Journey Part 16: Flour + Co Operations

8 Feb

With time flying at record speeds (is it just me!??!), it’s time to jump into the inner workings of the day to day Flour + Co business.  I know, I know…you’re probably yawning right about now.  I, however, am jumping into one of my favorite things.  Operations.

Operations is like the stage crew of a theatrical production.  If the production is amazing and you lose yourself in the story unfolding on stage, then the stage crew has done their job well.  The lights go on when they should, you can hear the actors’ lines, the snow comes down on cue, and the scenery is switched out without even noticing.  It’s all seemingly effortless.  Ok – the actors deserve big credit too because they take all that the stage crew put together and make the stage come to life.  Or, they break the show.  Ugh.

The Stage

Well, same thing with a bakery.  Though, I’m your trusty stage crew in this scenario.  When 6am rolls around, you should come in to soft music in the background, a beautiful display of delicious baked goods, a smiling person in a clean and ironed apron to help you get whatever your heart desires (they are the ones that bring the stage to life), cash in the drawer so that change can be given for your $20 bill, a comfy place to sit while you wait, nice lighting, and the list goes on.  You shouldn’t have to think about a thing.  Your latte and biscuit will just land in front of you begging to be devoured.

None of this happens without lots of behind the scenes attention to detail or systems, if you will.  These details (the beautiful display case of baked goods) have layers of operational structure beneath.  If the operational structure beneath isn’t well thought out or is missing a layer, then you, as a guest, are bound to feel it – even if subconscious.

So, this week I’m a layering fool.  I start by breaking down the bakery into sections.  As an example, the baked goods display case is a section.  Then, I take the sections and lay out all of the details that have to come together to make the section work like a well-oiled machine.  Then, I figure out what systems will help in keeping this machine oiled.  Are you following?

For instance, I’ve started listing the major details associated with the baked goods display case, as well as the systems that will help bring it all together:

The baked goods in the display case –

  • when do they get there (system in kitchen for completing baked goods on time and in a particular order)
  • how do they get there (a procedures list so that the baked goods are gotten)
  • how should they be displayed (a diagram showing how they are to be displayed each day)
  • what happens when they run out (a procedure on how to adjust the baked goods as things run out)
  • how are they handled when a guest orders one (handling and packaging standards/procedures needed)
  • how is this all conveyed to the employee at the pastry case (training program)

The case itself –

  • how is it maintained (a preventative maintenance list for equipment)
  • how is it cleaned (sidework sheets and training on cleaning)
  • what temperature should it be at (temperature log)
  • what happens if it breaks down (equipment issues procedure and phone list)

I think I’ll stop there.  I’d like you to keep reading and I’m afraid this is a real snooze.  Besides, you should never have to think about any of this stuff.  That’s the beauty of it.  It just happens.

One last note.  I can plan and plan and plan, but I’m always going to be thrown the unexpected.  Maybe an employee doesn’t show up, the refrigerator breaks down, the electricity goes out, a glass breaks in front of me, I burn yourself.  I might have a plan in place should one of these things happen, but likely I’ll just have to go with it.  I’ll do the best I can with the resources I have.  The audience (that’s you again) will probably feel it.  That’s when I have to keep my cool and have the right people in place who can make everyone feel at ease even in the wake of the unexpected.

Can you understand, now, why I like this so much??  I mean, it’s the perfect combo of hyper planning, lightening speed problem solving, and pure excitement.  Operations is where it’s at.


In case you aren’t following on facebook, check out the new mug I’m drinking out of these days!!

Flour's friends on mug

Flour’s friends on mug

And, the tile is going down in the kitchen.

Before - the tile ready for pick up - that was a heavy load!

Before – the tile ready for pick up – that was a heavy load!

After – the tile being laid in the kitchen

And the front counter is taking shape.

The counter


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