How to Attract Wholesale Clients for a Bakery
Selling a product wholesale typically involves negotiating bulk orders at a discounted rate. For example, a grocery store that buys a dozen donuts from your bakery for $3 a dozen at wholesale price, rather than $6 a dozen at retail price, will then resell the product to their own customers and realize a profit. The benefit to offering wholesale distribution is that you can develop a steady stream of customers that purchase in large volume.
Offering wholesale bakery services can be a challenge given the short-term durability of the goods. Retail customers will likely to want to buy baked goods on or around the same day they are prepared in order to preserve freshness and provide their customers with an exceptional product. As such, unless you have a truck fleet that can deliver products overnight, or arrange for customer pick-up, it will be more cost-effective for a small bakery to focus on recruiting clients within a nearby geographic region.
Identify potential customers in your selected geographic region. Consider grocery stores, restaurants, schools and cafeterias, hospitals and coffee shops. Research where these businesses are currently getting their baked goods. You can find this information by visiting the locations in person or contacting the purchasing manager at the businesses you're targeting.
Create a pricing system that will be beneficial to your business, and take into consideration operating and overhead costs as well as supplies and labor. Create a sliding scale in which price decreases based on bulk orders. For example, if you offer a dozen donuts for $6 at full retail price and begin wholesale pricing at $3 per dozen, you may opt to drop that fee to $2.75, $2.50 or $2 as the increments of wholesale units sold increases.
Create written proposals for the businesses you want to approach. Provide an overview of your company, your bakery products and the description of preparation, packaging and delivery options. Include a breakdown of your wholesale pricing structure and send or deliver the proposals to the purchasing managers of the businesses you're targeting. Follow up with a personal phone call or visit in person and request a presentation opportunity. Take a variety of bakery items with you on this visit for potential customers to sample.
Deliver your sales presentation by providing an overview of your company and emphasize the quality of your baked goods. If you have information on what your competitors charge, conduct a side-by-side cost comparison to show potential customers how your product is better while your prices are lower. Know in advance how much negotiation room you have if prospects ask for a lower pricing structure. Be prepared to negotiate price, as well as terms related to contract length and delivery.
While it will cut into your profit margin, you may be best served contracting with a bakery wholesale distributor. This representative will essentially be your outside sales representative, pitching your bakery products to potential buyers. If you decide to go this route, find a distributor with a proven track records and existing contacts.