Grandma’s Bakery shares organizational ideas

John Lupo. Photo courtesy Twin Cities Business.

As a bakery manager, have you ever found yourself solving a problem more than once? Maybe you’re looking for the source and price of that odd ingredient you used two years ago, or you forget the short cut that made holiday production run so efficiently last year? John Lupo, owner, Grandma’s Bakery, White Bear Lake, Minn. had this problem until he made a better organizational plan for his bakery.

“Write it down. Document it. You will run into the problem again,” said Lupo, who presented his ideas for organizing a bakery for profitability at the Atlantic Bakery Dairy Deli Expo in Atlantic City, N.J. Grandma’s Bakery, a full-line retail and wholesale bakery, has been owned and operated by the Lupo family since 1978. Today employing a staff of 125 people, the Lupos have learned a thing or two about bakery organization.

“We never wrote it down in the past,” Lupo said. “After 10 years in business, I kept finding myself saying, ‘Haven’t we solved this problem before?'” Once Lupo began keeping and organizing his logs, he designed guides that has bakery managers and staff could reference. The guides help Lupo train staff, uphold bakery standards and maintain his own sanity because he knows where to find the answers he’s already solved.

Lupo’s bakery organization tips:

• Maintain an “oddball supply guide” where you keep paperwork for ingredients and supplies you’ve only ordered a few times.

• Keep files of formulas you want to keep from trade magazines or bakery associations.

• Develop a training guide for employees that documents the steps for every process, from washing hands to cleaning the restrooms.

• Use street names to organize your freezers and warehouse to help staff locate the items they’re looking for. Grandma’s uses intuitive names like Main St., Lunch Room Lane and Dumpster Drive, for example.

• Create a standards guide for your products. Grandma’s Standard Knowledge Database, for example, includes measurement guidelines, such as one gram of food coloring is enough to cover the tops of 12 cupcakes, and each mini cookie weighs ½ oz. with a pan of 36 weighing 18 ozs. before baking.

“If you don’t have a standards, you’ve just got a good idea that no one will remember,” said Lupo. And, if it’s too cumbersome to write down, try videos. “I made a video to document how we made fudge last year, for example. Or, tricks we learned and want to remember,” Lupo said.