On the one hand we are so happy that there’s been super-positives since we opened – here we blogged about Six of them. On the other hand, it’s been Half a Dozen of the other for Rex Bakery with some real “challenges”. Let’s be honest with you and share 6 of those:
1. Hours. Everyone says that owning your own business is punishing & Always On – but this has been something quite unexpected. The Rex Baker was working 18-20 hours days that started at 1am to begin with! Err.. that’s unsustainable. Figuring out the rhythm of the business and the ebb’s & flow’s (we joke that there’s not a lot of ebb’s…) has taken a while, and then Easter holidays are another factor to try to fathom, but we just got through it all. Little Chalfont Parade is a
surprisingly busy location thanks to through traffic – people driving through to work who stop to pick up a sandwich early in the day; and after school customers – and can be very busy indeed at lunchtimes so we are rapidly scaling up production & staff to meet these various demand peaks. So whilst we are now open 7-5 Tues-Fri and 8-4 normal Saturdays, we are assessing whether these are the right times & how to adjust as we go.
2. Production planning. This is so difficult to call! Our model, like traditional bakeries of your & your parents’ youth, is to hand make & produce everything early on the day of sale. Even though you as good Friends of Rex can freeze pretty much anything you buy from us, we aren’t going to freeze our bread & buns to sell to you on another day. That wouldn’t be offering you something world-class right here in our own local community!! That means we have had a few instances of selling out of popular lines, especially breads on Saturday already. We’ve had others times when we’ve had leftovers. Apart from feeding the perennially hungry Rex Baker’s family & giving away to the staff, we have struck up a great relationship with a local organic duck farmer and have a duck egg exchange going. That means remarkably well fed ducks in return for wonderful duck eggs! And at Saturday teatimes we have dropped buns at the nearby Paradigm common room for the OAPs to enjoy. Apple, Bran & Sultana Muffin , anybody?
3. IT. We are all – and we count you as good Friends of Rex Bakery – waiting in anticipation for the professional till to come on-stream. It is some way away still but at that point we will have fast calculation & printing of your order for clipping to your bag together with an alert through to the data centre on ingredient usage, sales trends to help with staffing & producing planning and of course the ability to take card payments. Right now we are causing a queue to the cash machine outside our shop!! Cash will always be most welcome but we are looking forward to being open for card payments too. Further, we still don’t have our click & collect website up & running and we know you loyal Friends of Rex must be missing securing your orders – you can blame the Rex Baker’s wife, so sorry 🙁 Her lame excuse? A very full time “day” job with a lot of travel and not enough hours in the day…. thank goodness that social media & digital properties can be updated pretty much at any time on the fly!! We are very sorry & please feel free to email us if you need to make sure there is a Saturday order waiting for you meantime.
4. Money change. We must be an unpopular business with our shop neighbours for sure, because to begin with we totally underestimated the usage of notes & how scarce pound coins and other change is. That meant we were hounding the Post Office & other shops for change all day long – not appreciating that every transaction (like pretty much everything else you care to think of when running a business…) is fully chargeable & subject to exhausting levels of bank scrutiny to ensure this isn’t some money laundering scam. It required some sweet-talking buns to maintain good relationships!! And a lot of hassling the bank to speed up their “service” to us.
5. “Stuff & stock” – we have had to emergency secure so many items we learnt about in the opening days. Storage of just baked loaves, sandwich prep table, announcement blackboards, suddenly & without warning running out of pain au chocolat logs of chocolate; sugar; coffee beans due to such unexpected demand!! We are going through our brown paper
bags at an insanely fast rate & have yet another urgent replenishment order on the way. And of course they all need their signature little Rex yellow triangles stapled on… We needed Spray guns for our smell-free food-safe commercial disinfectants, specific cleaning cloths for different jobs, more serving knives, an industrial mop, to buy our own recycling bin service as the rates/ council secures honestly a big fat nothing for businesses – and the list goes on…
6. Utilities. Oh yes, still that subject. We’ve had heat alarms going off in the middle of the night (err, it’s a bakery – no surprises there then), ovens smoking through spillage, sounds travelling, lack of power points… Above all, the new “double glazing cold callers” have revealed themselves. What nobody tells you is that when you open a business, expect 40+ calls a day from folks trying to sell you an energy deal. And “No Thank You, I’m sorted” doesn’t seem to wash….
We think everything may take months before it’s really running smoothly.
So please keep with us! At least the bread, the pastries, the concept & the decor are hitting the spot with so many of you!
We really want to thank all you Loyal friends of Rex Bakery for your ongoing patience & support during these opening weeks – you are FANTASTIC!!! xx