Based on your responses to yesterday's blog post, I decided to put some subscription options on sourdoughbaker.com.au. Just to dip a toe in the water, so to speak.
I thought we could base our subscription price on the weight of bread being supplied. For example, a Fifty dollar subscription (Subscription No. 5) would buy about five kilos of plain sourdough, or five one kilo plain loaves of different types (wholemeal, white, rye etc). Or, you can have a subscription for ten kilos (Subscription No. 10) for a hundred bucks. Thus, the plain breads work out at ten dollars a kilo. Pretty simple pricing structure.
(The fancy breads, where there are more ingredients, will be $12.50 a kilo, while cakes would be $15. These can also be purchased in the same way, only by dollar value, rather than weight.)
The idea is to gather 100 subscribers. Then we don't have to bake on guesswork - we just bake to order directly for our subscribers.
There are lots of good reasons to run a bakery in this manner. Servicing retail hours is expensive for bakeries - over supplying or under supplying are constant issues, leading to either waste or lost sales. Staff costs are a bigger issue, particularly when there are unpredictable customer patterns (as was the case in Hunter Street). Customer expectations are high in terms of opening hours too - the larger malls start early and finish late, so smaller operators must compete or lose customers.
Baking directly for customers should, then, enable us to keep our prices moderate. Of course, retail costs are replaced with distribution costs, but these are, once again, predictable, being based on orders rather than guesswork.
Part of the reason for a limited number of subscriptions is to ensure optimal capacity through the bakery. When a bakery oven is filled, it is more efficient. Maintaining a high standard of product is much easier to do when critical resources like the oven and the refrigeration equipment are running 'in sync'.
In short, limiting output to fit the available resources means better quality bread, lower costs, less waste and happier bakers. And hopefully, we'll still have happy customers, because as subscribers you'll be able to access the bread without necessarily having to come into Newcastle.
Incidentally, who wants to barter a bread subscription in return for delivery duties? Email me!
There will be glitches and things to sort out - but I'm confident that this less insular way of doing business will lead to greater community engagement with your Virtual Village Bakery.
So check out the arrangement and get your sourdough bread supply organised now! Deliveries will begin on or about Oct 15. There will be only 100 subscriptions initially, as capacity is limited in our new bakehouse.