It's a sweet business to be in. Here's our take on opening a cake and pie shop.
Marketing Custom Baked Goods
A cake and pie shop can be an easy on-ramp to business ownership for entrepreneurs who are passionate about making the world a sweeter place. But making cakes and pies for the public isn't as simple as baking a dozen pies to give as gifts during the holidays. You'll have to navigate health code compliance, supplier relationships, and other details before your first pie hits the oven.
Marketing is trickier for a cake and pie shop than it is for other business models. Even though you might sell your products from a storefront, walk-in traffic won't be your primary source of revenue. Most cake and pie shop owners experience their highest sales volumes by creating custom products for the special events of people's lives.
Wedding cakes are a major revenue stream for custom bakeries. Get a handle on the players in your local wedding industry and reach out to wedding planners, florists, or others who may have the ability to spread the word about your business. Many areas have seasonal bridal shows where you can exhibit your skills and offer brides-to-be a taste of your merchandise.
Business is brisk for cake and pie shops during the holiday season. To stay ahead of the competition, you will need to start marketing Thanksgiving pies and Christmas goodies in early Autumn. Since holiday baking is best handled on a custom order basis, it's a good idea to create a standard ordering process that gives you enough time to fill the orders before the holiday – keeping in mind that no matter what you do, some customers will always wait until the last minute to place their orders.
In today's custom bakery marketplace, a quality website is an absolute must. Your site should include descriptions of your services and first-rate photos of your products. You can't offer exact pricing for custom baked goods, but it's helpful to offer a range of prices, especially if you know you can beat the competition on price.
Many cake and pie shops include an ordering page on their website. While this is an effective response mechanism for customers who access your business online, it also means you will need to be disciplined about checking for online orders, even during busy holiday baking periods.
Tips for Writing a Cake & Pie Shop Business Plan
You know that a business plan is important. The only problem is that you don't have any idea how to write one.
Fortunately, you don't have to tackle your cake and pie shop's business plan by yourself. These days, there are tons of great resources and solutions available to support the business plan writing process.
Our Business Plan Help section discusses some of the business plan resources other entrepreneurs have found useful.
Most cake and pie shops sell primarily to local customers. As an aspiring entrepreneur, the most important advice we can give you is to avoid investing in an underperforming, unprofitable location. It's a good idea to think of your location costs as a marketing expense and invest accordingly.
Well in advance of opening a cake and pie shop in your area, it's a good idea to see how you will fit in the competitive landscape. Try our link below to generate a list of competitors near you. Just enter your city, state and zip code to get a list of cake and pie shops in your community.
Prior to opening your doors for business, be sure you fully understand the competitive landscape and where your new business will fit in.
Turning Competitors Into Collaborators
Once you've finished assessing the competion, you really ought to talk to somebody who is already in the business. It's very unlikely that the local competition will talk to you. What's in it for them?
Fortunately, somebody who runs a cake and pie shop outside of your community will be much more likely to talk with you, once they realize that you are not going to directly compete with them in their community. In fact, they are often very willing to share startup advice with you. If you are persistent, you can find a business mentor who is willing to help you out.
How do you find a cake and pie shop manager in another city who you can speak with?
Here's how we would do it. Try the useful link below and key in a random city/state or zipcode.
Benefits & Drawbacks of a Cake & Pie Shop Acquisition
An acquisition can be a great way to enter cake and pie shop ownership. But it's important to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of buying a business before you decide on either an acquisition or startup approach.
PROs: Acquired cake and pie shops should be profitable right out of the gate; they should also be capable of demonstrating a loyal customer base, brand identity and operational efficiencies.
DRAWBACKS: On the downside, cake and pie shop acquisitions can be difficult to adapt to your unique business philosophy so it's important to make sure the business is capable of achieving your ownership goals before you initiate the buying process.
As an entrepreneur, your chances being a successful business owner are much greater if you go the franchising route and leverage their successful brand and track record.
Prior to making the decision to open a cake and pie shop, it's worthwhile to determine whether franchising might increase your chances of success.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.
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These additional resources regarding starting a business may be of interest to you.
If you already are in business and came here to learn about growing an existing cake and pie shop, these resources will come in handy:
If you sell to cake and pie shops, you're in the wrong place. These resources are more appropriate for you:
If you are still exploring all of your options, please browse our directory of guides below.