Skip to content

CNLP 284: Marc Serrao on How to Break All the Rules And Create a New Business Model, Starting One of America’s Most Successful Bakeries and How to Create Food So Good The Lines Create Traffic Jams

How do you build a world-class bakery in a village of just six thousand people? A bakery so popular it creates traffic jams with people from across the country wanting to get in? You break all the rules and create your own business model.

Marc Serrao shares the story of how he started Oakmont Bakery, his radically different philosophy, and why even if you show up minutes before closing, you’ll find his store stocked full of fresh-baked goods, instead of empty and picked over.

Welcome to Episode 284 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

Guest Links

Marc Serrao | FacebookInstagram | Twitter | Oakmont Bakery

Episode Links

Discover a benefits solution that meets the unique needs of your staff with Remodel Health. Visit to learn more and download their Church buyer’s guide.

Find training for every ministry area and every leadership level at Ministry Grid. Take advantage of their August special to lock in your annual rate with unlimited training, plus receive my book Didn’t See It Coming as a bonus gift at ministry

CNLP 283: Lee Kricher and Jason Howard on the Emotions of Pastoral Succession, Why Leaders Hand on Too Long, And Why Successors Are Afraid to Talk about the Real Issues

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Oakmont Bakery’s Cake Designs

3 Insights from Marc

1. If you can excel at many things, you appeal to many audiences!

One of the reasons that Marc has been successful at growing Oakmont Bakery to where it is today is that they didn’t just stay in one market. Many bakeries just make donuts or just make cakes, but Oakmont is intentional about doing many different things really well. This causes them to compete with any “niche” store that challenges them.

One of the biggest flaws with just picking one niche, like donuts, is that people might choose somewhere like Oakmont over you because they have high-quality donuts, bagels, and breakfast sandwiches. A store with great variety can beat out a store with only a great niche product.

2. How did Marc keep his employees bought in?

Marc has learned that it’s really important that we actually listen to our people. When we listen to our people, we learn what they are passionate about. When Marc has done this, it has lead to hiring and moving great people into roles that are a much better fit for their passions and giftings. This is how you take an employee as a high school kid making minimum wage, and turn him into a life-long loyal employee.

If you can take your people and value them and their giftings you stand a much better chance of turning them into solid and loyal employees. Marc actually learned this from his church. Now, anytime he is looking to hire a new cake decorator or a service manager, he looks inside his organization first, before looking outside. He also thinks that Christian business leaders should pay people a fair value.

3. How can you stay fresh as a leader?

Continuous learning is key for any leader. We never arrive. Marc is super intentional about always learning from other organizations and even other markets. When he first started Oakmont, he wanted to make it better that just a bakery, so Marc traveled to new high-end restaurants in New York and copied those interior designs in his bakery.

Another way he stayed fresh was by learning from the best organizations in the bakery market. As he built relationships with leaders running larger organizations than his own, they helped him take the right next steps for his own organization. This advice has helped Oakmont grow into the thriving organization it is today.

Quotes from Episode 284

I've never known any generous people who really feel like they're broke. Tony Robbins Click To Tweet

People buy with their eyes. Things need to look good for people to purchase them. @OakmontBakery Click To Tweet

Over the years, we made some pretty bold moves when the church was struggling and really needed our financial help. Looking back, I think God blessed us a lot more than we blessed the church. @OakmontBakery Click To Tweet

In marriage, if we keep God's order, everything else works out. @OakmontBakery Click To Tweet

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 284

Looking for a key quote? More of a reader?

Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode here.

Watch Back Episodes of The Podcast on YouTube

Select episodes of this podcast are now on YouTube. Our new YouTube Channel gives you a chance to watch some episodes, not just listen. We’ll add select episodes to YouTube as time goes on.

Get Your Life Back

Do you want to unlock more of your potential in life and leadership without sacrificing time with your family and your health?

Sounds crazy, but it’s not. I know because I’ve lived it. A few years back, I seriously crashed and burned because the demands on my time and life were bigger than the time I had to accomplish them. I promised myself that wouldn’t happen again.

Today, I still have bigger goals than ever before, but I’ve made fundamental changes that have led to a healthier, happier lifestyle without sacrificing my family and vastly increasing my productivity at work. I’ve taken what I’ve learned during this journey and put it into the High Impact Leader course.

You can complete the three-hour course at your own pace. It’s the most comprehensive content I’ve ever created for leaders to help you reclaim HOURS every day so you can become more effective at work and more present at home. When your time, energy, and priorities are all working together for you, it’ll impact everything you do.

  • You become a better leader, because you’re doing what you do best when you’re at your best
  • You become a better spouse, because you’re focused at home
  • You become a better parent, neighbor, and friend, because you actually have time off to relax and engage

These principles will free you to thrive in every area of your life.

You can learn more and gain instant access today.

Subscribed Yet? 

Subscribe for free and never miss out on wisdom from world-class leaders like Brian Houston, Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, Nancy Duarte, Henry Cloud, Patrick Lencioni, Francis Chan, Ann Voskamp, Erwin McManus and many others.

Subscribe using your favorite podcast app via

Apple Podcasts


Google Play



Spread the Word. Leave a Rating and Review

Hopefully, this episode has helped you lead like never before. That’s my goal. If you appreciated it, could you share the love?

The best way to do that is to rate the podcast on Apple Podcasts and leave us a brief review! You can do the same on Stitcher and on TuneIn as well.

Your ratings and reviews help us place the podcast in front of new leaders and listeners. Your feedback also lets me know how I can better serve you.

Thank you for being so awesome.

Next Episode: Christy Wright

Christy Wright became an entreprenuer at age 23 and now coaches business leaders full time in addition to podcasting and speaking on some of the biggest stages in the world. Christy shares some remarkable insights on the fears most entrepreneurs face, overcoming them, how to get started, and how to price yourself and your product in the market. Plus, she talks about how to respond when people want things cheaper or simply for free, and how to say no, nicely.

Subscribe for free now and you won’t miss Episode 285.

CNLP 284: Marc Serrao on How to Break All the Rules And Create a New Business Model,  Starting One of America’s Most Successful Bakeries and How to Create Food So Good The Lines Create Traffic Jams


  1. shia on October 7, 2019 at 10:28 pm

    Thanks for you help

  2. Dan Barber on August 16, 2019 at 7:46 am

    Hey Carey, Thanks for this conversation with Marc. Some great insights and encouragement for other retail small business owners

    • Carey Nieuwhof on August 16, 2019 at 12:13 pm

      Glad to help!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Copy link