Over the last 15 years, I have worked with independent bakeries in several countries and, in doing so, have clearly identified what makes the difference between a good and a great bakery. Put simply, the really great ones understand and appreciate the need to invest in training their front-line staff to sell more product.

I’ve seen food businesses increase their turnover and profit by more than 10% almost overnight, simply by measuring their existing service and giving their counter staff some simple sales techniques and then rewarding them for doing it well. For example, try focusing on one key product you want to sell more of this week; explain to the staff the features and benefits of the product and ensure they spell out two benefits to every customer. Then reward the staff member who sells the most of that product.

In a recent piece of work with a client that sells coffee alongside foodstuffs, we noticed that staff were giving customers the option for a large or small coffee and, in 80% of the cases, the customer selected the small option. When the staff member asked ’would that be a large coffee?’ and pointed to the large cup, the large coffee option saw sales rise by 72%. Could you do something similar in your business?

Baker’s Delight, the largest bakery franchise in Australasia has got it right. When you walk into one of their stores, the first impression is good, the welcome is instant and enthusiastic, the physical barriers are minimal and, most importantly, the team know how to sell without giving the ’hard sell’ treatment. Without exception I would walk away spending more than I intended, but "delighted" with the experience.

Baker’s Delight’s success relied on service and the customer experience. To make the most of your staff, you have to invest in the right training (which needn’t be expensive) and have some simple processes in place to make this subtle change of culture.