Hi folks, first time posting on here!! I own a small bakery and I am looking for help streamlining cake production. We do special order cakes and I just get walloped on the weekends with different kinds of cakes...not super efficient. Was hoping you all had some sound advise!! thanks in advance!
Help with streamlining cake production
Hello @saltysweet05 welcome to ChefTalk!! When you say walloped, can you get more specific as to what is happening come the weekends to make it so? I am assuming that you are taking your cake orders on an order form? What types of cakes are you offering and with what types of icing?
The more info we have the more streamline we can make it
Hi Fablesable, thanks for the reply and the warm welcome. People can order from say 5 different flavors and 3 different types of frosting (I usually use Italian buttercream, ganache or cream cheese). Between cake production the other pastry production and managing the day to day of the cafe side of things I'm feeling a bit stretched thin. Do other folks have just one or two cake production days with stricter guidelines for ordering? Does anybody hold batter? I just know i could be doing things more efficiently.
From my own experience I know that I made a production wall in my bakery. This is divided into days of the week and on each day is the list of production for pastries and cakes. Before the beginning of the week (usually it was Monday mornings for me as that is when I was closed) I go through each special ordered cake form and figure out what days are my prep days for each type of ingredient and flavour I was going to use that week. As we know, buttercream can be done well in advance and refrigerated. I would also bake the cakes to be used on the weekend on my slowest day (which was usually Wednesday) so that I could freeze those until needed on the weekend. (obviously wrapping the cakes very well, I would wrap them triple times with plastic wrap and then foil them and always had baking soda everywhere in my fridge and freezers to ensure freshness) This way I was always prepared when the weekend came.
I believe that organization, labeling and prepping are your biggest allies. There is a saying that I live by that was given to me by an ex-navy man which is your 7-P's. Proper planning and preparation prevents piss poor performance! lol It really helps to plan and organize yourself and your bakery to get more precise with your production thereby saving you time and energy. Also, it is perfectly okay to make a production list for each day that may vary from day to day due to looking at your previous sales per week, then make what you feel is going to be enough for that day and get comfortable with selling out of things. I know that this concept makes everyone reel back in horror or feel uncomfortable but it works with customers as they get to know what the most tasty items are on your list and get there in time to buy it before it sells out. I also used social media (aka: Twitter and Instagram) to help facilitate this along. (sorry got off topic....lol)
In the same thought train as the one above I would also suggest only take on that which you can do efficiently and effectively with quality still in tact. If you take on more than you can chew (so to speak and pardon the pun) you risk getting bad reviews for sloppy work. So if you find that you can only take on the task of two special order cakes each day on the weekends without compromising time, energy and quality then take ONLY THAT. If people know that you are very high quality and love your cakes you will build a reputation for that and in the end can charge more for your quality, time and energy without having to take on the extra workload of more special order cakes to pay the bills. Remember to work smarter not harder.
Thank you so much @Fablesable for the great feedback. I have never frozen a cake before but I will test that out this week and see how it goes! I also may have to start taking orders with more advanced notice...right now it is 48 hours. Great advise and let me know if you think of anything else!
I give 72 hours minimum on special cake orders and specify types of cakes I can do in that time limit. I also reiterate that the 72 hours means 72 full hours 3 full days so if they need a cake on Saturday then the order cut off time is Tuesday. All wedding cakes and such are taken well in advance (as in weeks to months ahead).
I can't speak to specifics about cake or bakery production but I'll second the advice on prep, organization and boundaries. You need time to do things right and people need to accept limitations with what you offer. Do what enables you to put out quality products on a consistent basis and stick to your standards and boundaries. And charge accordingly.