Our new home 1 year on
We can't believe that we've just passed the year anniversary of taking the keys and moving into our first commercial unit! We therefore thought the time was right to check back, see how the move had gone and find out what, if anything, has changed.
How has the first year in the unit been?
Laura: Firstly, I honestly can't believe it's been a year already! Time really has flown by and it only seems like a few months ago we were planning out the move! The move has been great for us though and it's ticked all the boxes we hoped it would. It's not been without it's challenges but the positives have far, far outweighed those.
What's been the biggest impact on the business?
Laura: It's definitely given us the ability to work with a lot more freedom and take advantage of some of the opportunities we'd hoped we would be able to. Having a commercial set up just means we're so much more efficient when things get busy and we're able to handle the volumes we need to. There have been some orders over the last year and some events we've attended that we just couldn't have even considered from our home kitchen.
What types of orders and events are you talking about?
Laura: For example, we had an order last October for over 10,000 brownies that the customer wanted to start taking delivery of the next day as they'd been let down by another supplier. That's an extreme example, but with all the ovens and commercial fridges we now have we were able to help them. Previously we just didn't have the means to bake that much and cool it down quick enough for cutting in such a short timeframe. We need a lot of brownies for some of the bigger events we're now attending and with the extra equipment we no longer need to bake too far in advance, meaning we're taking completely fresh produce which can only be a good thing for our customers!
How much extra equipment have you bought in since the move?
Laura: On day 1 we had 2 commercial ovens with 5 shelves in each of them and 1 large commercial fridge. We've since doubled up on oven space with a new 10 shelf commercial oven and have added 2 more commercial fridges of the same size. We thought the original kit would last us for a while, but once we got busy in the Autumn the lack of oven and fridge space started to become a bottleneck so we had to bite the bullet and get some extra bits in! We've also added more racking and tables for cutting and wrapping to give us more storage and working space too.
What about the team? Has that grown since you moved in?
Laura: Anita joined the team as our 2nd permanent employee last year shortly after we moved into the unit. Unfortunately, Anita and Amanda (our baker and 1st permanent employee) left earlier this year as, by strange co-incidence, they were both offered new roles with their previous employers! It was a real shame to lose both of them, but they had great offers from jobs within walking distance of home so sadly we had to say goodbye. We now have Helena as our new baker, Paige on cutting/packing and Jasmine assisting the team too. We also have a team covering events and we've got a few others who are able to help us in the unit when we hit busy periods. We're just gearing up to head into the main events season so things will get a lot busier for us again, which will mean we need a few more pairs of hands!
What have the challenges been?
Laura: There hasn't really been anything out of the ordinary. We had a couple of minor leaks which were a bit disruptive as we had to keep moving things around to ensure nothing got damaged, but apart from that things have been good on that front. The main challenge has been all the extra cost and admin that you don't factor into running a building. You think you have it all planned out but there are so many things that you just don't realise until you're in! You do also get used to the convenience of working from home and forget that simple things like picking the kids up or letting tradesmen into the house now become a logistical challenge!
Are there any major changes planned in the unit over the next 12 months?
Laura: Hopefully not! It's been quite a full on 12 months and we've changed a lot so we hope we won't need to add much more for a while now. It would certainly be nice to be able to focus on growing the business for the next year or so and we should have everything in place to allow us to do that.
Finally, what has the highlight been of having your own space this last year?
Laura: I think it was seeing everything run so much more smoothly during the busy Christmas period. Christmas 2020 was really tough! We were fortunate to be busy, but we ended up working silly hours to get orders out and still had to stop accepting orders in early December because we couldn't cope with any more. In 2021 having our own space meant we could prepare properly, bring in some temporary staff and get all the orders out without it ever feeling as pressured as the previous year. Even though we were busy we always felt in control and that was lovely to see as it showed the progress we'd made!
As we move into April The Homemade Brownie Company will be out and about at lots of events across the south of the UK, so take a look at where you can find us over the coming months!