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What is the best way to teach new franchisees how to open a bakery?

That is a question we constantly ponder, which often leads to training updates. Some are small tweaks, and some are major shifts like the changes we made last month.

January 2013 marked the inauguration of our newest era in training for new franchisees opening a bakery:  Great Harvest University 

open a bakery training photo
Great Harvest University (GHU) is an all-encompassing training program designed to help new Great Harvest Bread Company owners learn to run healthy and successful bread businesses through practical experience and development of key proficiencies. 

 training bakery lobby

The comprehensive GHU program itself consists of 20 hours of online curriculum in addition to three weeks of on-site training in the Dillon Franchise office.  The Dillon trainings include Sandwich School, Bread Week and the newly launched Bakery School. 

 bread gifts station photo

Bakery school provides owners with an operations overview for running their retail bakery. Two days are spent setting up the Dillon bakery.  This includes creating and implementing a strategic marketing plan; pricing products; merchandising the store lobby; planning the bakery menu based on seasonal promotions; and managing inventory. 

 training whole wheat bakery

Next, three days are spent actually running the bakery.  This entails production of the entire lineup of Great Harvest products; working customer service; implementing opening and closing routines; managing numbers and updating QuickBooks and other accounting systems; and managing the day to day ambiguities that confront small business owners. 

 whole grain bakery lobby photo

By the time owners complete this valuable week of training, they should have experienced many of the stresses and ambiguities they will face in their first months of bakery ownership and have the insight and fortitude necessary to successfully manage and operate their own bakery.  Our first owners to complete Great Harvest University were Derek and Sophia Bates.  The Bates will soon be opening their bakery in Twin Falls, Idaho.

What do you think makes a comprehensive training? I'd love to hear from you in the comments section below.


Want to learn more about training on how to open a bakery? You can listen to an audio interview with our training director, Janet Tatarka, from the button below.

Listen to Our Bread Business Training Interview


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I was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, and taught from a very young age to love and respect the land. My parents were both raised on family farms (one a Century Farm, still proudly in our family today) and have eternally been committed to land stewardship and conservation. I was influenced by their appreciation for the environment and taught from an early age that healthy lands are shaped by many forces – arguably, the most powerful being agriculture. This influence led me to pursue my degree in Public Service and Administration in Agriculture with a focus in Agricultural Business from Iowa State University. During college, my experiences shaped my desire to work for a food company. I believe responsible food companies, like Great Harvest, are one of the driving forces behind good agricultural practices. I grew up eating Great Harvest bread, loved the company’s philosophy and jumped at the opportunity to work for the company in late 2010. I enjoy working with our diverse group of bakery cafe owners and traveling to unique stores across the country.