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The dough has to rise

Di Antonio Caneva, 13 Luglio 2017

A new bakery opened near my home. Being curious, I walked in, to find a whole world of breakfast pastries in front of the coffee machine: croissants of all kinds with the most various fillings, stars filled with pears and chocolate, chocolate and cinnamon cakes, and what have you, a pleasure for the eye and an attempt at a person’s waistline!
At the side, a refrigerated counter with few pastries and fewer cakes. It was immediately clear that fresh breakfast products were the lion’s share. The managers, I found out later, are two young bakers who used to work for the most important hotels in Milan.
It is a pleasant place, and I got into the habit of going in for a coffee on the way to the office.
A chitchat, how is it going, how hot it is, work, previous experiences… Recently, when I asked “How are you?”, the answer was: “I am dead tired; every morning I have to get up at four to let the croissants rise, then the day is a long one. But I thought I will close for a week in a short while, to take a few days’ rest.” “But how is that possible? I don’t believe that all bakers get up at four to let the dough rise!” “Yes, we should buy a special oven, but it costs 3,000 euro. We have just started and cannot manage such an expense”.
Predictably, therefore, the following week they kept the shop closed, as they do on Sunday afternoons, when, on the contrary, it is common for people to buy confectionery.
If they had thought carefully about the lost revenue of Sunday afternoons and a week’s work, not to mention the bad reputation of a business that stays closed unexpectedly, they might have made different choices: they would have bought the oven, in spite of difficulty, they would have slept more and enjoyed their activity in a more relaxed way, putting more effort into products and customers.
It is not infrequent that potentially viable initiatives end up failing because of superficial assessments, mainly based on emotions. There have been telling examples of hotels and restaurants opened by enthusiastic owners who initially gave in abundance, only to find out later that the accounts did not square, and therefore started cutting down on service, on product quality, and then wondered (in surprise!) why business was slacking, inevitably leading to closing down.
Conducting business is not easy, particularly in this industry, but, before starting, it is essential to carry out a careful assessment of the project, to avoid having to make choices (e.g. closing for a week) that will necessarily affect the success of business, and will sometimes – unfortunately – have an impact on the personal future of those who have started the project with enthusiasm and good will, but little reflection.

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