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Tips for Hiring Bakery Staff

By Business of Baking Blog posted 04-08-2021 12:00:00 AM


Are you feeling overwhelmed and overextended as an entrepreneur? In this post, you'll find tips for hiring bakery staff to help alleviate the stress and workload. Learn how to overcome your fears and gain the confidence to hire employees, as well as address some of the most common issues that come up in hiring consultations.

Entrepreneurship is hard enough. However, when you try to do everything alone because you lack the confidence to hire help, you might begin to feel like a prisoner in your business. Over the years, I’ve heard valid concerns about hiring help, and in this post I will address some of the most common issues that have come up in my consultations.

What if they steal my recipes?

After you’ve worked hard in the kitchen developing recipes that your customers love or decorating techniques that save you time, it’s understandable to be reluctant to bring in an outsider and share your “secret sauce.” One way to protect yourself is to dissect your process. For instance, you can make it where the person who preps & pre-measures ingredients isn’t the same person who pulls it all together to bake the products.

Second, you could also have staff sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement to keep them from sharing your recipes publicly. Typically, an NDA can protect you from an employee disclosing your process and other trade secrets shared with them while in your employ. Make sure to connect with a lawyer for help with an NDA or a similar contract to protect you in this area.

What if they start a competing business?

If mentorship is not your thing, then I can see how training someone who could potentially become your competition would be an issue of concern. You could go the legal route and make them sign a Non-Compete Agreement. In this document, you can identify a certain mileage radius or timeframe in which they promise not to open a business that is in direct competition with your business.

However, depending upon your plans for the future of your business, you can look at hiring a person with aspirations to have a business like yours as an opportunity to mentor the next generation of bakers in your community. Who knows? Down the line when you are ready to retire or wish to sell off the business, you may have trained up the perfect successor.

Personality vs skill, what’s more important?

The tricky part about hiring a new staff member is that it’s not 100% about their soft skills because they need to be knowledgeable enough to do the job. However, it can’t totally be about their decorating or baking talent because they probably will be interacting with other staff or customers.

When it comes to weighing personality vs skill, I ask that you consider the position that you want to fill. If the position is more customer facing, lean more heavily on the personality side. Then, provide training in the areas where they might be able to pitch in with the back of house.

If you’re looking for a baker or decorator, consider looking for someone with an RBA Certification. Individuals with an RBA Certification have been verified to have professional competency in the baking industry. The RBA program offers three baking certification levels and two cake decorating certification levels. Each candidate achieves their certification based on education, experience and successful completions of written and practical exams. Therefore, if you’re looking for a staff member who can support your business on the baking/decorating side, I highly recommend that you look for a candidate who has passed the RBA Certification process.

I don’t have time to train anyone!

We’ve often heard the phrase, “if you want something done right, do it yourself.” It’s this phrase that keeps a lot of entrepreneurs trapped in their businesses. Yes, training can take time, but you should look at that time as an investment into your business. You will never free yourself from doing the admin work that you hate or be able to go on vacation if you refuse to let go of the reins.

You already know that it will take time to train someone to run the kitchen or the counter the way you like it. So, plan ahead and make time to properly train newbies when the come on board. If you really don’t have time, you can hire an administrative assistant to document your SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures) for you. This can then serve as a playbook or employee guide when it comes to operating your business.

If you have a front of house staff who is interested in supporting the back of house, and you truly don’t have time to train them on the basics of baking or decorating, encourage them to take a class with a local culinary program or with a trusted independent instructor online. If you don’t have an education reimbursement program in your business, this could be the perfect opportunity to start one by offering a stipend that is connected to the guarantee that they will stay on board for so many months after finishing the course. If they leave before fulfilling their time commitment, they would be liable to repay a certain percentage or all of the stipend.


In conclusion, entrepreneurship comes with its fair share of anxiety and worries. You have worked hard to build your business and make it into the success that it is today. However, you can’t expect to do it all on your own. There are strategies and often legal documents to help protect you from employees who mean to do you harm. Once you open yourself up to bringing on help, all you can do is cross your t’s, dot your i’s and hope that everything works out for the best. I ask that you just don’t allow the fear of the unknown keep you from getting the support that you absolutely need.

Cyd N. Mitchell
Business Blogger, Retail Bakers of America

Cydni N. Mitchell (aka Cyd) is a Bakery Consultant and the Sweet Business Coach behind Sweet Fest®. Based in Atlanta, GA, Sweet Fest® is an online company that supports the business needs of the Sweet Community in the areas of professional development, marketing, branding and web design.

By trade, Cyd is an accountant & financial analyst with a Masters from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the Founder of the Sugar Coin Academy, an online business academy for business owners in the baking and sweets industry, and she is also the organizer of The Ultimate Sugar Show, Georgia’s Largest Annual Baking and Sweets Expo in Atlanta. She is also the Business Blogger for the Retail Bakers of America.