Deciding to leap into small business ownership can be exciting and overwhelming, all at the same time. When purchasing an established business, there are special considerations that may not apply to those who are starting a new business from the ground up. You want to keep what works and lose what doesn’t. You want a smooth transition of ownership. And, of course, you want to make the business your own.
If you’ve decided to purchase an existing bakery with Great Harvest, congratulations! Purchasing an existing business offers some really smart advantages. You’re off to a great start. But now what?
We field a lot of questions about how to successfully transition existing bakeries, such as:
Of course, that last one is really important. The first three are a bit more case-specific. All new business owners want to be successful, they want to grow their business and they want to improve their bottom line. So, in response . . .
Here are our top six ways to grow sales after buying an existing business:
1. Get to know the existing customers.
Understanding the needs and wants of the current customers is a great way to grow sales. Is there something they want that isn’t on the menu? Perhaps they want sandwiches. If the existing bakery doesn’t have a sandwich program, add it! The loyal customers already love Great Harvest’s bread, now incorporate it into a sandwich and you have an additional sales opportunity. Are they purchasing their coffee at the coffee shop across the way before they stop in for a morning goodie? Consider adding an espresso machine so they only have to make one stop on the way to work. Customers’ smiles will grow and so will your sales!
2. Get out of the bakery.
Meet the neighbors and win their hearts (and their business) using bread, goodies and sandwiches. Here at Great Harvest, we give generously. Giving generously is also a great marketing tool. As an owner, sharing your premium product with others is a passion. Share it with the office next door, the local university, or the runners at the local 5k. It is as simple as getting your products in their mouths and promoting Great Harvest’s fresh, homemade, local difference. Sharing delicious bread or goodies with someone is a great way to get them into the store. Better yet, maybe they’ll want to place a catering order!
Farmer’s Markets have been another source of growth for our owners. Customers are already heading to the market for their favorite local vegetables, fruits, crafts — why not sell them a loaf of fresh made, locally handcrafted bread, too! We have a great network of owners who would love to share their experiences about growing revenue through farmer’s market sales.
3. Revamp the menu and use the Breadboard.
Introducing yourself as a new owner to your customers is a perfect opportunity to refresh the menu. Of course, don’t dismiss the existing customers’ taste buds. Keep the favorites, keep the local flare but don’t be afraid to add something new. Use the ideas coming from Great Harvest’s corporate chef and fellow bakery owners to add a new item or two. Perhaps the bakery hasn’t added the new parmesan fennel breadsticks or savory biscuits.
You may be asking yourself, “If I add a new product, how do I get them to purchase it?” That’s easy — just put it on the Breadboard. It really is one of the simplest and easiest ways to market a product. Offering them a slice of fresh bread, a breadstick, or a quarter of a savory biscuit is a sure way to introduce them to a new favorite!
4. Get on the technology train.
Social media and a website are two easy ways to market your new bakery, menu changes, slicing events, or cool happenings in the store. Nearly everyone has some sort of social media account, so take advantage of free marketing!
5. Tap into the wisdom of Great Harvest’s Learning Community.
At Great Harvest, we truly believe in sharing ideas. Our owners have been there, done that, learned valuable lessons, found ways to succeed, and are willing to share their experiences. New owners have many networking opportunities. Through training in Dillon, at our annual convention, by picking up the phone, and simply posting on the Breadboard, there are many ways our owners stay connected.
Owners aren’t the only ones in the Learning Community. The franchise office in Dillon is here for our owners! With decades of experiences and new ideas, there is always someone who is willing to share their thoughts on sales growth. Many of our employees have been here for 20 years or longer and even more have been here for 10-plus years. All of our departments are staffed with people willing to help generate marketing ideas!
6. Be willing to work really hard and make the changes that matter.
Purchasing an existing bakery is smart, but it still takes a lot of work — especially in the first year. The fact of the matter is that all existing bakeries have opportunities. Some of those opportunities will be crucial to your success, such as getting a team in place that embraces your vision for the business. Other changes aren't going to be as helpful, such as tweaking a recipe that is already selling. Everyone is eager to make a bakery their own — which is completely understandable — just be sure to implement changes that matter!
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