Lorraine Bakery, a five year old business located in downtown Lynchburg in the Community Market, is owned and operated by Petra and Steve Hackman. In early 2012, Petra and Steve attended a Main Street seminar conducted by Marc Willson, Virginia SBDC’S retail expert, and arranged a counseling session with Marty Guidice, Director of the Region 2000 SBDC, for later that day. During the initial on-site session, Petra and Steve shared their concern that, although their bakery was well thought of with a loyal customer base, its overall performance was only marginally meeting their goals and expectations.
During this initial session, a wide range of issues and opportunities were identified and discussed. Having already established a well-run business, it became clear that revenue and profit growth was being limited due to several factors, some controllable and some not. Because they were located in the Community Market, their hours of operation were from early morning until early afternoon, and the majority of their sales occurred on very busy Saturday mornings. Their ability to achieve any significant expansion would require additional space beyond the current leased “foot print,” and growing the sales of current products would require expanding distribution to a broader geographic area. Other important opportunities included their marketing program and improving the effectiveness of web site and the use of social media.
Shortly after this initial meeting, Petra and Steve finalized plans to launch a complimentary store front in a space adjacent to the bakery in the Community Market, which would provide a space to add a gourmet cheese and bread offering. After planning and designing work, a lease for the newly available space was finalized, and construction began. The project was funded with owner investment and covered construction costs, fixtures, display cases, refrigeration, and inventory, in addition to training and hiring of staff. Recently opened, the new business has been well received. Close proximity to the main business allowed the expansion to occur with minimal addition overhead.
Web site enhancements and expansion of distribution through area collaborations are underway with a clear vision of how growth will be achieved. Petra and Steve’s European-style, first-class bakery is the foundation for this growing diversified business model. Ongoing follow up SBDC sessions are helping this wonderful team to remain focused on the plans and actions necessary to achieve their goals!