What It Takes to Buy a Bread Route and Pros and Cons + Other Routes

Is a bread route a good investment? Buying a bread route — or another type of route business — is expensive to start, but it offers a stable income and the benefits of owning your own business. We’ll outline the pros, cons, and requirements of owning a route business, along with the list of companies you might want to look into. The bread route requirements, pros and cons, and other types of routes are listed below.

In This Article

Route Business Pros and Cons

A route business is one in which an independent operator purchases a route and delivers products to various clients, or accounts, within a certain area — called a territory. These accounts often include grocery stores and supermarkets, delis, bakeries, restaurants, office buildings, and more.

There are two types of route businesses: protected and unprotected. A protected route is one in which no other independent operator from the same distributor can deliver to that territory or try to open new accounts within that territory. As you can guess, unprotected is the opposite and involves more competition. However, unprotected routes are said to yield a higher net income. Any route is typically a big investment, as it can easily cost upward of $10,000. The independent operator also has to finance other necessities, such as vehicles and insurance.

Though specifics may differ depending on what type of route you’re running and/or who you’re running it for, here are bread route and pros and cons and any other similar type of route job.

Pros

  • You get to be your own boss: That means you can set your own schedule and hours, at least to an extent — accounts may have specific receiving hours.
  • Growth potential: There is the potential to grow your business by adding new accounts and/or territories to make more money.
  • Stable income: Most routes are relatively established, so you should make a steady income from the very beginning.
    • Note: How much money you make will depend on the distributor. If it sells you the product for 80% of the total price, your commission is 20%. If it gives you the product, your commission will be a cut of the profit.
  • It’s in demand: Route businesses are in demand. That means you can also likely sell your business whenever you want.

Cons

  • Startup cost: The initial cost to get started can be pretty high since you have to purchase the route.
  • Risks involved: You often have to pay for product; if the product you get from your distributor happens to be spoiled or damaged, it can end in a loss for you.
  • Distributor issues: You can run into certain problems with your distributor, such as:
    • a lack of available product
    • a warehouse that is far away
    • issues with the product delivered to you (In some cases, warehouses that are far will have the product delivered to you.)
  • You’ll essentially be a small business owner: As an independent operator, you will be responsible for finding someone to cover your route if you are sick or would like to take a vacation
    • Note: “Vacation relief services” have started to pop up. Typically, the service will run your route for you and take a percent of the profit.

Route Businesses Requirements

While there are some minor differences among companies, most route businesses have similar policies. To get started you’ll need to:

  • Purchase the route: You’ll also need to purchase the tools you’ll need to run it.
  • Recruit employees: Some distributors may help with this.
  • Buy product from the distributor: You are essentially buying product and reselling it. (Some distributors give you the product and you make a cut of the profit instead.)
  • Load and offload your truck: You’ll need to lift and carry the product when picking it up from the distributor and again when making the delivery. You must be willing and able to load and offload your truck in addition to driving the route.
  • Set up and maintain displays: Unless your route business delivers packages, you will be responsible for setting up and maintaining store displays.

Note: Depending on what type of vehicle you use for delivery, you may need a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Regardless, you’ll need a valid driver’s license and, in some instances, you may need to register as a corporation.

Examples of Route Businesses: From Bread to Packages

A variety of companies utilize route businesses to get their products into customers’ hands and stores. Below, we’ve compiled the list of companies that employ route businesses from breads and bakery items to packages.

1. Bimbo Bakeries USA

Bimbo Bakeries includes the following brands: Arnold Premium Breads, Brownberry Premium Breads, Entenmann’s, Oroweat Premium Breads, Sara Lee, and Thomas’.

  • Responsibilities:
    • Finance your business, including providing any necessary down payments
    • Organize your company as a corporation or limited liability company (LLC)
    • Sell and distribute breads and baked goods
    • Grow your business by finding new customers in your sales area
    • Manage accounts and/or utilize a bookkeeping service
  • Expenses:
    • Delivery vehicle(s) (often a 20-foot truck)
    • Vehicle expenses, including fuel, insurance, and maintenance
    • A reliable wireless handheld computer/tablet and a printer
  • Find more information on the Bimbo Bakeries Distribution website or visit RoutesForSale.net for a list of Bimbo Bakeries Routes for sale.

Note: For more information about forming an LLC and the fees involved, see our article on GlassPointe start-up costs.

2. FedEx

  • FedEx Ground:
    • Responsibilities:
      • Pick up and deliver to residential addresses or deliver loads to and from FedEx hubs
      • Manage day-to-day operations to achieve the contracted-for results, including daily activities, route design, delivery sequence, and the means to meet customer expectations and demands
      • Recruit and train employees
      • Maintain payroll and employment records, and comply with all applicable local, state/provincial, and federal laws (including wages, payroll deductions, overtime, rest and meal periods, etc.)
      • Maintain vehicles and equipment
      • Prepare and maintain a comprehensive safety program
    • Expenses:
      • Employee wages/salaries, benefits, employment taxes, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation coverage
      • Vehicle maintenance
  • FedEx Custom Critical:
    • Responsibilities:
      • Same as FedEx Ground plus:
        • Must be an owner/operator (i.e., you also make deliveries)
        • Deliver items that require special handling (i.e. temperature control)
        • Must have a CDL
    • Expenses:
      •  Same as FedEx Ground
  • Find more information on FedEx’s website

3. Flowers Foods

Flowers Foods brands include Nature’s Own Bread, Wonder Bread, Dave’s Killer Bread, Cobblestone Bread Co., Alpine Valley Bakery, Sunbeam Bread, Merita Breads, Captain John Derst’s Old Fashioned Bread, Butternut Bread, Bunny Bread, European Bakers, Home Pride Butter Top, Mi Casa, Mrs. Freshley’s, and Tasty Baking Company.

  • Responsibilities: 
    • Purchase or finance a territory
      • Territories often cost around $100,000; a minimum 5% down payment is required
    • Set up a corporation and maintain at least 51% ownership
    • Grow your sales by increasing customers in your territory
    • Manage accounts and/or utilize a bookkeeping service
    • Hire and manage employees (if you choose)
  • Expenses:
    • Delivery vehicle(s), including fuel, maintenance, and insurance
    • Purchase communications equipment such as a computer and cell phone
    • Advertising (if you choose)
  • Find more information on Flowers Foods’ website.

4. Mission Tortilla

  • Responsibilities:
    • Evaluate and create an order of product needed; fulfill the snack route order
    • Write and transmit orders to Mission Tortilla after servicing accounts
    • Recruit and train employees
    • Manage payroll
    • Maintain vehicles and equipment
  • Expenses:
    • Fuel, insurance, and vehicle maintenance
    • Purchase of inventory, storage facility for product
    • Promotional allowances
    • Liability insurance for your business

Note: Mission Tortilla doesn’t have this information on its website, but we were able to find reliable information on RoutesForSale.net

5. Pepperidge Farms

  • Responsibilities:
    • Finance your business (you can purchase a bakery or snack route)
    • Recruit and train employees
    • Maintain payroll records
    • Vehicle and equipment maintenance
  • Expenses:
    • A special handheld computer and printer (estimated cost: up to $5,000)
    • Employee benefits, including worker compensation insurance
    • Vehicle ownership, insurance, and maintenance
  • Find more information on Pepperidge Farms’ website

6. Snyder’s-Lance

  • Responsibilities:
    • Hire and train employees for snack route
    • Manage payroll
    • Maintain store displays
    • Vehicle and equipment maintenance
  • Expenses:
    • Employee wages, benefits, and insurance
    • Fuel, vehicle, and equipment maintenance
  • Find more information on Snyder’s-Lance’s website

In Summary

Is a bread route a good investment? Route business pros and cons — there are many. Buying a bread route can be a good investment. Like any job, there are pros and cons to owning a route business. The pros are that you get to be your own boss, set your own hours, make a steady income, and grow your business to increase your earnings. Some of the cons include expensive start-up costs and potential losses if product is spoiled or damaged. Most route businesses have similar requirements, responsibilities, and expenses.

For more business ideas, see our articles on how to make money on the side and how to open your own laundromat or laundry service.

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