stlalohagal Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 5:51am
post #1 of

Ok here's the deal. A 'friend' at church is getting married (I say friend but we don't know each other, other than church.) and she needs a cake. The wedding is Jan 6th so about 2 weeks ago she throws her arm around me and says we've got to talk about cakes because she heard I was asked to do someone else's for April. Anyway I get her them, look up some pictures, snowflakes, and do some RI samples of them, and get it all to her. I suggest a price of $1 pp. I know that's really cheap. I called around here in STL and got a min of $1.35 pp to up there. I even posted here to see what folks charged. Now granted I'm still in my 3rd Wilton Course but I think I'm pretty good (you can check my pics to judge for yourself). I'm no professional or seasoned decorator so I thought I'd give her a break and go for the $1 pp. So in talking with her today she says she just can't afford $1 per person,.. that's $200 they just don't have. I said well the ingredients alone is $65-70 and that was padded up from the $53 the cake matrix figured for me. She only wants a couple of sheet cakes and the small three tiered (no pillars) cake. I went back in and figured in the cake matrix what if she only gave me .50 cents pp and that only pays me $1.80 per hour based on 24 hours. No it won't take me 24 hours but when you add in the talking, the research, the planning, etc... well yep you're at 24+ hours. I would really like to do the cake as it would be a first opportunity. As a newbie and wanting to get my name about I'm still interested. Am I crazy ???? icon_cry.gif

- Paula

117 replies
Chef_Stef Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 5:58am
post #2 of

Only if you don't mind working for free for a stranger. You could just call it practice and do it for that price, though. Up to you...

playingwithsugar Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 6:04am
post #3 of

Dear Paula -

It sounds to me like this person is not that close a "friend". I would not compromise my position. You are giving her a very good deal, and it sounds to me like she is just trying to wrangle a deal with you, thinking that you have no guidance as to pricing. If she goes to a professional baker, she will pay $70 more than through you.

Independent bakers (which is what you strive to be) charge a minimum of $2.25 here where I live in eastern PA. That is 50 cents less than the bakeries charge, with the exception of chain supermarkets that use frozen cakes and icing from a bucket.

As an independent baker, you should not compromise your price based on your lack of professional experience. Granted, you are just starting out and would like to offer a price to people who approach you, in exchange for what could be word-of-mouth publicity, but you should not let anyone take further advantage of you by trying to tell you that your cakes are only worth 50 cents per serving.

Stand your ground.

cakesondemand Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 6:19am
post #4 of

If it were me I would call her bluff and let her price it out somewhere else and she will re think your offer. Thats a lot of cake for $200. You can also offer her a cake on the bottom for cutting and dummies on top and undecorated slabs left in the kitchen for serving makes more sense for the price she wants. Charge her per serving for the bottom tier and something like $25ea for the dummies and 2 slabs. Id say about $160 +. Gives her 2 options then she can decide. You also said she wanted no pillers but its still extra time for dowels and stacking no difference.

playingwithsugar Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 6:21am
post #5 of

My other concern is that she might tell everyone there that she got the cakes for such a low price. Then they will all come to you for cake. Heck, for that price, I would have you do my baking for me, then mark the price up!

Theresa icon_smile.gif

cakesondemand Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 6:24am
post #6 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmriga

My other concern is that she might tell everyone there that she got the cakes for such a low price. Then they will all come to you for cake. Heck, for that price, I would have you do my baking for me, then mark the price up!

Theresa icon_smile.gif




I was thinking the same thing as Theresa

JanH Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 6:30am
post #7 of

Do you want to be known for your "cheap" cakes.....the bride's going to tell everyone.

Brides can be very demanding and critical; she's already demanding a discount, but that doesn't mean she's not going to be critical of your efforts.

If you decide to go forward, please make sure that you have everything in writing with her signing off, and that she pre-pays.

For what she wants to pay: no fondant, no filling and no RI. Maybe a simple ribbon wrapped around each b/c layer.

Also, make sure to cover:

Delivery - certainly not included for $1.00 or less pp

Set-up - not included for sheet cakes and small, tiered cake

Changes - no changes after certain date, and anything different costs MORE

Cancellation - okay, but you keep all the money

That's all I can think of right now. Just don't want you to get burned!

BTW, your cakes are beautiful. The bride would be lucky to book you!!!!

ceshell Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 6:31am
post #8 of

Your snowflakes are really gorgeous, as is all of your work. 50c pp for cake is highway robbery; who's ever heard of a wedding cake for 50c pp??! My gut reaction is, if she can afford to have 200 people at her wedding, she can certainly afford the rock-bottom price of $200 for a cake, but then again I don't know a darned thing about her and have no right to make assumptions. It's just that, you said she came to you b/c she knows you're doing one in April, not b/c she knows you're an independent baker and she can steal a cake from you. Still she's trying to take advantage of your position as a fellow parishioner.

Regardless, if it's worth it for you as a practice cake, why not get paid for it? At least you could recoup some of your costs. But I totally agree that you must beware underpricing your professional work, as word will travel FAST. If you really want to do it, even at her price, do a contract which clearly outlines the actual price of the cake and then states something about the nature of the discount.

Oh and btw I love the dummies idea if that cuts down on your time and effort (and cost): she gets her price, you get your practice, yet she still is forced to see that you can't get a wedding cake for 50c/p without sacrificing something.

Just my humble opinion. Good luck with making your decision!

JoanneK Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 6:32am
post #9 of

There is no way I would do a wedding cake for $1.00 a serving! Your cakes are worth way more then that. I don't care if it is your first wedding cake!

I took a look at your cakes and they are very nice. All worth more then $1.00 a serving.

You know what I love most about your cakes??? Not only do you do great work but you are proud of them and say nice things about your own work.

I wish I could be that way. I always pick my stuff apart and think each one could be so much better.

I also love the way you take color and use it well. You blend colors and add little touches that most people just starting out doesn't even think about.

Keep your head up high and tell that lady that you are sorry but your off was more then fair. In fact once you thought about it you figured out you will lose money doing her cake for that price so she better say yes asap.

melissaanne Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 6:43am

I think your cakes are beautiful! If she is not going to pay $1 a serve, I won't bother, not even for the practice!

emmascakes Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 6:47am

There's no way you should do this, no way. I've always charged relatively highly for my cakes and have built up a reputation as someone who makes expensive, but very different, cakes - I'm sure I get more bookings through this and I only get people coming to me who can afford it and know what kind of stuff I do. If you start like this you'll find it hard to get out of the rut as you'll have to creep your prices up over time. Please ask the woman to get quotes from elsewhere. You would get more satisfaction doing a fancy cake for free for your real friends or family. She's asking an awful lot from you and you are worth far more,

cakekrayzie Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 6:51am
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmriga

My other concern is that she might tell everyone there that she got the cakes for such a low price. Then they will all come to you for cake. Heck, for that price, I would have you do my baking for me, then mark the price up!

Theresa icon_smile.gif




exactly, had this happen to me gave a discount to a friend of my cousin and then became stuck because everyone at her work wanted a cake for the same price and i was basicly making them at cost because i was to nice to say anything but then one of the girls asked me for a discount on top of the already low charge i said enough is enough. if you want to do it for the experience and get the word out then make her sign a paper saying she can't tell anyone exactly what she paid for it but what you were going to charge her instead that way you get the experiecne, and you don't get stuck for being known as the cheap cake maker. and one last thing if she does agree to sign the paper make sure you let her know that it is a one time thing and the next time she will pay full price. at least that is what i would have done given the second chance. icon_wink.gif

playingwithsugar Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 6:55am

cakekrayzie --

Good points and good advice. A non-disclosure agreement would definitely be in order here.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

playingwithsugar Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 6:58am

I was just reading another thread, and came across this in homecook's signature. I hope homecook does not mind me quoting it:

"When pricing cake, remember my Mom's rule: Try taking 150 guests in formal wedding attire to a nice restaurant for dessert, and see if you can get them all a piece of fresh, decadent, custom-designed cake for less than $3.00 a serving...!"

Thank you, homecook!

Theresa icon_smile.gif

JanH Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 7:11am

Sounds good, but how are you going to enforce a non-disclosure agreement.

In some states, if you're not a licensed business, you're not entitled to those protections.

And anyway, getting a lawyer would be expensive...

I just don't see this as a win-win situation icon_sad.gif

7yyrt Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 7:16am

NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!! Do not do that cake!!!
Anyone who is having 200 people at her wedding can pay $200 for a cake. She is not your child -YOU are not responsible for giving her one.
I had less than 75 people at my beautiful wedding, the total bill was less than $700 - dress, hall, minister, flowers, everything - $350 of that was for the cake.
If it is important to her, she can pay for it; if it isn't then do you want to make her a gift of something she does not value? YOU are of value, your cake is of value. Someone who believes that is the person you want to make that first wedding cake for...

SweetResults Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 3:11pm

Don't do it! Stick to your guns - $1 pp is crazy low - you should be STARTING at $2.50pp for basic buttercream! I go up to $4.50 or higher for fondant and filling, and I don't do this for a living. If you really want to do the cake for experince then then give her an invoice for $1.5pp or whatever you are comfortable with for a "real" price then enter in a discount to bring it to $1 and state it is a promo deal or something. But if she can't afford $200 to feed cake to 200 people then let her bake it herself.

stlalohagal Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 3:15pm

Here's something to keep in mind... regarding them being able to afford a wedding for 200 ppl. They are having it at the VFW Hall and the family is all bringing the food. So they're not paying for anything for their reception that I'm aware of. These people are very minimal folks.

I can post a pic of the wedding cake she choose so you all could see it. Its one from someone here at CC, sorry I don't remember who of the top of my head. Its three tiers all BC and light blue icing. No pilar separations. She just wants the RI snowflakes and nothing else. Then simple sheet cakes and I said just one large snowflake on each of them.

Further thoughts/comments?

Thanks all!

- Paula

Titansgold Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 3:24pm

$1.80 an hour is absolutely absurd. I agree with some of the others, let her go elsewhere and see how much everyone else is going to charge. When she comes back to you, you could even explain that if you had done it for what she was asking you would have been making less than two bucks an hour. I know weddings can be expensive, but asking someone you barely know to all but work for free, that's not ok.

crp7 Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 3:26pm

It sounds like you are really anxious to do a wedding cake and that is understandable. Your work is great.

My concern would be that as word got around then everyone would expect a cake for the really cheap discounted price. What are you charging for the cake in April? How are they going to feel if/when they find out that they paid $1 pp and this lady paid so much less? Is that fair to them and are you shortchanging yourself?

Cindy

stlalohagal Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 3:26pm

Almost forgot,

I'm also thinking of giving her the grocery list and send her shopping for it all. She can have just a plain yellow cake too, not the fancy White Almond Sour Cream cake that I was thinking of as it's a lot more ingredients to buy unless she wants them. That way too I'm not out the money. Then it's just my time and talent.

- Paula

tiptop57 Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 3:31pm

Oh I think this is so funny.....non-disclosure statement......hahahahahah
JanH wrote:

Quote:
Quote:

And anyway, getting a lawyer would be expensive...


Let's see if we can get this lawyer for $1.80 an hour......hahaha.

Gosh people just kill me...try getting your taxes done for $1.80 an hour, or the lawyer above for $1.80 an hour. How about a day care sitter for $1.80 an hour. Better yet, let's ask a stylist to do your hair for $1.80 an hour. Oh and one more thing.....they are all new and just starting out, do you think since they are so new we could get them for $1.80 an hour?

Does anyone see my point here? icon_confused.gif

SweetResults Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 3:34pm

I understand the budget and can appreciate that. But also - she will get beautiful and tasty cakes from you for $1 pp and will not be able to get that at that price anywhere else. Again, if you want to give her a special price out of the goodness of your heart (which I know I would end up doing as well - do as I say not as I do LOL!) I still think you should show it as a one time discount so she and anyone else who asks knows the true value of your cakes.

Your problem is that if you are trying to eventually make money from this you don't want to sell your self short. You do wonderful work, it is a tough decision. Good luck!

tyty Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 3:41pm

Your work is simply beautiful, you are more than capable of creating a beautiful wedding cake. Don't sell yourself short. How much is the other lady paying per slice? Stand your ground with the price you quoted(which is still low).

kathik Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 3:41pm

I agree with Cindy, it sounds like you are really eager to do a wedding cake. However, I think you are going to end up feeling taken for granted of, even at $1.00 per serving (which I agree is already ridiculously low).

Even if these people are minimalists, she sounds manipulative to me. If she is so minamalist she doesn't need a cake, or a relative can make a simple cake (they are already bringing the rest of the food), or they can go to the supermarket. She came to you because she heard you were already planning to do a wedding cake in April. And the way you described the way she approached you I think she hoped to get a rock bottom price because you go to the same church, know each other, are new, or whatever! As I read this thread I kept thinking of another recent thread titled "the wedding cake from h-ll". It was about a cc'er who would give away cakes to brides at her church who couldn't afford one, and it snowballed into all the brides thinking they were entitled to a free cake. I think you are setting yourself up to be known as a cheap place to get an awesome cake- because new or not, your work is great! As I keep reading at cc "DON'T SELL YOURSELF SHORT!!"

Last piece of advice before I get off my soapbox. If you decide to go through with this I would advise you NOT to give her the grocery list to shop for materials. I did this for my first big cake and will never do this again. The customer didn't purchase everything on the list (easy mistake), they purchased a cheaper brand than what I specified, and most importantly, I needed some last minute items I didn't account for, which came out of my pocket because she had already purchased what I told her to buy.

Good luck,
Kathi

angelas2babies Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 3:48pm

My thoughts- You need to set your own prices and haggling is just not an option. I would personally rather do a cake for free than have someone tell me what they are willing to pay for it. Why? Because I refuse to have someone tell ME what my cakes are worth.

So, if you know this lady and want to help her out and get some exposure at the same time, it's your call. If your intentions are to establish yourself as a cake decorator, I must agree that being known for your "cheap cakes" is not a good start. You did your research, and you know you're not being unreasonable.

I am horrible about charging people for cakes, so I have done them as gifts, but now that outsiders want to start purchasing them, I have to establish pricing that I am comfortable with, and stick to it. So, if she's not your friend and you don't feel obliged to make her a discounted cake, then don't do it. If, on the other side, you just want to do a wedding cake and get the experience, then this might be your way to do it.

Your cakes are wonderful.
Good luck.
Angie

Just do what you feel comfortable with.

daltonam Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 4:06pm

okay, i quit reading everyone else's response to give my own icon_surprised.gificon_lol.gif so i'll go back & read the whole thread in a minute

here's what i've got for you----

i'm not real sure where STL is, but i live in a small town (oh it's really small) & i'm doing a cake for $1.00 a serving & i'm not going to make a dime off of it, so if i have someone willing to buy from me w/out any classes taken & she knows this--plus i told her flat out i will not do roses for her, only cause i can't do them yet, then i think you should stick to your price --- i'm really afraid that you are going to be VERY UPSET with yourself if you don't....i'm not sure what all she's wanting but even at that price, stay away from expensive filling & time consuming flowers--my HUGE mistake is that my bride wants pound cake & i told her 'no problem' well......i forgot just how much goes into a pound cake--yep i'm gonna be broke icon_lol.gif

good luck & if it helps, call Publix (if you have one) & compare your price with their's--i did & i know she's getting a great deal with me, even if i did a box cake, cause heck they taste better than grocery stores do!



edited to say--if you truly feel that she can't sfford the price, then do what's in your heart, but i heart tells me that my time is also very important & i'm taking this time away from my family--just a thought

ckkerber Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 4:08pm

I agree with everyone here BUT I don't see anything wrong with doing a favor for a friend as long as you let her know the true value of the cake and let her know that she's getting a discount and you normally wouldn't be able to do a cake for that price. As it is your first wedding cake, it's a great opportunity to add this to your portfolio, the experience will be great, and you get to help out a friend. She's not going to be able to get much of a cake anywhere else if her budget is so small and she doesn't have much time before the wedding. So if your inclination is to help out a friend, by all means, do it. Just be sure that at the very least, all of your expenses are covered and there's at least something left to compensate your labor / efforts. If you think you'll have fun and enjoy doing this, then you should. If you think you may end up with any sort of resentment over it, then you shouldn't. Go with your instincts on this one. And in the future, be sure to charge what you're worth because your cakes are awesome and you could get A LOT more for a cake like this!

whimsette Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 4:16pm

I'd pass this one up and wait for an opportunity where your talents and product will be appreciated for what they're worth.

I wholeheartedly recommend setting firm boundaries around your pricing early on in your business. Expecting a fair price for your work is 100% acceptable and you never, ever need apologize for it. Nor do you ever need to be taken advantage of by a customer (and I think this woman is trying to do so).

Good luck to you! I'm sending wishes of good customers your way.

bethola Posted 11 Dec 2006 , 4:20pm

This thread is not about me, BUT, wanted to share this.

Almost the same thing happened to me, except I was dealing with the GROOM'S mother who was a casual acquaintance of mine. I figured the sheet cakes, etc at 0.50 (like you) and she asked was there any other way we could go to get a cheaper price. I said "Yes, you need to buy a W------(superstore) cake because I won't do it any cheaper. They did and paid MORE for that cake than they would have for mine. NEVER AGAIN!! Your cakes are worth more than $1.00 per serving!! Stand firm!

Beth in KY

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