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Crazy idea to get food in door? Fresh bread delivery?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I want to open a bakery but we (my wife and I) do not feel that confident about jumping into a full blown retail space with lots of up front and monthly costs. One idea that came to mind was to rent commercial kitchen space and try to market fresh bread delivery to a small wealthy town near by. We live in a suburb of a very large city so concentration is tight and there is a demand for "artisan" bread.

My idea is we would have a fairly limited selection and do perhaps 2 batches a day and 2 delivery times per day and we would do everything ourselves from dough to delivery.

I am approximating we need to do about 550 loaves monthly to break even. This includes COGS, rent, utils, telephone, insurance,paper goods, etc.

If it works out well it could be an extension of the retail store. If it does not do well, we'd be on a month-to-month lease on the shared commercial kitchen space.

We could take orders on the phone and web site, so we don't need to take payments in person. Just ring and run. We would not do on demand deliveries (not cost efficient). just batches 2-3 times a day.

For marketing we'd probably do lots of good old fashioned door hanging (probably cheapest, but labor intensive, again we could do this ourselves), direct marketing via post cards?, and newspaper advertising.

Any thoughts on this? Or any other ideas for opening a business without the full commitment of building out a ktichen, etc.
post #2 of 10
This could kill you right up front. Better to do web-only orders, and promote the heck out of the website.

If you get even a slight burst of phone traffic while the two of you are trying to work in the kitchen, you could blow your whole time schedule.

BTW - have you considered cutoff times for each delivery? Last thing you need is someone ordering something that wasn't on the schedule 40 minutes prior to your next scheduled drop.
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post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
This is a good point about the phone. Most people can figure out the internet but I know my mother couldn't figure it out. We might have to grind out the phone orders for a while to establish customers, I am not sure. Maybe I do the baking and my wife could woman the phone.

In terms of availability, my guess is that we would have either cut off times, or some sort of count down based on the known quantity of loaves we planned on making.

Since I prefer a long rise, we can't everything to order unless we stop taking orders 12 hours in advance.

To start off maybe we do one 25# or 50# bag. I can use my computer skills to make the website notify people that we're "Sold out" when the number of orders = number of loaves we make, thus potentially allowing orders up until right before we go out for delivery, assuming we keep the website database up to date with phone orders. Sounds a little tricky but doable. Maybe I can really use my computer skills to my advantage.
post #4 of 10
Ah, so you're just looking at offering a couple products and letting people order what you're planning on having.

I was a bit concerned about a la carte baking... :eek:
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post #5 of 10
couple of thoughts, having seen this 'done' some time back (it failed)

plan on some waste -15% is not an unreasonable start point.
of course, a side line of bread crumbs and croutons could work.....

is this residential delivery or strictly b2b?
the "prepaid" idea is fine, you can't put a loaf in the mail box, what happens when it's raining and nobody answers the door?

consider delivery to place of work.
you walk in a office with a fresh loaf of aroma emitting bread, you better have some extra on the truck.

you will have to handle phone in service. not everyone does the web.

working on "this-is-what-we-made-today-take-it-or-leave-it" basis will produce a lot of "leave-its"
plan on rapidly expanding your offerings.

folks will tire of the service/bread/product/assortment/trying to remember to order before x'oclock/<whatever> -
people like change - planning on a major customer base of weekly repeat customers may not be realistic.
plan for erratic order patterns. oh, bake lots more at the holidays....

put some extra on the truck for those last minute oops almost too late orders - you are in a service business -
good service = good business. think restaurant, food may be more better or more less better but lousy service is frequently fatal.

have you considered establishing a baseline support of eateries? if you've got good stuff, they will buy it.
post #6 of 10
Nice discussion!

I'm moving it to a more appropriate forum.

Enjoy!
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post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Was it freshbread.ca? I heard about them, then looked it up, and saw that they are not around any more which is too bad.

I think Dillbert brings up a good point and makes me reconsider taking the plunge of an expensive build up for a retail space. This is the "way" people are used to shopping and I imagine it is tough to make people change that. I guess it is sort of like milk delivery. People used to do this and nobody does it anymore. Some companies offer it but nobody is really into it. Personally I wish I could get glass bottled milk delivered to my door but as it is we are paying $6+/gallon for organic.

If I start throwing all sorts of different options into the mix to keep people happy with variety, it would probably slow down deliveries a lot. For example if you have to seek out someones specific order in the truck, this takes time versus just saying OK first delivery gets 3 loaves, second delivery gets 10, etc. I.e. the fewer the options the faster the deliveries will go and vice versa. With the rain, I am not sure how that'd work. I would not be able to hang around for everyone to open the door for sure.

Another option is hitting up farmers' markets but I can't deliver and sit around the market at the same time.

I think if I could run a commercial kitchen out of my basement or accessory building to my house, it might be a different story as my costs would be lower.

OK back to the drawing board.
post #8 of 10
I dunno about this.

What's the average amount per order, $20,00, $30.00? And you're spending, what, 10 mins. per drop off?

If this is so, you can't keep it up and make a buck at the same time.

Heck, even an 18 yr old Pizza delivery guy wants $5.00 per drop off

I dunno, maybe a, or several, local pick up zones like a church/school basement with a 2-3 hr pick up window, gives you an opportunity to schmooze a bit and get customers to bring along friends/newbies. Farmer's markets are great for this, local stores want a slice of the action.
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post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
I am reconsidering but not because of time it takes to deliver. If you have all of the stops in a concentrated area it will not take very long. We used to deliver 120 stops in a few hours. The problem with pizza is going from the pizza place, to the customer, then back to the pizza place, etc. This is very inefficient of course...
post #10 of 10
What about concentrating on wholesale orders to restaurants, bakeries, cafes, etc plus doing the farmer's markets? It's lucrative work....probably the most profitable arm of my business next to wedding and occasion cakes.
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