most profitable items vs. least profitable items

Joined Mar 6, 2001
There's somethings I'm not crazy about making (don't we all have a couple?) because their so time consuming or a pain to make.....

The place I'm at, at this moment, does a ton of little hand decorated sugar cookies. They roll them out on small boards (with a borded lip for consistant thickness in rolling), bake, coat in simple frosting, then decorate with piped on outline etc...they sell these for .64 cents each. Depending upon who's working on them sometimes I'd swear if they are making .10 cents a cookie that might be pushing it. (But if you put a dozen in a basket and sell them like flowers as gifts, then they look like profit to me).
They also struggle putting out kolachey and butter horns (no skilled help, inconsistant product). These items don't seem like good choices to me when you think about profitablity. They only hold so long....

Cakes on the other hand are the most profitable items I see. You can get them out with high quality and speed plus they have a decent shelf life..

What do you think? Which items just don't make sense to you in a contempory bakery? If you owned a bakery what would your menu look like? Would you have a full menu even if it meant you'd have to sell items you purchased in frozen, turn down orders? or would you stick to a more limited menu with what you do best?

Assuming your in an average neighborhood, selling to people less gourmet then yourselfs.
Joined Feb 6, 2002
I think the best way to go is to have a limited menu of what you do best. If you have high quality stuff that's the best all around people from near and far will come to get it. Its best to sell your best product (also one you love making) than a bunch of stuff that you don't make so well. Which probably doesn't taste well either. Makes sense to me.

Just my 2 cents. :)
Joined Sep 21, 2001
I don't think it is the item as much as the technique or the lack of technique that makes the item profitible. If you are dead-set on making a certain item then somewhere at sometime someone has made them and was able to make a profit. It is not the sugar cookies' fault that someone can't seem to make them fast or skillfully.
When designing a menu, I take into account both the customers' needs my own ability to consistantly and profitably be able to meet those needs. That takes into account whether I or someone on my staff will be able to the work well. I try to stay out of situations where the skill level to maintain MY inventory is dependent on someone with a very specialized skill, unless I know that person is readily replaceable. Look at your plan from a wholistic approach: business goals, quality goals, personal goals, then work on the details. If an item sells, then learn to make it profitable. If an item sits there, figure out what the customer really wants!
Joined Mar 6, 2001
Well if I listen to you Peachcreek it explains a WHOLE LOT about why bakeries are the way most are. But yet bakeries are all about specialized skills, no? What sells the most are the items involving detail or custom work (although how they market their product might influence that)...

You make alot of sense, thanks, I think your right. I have looked at this wrong.
Joined Jul 28, 2001
that's good info. Your customer should dictate your items. You will have to offer them a variety and the will respond to different things. I designed my bakeries to produce yeast products as well as the others. Well, no yeast products. Our niche is having fresh 10" decorated cakes in stock all the time. Who knew!? I planned on going out the back door the first year but was unable. I think we did 3250 10"ers out the front door. I also never though that we would sell the volume of old fashioned custard filled eclairs either, and at 2.00.
You must identify your money makers and then tweek to make them profitable. There is no trick, you must factor in all your costs. If those cookies are not a consistant cost, you are not running efficient. I must have skilled help to produce the cakes but I factor that all into the cost. I'm not afraid to push anything that sells because of labor or other factors.I will cut it if it can't generate the revenue it needs to.

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