A bakery program can do wonders for a convenience store’s bottom line — with the caveat that it has to be done right, which takes experience and expertise.
“Training is everything, and most operators don’t do enough, and rarely even budget for it,” said Rudy Miick, FCSI, a veteran foodservice consultant and principal of The Miick Cos. in Boulder, Colo. “Big mistake.”
As for product selection, doughnuts are typically the most popular. Many convenience store retailers bake their own doughnuts on-site or opt to have them delivered fresh every morning by a professional bakery.
Merchandising always plays a major role. Placement of baked goods near the coffee station — assuming the convenience store features a strong coffee offering — will inevitably sell more doughnuts, cookies and muffins. Displays should include signage tags showing the product name, ingredients and price.
If you’re baking the products in-store, use this as a selling point.
“Bring the aromas to front of house — entice the customers, ensure freshness,” suggested renowned consultant Arlene Spiegel, FCSI, president of Arlene Spiegel & Associates in New York City. “Display them on sheet pans on rolling racks to let customers know that they have been baked on premise.”
Electric and combi ovens are perfect for areas without ventilation, Spiegel pointed out. “Some dough suppliers will provide an oven if an operator uses their products.”
Employees need to be trained in basic food-handling procedures — think the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe program — for receiving, storing, prepping and serving. They also should be given time to work on all of the pieces of equipment involved, as well as packaging and wraps.
A smart strategy is to bake off muffins in the morning, cookies in the afternoon and pizza at dinner. It is a good idea to work only with products that are already portion controlled, proofed and ready to bake. Avoid baking any product that requires a recipe or special equipment.
“Don’t overdo the number of selections,” Spiegel warned. “Less is more. Focus on ‘exclusive signature items,’ and not the usual.”