There’s a popular saying that Andrew likes: “throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks”. I’ve thought of this a lot lately as we have been getting to know our customer base and what they want from Sticky.
Some new items since we opened have been barn-burning successes: cakes; sticky buns without pecans; sticky buns with cream cheese icing; mini fudgies; cookies; and mini sticky buns.
These items are really popular and were from the first day they were launched.
Other new ideas haven’t had the same dry-tinder effect: strawberry icing and frozen bake-at-home sticky buns. These two items have been “ok” but in particular the frozen buns need more time on my part to figure out.
• Is the at-home baker interested in waiting 13 hours for rising period?
• After we dropped the size of the buns to a 4 hour rise period, do people want to wait 4 hours? (It wouldn’t be ready for breakfast!)
• Do people in fact want to bake at all?
These and other questions from the diligent panel of testers make me ask: is this a good idea that just needs more refinement OR is it an idea that sucks no matter what approach we take?
Other suggestions we receive are: sticky toffee pudding; bread pudding; going nut-free across the bakery; making gluten free and vegan cakes and sticky buns; and offering cake slices.
Before diving into R&D on a new idea, a business owner first needs to do research, talk to people, tap into his/her past experience and make a ballpark estimate of sales of the new item. After that, it’s important to think about what the development process will look like (new ingredients; new supplies; new people?). Then the question is: does the possib upside exceed the R&D work required? If success means only a few sales each week, the investment is just not worth it.
In the case of cakes, we immediately started getting lots of orders and the development was minimal: get the cake pans and cake boards and add cakes to the website.
But, say, developing a gluten free/vegan cake? I know this to be a detailed process requiring new ingredients and an entirely separate baking time to avoid cross contamination from the other cakes. Although we did sell V/GF cakes at PGB, overall they were a small share of the sales.
Throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks – great advice that requires lots of thinking before you throw too much.