The minute you enter Boulangerie Oscar, you are met with the delicious smell of freshly baked bread and pastries. Clients can taste the bakers’ passion and craft in every bite. How can you maintain a consistent level of quality when you are growing this fast as a relatively young business? We asked Rogier Heijn, the founder and proud owner of Boulangerie Oscar, his thoughts.
From passion to practice
The bakery’s name alone gives off close-knit family business vibes. Rogier honors his father Oscar and French baking culture in one fell swoop. Rogier Heijn: “I discovered my passion for bread in France. Over there, all the ingredients are so fresh, and it is plain to taste in every baguette and croissant. Every time I returned from vacation, I always felt so disappointed with the bread section of the supermarket. I found myself wondering why we can’t have delicious bread here like in other countries. Even at independent bakeries, I never found what I was looking for. And so I decided that it was probably best to start baking delicious bread myself.
I retrained with an authentic French baker and did courses in France and Germany.” As it turned out, he was not the only one to crave delicacies from across the border. Rogier’s bread and pastries are popular: in addition to an extensive assortment, he now has four different branches and a total of 60 employees.
Despite his success and expansion plans for new locations, Rogier continues to be critical: “Quality is our top priority. That is why we always seek the right balance between maintaining quality and increasing production.” To achieve this, the baking process is automated wherever possible, without resorting to mass production. “In addition to quality, sustainability is very important to me. That is why all of our machines are fully electric.”
Effortless hour registration by department
“All my employees have one thing in common: they are passionate about bread, and everyone can perform any task in the bakery as well as behind the counter. The baker knows how every machine works and helps our clients in person as well.” Managing this multi-deployability is where Dyflexis comes in. The clocking system automatically records who works how many hours and in which department. Managers have a convenient overview of all of this in the software dashboard. It saves them a lot of time: combining the summary of hours worked with the production output allows them to see exactly how efficient their staffing is. Boulangerie Oscar then takes this into account to create the next schedule. Efficient deployment of staff members comes in handy in a company that is always switched on, as it were: “In order to have fresh bread and pastries in our shop window every morning, we also work during the night and early in the morning. In other words, the company is running 24 hours a day.”
“Combining the overview of hours worked with the output of production tells us exactly how efficient our staffing is.”
Clocking is not only convenient for employers, separating it out by cost center is also easier for employees. They feel responsible for clocking their hours correctly because they see their own hours reflected in the app. “We make the staff schedules make two months in advance and employees get to have a say in their hours. Although we mainly work with standard schedules, we are always flexible. Employees receive new schedules on their smartphones, nice and easy,” Rogier says. “Some of our older colleagues don’t have a smartphone, so they don’t use the user-friendly app. So, full digitization of our planning is not possible. Nevertheless, they can still clock in and out easily via the physical clock. As long as they do that, I’m happy.”
Croissants and centralization
“Our growth has been rather gradual. When I started, I originally intended to bake mainly for the hospitality industry, and have the shop on the side. Then I noticed that more and more people were coming to the shop, and some of them were actually making a detour to do so. So, I started focusing more on the shop.” After the first shop in IJmuiden, Rogier also opened branches in Heemstede and Haarlem. As he expanded the number of new locations, he was also expanding the assortment. “Today, we sell all different manner of artisan breads and patisserie. That being said, our most popular product is still the good old croissant. Don’t tell anyone, but it is my favorite too!”
“When we started, we would do our staff schedules in Excel. It works just fine, as long as your business is small. But given our success, we were growing fast and started losing the overview control of the four branches.” That is why they started looking for a Workforce Management system to centralize all the information. Since purchasing Dyflexis in 2021, they have gained a better overview on what happens in all the stores. “We are now also recording our turnover in the system, which helps us create daily reports and forecasts that give us insight into our production, sales, and efficiency. With the budgets being available in hours, we can now deploy staff in a more targeted way. This means we now have less overlap of employees on the floor, so we can save on costs. In fact, we are automating everything except, of course, the bread baking itself. Thankfully, that is still manual labor.”
Quality and service
Like all other businesses, Boulangerie Oscar is noticing the effects of the war in Ukraine: they are spending more money because of higher grain prices and energy costs. They are also grappling with a massive staff shortage, which they are trying to offset by offering training to new and existing employees alike.
“Baking bread comes down to the pennies, so higher raw material prices unfortunately mean that our product prices are increasing. Thanks to Dyflexis, we have a clear overview of our costs, so we know where we can save as well. What’s more, we can create better work schedules that allow us to serve clients even better. In this way, we are doing everything in our power to offer our clients the highest possible quality at the best price.”
“Thanks to Dyflexis, we can offer our clients the highest possible quality and service at the best price.”
“Baking is a craft and a process. There are always new things we can learn. By continuing to learn, we improve our business processes so we can offer our clients what they want: delicious bread and good service.”