the last few years. They never disappoint and provide a great variety of treats for guests. We always bring a few Cookie Dough Cups as well for our sister who is vegan!

 

We’re going to be giving away everything you need to set the table this Thanksgiving over on our Instagram feed! You’ll be able to curate a Pinterest-worthy tablescape for your home that will warmly welcome your guests and leave a lasting impression even after the pumpkin pie is done!

What you’ll win:
– $300 gift card to EQ3 to select your own dreamy tableware
– $100 gift card to Academy Florist for stunning florals
– $100 gift card to Jenna Rae Cakes for sweet treats everyone will love

Head over to our Instagram Feed to enter our contest!

Our Tips For Hosting Easter

Easter is right around the corner and if you are hosting your family or friend gathering, there can be a lot to plan and take care of. Add on planning surprises for your own family and the little ones in your life who love the magic of Easter morning and you have a lot on the go.

 

We created a Pinterest board with some fun ideas for your Easter gathering. If you’re hosting you’ll want to check out our board. See some highlights below…

 

Spring Outfits

Scarves, flowy skirts and gold jewelry with pops of colour are our favourites for this spring. If we wear enough spring attire, maybe spring weather will finally arrive.

 

Meal Ideas

If you’re still planning your Easter menu, our board of meal ideas can help! From appetizers to brunch items and even a delicious drink option, start here with your menu planning and you’ll put together a menu that will receive rave reviews from everyone you serve. We even include a recipe for classic hot cross buns if you want to create some from scratch.

 

Hosting

If you’re a host or hostess that is all about presentation, we created a Pinterest board just for you! On this board, you’ll find great ideas for invitations, place settings and centerpieces. Also, tips to put together the perfect grazing platter for those who love to snack.

 

For the Kids

If there are little ones in your life, Easter is really a magical holiday. We rounded up a few really fun Easter ideas for kids from their own personal table at your gathering, to attaching balloons to treats to make an outdoor hunt extra fun!

 

Sweet Treats

What would a Jenna Rae Cakes Pinterest board be without a variety of sweet treats? We included our Easter menu items that are now available for pre-order. When you place a pre-order, you’ll be able to walk in on the date you selected, skip the lineup, and pick up your treats. You’ll spend less time in our shop and more time with those you love over the Easter weekend.

 

Be sure to take a peek at our Pinterest board and watch the Easter magic come to life as you plan a wonderful celebration for your family and friends this upcoming holiday. Also, our Easter pre-orders are now open! Skip the lineup this Easter weekend and pick up your pre-ordered selection of delicious Easter items.

Instagram Tips and Tricks

 

 

A question we are asked often here at JRC is how we have managed to gain a devoted Instagram following of both local and worldwide followers. Today on the blog we wanted to share a few of our best Instagram tips and tricks to help you make the most of your Instagram account.

When we first started using Instagram 5 years ago, we would post anywhere from 4-12 times a day! When Instagram was chronological this method of consistent posting at various times throughout the day was crucial so followers would know what assortments of treats would be available to them during the day. Now that Instagram is no longer chronological, we’ve changed how much we post but the basics are still the same; we post beautiful images of our offerings consistently that are in line with the Jenna Rae Cakes brand… and we obsess just a little over our grid. Ashley (our Co-Owner) is a graphic designer and photo stylist by trade and conceptualizes, styles and photographs all of our images.

 

So what are our most helpful tips we can share with you? Take a read below!

 

1- Quality Images. Instagram is a visual platform. You’ll need to put time and money into creating great images for your feed and stories that showcase the best of the best of what you have to offer. We have a little saying at JRC that goes, “make everything Instagram worthy”. You want all your products to look like that perfect shot on Instagram and you want to be sure you’re getting those incredible shots to share on your feed. If you don’t have a designer/stylist on staff, think about taking beginner photography/styling workshops, or about hiring a social media consultant.

 

*Fun Fact: Ashley takes 95% of the photos that make it to our Instagram feed on her iPhone 7, and 5% of them are taken on her Sony A-6000.

 

2 – Develop Your Own Style. All the most popular accounts on Instagram (baking related or non-baking related) stand out because they have their own unique style. Developing your own style and continuing to evolve that style as your business and products grow is the best way to stay true to your brand while never remaining stagnant. If you look at the JRC feed from 3 years ago, a year ago and now, you’ll notice a few things: that our feed still has the same vibe, that our styling is similar but advancing, and that we tailor what we are posting to what people want to see.

 

3 – Plan For Success. A beautiful Instagram grid doesn’t happen by chance. After images are taken be sure to organize them in your phone so you can easily find what you are looking for. Create folders for each menu item, plus seasonal folders so you always know where images are. We also love using Planoly to ensure we are scheduling images that flow beautifully together. Planoly allows you to take images from your phone, upload them to a draft grid, and move the images around until your grid looks perfect! You can also add your captions, hashtag groups and schedule right from the app!

4 – Engage. We all know that social media is designed for users to be social! Take the time to respond to comments and DM’s as often as you can. JRC does all of our social media in-house which means we can stay true to our company and brand and answer all questions as soon as we are able because our staff know the answers. We can honestly say that we value each and every person who comments or sends us a question or a comment because these customers will help us continue to improve our business. If you can’t manage this on your own there are marketing companies or freelance social media consultants that can invest time each day authentically engaging with your followers.

 

5 – Remember Your Brand. We’ve talked about your ‘brand’ a few times during this blog. Your brand is all the working pieces that make up your company from your colours and logo to the voice you use when you write content (like this blog) and your captions on social media. Find what works for your brand and stick to it! Just by looking at our feed you know that Jenna Rae Cakes is a more feminine brand with a colour palette of pinks, whites and golds and our voice is friendly, fun and approachable. This isn’t by accident—this is our brand and as long as we stick with it, we build brand loyalty and Instagram users find us and resonate with the messaging we have.

6 – Don’t Obsess Over Numbers. It’s so hard, we know! But it’s also crucial to keep your head afloat in an online world that is full of competition, beauty, and algorithms. Instagram is constantly changing and evolving and it can be very easy to get sucked into the numbers game and feel upset when your latest posts are getting nearly half the engagement they normally would get due to an algorithm change. When you pour so much time and energy into your social media presence just to have your posts hidden or seen a few days too late it can be incredibly frustrating. We heard a great quote once from a friend; “You built real estate on land you don’t own”. Keep in mind that you’re building a presence on a platform you don’t control and make sure to put effort into growing platforms you do own like your blog and email list.

 

Instagram is such a great tool to grow your business. When we first started using Instagram to post our daily menu, we didn’t know of any other bakeries who were taking advantage of this platform in the way we were. Now, through stories and follower engagement, we are continuing to find new ways to use this platform to the best of our ability and to continually improve JRC. Send us a DM on IG and let us know which tips and tricks you’ll begin to implement for your business.

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