JACKSON, MICH. — Meeting customers in person may be difficult to impossible for retail bakers during this time of social distancing and COVID-19, but there are other ways to stay in touch.
Leveraging social media is one, said Arlene Kobos, senior vice president and general manager – Central Plains region for Jackson-based Dawn Foods.
“Now is not the time to retreat,” she said. “Use your platforms for more than updating customers on changed hours or business plans. You can inspire, engage and give people a much-needed break from the steady stream of serious news. Post product pics, ideas for baking at home or how your business is supporting local efforts such as donating to food banks or shelters.”
Daily or weekly videos on topics like cake decorating are possible, she added.
“The key is to be creative and post more than ever to keep your business top of mind,” Ms. Kobos said.
Offering delivery within a certain radius may keep sales coming in. Let customers know you have online ordering or you work with apps that deliver, she said.
“From Deliveroo to Just Eat, be sure to be a part of the foodservice ecosystem that people are turning to now,” she said.
Consider kits for baking at home where customers may buy donuts, cinnamon rolls or muffins by the dozen that they can take home and bake themselves. Kits for decorating cookies with icings and sprinkles are possible, too.
“These are fun ideas for homebound families looking for something to do, and it keeps revenue coming in,” Ms. Kobos said.
Bakers could scale back on more complex recipes and decorating and instead stick to staples that sell well and remind customers of traditional comfort.
“You will keep your costs lower and appeal to a broader audience,” Ms. Kobos said.