Christmas is coming and while many are focused on the big day, there’s much to do before the celebrations begin.
From security to scheduling, new product development and, of course, embracing the Christmas spirit, bakeries will be busy in the run-up to 25 December.
Here, Barnsley-based Fosters Bakery, which produces baked goods for commercial customers, outlines its top tips for bakeries over the festive period.
It’s not exactly exciting, but scheduling is vital to the successful management of any business operation, even more so as the busy Christmas period gets underway.
“Liaising with customers to make sure you know their forecasts and schedules is really important. Christmas is a busy time for everyone, so high levels of communication will help both parties to make sure products are received,” explains Mia Fisher-Howe, digital marketing coordinator at Fosters Bakery.
As well as collecting customer and supplier Christmas schedules, send out your own. This, Fisher-Howe notes, helps keep your customers in the loop and allows both parties to plan efficiently.
Settling in for winter
British weather is unpredictable, so make sure vehicles and other operations are winter-ready.
“Give your vehicles a check-over and make sure they’re equipped with ice scrapers or any other necessary equipment for the snowy weather,” Fisher-Howe advises. “Get your shovels and grit out as well. This is important if you have vehicles on-site, which help to provide reliable deliveries.”
Many businesses also shut down over the festive season, meaning it is crucial to check shutdown procedures.
“A thorough shutdown process may take a little extra time, but helps to ensure your business is safe. This could include things such as security alarms, locks, CCTV or making sure your staff know how to properly shut down all machinery,” she adds.
Down time can also be used to undertake maintenance work without causing disruption to everyday operations.
Shiny new products
Getting products ready for Christmas is an important part of the season and starts earlier than many might like – often months in advance. Fosters is already planning its 2019 range.
Inspiration for new products, flavours and formats can come from many places.
“Christmas is a brilliant time to have a look at what your competitors are doing, visit some Christmas markets and shows, and use ideas to influence your own product development,” she explains.
But remember to keep an eye on how they are performing. “Keeping track of reviews are a great way to gain honest customer feedback on whether you can improve your product. We always monitor how popular our products are and what we can do to make them better, if anything,” she says.
Getting in the spirit
Don’t forget to embrace the Christmas spirit and allow staff to do the same, whether that’s putting up decorations, a Christmas tree or wearing something festive.
“We have a Christmas jumper day in December and have a Christmas tree in our office,” says Fisher-Howe.
Plus, it’s a way to give something back to the community or a good cause.
“Christmas time is also a great time to raise some money for charity – for example, ask everyone who wears a Christmas jumper to donate £1 or so and you have raised some money for a good cause.”