Friday, January 11, 2013

Start a bakery business : Location - Step 2

For this post I will focus on shopping mall shop spaces.

Research:
Find out on the internet on the malls you are interested in and read whatever you can about it. Visit their websites and copy down information on the person to call or email regarding leasing or rental.

Visit the malls:
Go to the mall in the morning, afternoon and evening. On weekdays and on weekends. Take note of the number of visitors to the mall. What kind of visitors does the mall attract? Office workers, teenagers, housewives, retirees, etc? What bakeries are already there? What do they sell? Is their business good? What are the price ranges of their baked products? Do a rough sketch of how the bakeries make use of their space (baking area, display area, cashier area). Notice the number of employees in the bakeries and what their roles are. What is the brand of ovens and other equipment they use? What are the opening hours of the mall? Write down all your observations in a systematic manner with columns and headings.

 Do you see any empty shop spaces? Note down their unit numbers. If the unit number is not displayed, note down the unit numbers of the shops next to it. Sometimes you may walk past a wall with colourful graphics and not be aware that it is actually an empty shop space. This is because the management sometimes put up floor-to-ceiling temporary walls to cover the empty shop spaces for aesthetic reasons and so that visitors do not get the sense that the mall has many empty shops. If you spot any phone numbers printed on those walls that says “For leasing enquiries, call 12345678”, write them down. However do note that even though a shop space is empty, it may not be available. It may have been rented out already and the tenant has not yet started renovation.

Classified Ads:
Read the classified ads every day. Circle those malls that you are interested in and visit those malls.

Visit different types of malls:
I think there are basically three types of malls. Firstly, those that are located in the heartland and serve the residents in that area.  Secondly, those located in office areas and thirdly, Orchard Road malls. If you know exactly where you want to locate your bakery, that’s great. But if you are undecided, you should spend time visiting all three types of malls. The location of your shop is the single most important decision that you will make, so you must spend time looking around and not rush into making hasty decisions.

Be organized:
Have a file to file in all your observations for each mall you visit. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you cannot afford to be messy and disorganized.

Proximity to your home:
Should you pick a mall based on how near it is to your home? It is a huge advantage to you if you live near the mall. You save a lot of time on travelling.

Prepared to work long hours?
Take note of the opening hours of each mall. Note that if you become its tenant, you must stick to the mall’s opening hours and the bakery must be open every day. If you decide to give yourself a day off and not open the bakery on let’s say Monday, or if you close early to attend a wedding dinner, the management will know and you will be asked to pay a penalty (eg. pay extra rent).

Ask yourself seriously whether you are prepared to work hard every day. Being a baker is not a cushy comfortable job. It may not even be glamorous! You will be on your feet working long hours. And it can get quite hot and stuffy working in the baking area. Plus you have to work fast. You can’t do your baking at a leisurely pace as if you’re at home. You can’t chit chat with friends on hands-free phone while baking because you will appear very unprofessional to your customers and you are setting a bad example to your employees.  Also, your bakery’s work area will likely be a small tight space. So you will be confined to that cramped space for many hours a day. You must also not complain about not having a day off (at least not during the starting phase of the business) to watch a movie or have dinner with boyfriend/girlfriend.

Phew! After reading this post, do you still want to open your own bakery? If yes, good for you! If no, good for you too! Because it is important to know yourself - your strengths and weaknesses.

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