Jen Musty launched Batter Bakery in 2008 after two years of working on her plan and recipes. Since then, Batter has grown from a one-woman business to a full-fledged local bakery that’s made a name for itself alongside several iconic San Francisco favorites. During its first years, Batter’s only retail spot was a tiny kiosk on a corner of San Francisco’s Financial District.
Jen supports the local economy in the Bay Area: Batter sources its produce from local farmers and uses only what is in season. A few years ago, Jen opened Batter’s first full-scale retail shop. When she went to her bank to secure a loan, she faced roadblocks to approval. So, Jen went to Pacific Community Ventures. Now they’re working together to help Jen and her team grow, create new jobs, and make Batter a permanent fixture in its new neighborhood.
Jen is an amazing business owner who’s grown her company slowly and methodically. With her PCV loan and pro bono advisor, she’s been building sales and adding jobs. And San Francisco is an expensive city where retail businesses see a lot of turnover. This past year she introduced health benefits for full-time employees and wanted to cut down on turnover by doing everything she could to make Batter a place where people stay and are happy. Around that time, PCV asked her if she’d consider being a pilot participant for their Good Jobs, Good Business toolkit. They gave her the toolkit and paired her with advisor Anne Claire Broughton, an expert in employee engagement. She and Jen have a really successful relationship for this pilot and love working together.
Together they implemented strategies aimed to increase employee engagement and professional development. Jen’s goal with focusing on these areas of job quality was to ultimately increase the bottom line of the business: employees would come to work excited to sell the products and this would have a domino effect on sales. She also wanted to educate employees on why her business is unique, how they contribute to it, and why working there is a point of pride over other bakeries. Jen saw it as an opportunity to work on aspects of the business that sometimes get pushed aside because of the immense demands on her time when it comes to things like production and sales.
Jen said, “Some of our staff had always wanted this, and others didn’t at first, but everyone’s responded really well. I started by asking people what they wanted to learn more about, and this is what we arrived at. Even if they’re just showing up to do their job, I still want to build enthusiasm for the products and what we do. We have a lot of turnover, so we’re working to minimize that and help shorter-term staff want to stay by building interest among the whole process of sustainable food — it’s not an easy industry. We’ve done farm field trips and brought in vendors to talk about their products and why they’re so delicious or special, like coffee roasters. We’ve also implemented an idea of Anne Claire’s called ‘mini-games’ to help teams meet goals by making things more playful. There’s always something to do: packaging, cleaning, etc., and it helps staff focus on the ‘selling’ and ‘upselling’ aspect of things. For example, getting the fall dessert season started by throwing a small heirloom pumpkin picking and carving party for the team with food and drinks.”
Jen’s starting to see some early success. She said recently that there are a lot of well-intentioned people, foundations, and others who are working to educate business owners about why good jobs are important but that PCV was the only one who’d approached this from the perspective of a business owner. “You can have all the best intentions in the world, but when you’re short two people, the holidays are starting, and oh man, you’re having a hard time paying yourself, you don’t even know where to start. Resources that don’t speak to business owners won’t get far. When you write your business plan you don’t write it thinking about challenges you can’t imagine. And you want to create good jobs and do right by your people. I think the toolkit and pilot provide great accountability for business owners – to develop a plan, stick to deadlines, and execute the plan.”