For Sheila McCann, opening her first House of Bread bakery was about more than creating a successful money making business, it was an effort to restructure her life. A former public defender, McCann wanted a career that would not only give her life a more positive spin, but also one that would benefit others. Providing healthy, natural bread seemed like the perfect answer.
Not that McCann didn’t want her new bakery to thrive. But she will be the first to tell you that she just naturally assumed she would be as successful in her new endeavor as she had been as a lawyer. However, she learned the hard way when she opened her second House of Bread location that lightning doesn’t always strike twice.
“I was widely successful on my first venture and thought business was very easy,” she recalled. “It was only when I went about trying to duplicate my first success that I realized I didn’t know why I was successful.”
McCann’s second bakery, which she opened three hours away from her first location, encountered problems she never had at the first House of Bread. But why? To start with, McCann learned that managing a business that far away from you can present challenges.
“You can’t pull labor, share marketing exposure, etc.,” she explained. Another drawback of branching out so far afield from the first location was that McCann did not have an understanding of the local community. “Finding the right location in a community is more than just running research reports,” she said. “It is understanding the unique shopping patterns that can only be learned by asking people who live there … not by doing a search on Google.”
McCann took those hard-learned lessons from her first attempt at expansion and changed her approach. Now with eight locations, no two House of Breads are exactly alike, but they do all share an inviting atmosphere that is tailored by the bakery owners to that locale. That level of authenticity perfectly mirrors the natural goodness that McCann stresses in their bread and bakery products. She explained, “I feel good about what we are selling, because at House of Bread we’re all natural.”