Cookie & Brownie Delivery Business...could it work?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by shawtycat, Apr 16, 2002.

  1. shawtycat

    shawtycat

    Messages:
    1,006
    Likes Received:
    10
    Okay,

    I love baking cookies more than I do making cakes (cakes are exhausting and my hat goes off to all of you who spend hours creating them) and wondered if this could be a good home business idea. I know there is now a Swanson delivery guy in or neighborhood who delivers chicken fingers and other prepared food that you preorder.

    I could start with my street and branch out right? Any thoughts?

    Thanks
    Jodi

    PS

    For those of you who have home based business...what kind of equipment would I need (other that a big mixer and baking sheets)? Is there a specific guideline that your home kitchen has to fall under? Thanks.
     
  2. momoreg

    momoreg

    Messages:
    2,938
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    You have to talk to your local health department. They'll be able to help you with the legal aspect of the business, and then you can decide whether it's feasible.
     
  3. shawtycat

    shawtycat

    Messages:
    1,006
    Likes Received:
    10
    I think the good thing about it is that...Im not looking to get rich. Just supplement our income while still being able to spend time with my 3 kids. Overhead should be at a minimum...all I gotta do is find customers. Ive got businesses, college campuses, and :D other restaurants! I know the businesses around here don't always like to make their own desserts.

    Boy, Im getting a little excited about this idea by the minute. :bounce: I was originally thinking about doing cakes but there are so many people doing that already. Plus, I made a few cakes at home and my daughter decided to take palm sized chunks out of three to eat. :eek: It's much easier if she only eats a few cookies. Then there is decorating.

    I asked the zoning people around here for my photography and was told that as long as no one is parking or customers not coming and going they are fine with a home based business. I'll call the health dept. like you suggested. Thanks. :)

    Ive already found a place to get cookie boxes in bulk at a reasonable price. Any tips from someone who already has a home based business....like what NOT to do??

    Thanks again Momoreg!

    Jodi

    PS

    Did I mention that I have 2 separate kitchens at my house?? That should help right?
     
  4. kylew

    kylew

    Messages:
    1,635
    Likes Received:
    156
    Exp:
    Home Chef
    I would not underestimate the difficulty of accomplishing this part of your project. Sales can be a full time, exhausting (physically and emotionally) job.

    Signed,
    A former salesman :)
     
  5. brreynolds

    brreynolds

    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    10
    Food TV Network had a segment last night (April 15) in a program about cookies about a cookie delivery business in Amherst. It's been going for about 15 years, and looks like it is quite sizeable. They deliver units of 16 warm cookies in a pizza-box-like box in one of those red things that are used to keep pizzas warm. You might want to take a look at the cable schedule to see if this show will be replayed.

    From that show it appeared that these things were important to the profitability of the business: (1) It looked like they only delivered boxes of 16 (which they call "Dan's dozen"), not smaller units. The 16 formed an exact square that filled the cookie sheet and fit exactly into the delivery box. The bakery had pans, ovens and boxes sized to hold that batch. Also by selling in a large unit, they avoided the "can you deliver one cookie" syndrome. (2) Amherst is home to two colleges, Amherst and a branch of U. Mass. The student population appeared to be a sizeable part of the customer base. (3) The next important part of the customer base appeared to be offices buying cookies as a munchie for meetings. It may be that a lot or orders went to individual homes, but no deliveries of that kind were shown on the program, and I can imagine that this wouldn't be a steady, predictable customer base for orders of 16 or more cookies. (4) I think the show also said that the bakery supplies a few restaurants and other retail outfits, but I was paying bills during the show so didn't focus on all of it. (No, the tax return had already been filed, thank you.)

    So, are you located near a large student population and a bunch of offices? Are there restaurants, diners and other retail outlets that would buy from you wholesale to give you a base of income from which the delivery business could grow?
     
  6. marmalady

    marmalady

    Messages:
    1,046
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    Most local health dept. restrictions on home based cooking businesses prohibit the old whip out my Kitchen aid and do a batch of cookies kind of thing. They want to see the same things you need in a prof. kitchen- double or triple sinks, separate refrigeration than your home use fridge, stuff like that.

    If you get a logjam in that area with your health dept., could you do your baking at the diner -maybe in their oven down time?
     
  7. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

    Messages:
    4,333
    Likes Received:
    81
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    Kyle's remark regard building a customer base should NOT be taken lightly. A college town probably offers a better chance at succeeding in that type of business.
     
  8. shawtycat

    shawtycat

    Messages:
    1,006
    Likes Received:
    10
    Where should I start?

    brreynolds

    1. I am near Felician College's 2 campuses
    2. There are many businesses in this area and in Hackensack
    3. I am also located 8 minutes from Hackensack Hospital
    4. This is Jersey.....there is a diner every 5 minutes :D
    5. There are also apartment complexes.
    6. I also have a following of truckers at the family diner who come and ask especially for my cookies and brownies already.
    7. There are also 4 towns within easy driveable distance from my home.

    I definately think I can find lots of customers around here. Ill look and see when that episode will be on Food TV again so I can see it.

    KyleW

    I know what you mean. :rolleyes: Ive done sales, marketing and customer service but I think I will have more motivation since it will be my business I am trying to promote.

    Momoreg

    I emailed my Health Dept. last night. Hopefully I will have a reply soon.

    Thanks guys.

    Jodi
     
  9. marmalady

    marmalady

    Messages:
    1,046
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    Shawty, I'd start small, close to home, and build up gradually; if you hit all the places you mentioned above, you're going to have to hire delivery guys right away! My first pick would definitely be the hospital - you have no idea what sweet junkies docs and nurses are!
     
  10. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

    Messages:
    7,375
    Likes Received:
    63
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    Remember 3 babies...one a newborn.
    I just spent last night cookingat my brother's house with his 5 children, youngest is 17 monthes old.
    Think about what time can be used cooking....and who's watching the babes.
    You've got a built in core group of customers with the drivers that aren't expecting HOT cookies...maybe prepackage some cold ones and throw in some napkins....have milk chubs available.

    Schools!!!!send out info for their meetings, parties, teacher appreciation.etc....

    Hot will be a logistic/staff problem at the beginning....and you'll have to be up and running all the time.
     
  11. shawtycat

    shawtycat

    Messages:
    1,006
    Likes Received:
    10
    Marmalady

    I have a separate kitchen as I said before. Separate stove, refrigerator, sink and dishwasher. I only have a single sink though that is why I was thinking of using the diner until after we remodel. (Which we were planning to do anyway.) We have a kind of 'breakfast kitchen' upstairs on the second floor where I cook all our family meals. The other kitchen is downstairs on the first floor.

    I also plan to stay close to home. I dont plan on making a million dollars with this. Just need a little supplemental income. Plus word of mouth is a good thing when I decide to branch out in the future. I prefer niche to commercial.

    Shroomgirl

    As for the kids......I still find time to cook twice a day. Can't seem to pull myself out of the kitchen for some strange reason. :D I actually think Im cooking more at home than I was before. It is easier for me to cook at home than at the diner. I have a separate play room set up for the kids where I can see and hear them. And they are used to mommy being in the kitchen whipping up cookies already. I also have lots of experience with my cousins kids. (I have a very LARGE family) So three will be no problem for me. Try babysitting 7 - 10 kids at once and youll know what I mean. :rolleyes: :lol:

    Oh yeah, it will only be two babies at home....one being a newborn. My baby girl is starting kindergarten in September. WAH! :cry: I can't believe she's old enough to go to school. She won't be at her usual spot as mommy's offical cookie taster when I pull a batch out of the oven. :(
     
  12. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,396
    Likes Received:
    425
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    I used to work with a lady who had done this. She let it lapse for all the legalistic hassles and the low return for the hours it took.

    On the other hand, you have to remember this is also competing against her day job. For her, that was much better use of time. This may not be true for you.

    In my area, one of the laws is that a home based business that is open to the public needs a separate entrance to the business part of the home. If you expect walk-ins for orders and pick-ups and supply delivery, and that sort of thing, that could affect you. If you can structure it so that the business part of the home is not for the public, you can probably dodge that hassle. Where you're cooking as a business from home, the local code might require certain fire equipment and insurance as well. So it's not all just public health issues.

    Phil
     
  13. shawtycat

    shawtycat

    Messages:
    1,006
    Likes Received:
    10
    Insurance....hadn't thought of that. Will look into it. Ill ask one of my contractor friends who he uses. Wonder if my car insurance co also offers other types of insurance and what the premiums will be like....

    Random thoughts.

    Thanks Phil!
     
  14. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

    Messages:
    4,333
    Likes Received:
    81
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    Using your own vehicle for business can increase insurance rates.
     
  15. marmalady

    marmalady

    Messages:
    1,046
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    If you want to keep it on the small side, I'd definitely go with the hospital - think of all those nurse's stations - and medical records - and the ER!!
     
  16. shawtycat

    shawtycat

    Messages:
    1,006
    Likes Received:
    10
    Not to mention all those NEW MOMMIES on the maternity ward :D Cookie Flower arrangement anyone?? It's a ? gift baskets maybe? Oh the possibilities.

    Plus the hospital is accustomed to seeing me...during my second pregnancy, deliveries from the diner and now with my third pregnancy. The security staff are also our friends and regular customers at the diner.

    Gosh...Im actually grinning like a maniac and rubbing my hands together. :blush:
     
  17. momoreg

    momoreg

    Messages:
    2,938
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    What if you are asked to do mail order, or travel more than 30 min. to make a delivery? Do you have an idea of how you will want to limit yourself, to stay small?
     
  18. shawtycat

    shawtycat

    Messages:
    1,006
    Likes Received:
    10
    Weeeellll....I don't or didn't travel further than a few specified towns for deliveries of the diner food. I mean there was no way I was travelling to Paterson NJ at 4am for a $8 order. :eek: I would try to stay with the hospital, college campus and neighborhood. I can mail a few things I guess if it comes to that but that turns into a whole other ball game.

    Id have to consider:

    Packaging for travel.
    UPS rates
    Shipping & Handling charges
    Lost or damaged goods

    That would be a growing biz if I did alot of that. (Hmmm cookie tins, Id have to get cookie tins....sorry random thought) The hospital and local neighborhood should keep me busy. Remember not trying to make thousands and thousands. Just something small for now.
     
  19. brreynolds

    brreynolds

    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    10
    The comment on insurance hit me. You have two insurance questions, not one. The first question is the one you got -- what insurance do local codes require of a business? The other is one for your regular insurance agent -- does your existing home insurance policy prohibit a home business and become void if you run a business out of your house? If it continues, does it cover any portion of the home business?
     
  20. matthew357

    matthew357

    Messages:
    80
    Likes Received:
    10
    Having been in college recently I can give a few recommendations for advertising at a college.

    Most colleges have posting boards where you can post fliers. I'd highly recommend doing that and making tear offs on the bottom of the paper with the company name and phone number so that a student walking by can rip off that little tab and have all the info they need instead of getting out a paper and pen or taking the whole flier. I can't count the number of times I've used those things for pizza/sub/burrito delivery.

    Look into advertising companies that specialize in just that college as well as the college newspaper. Most of the time these are pretty inexpensive and highly effective.

    One key to supplying a college with food of any kind is your hours of delivery. In college we kids keep incredibly odd hours, so being able to order some piping hot cookies at 3 a.m. while studying is a DEFINITE plus. There was a pizza place in Athens called gumbies that was open for delivery every day until 4 a.m. Even though they didn't have the best pizza in town they were open so late that eventually I only ordered pizza from Gumbies. Plus they had a huge Pizza called the Gumbies "Big A**" It could feed four hungry college guys easily and it was only $12.

    Hope this helps and good luck.

    Matt