Batter Bakery

Jen is an amazing business owner who’s grown her company slowly and methodically. With her PCV loan and pro bono advisor, she’s been building sales and adding jobs.

Everyone wins when a small business owner can create jobs that are good for her workers and for her bottom line. But where do you even start? Around the time Jen Musty of Batter Bakery started working on offering benefits, we asked her if she’d consider being a guinea pig (ahem. “pilot participant”) for our Good Jobs, Good Business toolkit. We gave her the toolkit and paired her with advisor Anne Claire Broughton, an expert in employee engagement. She and Jen have a really successful relationship for this pilot and love working together.

Together they implemented strategies aimed to increase employee engagement and professional development. Jen’s goal with focusing on these areas of job quality was to ultimately increase the bottom line of the business: employees would come to work excited to sell the products and this would have a domino effect on sales. She also wanted to educate employees on why her business is unique, how they contribute to it, and why working there is a point of pride over other bakeries. Jen saw it as an opportunity to work on aspects of the business that sometimes get pushed aside because of the immense demands on her time when it comes to things like production and sales.

Jen launched Batter Bakery in 2008 after two years of working on her plan and recipes. Since then, Batter has grown from a one-woman business to a full-fledged local bakery that’s made a name for itself alongside several iconic San Francisco favorites. During its first years, Batter’s only retail spot was a tiny kiosk on a corner of San Francisco’s Financial District (that’s already become a sweet landmark.)

Jen supports the local economy here in the Bay Area: Batter sources its produce from local farmers and uses only what is in season. A few years ago, Jen opened Batter’s first full-scale retail shop. When she went to her bank to secure a loan, she faced road blocks to approval. So, Jen came to PCV – which was our sweet luck! Now we’re working together to help Jen and her team grow, create new jobs, and make Batter a permanent fixture in its new neighborhood.

Good Jobs, Good Business

Jen is an amazing business owner who’s grown her company slowly and methodically. With her PCV loan and pro bono advisor, she’s been building sales and adding jobs. And San Francisco is an expensive city where retail businesses see a lot of turnover. This past year she introduced health benefits for full-time employees and wanted to cut down on turnover by doing everything she could to make Batter a place where people stay and are happy.

Jen told us, “Some of our staff had always wanted this, and others didn’t at first, but everyone’s responded really well. I started by asking people what they wanted to learn more about, and this is what we arrived at. Even if they’re just showing up to do their job, I still want to build enthusiasm for the products and what we do. We have a lot of turnover, so we’re working to minimize that and help shorter-term staff want to stay by building interest among the whole process of sustainable food — it’s not an easy industry. We’ve done farm field trips and brought in vendors to talk about their products and why they’re so delicious or special, like coffee roasters. 

We’ve also implemented an idea of Anne Claire’s called ‘mini games’ to help teams meet goals by making things more playful. Jen set rewards for achieving company-wide sales targets to incentivize retail staff to be proactive about selling to customers. Sales improvement goals are tracked and rewards are given out monthly; rewards are a low cost but effective approach to building engaged teams (e.g. a team-wide reward included a pumpkin picking and carving party with food and drink). To set staff up for success, Jen and Anne Claire put together an upselling guide, spruced up packaging and presentation at the bakery, and implemented the above trainings. Batter saw a seasonal improvement of $22K in retail sales over the previous year average.

There’s always something to do: packaging, cleaning, etc., and it helps staff focus on the ‘selling’ and ‘upselling’ aspect of things. For example, getting the fall dessert season started by throwing a small heirloom pumpkin picking and carving party for the team with food and drinks.” With Anne Claire’s guidance, Jen chose to focus on these areas for a couple of reasons: she wanted employees to understand why her business is unique, how they contribute to it, and the value proposition for working there. With this foundation, employees would come to work excited to sell delicious, high quality baked goods – and this would have a domino effect on the sales. 

A New Focus On Employee Retention

San Francisco is an extremely expensive city to live in, and combining that with the low national unemployment rate make it a challenging time for small business employers to retain their teams. Faced with this reality, Jen and Anne Claire adapted their strategies during the second half of the GJGB pilot.

  • Trainings: During the first half of the pilot, Jen found that the regular training format wasn’t meeting her needs. Selling baked goods is both an aesthetic and detail-oriented business, and without attention to detail production errors can result in wasted ingredients and unnecessary costs. Additionally, Jen and her employees were strapped for time — especially during the busy fourth quarter. Jen runs a seven-day-a-week operation with many moving parts, including multiple locations. 
  • An Instagram Training Tool: Finding inspiration in the digital world, Jen launched an Instagram training tool that also provides community building for her team. Jen’s able to capture shots of each step in the process for reach item so that staff members can compare where they are against the image. Additionally, staff members can submit their own pics of a baked good for Jen’s review to Batter Bakery’s private Instagram page.
  • All-Staff Training Day: Recognizing that regular trainings were unrealistic for her needs, Jen held an all-staff training day in January featuring open book management techniques, an employee engagement survey, and a job duty survey. The open book management activity helped staff understand where each dollar goes when Jen runs her bakery, so rather than thinking that Jen heads off to the Bahamas with a 40% profit margin, staff began to understand that taking action to improve their work was critical to the health of the business. This began to fuel conversations around reducing production errors and minimizing waste. Jen also used the training day to engage employees with two surveys so that she could gather critical feedback to understand staff health and comprehension of their jobs; this could then feed into how she structured her activities on training and employee engagement moving forward.
  • Onboarding Update: Understanding that new staff often face some gaps in onboarding and training, Jen fleshed out these procedures to include more detailed guides, paperwork, and a formal employee handbook with a benefits summary to ensure that all employees are on the same page when they join Batter. She hopes that this will set them up for success to stay.
  • Wages and Benefits: Batter added employee benefits to existing healthcare offering, including 401K contribution, additional accident/wellness benefits through Aflac, a corporate fitness package through ClassPass, and weekly staff meals. Jen was also able to raise many employees’ wages this year.

We’re glad that Jen’s success. She told us recently that there are a lot of well-intentioned people, foundations, and others who are working to educate business owners about why good jobs are important but that PCV was the only one who’d approached this from the perspective of a business owner. “You can have all the best intentions in the world, but when you’re short two people, the holidays are starting, and oh man!, you’re having a hard time paying yourself, you don’t even know where to start. Resources that don’t speak to business owners won’t get far. When you write your business plan you don’t write it thinking about challenges you can’t imagine. And you want to create good jobs and do right by your people. I think the toolkit and pilot provide great accountability for business owners – to develop a plan, stick to deadlines, and execute the plan.”

If you’re in San Francisco, support good employers creating by good jobs by stopping at Batter Bakery. They do gifts boxes, cater events and holiday parties, and have a bunch of amazing seasonal items. If you’re outside of San Francisco, check them out online! Batter Bakery is truly handmade and truly delicious.

Could your small business benefit from free advice or a fair and affordable loan? PCV can help. Learn more about our advising program or our loan program.