Being organized


Being an organized person is, I think, a double edged sword: you can take a lot of stress out of life by getting a good jump on things but it’s easy to slip over into being a pain-in-the-rear. Not everyone, I’ve found, wants to talk  in June about who will be cooking Christmas dinner.

In business, though, it’s hard to think of a downside to being organized. Immodestly I will say that the PGB team NAILED IT these last two weeks with orders for individually boxed, regular size cupcakes totally up to  over 6000 cupcakes! 6000 – and with a Canada Day sticker on each box! The recipients likely thought something like, “Sweet! A cupcake just for me!” and then ate it. But behind the scenes at Prairie Girl there were days of scheduling the team, making the boxes, adding the stickers, planning the bake times, planning the location where the baking would be done…etcetera. Had we forgotten the packing peanuts for the brown boxes – or enough maple syrup for the icing – or the number of trips required to deliver them all by the requested times…well, it would not have been pretty.

Military-like organization is often behind anything  that looks effortless and we only really notice when businesses are “disorganized” rather than well-organized.  Good organization was woefully lacking in a cupcake store Andrew and I visited in New York this past weekend. The store is long and narrow and has 4 different stations: banana pudding; cookies; cupcakes; cake slices, and then a cash register for all stations at the end.

Andrew quickly got “in line” for the cookies but since there were really no organized lines, over at the cupcake station I  just milled around and watched as more assertive people got ahead of me.

Finally I wandered back to “cookies” where Andrew was just being handed his cookie.

Seeing that I was cupcake-less, he said  to the cookie person, “Could you please get my wife a cupcake?”

“Nope! You have to go to the cupcake line!”

Okay then….so they want you to buy lots of everything (I assume) but then make it as hard as possible to actually buy anything. Stumbling back into Times Square, it was actually less chaotic out there than in this zoo.

I was reminded  by that confusing experience to think about PGB’s customer service plans for the fall when we will be bringing in tarts, cookies and brownies. I now know for sure we won’t have “stations” but with a larger menu, I think the line will slow down unless more customer service people are added. Getting back to my original point, the devil is in the details – if on the day we launch new menu items, the line is slow and it is chaos, there’s no doubt in my mind that we will lose people who just can’t tolerate a disorganized business.

About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean opened the popular Prairie Girl Bakery in the financial district of Toronto in 2011. She owned and operated the business until it closed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on downtown Toronto. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock


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