To grow a successful food business, start with the right ingredients but be prepared to make adjustments to the recipe for best results. Count on Yaeli Merenfeld, owner of Anny’s Bread Factory, to do just that.
Yaeli Merenfeld is a serial entrepreneur in the food business, with a passion for serving up quality products and exemplary service to her customers. In her native Venezuela, she founded a catering company to serve Fortune 500 companies and grew the business 800%.
After moving to the Miami in 2010, Merenfled in 2011 purchased Anny’s Bread Factory, a kosher North Miami bakery business founded in 1996. Under Merenfeld’s leadership, the company has grown to sell to numerous schools, restaurants and major stores, including Publix, Winn-Dixie, Wal-mart, Milan’s and Fresh Market, among others. Merenfeldi has an MBA and is an alumnus of the Goldman Sachs 10K Small Business Program and the Stanford Leadership Entrepreneur Initiative for Scaling with Excellence.
Anny’s Bread Factory offers brioche burger and hot dog buns, its best sellers, Merenfeld said. Its line of Challah is also popular, and Amy’s Bread Factory is Kosher certified. In addition, Anny’s sells cakes, cookies and muffin, and offers a vegan line of her products.
DIVING INTO CASH FLOW
In 2019, sales were strong but Merenfeld saw that the bottom line was not where it should be in light of the high sales. She turned to the expert consultants at Florida SBDC at FIU to help her identify the problems so that she could move profits higher. Florida SBDC at FIU, the small business development center within the university’s College of Business, offers no-cost consulting services to small businesses.
SBDC’s team assisted her with a deep dive into her cash flow, and after some adjustments, Merenfeld saw rising profits as a result. She also received help with market research, which helped her reach more potential customers – and generate more revenue. In 2019, she acquired Target and a deli as customers, among others.
Merenfeld was also able to receive a line of credit at BankUnited, with the help of Florida SBDC at FIU’s team. One of the consultants helped her with management challenges, too. “Raju (Mohandes) has taught me about management skills, about negotiation. He was a sounding board to navigate challenges,” said Merenfeld.
For Merenfeld’s company, 2020 started out strong. But this summer, the coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll, as many other small business owners have also experienced. One of Merenfeld’s revenue streams is schools and they are closed; she also sells to restaurants have not come back fully either. Some are buying just a fraction of the amount they used to buy from her, she said. Fortunately, she has a strong client base of major stores that has provided a positive revenue stream. She also applied for and received both an SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan and an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Those funds have helped her retain her 12 employees through the current coronavirus crisis.
MULTIPLE SALES CHANNELS ARE KEY
To be sure, the work Merenfeld did in 2019 and earlier to strengthen her company helped set up her small business to better survive the current coronavirus pandemic. She is thankful she has more than one channel that she sells to. “I lost a big chunk when schools closed but I had the possibility of growing sales in the stores,” she said.
Merenfeld said her entrepreneurial journey has highlighted a number of lessons learned and she offers this advice to other entrepreneurs:
- You always have to be prepared for the worst and hope for the best.
- It’s important to be cash flow positive and have a reserve.
- It’s smart to have multiple sales channels, because not everything is in your control, like today’s pandemic.
- Having a good relationship with your vendors and your bankers pays off, because they can help you through rough patches.
“This year has been a journey, it’s been a learning experience,” Merenfeld said about the pandemic. “But we’ve had the learnings, now let’s move on.”
And when schools reopen and restaurants are full again, Merenfeld is ready to fulfill their orders with delicious breads and the customer service they have come to expect from Anny’s Bread Factory.