Scared 'em Off?

Decorating By cholmberg Updated 20 Oct 2007 , 9:34am by wgoat5

cholmberg Posted 9 Oct 2007 , 1:39am
post #1 of 25

A few weeks ago, my husband's best friend and his wife were having a baby shower. She liked the castle cake I did for my daughter so much she asked me to do her shower cake. I agreed. After showing her a lot of pictures of cakes to get a feel for what she wanted, she flipped over the 'baby feet' cake that Boween has a few different variations of. That's what she wanted, period. I told her I'd try, but it was a bit ambitious for me. Long(and very frustrating) story short, the cake turned out lovely.
I was petrified. I'd never done a cake for what amounted to a bunch of strangers (I didn't know anyone except the mother to be and daddy to be). Everyone just adored it and I kept getting asked if I do this for a business (I don't). I got a couple of people ask me to do cakes on the spot (I didn't accept any, they were all very close in). I got a message from someone who went to the party who said how much they liked the cake, and asking if I would consider doing one for her baby shower (which is Saturday).

I explained that I had never sold a cake, and that I did the one I did as a gift/favor, but that if they wanted me to, I'd try. They wanted same recipe (WASC), same size (two tiers; 10's and 6's), but their theme was 'under the sea'. My mind was turning over some ideas rather quickly, so I sent them to some links to look at some pictures and explained what my abilities would and would not cover. . and how much I'd have to get to make a cake of that size and relative difficulty. It took me two recipes of the wasc cake recipe (a LOT) to make that cake, plus the IMBC filling, plus the buttercream, plus the fondant work. I told them I wouldn't do it for less than $60 for my ingredients and time/effort. Haven't heard back since.

Am I out of line? I spend quite a bit on ingredients, and a ton of time (I made a stencil and cut out all the fondant freehand and made fondant 'pearls' and a fondant bow), and for what I think this girl wanted, it would have been even more time. I love to do cakes, but I can't do them for free icon_sad.gif Can't afford to. Doing a cake here and there for family and friends is one thing, but doing cakes like that and giving them away for free or for cost to people I don't even know.. . that's different.

How do you handle such situations? I really didn't think sixty bucks was all that much for a cake of that size that was going to incorporate a lot of fondant details. What timelines do you set on your cakes? I told her that asking me to do a cake like that for Saturday was a bit short notice (it seems to be to me anyway).

24 replies
indydebi Posted 9 Oct 2007 , 2:52am
post #2 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by cholmberg


How do you handle such situations?




"Who cares? Who's next!"

You're not going to book them all. Don't stress over everyone. Spend your energies on the ones you DO book .... spend no time on the ones you don't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cholmberg


I really didn't think sixty bucks was all that much for a cake of that size that was going to incorporate a lot of fondant details.




Should it ever come up, feel free to tell them that you checked with a cake decorating friend of yours (ME!), and MY price would be $150. A 10/6 serves 50, per the wilton wedding chart, which is what I use to determine pricing. 50 x my $3 per serving rate = $150.

And that doesn't count the upcharge for the extra details like fondant and the other things you mentioned.

She should have taken the $60 price and bragged about it!!

cholmberg Posted 9 Oct 2007 , 3:13am
post #3 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi



"Who cares? Who's next!"

You're not going to book them all. Don't stress over everyone. Spend your energies on the ones you DO book .... spend no time on the ones you don't.




Thanks for that. icon_lol.gif Makes me feel better.
I wasn't looking to do a cake, like I said, although I would really like
to make a go of a business, that's still a ways off, but she sought me out, offering to pay for ingredients plus 'something for my time'. I dunno what she had in mind.

Quote:
Quote:


Should it ever come up, feel free to tell them that you checked with a cake decorating friend of yours (ME!), and MY price would be $150. A 10/6 serves 50, per the wilton wedding chart, which is what I use to determine pricing. 50 x my $3 per serving rate = $150.

And that doesn't count the upcharge for the extra details like fondant and the other things you mentioned.

She should have taken the $60 price and bragged about it!!




I'll do that. icon_biggrin.gif
Thanks!

cwcopeland Posted 9 Oct 2007 , 3:28am
post #4 of 25

I totally agree with Indydebi. After seeing so many of her posts about people like this, I've been prepared for them. (thanks indydebi icon_biggrin.gif )

I don't to many paid cakes yet either. A couple of weeks ago, someone asked me for a certain cake and asked how much. I told them it would start at $40, they said nevermind. I think they went to Wal Mart and got a $12.99 cake. Whatever..... I had 2 other cakes to do and very little time to do them to it worked out for both of us.

But I am sorry you've gone to trouble to prepare for them.

SugarFrosted Posted 9 Oct 2007 , 3:46am
post #5 of 25

I agree completely with indydeby thumbs_up.gif

People really have no idea how much money and time and effort and sweat and stress go into making cakes. Your "lookie-loo" (that's what I call people who ask for a cake, get a price and then never call back) probably thought "ingredients" would be a $.98 box of cake mix and a $1.50 can of frosting. Period. And like Samantha on Bewitched you are expected to just twitch your nose and it's perfect. icon_rolleyes.gif

Don't we all wish it were that cheap and that effortless...

gscout73 Posted 9 Oct 2007 , 3:49am
post #6 of 25

Indydebbi, you are an inspiration. That is advice that I can use as well. You are awesome. thumbs_up.gif

FrostinGal Posted 9 Oct 2007 , 3:54am
post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by cholmberg

she sought me out, offering to pay for ingredients plus 'something for my time'. I dunno what she had in mind.




I do, she meant to pay for the cost of ingredients, and a nice thought for your time. It's only flour and sugar and eggs, you know, ANY monkey can do it! icon_wink.gif

People have no idea of the time and effort and practice that goes into cake art! My sister came to DS's birthday party this weekend, much to my chagrin, and had the nerve to claim that she is a decorator, just like me. (She made one cake, over a decade ago, it fell apart and I had to make a new cake for my niece's party, overnight. She claims we learned how to decorate together. Where was I? Forget that I spent over three years decorating professionally, making wedding cakes. Sheesh.) She said my cake couldn't be that hard to do. Um, it took four stinking days to make, before and after work!
The cake: http://www.cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=gallery&file=displayimage&pid=1123213
Oh, my, I think I just ranted all over your thread. Sorry. icon_redface.gif

indydebi Posted 9 Oct 2007 , 4:02am
post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by FrostinGal

....People have no idea of the time and effort and practice that goes into cake art!




When I was cutting the cake at this past weekend's wedding, one of my crew walked up and asked me how long did it take to make it? A guest was standing there when I told her it was 7 hours just in baking time. THe guest proclaimed "SEVEN HOURS!" I repeated to her: "JUST in baking time alone!" Her mouth hung open.

It's a 5-tier cake people!! Do you really think you can bake one of these in an hour or two?

icantcook Posted 9 Oct 2007 , 4:39am
post #9 of 25

I just had that happen to me last week. Someone came up to me at work 2 weeks ago and said they wanted a cake for their daughter for the weekend around Oct 18. The next day I brought up a paper and dropped it off at his desk, telling them it contained info about flavors and prices. Had not heard anything from him, so I assumed I scared him off with the prices ($25 for 11x15 filled-don't laugh, I'm still having to prove myself against Wally World). Sure enough, we bumped into each other in the cafeteria and he says, "Oh, by the way, I won't be needing that cake after all." Luckily, I've been studying my indydebisms, and easily replied, "Oh, OK. Good! I've had two other people that want something for that date." I know I should have told him that I turned down 2 jobs for his date (I limit my projects to 1 a week) but it was enough satisfaction to see the look on his face when he realized that other people don't think my prices are unreasonable! It was a load off my shoulders, as I found out my nephew's BD party is that weekend, and now I can concentrate on just his cake.

Plus, I had a feeling when he didn't immediately place an order that he wanted something cheap and would have found something to complain about. You know the PITA vibe? It stung a little bit when he didn't think I was worth it, but it doesn't bother me as much as it would have 6 months ago.

Stick to your guns. You don't want to be known as the one who makes the awesome cakes really cheap.

cholmberg Posted 9 Oct 2007 , 4:45am
post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by SugarFrosted

I agree completely with indydeby thumbs_up.gif

People really have no idea how much money and time and effort and sweat and stress go into making cakes. Your "lookie-loo" (that's what I call people who ask for a cake, get a price and then never call back) probably thought "ingredients" would be a $.98 box of cake mix and a $1.50 can of frosting. Period. And like Samantha on Bewitched you are expected to just twitch your nose and it's perfect. icon_rolleyes.gif

Don't we all wish it were that cheap and that effortless...




I have a feeling that's sort of what she expected. That it was just going to be a few bucks of ingredients and maybe twenty bucks for my time. Since I got asked several times who I worked for (bakery) and I told them that I didn't do cakes for a living. But I spent quite a few hours on the cake she saw over a span of three days. (which I haven't uploaded because I don't know the protocol, I did borrow the design from a cake in the gallery here) I think she experienced sticker shock. Because honestly, I only know of a small handful of bakeries scattered across the coast, and even fewer people doing them out of their house. They generally aren't used to seeing cakes like that. Most events I go to where I am not providing the cake . . it's one from a supermarket.



And I guess I am a little hurt/insulted. . .I've worked hard to try to get good, and in some areas I've got a long way to go, but the things I can do, I'm pretty good at. I've baked countless cakes until I can get them to come out perfect (and gotten a LOT of excellent advise here on that subject!). I've thrown out tons of frosting and cake and had to chalk it up to a learning experience, but that's the breaks, I do enjoy doing it. . Why is that? I guess it's sort of like golf. . . .lots of cussing, crying and frustration, just to be dying to do it again next time!

susies1955 Posted 9 Oct 2007 , 8:45am
post #11 of 25

I just started cake decorating a few months ago and I've had 'five' people ask me to do cakes. This is just a hobby for me and that was a FIRM decision and that is exactly what I told them. I just say thanks for liking my cakes but this is a hobby and I don't plan to get into the business.
One was a brother in law and he was persistent. He just wanted a plain sheet cake I told him $100 to shut him up and it worked. icon_smile.gif
I figured it out and if I do cakes for just my VERY immediate families birthdays, anniversaries and holidays it will be over 25 cakes a year. That is all I'm interested in. PERIOD. thumbs_up.gif
Susie

FrostinGal Posted 9 Oct 2007 , 2:57pm
post #12 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrostinGal

....People have no idea of the time and effort and practice that goes into cake art!



When I was cutting the cake at this past weekend's wedding, one of my crew walked up and asked me how long did it take to make it? A guest was standing there when I told her it was 7 hours just in baking time. THe guest proclaimed "SEVEN HOURS!" I repeated to her: "JUST in baking time alone!" Her mouth hung open.

It's a 5-tier cake people!! Do you really think you can bake one of these in an hour or two?




Tee hee! Wish you had a picture of the guest with her mouth hanging open in shock! LOL

cholmberg Posted 9 Oct 2007 , 3:17pm
post #13 of 25

Interesting.

I did get an email from this person this morning saying she
was 'interested and would get me the details later'. . . . so we'll
see.. . at this point I have no idea what to think. Maybe
she called around yesterday and found out exactly what sixty
dollars will buy in the way of custom cake. icon_biggrin.gif

If she comes through, it'll be the first cake I've ever accepted
money for. I'm not sure if I should hope she does want it, or
hope she doesn't. icon_confused.gif

doughdough Posted 9 Oct 2007 , 3:25pm
post #14 of 25

You should do it, especially if you want to do cake as a business. You'll gain valuable experience and insight if nothing else! Just make sure you come up with something in writing for her to sign just so she can't come back later and try and get her $60 back. (Which would be an incredibly rude thing to do, but you know how some people are!!)

elizw Posted 15 Oct 2007 , 5:47pm
post #15 of 25

stick to your prices. don't waffle. there are those that are willing to pay and those who are not. you can not do "favors" because it gets to expensive!!!!

I think $60 was too low.

LittleMom Posted 15 Oct 2007 , 10:09pm
post #16 of 25

I'm just a novice, so I rarely get to give advice... but I felt like this was something I could relate to. Every once in a while someone asks what they could get a cake from me for. As soon as they tell me how many people it would be for, I multiply by 2 and tell them it would be the starting price. Then, if they're still intereste, I get back to them by the end of the week with a couple of ideas and what they would cost. This makes my life easier because if they balk at my starting price I don't waste my time, or they have until the end of the week to find out other prices.

No hurt feelings, no being strung along, and I never feel ripped off. I have learned that if I charge less than the area bakeries I feel taken advantage of. I also learned that when I charge more, I get more business. Go figure.

(But our bakeries don't do specialty cakes, so I kind of have the monopoly.)

My point is, you are offering a specialty product. Don't sell it as a commodity. icon_smile.gif

cholmberg Posted 15 Oct 2007 , 10:37pm
post #17 of 25

True. . I'm starting to weary of this. She had written me back saying she was very interested. So I sent her a links to cake photos to ask about what elements she had in mind (not many photos of under-the-sea baby shower cakes out there, so I'm trying to figure out what she wants). I asked a bunch of questions in this message. Told her this was vital info if I was going to be able to make a custom cake.

She wrote me back repeating she was interested and could I still do her cake? Nothing I'd asked in the previous message has been answered.

So at this point. I have none of my questions answered. I do not have a date, I haven't got a clue what she wants except what she's already told me (her nursery theme mostly includes crabs and octopi). And I kind of feel like I'm being strung along and I really don't have time for it. I don't sell cakes, but I agreed to this because she's a friend of a friend. My husband works full time and goes to school, we're in the middle of building a house, I have horses boarded out on self-care (I have to go feed/care for them daily) and we have two toddlers. I do not need any more hassle right now. icon_confused.gif

LittleMom, I'm a novice too, but I know that my cakes taste a lot better than store bought cakes, and are for the most part prettier. I try to put my cakes where a lot of people will see/eat them, just to get my name known so that when I make a go at doing it for a business, I won't be such an unknown, but I don't have time for this kind of hassle and if she doesn't come across with the info I need soon, then I just won't do it. icon_sad.gif

but since I'm having a terrible compulsion to make a cake. I'm going to the kitchen to make one, going to try out a modified recipe I've been mulling over in my mind to make an amaretto flavored cake.

indydebi Posted 16 Oct 2007 , 12:24am
post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by cholmberg


She wrote me back repeating she was interested and could I still do her cake? Nothing I'd asked in the previous message has been answered.




My response to this email would be to forward my 1st email with the original questions and add:

"Depends. Please respond to my previous questions in the email below. I can only let you know if I can do the cake after I receive this information from you."

Then just drop it. If she doesn't get back with you, then gosh darn gee I guess I'd just have to assume she made other plans.

indydebi Posted 16 Oct 2007 , 12:24am
post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by cholmberg


She wrote me back repeating she was interested and could I still do her cake? Nothing I'd asked in the previous message has been answered.




My response to this email would be to forward my 1st email with the original questions and add:

"Depends. Please respond to my previous questions in the email below. I can only let you know if I can do the cake after I receive this information from you."

Then just drop it. If she doesn't get back with you, then gosh darn gee I guess I'd just have to assume she made other plans.

artist63 Posted 16 Oct 2007 , 8:47pm
post #20 of 25

In my opinion your price was more then fair. I would pay that , and have just because I didn't have the time to put into a cake with all the detail. HEY for those prices want to come do my daughters wedding cake *wink wink

cholmberg Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 12:46am
post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by artist63

In my opinion your price was more then fair. I would pay that , and have just because I didn't have the time to put into a cake with all the detail. HEY for those prices want to come do my daughters wedding cake *wink wink




From all the stuff I've read on CC about wedding cakes, I'm not
sure I'd ever do any except for fun to prove to myself I could. icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

I did make it clear to her that the price was very low for what she'd
be getting.

She wrote me back again saying her sister would contact me
because she 'didn't know what was going on'. icon_rolleyes.gif But she
did convey to me at least that the shower isn't til December.
So they have two months to get themselves sorted out. Gives me
more time to practice too.

KathysCC Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 3:02am
post #22 of 25

You may tell her to call you. A phone conversation sometimes works better. Tell her she needs to let you know two weeks (or whatever time you choose) in advance and to call you with what she would like on the cake. A lot of people feel overwhelmed when asked to choose something specific or if you ask too many questions about what they want.. My favorite cake orders are the ones that say "Do what you want."

Here is all you really need to ask.
"How many people do you need to feed?"
"Do you have any ideas about what you would like it to look like?"

If they just say crabs and octopi, then just go on your own from there. They don't have to pick a specific cake that you copy...just get the theme they want and do whatever you want.

And don't worry if your price scares them off. That has happened to me lots of times. A lot of people assume that we can do cakes for a Walmart price but our custom made cakes are not comparable to Walmart. Custom decorated cakes are not for bargain shoppers in my opinion. They are more of a luxury item and aren't meant for people who are a little looser with their wallet. icon_biggrin.gif

wgoat5 Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 11:42am
post #23 of 25

Ok here is my view...a lot like Debs.....I stick to my prices now. I say the cake is 100.00...they can take it or leave it. I can get others who will order. DO NOT short yourself. They wouldn't work for under minimum wage why should we?
It really jips my jibbles when people say.."Why is a cake that much?" WELL>....lets take a gander....1. Expenses in the materials, my time MY decorating personality...MY BUSINESS....SOOOOoo with that said .... They can take my prices or go elsewhere...that's that!!!


have a wonderful day icon_biggrin.gif

Christi

indydebi Posted 17 Oct 2007 , 12:22pm
post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by wgoat5


It really jips my jibbles when people say.."Why is a cake that much?"




Suggested response.......

"Yeah, I know what you mean! I say the same thing to the car salesman, to my insurance agent, ESPECIALLY to the gas station attendant, to the grocery store checkout person, to the kid behind the McDonald's counter, to the clerk in my kid's shoe store, to anyone who sells school supplies, to my cable company, to the cell phone company, to the......."

Get the picture? icon_lol.gif

wgoat5 Posted 20 Oct 2007 , 9:34am
post #25 of 25

LMAO @ Deb icon_biggrin.gif

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