So you want to supply a coffee shop?

Its funny how you start off making celebration cakes and it suddenly opens doors to new and exciting possibilities such as generating additional income through supplying another business.

 Supplying a coffee shop especially when you have quiet times with celebration cakes can give your business a much welcomed boost as well as a regular income so it’s definitely an option worth considering, but in my opinion it’s easier to be one thing or another.

There are businesses that concentrate on just being a wholesale supplier, making homemade cakes for other businesses and then supplying the general public direct plays a much smaller part.

When I was doing both I found it a little tricky, there is nothing more challenging than working on 3 birthday cakes and suddenly switching to making brownies, layer cakes etc….. (The washing up was off the scale)

When starting up a business a lot of us consider supplying coffee shops and I was the same and thought it was a good way to go so I have been fortunate that I have supplied a total of 3 coffee/cafe business over the years but after a couple of similar experiences I decided that at the moment supplying other businesses  wasn’t the direction I wanted the business to go in, so I made the decision to solely concentrate on my celebration and cupcake business, and give my customers 100% of my attention as I felt I was getting distracted,this isn’t to say I wouldn’t revisit this option again in the future but at this current time  it’s not for me.

So I often read in various cake groups other bakers and cake decorators who have been approached to supply another business with various homemade cakes, and it gave me the idea to share my experience as well as sharing tips for anyone who is considering this route of being a wholesaler and supplying a coffee shop or cafe, so below is what I’ve learnt.

  • Supplying a coffee shop can help boost your profile and can bring celebration cake orders as customers will have tried your cake so ask if you can display business cards to help promote the other side of your business
  • Get together with the owners/managers so you know what kind of products they would like and what suits their clientele. 
  • Baking a layer cake is a much quicker process than creating a celebration cake,(especially if you bake in sandwich tins) you can churn out numerous layers of cake in 4 hours which is about the same length of time you could decorate one cake. But you would more likely earn a lot more off the one celebration cake than your coffee shop order (so bear that in mind)
  • Are you prepared- supplying another business is relentless as you will be baking and delivering between 1-3 times per week, think about who will bake/deliver orders when your on holiday, are you able to deliver the cakes for when the business requires them? so be honest with yourself especially if baking from home as you might just need extra support.
  • Have a price list- if you already make celebration cakes it’s easier with layer cakes, no need for constant quoting, Orders are more about frequency and volume so issue a price list to avoid confusion and keep cost consistent.
  • Carrying on with pricing the coffee shop will want to keep cost low so they can achieve a good gross profit per slice so be careful and make sure you make money.
  • Have a contract- you want to specify cut off ordering times/ ordering days, delivery days and contingency for sickness and holidays. If things are not working be sure to discuss your concerns.
  • Order boxes in bulk- I found rye pack  excellent value and have fabulous packaging for the wholesale market as the regular celebration cake boxes are far to expensive for regular deliveries where the box is just thrown straight in the bin so do your research on your non food cost such as boxes and boards to keep cost down.
  • Make sure your fully insured and have a good understanding of allergens- as your now selling to a third party as sometimes things can go wrong so make sure you are covered and either have a specification sheet regarding allergens for the cakes you supply or suitable allergen labels.
  • Invoice regularly-give delivery notes with every order to keep track of what you deliver as you want to ensure cash flow keeps your business moving so ensure you invoice on a regular basis with using the delivery notes as reference (weekly is best)
  • Keep payments seperate just like your main cake business, I have a separate business account and it just makes everything easier.
  • Use social media- tweet and mention the deliveries you make to the coffee shop so you can get some increased exposure for your business.
  • Be specific about contact times because you have a life too. Ive lost count of the amount of odd times I was receiving calls and messages for emergency orders etc…. This can be stressful so be sure to clearly communicate when you are able to accept orders. If you respond to out of hours contact then the expectation will be that your available 24/7 of which you are not.
  • Weekends can be busy with celebration/ wedding cake orders and a few times i received late coffee shop orders resulting in weekend deliveries which can cause havoc with schedules so Friday afternoon/ evening deliveries might work for both businesses so give this an option regarding deliveries. 

So there you are I’ve probably missed bits but I hope you find this blog post helpful and it may persuade or dissuade you in following this route

.There is a definate market out there and if you get the balance right it can work really well.

And If you already supply a coffee shop please feel free to share your experiences or if you need any advice feel free to ask a question.

Also I’m still looking for cake makers and bakers to take part in the #MeetTheBaker feature so check out the previous #MeetTheBaker blog post, and if you would like to take part get in touch.

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