Tastings/consultations - Need Advice

Business By ZAKIA6 Updated 19 Mar 2008 , 8:20pm by FlowerGirlMN

ZAKIA6 Posted 16 Mar 2008 , 4:42am
post #1 of 11

Hello Everyone

I am at the point where i would like to expand into wedding cakes and am ready to start having tastings.

So far I have come up with the following
易 I will hold tastings once a month
易 For orders of 75 servings or more â there is no charge. Otherrwise they need to pay.
易 Since I will be designating one day to tastings i figured that i could have a bigger selection of flavors to offer. I would offer 6 flavors.
易 Additional flavors can be added on at a cost


I would discuss the following with them
易 Budget
易 Type of Event
易 Event Date/Time/Location
易 Number of guest attending
易 Indoor or Outdoor event?
易 Color Scheme
易 Design Ideas/References
易 Type of cake (ex. Stacked, tiered etc)


My questions to you all are :
*Would this "day of tastings" work?
*How long do you usually spend with each client?
*What else should i have at the tasting? I will have refreshments. I will have my portfolio? Do i need to have any supplies and/or paperwork ready?
*Are there any other topics that i should discuss with them which are not listed above?


Any input would be appreciated.
Thanks!
Zakia

10 replies
ZAKIA6 Posted 16 Mar 2008 , 7:44pm
post #2 of 11

bump

costumeczar Posted 16 Mar 2008 , 8:03pm
post #3 of 11

You might have to do more than once a month, but if you can keep it to once that's a lot easier. I try to do once a month, but there are always people who can't make it whatever the date is that I choose, so if you want the business you need to be a little flexible. I do twice a month, and offer a basic four or five flavors (usually chocolate, almond, yellow, a citrus and a berry flavor) Then I tell them that IF THEY HIRE ME I can do more samples. I still get people who email me and tell me that they want to try these ten flavors with these fillings, but I just let them know that I'll do what I can and I leave it at that. I don't charge for different serving counts, but I know that lot of people do. I just think it's strange to charge someone if they have 75 guests, then the next person who has 80 doesn't get charged...I'd like to charge for every tasting, but the market I'm in won't support that.

I usually end up spending half and hour to 45 minutes with each person, but some people take 15 minutes and some take an hour if they could. I schedule appointments half an hour apart, and I usually have about one every 1 1/2 hours that's open, so if I get backed up I can catch up. I also put on my website to please limit the number of people they bring with them to the bride and groom and one other person if possible. The more people the more opinions, and that makes everything take longer. Of course, some people ignore that and bring everyone and their brother with them, but it usually works.

I start by going over the basic information (reception location, start time, date, etc.) then ask about their design ideas. You can also ask about their budget then. I have books of cakes that I've done for them to look at, and they usually bring pictures of things they like. If you're efficient it usually only takes ten or fifteen minutes to design a cake, unless they're totally clueless and have no idea what they want. Then I bring out samples for them to try, and while they're eating I work out the cost of the cake. By the time they're done sampling I have a contract filled out for them to take with them, and then if they want to hire me they send it back with a deposit. You might want to hold off on giving them the sketch of the cake until they send a deposit, since they might take it to someone else and say "can you do this for cheaper then XX" Just write a description of the cake and let them go away with that.

ZAKIA6 Posted 16 Mar 2008 , 8:31pm
post #4 of 11

thanks for the input.
For right now i am going to try to keep it at once a month.
Im ready to expand but i dont want to take on more than i can handle
If i can book 1-2 cakes from these tastings then i will be happy.
Especially since I still have a full time job and other things to attend to.

ZAKIA6 Posted 16 Mar 2008 , 11:34pm
post #5 of 11

any other suggestions icon_biggrin.gif

izzybee Posted 17 Mar 2008 , 2:28am
post #6 of 11

I do tastings by appointment only. But the once a month thing might work for Colette Peters, but if you are trying to build your business, you need to be flexible.

I charge $30 which is completely refundable should they place their order with me. They have to cancel within 24 hours or they lose the $30 (I have them mail it in advance.). They get one rescheduled appointment only. Then they have to pay another $30. I has worked perfectly for me, and no one has complained or cancelled since I started charging. Also, everyone who has come for a tasting has booked with me, so they have gotten the $30 back anyway.

I always have people look at my website prior to booking. I have them bring photos or clear ideas of what they want. I get them to tasting 4 flavors max. They get an hour but never stay longer than 30 minutes.

I have my computer next to me so I can check my calendar as well as bring up my website.

I always make cupcakes, never mini cakes.

I do not allow children to accompany them. They can not focus, and I do not want to be responsible in case something happens since I work out of my home.

Hope this all helps! Best of luck!

izzybee Posted 17 Mar 2008 , 2:41am
post #7 of 11

I do tastings by appointment only. But the once a month thing might work for Colette Peters, but if you are trying to build your business, you need to be flexible.

I charge $30 which is completely refundable should they place their order with me. They have to cancel within 24 hours or they lose the $30 (I have them mail it in advance.). They get one rescheduled appointment only. Then they have to pay another $30. I has worked perfectly for me, and no one has complained or cancelled since I started charging. Also, everyone who has come for a tasting has booked with me, so they have gotten the $30 back anyway.

I always have people look at my website prior to booking. I have them bring photos or clear ideas of what they want. I get them to tasting 4 flavors max. They get an hour but never stay longer than 30 minutes.

I have my computer next to me so I can check my calendar as well as bring up my website.

I always make cupcakes, never mini cakes.

I do not allow children to accompany them. They can not focus, and I do not want to be responsible in case something happens since I work out of my home.

Hope this all helps! Best of luck!

momsandraven Posted 17 Mar 2008 , 5:05am
post #8 of 11

Hi there!

I have a cake shop, so I do tastings/consultations more often, but here is a breakdown of what I do. Hope it helps you!

When they call to book their appointment, I ask the bride to choose 3 flavors of cake and 3 flavors of filling. I ask how many people will be joining them so that I can have samples prepared for everyone (they're allowed to bring up to 3 guests, but most only bring either their Mom or fiance.) I serve cupcakes for the cake flavors and fillings in little 2 oz cups on the side.

Once they get to my shop, I sit them down, offer them a drink and present them with their samples for tasting. I let them know that I will return to them in a few minutes while they have some privacy for tasting and commenting. (I find that most people are more comfortable commenting if they do or don't like a particular flavor if I'm not sitting there staring at them. LOL)

After I've left them alone for about 5 minutes, I return and ask how they are doing. Most people are ready for me to sit down with them by then. I ask for their feedback about the samples and what their favorite was.

I make sure that I have all of the following with me when I sit down with them at this point:
* Bridal Cake info hand out (includes info on how to freeze the top tier, cutting guidelines, and a bunch of useless wedding cake trivia)
* Wedding cake contract (includes a sheet of graph paper for sketch)
* Colored pencils, pencil, eraser, 2 pens, ruler & pencil sharpener
* Cake servings/size chart & calculator
* Calendar

I ask if she has any pictures of cakes that she likes, her invitation or 'save the date' card, color swatches, etc and ask if there are any specific requests she has regarding the design. (Like, she has her heart set on a 4-tier design, etc) I get some info on the # of guests she's expecting to show up, if other food and/or desserts will be served, if there will be an open bar, if it will be served early or late in the evening, and if it will be inside or outside. That gives me a good idea on how many servings to suggest. I start working on a sketch and have them fill out the info page of the contract.

When we finish the drawing, we move on to choosing cake flavors. I then calculate the cost and ask them if they are ready to reserve their date or if they are still early in the decision making process. (This way they don't have to feel uncomfortable telling me that they still need to go to other cake tastings.) I give them the signature page of the contract and a copy of the sketch to take with them if they don't commit, or a copy of the entire contract if they put down their initial deposit.

Also, if they don't book with me at that time, they need to pay $25 for the tasting. This does not get taken off of their balance if they book later on. That is exclusively a perk of booking at the tasting. In total, it usually takes me between an hour to an hour and a half to do a tasting.

I hope that helps!

Beth

FlowerGirlMN Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 2:38pm
post #9 of 11

I do it once a month (or 2), and it works really well for me.

I rent a meeting room, and schedule the tasting for 4 hours. The brides come in in hourly groups, I feed them slices of 6 or so flavors, talk a bit about what I do, and that's it.

Those that want to book with me get private consults (phone, email,or in person) after the fact. It's nice, because I don't want to have to do consults, only to find they were just shopping around, or that I'm too expensive. This way, I only do consults with people ready to buy.

ZAKIA6 Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 8:02pm
post #10 of 11

Izzybee - thanks for the input. i am seriously considering charging (with the cost to be refunded if they book with me). I dont want to be giving out free cake on a regular basis.

Momsandraven - I like the idea of giving them their privacy for them to discuss their likes/dislikes. A bridal cake info handout is a great idea!!


FlowergirlMN - i looked at your website. it seems we have a similar situation. I also rent a kitchen, and i will be renting the space to have the tastings. I like the way you handle your tastings, weeding out the people who are not serious. If/when they book a consulation with you do you charge them?


Ok so my next question to all is - how did you start to generate business to get people to come to your tastings. Right now i mainly do for family and their co-workers. But no one is getting married.

FlowerGirlMN Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 8:20pm
post #11 of 11

I charge $15/ticket now for tastings.

I don't charge for consults after they've been to a tasting, and the ticket(s) they order get applied towards their cake order.

I DO have in my contract that if they need another in-person consult, site visit, or anything like that, those are $25 each.

As for generating business.. I'm a member of a local wedding association,so I'm listed in both their print and web directories. I'm also on a few other sites, so that directs traffic,too.

I also make sure that the local wedding planners know when I plan a tasting.

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