Keeping on top of all aspects of your business can be tricky, especially when the orders are rolling in. That’s why having systems in place to maintain order and to allow you to work as quickly as possible are key. Today I’m going to look at three tips in three different areas of your business - customers, money and your kitchen. Hopefully these will help reduce your stress and making running your awesome baking business a total breeze!
Keep all communication in one place.
If people are getting in touch with you by all manner of methods, with some enquiries coming through your Facebook page, a few being made by text message, the odd phone call and some face to face, you are bound to get confused and lose track of something.
When customers are placing orders, or even making an enquiry, encourage them to use just one form of communication. My preference is e-mail, as you can organise your e-mails into folders to allow each different order to stay separate and easy to access. Even if they make that initial contact by message, ask them to put all of the details down in an email, this will allow you to keep a record of everything they ask for.
To help with this, you can direct all of your enquiries coming from your website straight to your business email account and you can add a big blue button to your Facebook business page that will direct people straight to an email enquiry, rather than being tempted by the FB messaging feature.
Once in your inbox, use folders to organise your orders into categories (weddings/birthdays) or customer name to really keep you on track.
Keep an order diary.
This might seem obvious but I didn’t have one in my early days. I had notes in different places, some on my phone, some in my diary some in my head...Yeah, it was a shambles! Get yourself a nice big A4 diary - who doesn’t love an excuse to buy stationery - and write down when all of your orders are due to go out. This will stop you from double booking yourself and having to get out two three tiered cakes in the one day!
It’s also a great place to note down any client meetings, or tasting sessions, the date you’re due to supply a cafe or important dates you have for getting certain items baked or assembled by. If you’re going to keep everything in the one diary though, I definitely recommend colour coding.
Record your customers contact details.
When the order is finished and the cake handed over, hopefully that will not be the last you see of that customer. Return business is your friend in a small business so you want to make sure you have a note of your customers contact details. This can either just be in a spreadsheet on your computer or it can be in a mailing list - I use MailChimp for mine. This way you can offer previous customers special offers or let them know about new flavours and designs you are offering.
File all receipts.
Time to head back to the stationary store! Holding on to all of your money related paperwork will be very important when tax returns roll around so I like to store everything in a ring binder, split into months. This makes it much easy at the end of the year when you are totalling everything up. Keep hold of business bank statements, bills, invoices or customer receipts, and receipts for anything you’ve purchased.
Create an income/outgoings spreadsheet.
Before you pop your receipt into your newly created filing system, enter if into your accounts spreadsheet! It doesn’t need to be complicated, one page for income and one page for outgoings. Note down the name, date and amount, then keep running totals at the bottom of each month.
Use an order form and receipt book to accept orders and payments.
Either buy yourself a receipt book, or make up a receipt on a word processing program - Microsoft and the Google suite offer templates if you want a starting point. Not only does having an order form and receipt make you look professional to your customer, it keeps a paper record for you and them.
Use labelled containers for dry ingredients.
I have found the most efficient way to store dry ingredients in my cupboards is to use plastic containers of similar sizes, which can be stacked and lined up neatly. This way takes up the smallest amount of space in your cupboards and is also the tidiest way - more leaking bags of sugar and flour going everywhere in our kitchens! You can even get creative with your labelling to make your kitchen look as beautiful as your cakes!
Organise your equipment by task.
Whether you have a kitchen dedicated to your business or you’re working out of your house, the best way to store your equipment is by grouping it into task. For example - all ingredients in the wall cupboards (or the fridge); a drawer for all of your baking tins; a large plastic box to store your fondants, colours, cutters and rolling pins; a storage container for your piping bags and nozzles; and all of your cake boards and boxes in the store cupboard. Obviously it will vary with what you are baking and what space you are working with, but you get my drift. It will save you a lot of time if everything you need for each task is kept in the same place.
Date and label stored cakes and ingredients.
If you are making items ahead of time, that can either be frozen or kept in storage, be sure to label them with the date the were made and what they are intended for. If you are making a lot of wedding cakes it is perfectly acceptable to make the sponges ahead of time and freeze them, a lot of people find this actually improves the texture of the cake, but the last thing you want to do is get them muddled up when you come to assemble them. Make sure however you label them you will be sure of what it is to be used for and when it was made when you go to take it out and use it.
I really hope the above helps you and your business be as efficient as possible so you have lots of stress free time to cook or bake whatever delicious thing it is that you sell.
In this post I have mentioned some items like financial spreadsheets, order forms and labels - is this something that you would be interesting in downloading from me as a template? If you would let me know and I will get busy and upload some for your to either download or purchase!