The festive season is almost upon us! So, South Africa’s bakers only have a few months to prepare for their next peak trading season: Black Friday and the end of year holidays.

The country’s baked goods market is estimated to be worth over R30 billion a year, giving a slice of the pie to any baker who is agile, fast, bold, and innovative enough to create season-specific opportunities that can boost profit margins.

Yet, because of fierce competition, rising prices, load shedding, and COVID, consumer confidence and discretionary income are under tremendous strain.

So, one needs to ask the question: What’s the best way to prepare your bakery for the holiday, and highly profitable, season. And how do you best maintain both your sanity and a smooth operation through this critical time of year?

We’ve put together a few tips to help your bakery make the most of the end of the year.

Analyse last year and learn from it.

Look at your inventory of sales from this time last year. Knowing how much you sold, and when, will help you predict what you’ll need to order ahead of time. It’ll also give you an accurate idea of whether you’ll need extra seasonal help. This will allow you to avoid telling your customers, “Sorry, we’re out of stock!” or “Please join the extra-long queue!” Remember, you need to keep the holiday spirits (and profits) high!

Never underestimate the popularity of the classics.

Mince pies, Christmas pud, Gingerbread Men, and Yule logs! There are reasons that these are classics, and you can bet your bakery that they’ll be high on your customer’s shopping lists this year too. Sure, there’s plenty of opportunity to unleash your baking creativity on innovative new recipes, like Salted caramel apple pie blondies, but DON’T forget the classics that customers know and love! Otherwise, they’ll soon be looking elsewhere, and we don’t want that!

Diversify your holiday treats.

This may sound contradictory to the point above, but not everyone celebrates Christmas. Your store should offer a diverse range to meet everyone’s desire. So, make sure that you also offer treats for other cultures, so that they too may celebrate.  You will make a much more personalised, and inclusive, impression.

Shopping environment is important.

Hey, it’s Christmas – and your bakery needs to show that! Make sure your shopfront is welcoming to all holiday shoppers and that your store’s interior is alive with lights, decorations, and festive tunes.

Be a festive destination.

This expands on the earlier point. Sure, people are in that holiday rush, buying that last-minute present for Grandma, but that doesn’t mean your bakery can’t help them take a much needed breather. Add a few chairs and tables on the floor, serve coffee, and offer customers a taster of what else you have on offer while they wait for their order. It’ll result in increased dwell time and increased sales.

Your team’s holiday spirit is key.

Make sure your staff are in the holiday mood. It could be the promise of a Christmas bonus or just an appreciative attitude from the boss. You can also bolster this by anticipating the holiday rush and making sure you’re adequately stocked and staffed. This helps them stay smiling – and that’ll make your customers smile too.

Hold your marketing fire until the right moment.

Yes, holiday coupons and promotions are great to boost foot traffic, but don’t start advertising too early. You want to find that sweet spot, just when customers’ festive spirit is peaking. This is usually, and especially with baked goods, about one or two weeks before the holiday gathering.

Consistent branding is crucial – but you have room to manoeuvre.

A consistent logo and colour palette is key to helping customers recognize your brand. But it’s Christmas and you should reflect this. So, keep your logo and colours as they are, but add that festive cheer to other marketing collateral, like menus and product name tags.

Get social media savvy.

This one’s a no brainer. Sure, the Festive Season is a time for spending quality time with loved one’s but, let’s face it, most people will also still be browsing TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in between! So be present on all of them. Make a splash. Tell, and show, the world you’re just as excited as they are by the approaching holidays. Use professional quality photos and videos of your festive bakery products, and post them on the different social platforms. Entertain your customers with fun festive stories, and share lots of ideas and images. Don’t forget, be responsive, timeous, and personally address people’s questions, compliments, complaints, and concerns. People want to be heard – and during December is no different!

So, there you have it, those are our suggestions to help your bakery have a rip roaring success over the Festive Season. No doubt, you already have plenty of ideas of your own. So, use them. Experiment. See what works for you. See what doesn’t. But above all, make sure you embrace, wholeheartedly, the spirit of the Festive Season.

It’s what your customers are doing – and they want you to do the same too!