On a chilly fall morning, we set off for two bakeries in West Concord, MA.
First stop, Nashoba Brook Bakery. There was a huge construction area in front of Nashoba so the shop and parking lot were not visible from the street. I parked several blocks away and had to ask directions; it surprised me there was no sign to direct customers to the front door. Although a good share of their business is wholesale, a sign would have been a nice gesture for their retail business.
Hidden entrance to Nashoba Brook Bakery.
Inside the entrance is a large window where customers can look down on the production area.
I visited this bakery five years ago and loved it. There are several display cases, self-service displays, and numerous tables and chairs.
During my last visit the counter clerk had been a bubbly gem who answered questions and dutifully promoted their products.
This morning, however, although it wasn’t very busy, service was quite different. Three counter clerks were chatting with each other about personal issues and ignored customers. I stood in front of the cases for five minutes and none of the clerks acknowledged me. I stood under the sign for customer service, but still nothing. I made eye contact with two of them but they chose to ignore me.
My granddaughter had picked out the family treats and still, no one came to greet us.
Eventually, I interrupted their conversation to ask for service. We got a box for home, a loaf of bread, and a Morning Glory muffin to share.
Our not-so-delicious muffin. It was very dry (either overbaked or day old) with a strong chemical taste from too much baking soda. We ate some, and threw away the rest.
Next, we walked down the quaint and lovely main street to Concord Teacakes.
It was fairly quiet inside, with only two customers at the tables. But business seemed good with a slow steady stream of customers, mostly moms with young kids.
In the display cases there were only a few cakes that looked as if they’d been there a while.
But we saw a lot of attractive, colorful cupcakes in different sizes.
And many large decorated cookies throughout the store - on trays in the display cases and individually wrapped, set in baskets around the shop.
This store clearly knew their customer: children! Concord Teacakes is located in a small neighborhood community and clearly understands that children have a central role in purchasing baked goods. My grandaughter picked out an Elmo cupcake for after lunch, and we split a bagel while sitting at a table.
But the customer service was simply okay, nothing remarkable, no smiles, no friendliness. The clerks just moved on to the next customer.
Elmo was a ring that kids could keep long after the cupcake was gone. Nice!
Think about your own customer service. At both bakeries, the lack of good customer service really impacted our experience. Shoppers will remember how they were treated, long after they remember if they liked your products.
And do your market research. Who are your target customers? Concord Teacakes, located in a small family-oriented community, clearly understands that children have a central role in purchasing baked goods.
Home-Based Baking at its Best! We can learn a lot by visiting other bakeries. Do your market research and think about your customer service.
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