Reacting to the crisis. Part Two.

We asked five pastry chefs how to fight the economical deflation. Here it was the first part of our survey.
Establish a System to Monitor Costs and Income
“I have a very clear overview of my business, because I have trusted in the numbers since we first opened in 1989 and have therefore monitored our activity from the very beginning, first with pen and paper and now with a computer.” Andrea Paoloni from Pasticceria Giada Tricesimo in Udine tells us about his experience: “Thanks to a software programme that is connected to the shop scales, we receive a complete report of what we have sold and how many clients have come into the shop every evening. In the kitchen, all my colleagues fill in a daily excel file with production times and quantities since this data, crossed with the cost of the raw materials, tells us exactly how much a product costs us and, consequently, given the price (our prices are slightly higher than the market average), how much margin we are making. Thanks to this system, we also quickly notice when a product is losing appeal. This happened with a cake that very quickly became unpopular; we investigated the reason for this and identified the cause as a change in ingredient which had affected the consistency of a cream used in the cake, which our customers clearly did not like! And we were able to rectify this immediately. This is also indicative of just how important raw materials are for a patisserie: in 25 years we have always sought the very best from the market and cost has always been a secondary factor. The other critical point, which is fundamental to the success of a patisserie, is customer relations which stems from employee training. We have also been investing in this area for the past two years, employing a specialised agency to help us. What’s the secret to earning in the patisserie world? Optimise production times, which quite simply a matter of organising your work as best as possible. Labour costs are actually one of the most expensive outgoings for a company (between 60-70%), so it is vital to have competent staff, the right space and the right machines. An important tip where technology is concerned: know it well because it makes anything possible.”
Trust in Coupons!
There are some people who have tried out the initiatives of group-buying companies such as Groupalia or Groupon and been very satisfied. One of these very people is Fabio Brigliadoro, founder and managing director of [LA] Gelateria della Musica “We were contacted by Groupalia last year, directly by the company’s managing director who invited us to try a new service for selling tubs of ice-cream. Anyone who signed up for the deal would be able to buy a kilo of ice-cream at a 40% discount. This kind of initiative certainly attracts a lot of clients, so we needed to be ready for an increase in demand while still guaranteeing the best service and quality which are the two key factors that must never be overlooked and which are responsible for the success of [LA] Gelateria della Musica. Since we were already a well-known and consolidated business in Milan, very few people actually discovered us directly and exclusively through this initiative. Would I sign up to this kind of initiative again? It would depend on the individual offer. Our product is very seasonal so a lot depends on the time of year. We also choose our partners on the basis of the type of service offered, which has to guarantee regular communication with the owner and, above all, has to be extremely flexible, allowing all initiatives to be personalised to suit the demands of the individual company. To conclude, I think they are excellent initiatives to promote new businesses. However, the crisis cannot be resolved with price politics alone, especially where the food sector is concerned. The factors that really make a difference are the products on offer, above-average standards and the ability to satisfy your clients.”
Invent a New Product… Which Goes around the World!
Launched in May 2013 by American patisserie Dominique Ansel, the Cronut® (name coined by the chef himself, who was also smart enough to register it in thirty odd countries) is a sort of hybrid between a French croissant and a typical American donut. The Dominique Ansel Bakery informed us that “it is not just fried croissant pastry but a similar, flaky pastry. Once fried in grape seed oil, each Cronut is flavoured in a three-phase process where it is sugared, filled and glazed. Each month, Chef Dominique Ansel launches a new flavour that is promoted in-store and on his website, with resounding success on social networks. The star of May was Rose Vanilla, with rose sugar, Tahitian vanilla ganache and a light rose glaze with crystallised rose petals. In June it was lemon’s turn to shine, in July blackcurrant and lime, in August coconut, then figs and mascarpone in September, apple and sour cream in October, salted Dulce de Leche in November, chocolate and champagne in December, peanut butter and rum caramel in January and raspberries and lychees in February. Between 300 and 400 fresh Cronuts are produced every day at the Dominique Ansel Bakery at a price of $5 each.

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