You would think that after nearly 30 years in the baking game, Bobby Lambevski would be a bit uninspired by now.
However the smell of freshly baked bread and the satisfaction of seeing great quality product fill the shelves every day is still driving him long after he made his first loaf of bread in the early 90s.
Bobby first joined Bakers Delight as a young baker in 1991, working under a young Wayne Price who himself continue to operate six successful Bakers Delight outlets to this day.
“Dad owned a wholesale business and we produced a lot of Italian style breads, so I definitely had an early interest in baking and thought it would be a something to pursue as a career,” he says.
“I’d been looking around and Bakers Delight really stood out. It was local to me and it seemed like a really strong brand….you could definitely see the growth potential even then.”
After learning the ropes under Wayne’s guidance, he took a break from Bakers Delight to try his hand working at a small Italian bakery, before being enticed back with an opportunity to lease the brand’s Greensborough bakery in Melbourne’s north.
After 12 months, he took up the opportunity to own and operate his own Bakers Delight in Watergardens (western Melbourne) and the rest as they say, is history.
“Baking was one thing but becoming a Franchisee was definitely scary at first. I was suddenly hiring and managing staff, developing rosters, doing the books…it was a real learning curve,” he says today.
“I couldn’t have done it for all these years without my wife, Amber. We’ve got a real partnership going here – I take care of the back and she looks after the front because she really enjoys talking with and delighting the customers. We try to stay as hands-on as we can but we always share the load.”
Having successfully run their business for almost 25 years, both Bobby and Amber has seen plenty of highs and lows along the way, but they say sticking to what Bakers Delight does best no matter what has seen them pull through.
“We’ve had plenty of ups and downs along the way – bakery refurbishments, the Global Financial Crisis, occasionally poor centre management and now COVID-19 – but we’ve always ridden them out,” Bobby.
“The franchise (Bakers Delight) has remained strong through it all and they are always there when you need a helping hand. I’ve talked to people who own businesses under other franchise brands and by comparison, I think we do very well in terms of long-term business success and support when you need it.”
So why is the brand still going so strong after 40 years? According to Bobby, it has everything to do with being local and focusing on quality.
“It’s a local business employing local people, which I think customers really respect. Right now, COVID-19 is forcing people to shop closer to home and we are seeing a lot of new and lapsed customers discover how different (and better) fresh, good quality bread really is,” he says.
“We are using top quality ingredients to bake top quality products from scratch each and every day and that’s what really sets us apart from the rest.”