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I'm a southern gal who loves baking pies, How do I get a commercial pie business going?

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Answers (4)
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El Camino College SBDC
No-Cost Business Advising
Los Angeles County, CA

Hi Amanda. The Small Business Adminstration has a wealth of information on starting a business (www.sba.gov). You might also check to see if there is a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or Women's Business Center near you. The Centers provide a variety of services, most at no cost. The SBA Web site has a list of locations.

Star Van Buren
Director, Small Business Development Center
Hosted by El Camino College

Sep 1, 2009
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The Dean Group
Principal
CT

HI Amanda,

Don't be discouraged. There's some great advice here, but doing what you love is what life is all about. I LOVE pies. I think supermarket pies suck. The biggest challenge in baking pies (or selling any baked goods) is getting a bakery license. You need a commercial kitchen. I know someone who started her bakery out of her church, which by law here in Connecticut had to have a bakery license. You also might want to consider teaming up with someone who already has a commercial bakery (bagels, for example, here in Connecticut) and would let you use their facilities for a fee.

Supermarkets aren't the only place to sell pies. You could focus on organic or all-natural ingredients and sell to health food stores. You could sell at fairs and flea markets. You could sell to restaurants who demand higher quality pies than supermarket's mass produced pies.

And of course there's the Internet.

Mr. Franchiseman has the right idea. I'm here to help if you need me. FOLLOW THAT DREAM!

Warmly,
Matt DeAngelis
matt@netresource.com

Aug 29, 2009
Fayaz Karim, MBA, CA
Subway Valuations, Business Searches
Consultant
Orange County, CA

Focus more on the Business angle and viability of your idea, it is less about loving to bake pies.
Need the cost structure for operations, ingredients and formulae, marketing and cash flows, break even analysis. MARKET RESEARCH!!

Fayaz Karim, fayaz@mrfranchiseman.com

Aug 21, 2009
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The BAF Group LLC
MD

Amanda, because a lot of supermarkets installed their own bakeries, local bakeries have gone out of business by the droves, in recent years. (Stay with me; I am coming to your question.) In addition, Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme and the Convenience Stores like 7-11 have diluted the market that was originally, only the province of bakeries

This means that there are a lot of empty bakeries, in some areas. In many cases, these come with equipment already in place. New equipment is horrendously expensive, and anyone in food business should seriously consider buying used appliances and such, anyway. There is a LOT of it around, because of how many restaurants and such go broke and their equipment is sold for pennies on the dollar.

Bakeries that have a niche outside of every day donuts and such can still do very well. We sold one about three years ago that sold some breads and small items like donuts, but their specialty and where they make their big money was and still is in wedding cakes. In the past two years, since local supermarkets have reduced or completely gotten rid of their own, internal bakeries, this business picked up on birthday and other occasion cakes, as well.

But if you take over a closed operation, be careful to know your local health care code. If it was an old bakery, they may not have had to keep up with changes in the health code requirements, under a "grandfather" clause in local regulations. However, a new buyer may be forced to upgrade to current code, which may be a modest cost, or extremely expensive. So, if you can, have the health inspector in to let you know what will be needed before you sign a lease.

Another bakery we were dealing with sells bread to restaurants; however, he made the mistake of putting his pricing into a fairly long term contract, which I think is unusual for that industry, anyway. But when gas went up so high, and the cost of raw materials like sugar and flour skyrocketed at about the same time, he lost his shirt because he could not pass those costs on to his buyers. So, if you are selling to stores and restaurants, be careful.

But ALWAYS write a Business Plan to investigate and understand all of the parameters of what you will need, which involves knowing the health regulations, sales tax issues, licenses, sourcing ingredients, who you are selling to and projecting how many pies you can sell in a week. Then, are you in a storefront? What is your rent? Retail will be more expensive than if you are selling to stores and restaurants and only need a commercial bakery site, outside of the retail district. If that commercial venue is your target market, who will sell for you? How are you going to delivery?

ORGANIZE and WRITE that Business Plan!!!

Aug 21, 2009

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