Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Start a bakery business : Location - Step 1

I ran my own bakery for three years before deciding to give it up to spend more time with my family. So I thought of writing a bit about how to open a bakery in Singapore.  From what I gather in newspapers and the media, many bakers (professional and novice) aspire to run their own bakery some day. That was certainly my ambition, and I must admit that I went full head-on into this venture without thinking through it much. My motto then was that if I thought too much about it (pros and cons, etc), I would end up not doing anything at all. I hope that my little blog here would help those who have this aspiration to think about whether this business is for them. Running a bakery is a tough business, certainly not for the faint-hearted or for those who just think since it’s fun to bake at home, it must be fun to bake as a profession. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is hard work. Hard laborious work. As the boss, not only do you constantly face challenges such as difficult customers, employee shortages, problems with the landlord, there is also the constant stream of admin work, filling of government forms, etc, etc. And as the boss, when the business is up and running, the last thing you get to do is bake and create, which was what you love in the first place.
But I do not want to discourage you or anyone. There are many success bakery stories in Singapore and around the world. The important thing is to always be optimistic.
If you wish to open your own bakery, the first thing that you would think about is the location of a shop space. Undoubtedly, this is the most important decision you will make. Because it can make or break your bakery business. There are two ways to go about this. Let’s say you decide to go for a good location with high human traffic. That would be in some popular shopping mall, for example.  And the shop space is located near an entrance or in the basement where the eateries and supermarket are. Notice where BreadTalk shops are situated in malls. Very high visibility and high human traffic. So if you rent a shop space with the above traits, you have a very high chance of having a successful bakery. That is true. But what is the downside? The downside of course is the VERY VERY HIGH rent.
The other route you can go is the online order route. This is where you set up a good website for your bakery and customers order their cakes, cupcakes at your website. Then they either come to collect the cakes at your bakery or you deliver to them.  The major advantage is that you do not need to have a shop with high human traffic. You can locate your bakery in some obscure mall or HDB shop, etc where the rent is much much lower and more reasonable. You can take online orders as well as sell to walk-in customers. Any downside? Well, you must maintain a good website, best to have it professionally done, because this is the first impression that your potential customers have of you. You must provide excellent customer service and have a reliable delivery system. One final note: it is an offence to bake at home and sell to customers. You must have a licensed bakery.

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