Tag Archives: bakeries

Steve Hodge on the set of Project Bakeover

Steve Hodge Shares His Best Tips on How to Run a Successful Bakery

The life of a small business owner can be a challenging one, with small profit margins, fickle clientele and staffing issues looming as potential issues just over the horizon. The COVID-19 pandemic in particular put many small businesses in peril, and the hospitality industry was particularly hard hit (according to industry association Restaurants Canada, 10,000 restaurants closed between March and December 2020).

Steve Hodge and Tiffany Pratt discuss renovation plans for OMG Baked Goodness on the set of Project Bakeover

Steve Hodge knows these challenges like the back of his baking pan — as the owner of Temper Chocolate & Pastry in Vancouver, he has built up his business from a single location to one that sells treats in retail stores across the country. Now, on Project Bakeover, Steve brings the lessons he’s learned from his own success to small bakeries across North America.

We caught up by phone with Steve, who shared some of his best tips from the early episodes of this season for struggling entrepreneurs and bakery owners.

Related: Here’s What You Need to Know About Steve Hodge

Think Outside the Store

The first thing Steve does before even entering a bakery is to eyeball the signage outside. If the word “bakery” isn’t front and center, customers can get the wrong first impression (at Mrs. Joy’s Absolutely Fabulous Treats in Episode 1, the word didn’t even appear on the signage, but “classes” and “parties” were highlighted. “This could be a party store,” said Steve). Often, the customer’s decision as to whether to enter the shop is based on curbside appeal and a clear sense of the store’s direction.

See More: Mrs. Joy’s Absolutely Fabulous Treats Gets a Bold New Look

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

If the customer can’t see what your shop is selling, then they are less likely to buy. In Episode 2, Steve recommended that OMG Baked Goodness’ poorly organized and half-empty counters be loaded full of bright lights and inviting products. Remember to spotlight the best sellers and popular products.

Close up shot of the baked goods at OMG Baked Goodness

Bigger is Not Always Better

Sometimes customers want a big over-the-top treat, but more often, they are looking for a small indulgence. As soon as Steve bit into Mrs. Joy’s cream puff, he knew it was too large and a waste of her ingredients. “She’d get a bigger bang for her buck if she cut it down a bit,” he says. Consider that customers have varying appetites and budgets, and plan accordingly.

See More: We Share Our Go-To Bakeries Across Canada

Be Ready to Change on the Fly

Especially during pandemic times, where rolling lockdowns can mean an open dining space one day and a closed storefront with takeout only the next, flexibility is essential. At Temper Bakery, Steve and his team were ready to make some quick changes to adapt when the COVID-19 lockdowns began. “As bakeries, we can change the way we run our business — we can be a dine-in or grab-and-go,” he says. “At Temper, we now sell more frozen bake-at-home products than we sell fresh from the store. It was a matter of simplifying our business model and streamlining the elements to maximize profitability.”

Keep It Simple

In the same vein, Steve advises bakery owners to think outside the box, but not to hold onto inventory because they’re too attached to it or think they’ll need it later on. “This is a great time to simplify,” he says. “At Temper, we took 20 per cent of our menu off when the pandemic first hit, and we’re never returning to the old way.” The worst mistake he saw at the bakeries he visited was an overabundance of product choice, which led to the bakery owners being overwhelmed and working day in and day out.

Related: Watch Steve Hodge’s Video Bio

Harness Social Media

“If you’re not online, get online,” says Steve, who recommends that bakery owners use social media to identify and spotlight their hero items. “When I was in culinary school, there was no social media. Now, home cooks around the world can pick up the phone and take a picture of their baked goods. Social media changed the world of pastry in terms of who we knew were the best, and you learn more by inventing and creating.”

Take It Outside

Putting tables outside for curbside pickup is a perfect opportunity to draw traffic and boost curb appeal, says Steve. “It will draw you out of the kitchen and make you more interactive as a business owner,” he says. “If you haven’t been involved in [the] community, go outside and say hello and stay safe to your customers. Really take the chance to interact with them — they’ll remember it.”

To Make Money, You Have to Spend Money

Even if margins are tight, Steve recommends some low-cost ways to garner some publicity, such as contacting the local paper and buying a small ad, or running a contest on social media. “It can be as simple as saying ‘if you like this picture, send to this person, or recommend it for a gift and you have a chance to win a gift box’,” he says.

Put Your Logo Out There

Think beyond flyers when it comes to logos. “If you sell coffee in your shop and don’t logo your cups, go buy a $20 stamp with your logo and stamp away,” says Steve. “The majority of stuff for takeout that people carry around outside is in paper cups. You want your logo everywhere: on stickers, poles, and in peoples’ hands.”

Steve Hodge at OMG Baked Goodness

Keep an Open Mind to New Ideas, Even After the Pandemic Ends

Don’t just innovate in terms of trend chasing, advises Steve.  “We ask ourselves as business owners, ‘why didn’t we think of this before?’ — well, we didn’t always have to think of that next step,” he says. “But out of the pandemic, we’ve learned a lot of great things as to how to run a business, and we’ll keep doing them.”

Watch Project Bakeover Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Tiffany Pratt’s Top Tips for Giving Bakeries New Life

We all love freshly baked goods, but who doesn’t love a visual feast to accompany those mouthwatering croissants, cookies, and sky-high stacked deli sandwiches? HGTV Canada designer (and everyone’s favourite Queen of Pink) Tiffany Pratt gets it, which is why she’s here to help struggling bakery owners with her new series Project Bakeover. In each episode she teams with master chocolatier Steve Hodge to give new life to rundown places, tackling one bakery at a time.

Headshot of Tiffany Pratt smiling on the set of Project Bakeover

Of course, resto-design is something that Pratt is passionate about, having transformed numerous GTA eateries in the past. We sat down with the designer to pick her creative brain on what it takes to give any bakery (or restaurant for that matter) a whole new visual life.

Related: Gorgeous Restaurant Designs By Tiffany Pratt

Attract Customers at the Curb

Before a customer even walks into your establishment, it’s important to set the tone and mood with plenty of curb appeal. Go for a warm and welcoming vibe that gives patrons an idea of what they can expect when they step inside. “The space being welcoming doesn’t start when you walk in the door, it starts before you actually walk through the door, on the sidewalk from the street,” says Tiffany. “Create impact to get people inside. How I do that is with colour and shapes and textures and prints.”

Whether that’s a bright façade, a watercolour fence, or graffiti on the walls remains up to you, just make sure that it stands out and that it speaks to the vibe you’re going for.

Embrace What Makes Your Business Unique

Nothing gets customers more excited than knowing they have the option to try something new, even when you’re talking about the comfort fare featured at most bakeries. In terms of design, Tiffany says that means looking at different shapes, colours and textures that stand out and alert people that what you have going on at your space is unique and special. Of course, adding a different type of food or a daily special doesn’t hurt either. “It’s really about giving people an experience,” Tiffany adds.

See More: Mrs. Joy’s Gets a Dramatic Makeover

Maximize the Takeout Experience

These days with takeout being more necessary than ever, it’s a chance for eateries to appeal to customers on a whole new level. Because let’s face it: everyone could use a little more joy in their lives, and what’s more joyful than feeling like your regular old Tuesday night takeout is an entire experience?

“I’ve had a few people that, instead of having a door, they just did a temporary cloud window, and made it a fun little pickup window,” Pratt says. “Cafes that I’ve designed turned their diner into one of those 1950s drive-in style places. And they actually did it so that people didn’t even have to leave their cars. They brought their food outside, drive-in style. There are so many fun ways to package things.”

Put Care Into Packaging

Speaking of takeout and delivery, Tiffany says it’s just as important to think about how you package your food as it is to think about how you design your space. Because that takeout is travelling away from your eatery, with every potential to bring new and returning customers back. “We focus less on what the space looks like right now as how the food is packaged,” she explains. “How can we take pictures of this fun takeout food? This comes into the conversation about branding and stickers and bags and logos, because if people can’t go into the restaurant or the bakery, they still want an experience.”

Related: Watch Full Episodes of Project Bakeover

Take Your Clientele Into Consideration

When Tiffany designed the dining room at Piano Piano, she knew that customers would be sitting down to a long and lengthy meal—as you do at nice Italian restaurants. Add in the fact that some meals would be heavy, and she wanted to ensure that people would be more than comfortable for extended periods of time. The designer says that taking the menu and clientele into consideration when designing any space is super important, and it’s one of the first conversations she has.

“I’ll say to myself as a designer, ‘OK, well, this is the food, this is what people are expecting.’ And then what can I do that is unexpected that no one has done yet that would make more people come here instead of anywhere else?” she explains.

Create An Overall Vibe

Whatever vibe you create with your eatery’s exterior, be sure to continue that feeling on the inside. Tiffany says that she always brings samples back to the spot itself in order to see how natural light affects her selections, and then she creates her famous colour combos in order to evoke all those feelings.

“Combining colours for me is about how I want the person who’s sitting in the space to feel,” she says, pointing to her dusty pink, teal, blue and mustard yellow design at Café Cancan as an example. “I just felt like that was making a more masculine clientele feel happy by that deep teal. The orange is very playful, but the pink always no matter who you are, makes everyone feel cozy,” she adds.

See More: Explore Bakeries From Project Bakeover

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Café Cancan (@cafecancanto)

Don’t Forget the Instagram Crowd

These days everything is visual, and customers who are inspired to take a photo of your space to share with their social media crew creates a great opportunity for more publicity. Tiffany always ensures that she has such a space in her designs, whether that’s a fun dresser by the restrooms with inexpensive props, a colourful wall, or fun accessories on the tables.

“My favourite is to have something else to take pictures of. That’s what everybody—influencer or not—gets excited about,” Pratt says. “This is a very visual culture that we live in. If we give people beautiful things to experience, to try, and to look at and take pictures of, that becomes a trifecta of the commercial bakery industry, in my opinion.”

Last But Not Least, Don’t Focus on Perfection

Looking ahead, Tiffany predicts waste-free design trends with less expensive finishes. She also thinks people will continue to be excited by colour and things that spark joy and creativity. But she also says that we’re learning to be more forgiving with ourselves, and that extends to design as well.

“We have to be less attached to perfection and doing things perfectly and spending tons of money on things,” she says. “Often just opening the doors and creating great food and creating a fun, inviting atmosphere is more important than anything. Don’t focus on perfection, focus on fun. Focus on creating an environment that people want to be in. That’s the most important thing.”

Watch Project Bakeover Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.