My Pricing & Party Vs. Wedding Serving Chart...solution?

Business By CakeDiva73 Updated 25 Mar 2008 , 2:40pm by teenycakes

CakeDiva73 Posted 17 Mar 2008 , 9:12pm
post #1 of 27

I continue to struggle with my prices/servings & I have to order my cards today so after much time spent on my calculator, I came up with this system, both to determine price and party vs. wedding serving. Feel free to let me know what you think....and be honest. I can take it. If this looks like a train wreck, just say so, lol. icon_smile.gif

Now don't laugh, but I figured the overall surface area of each size cake and charged a set amount per square inch. detective.gif I then used 2.25 square inches as a 'wedding' serving and 3.25 inches as the 'party' serving - that is why there's a range for each size. **I charged slightly higher per inch for square cakes because they are a pain in the butt.

Round Cakes:

6" (serves 9-12) $20

8" (serves 15-22 ) $30

10" (serves 24-35 ) $50

12" (serves 35-50 ) $65

14" (serves 47-68 ) $90

16" (serves 62-89 ) $120

18" (serves 78-112) $150

Square cakes: (I only have 4 pans so far)

4.5" (serves 6-9) $15

7" (serves 15-22) $35

9" (serves 25-36) $55

12" (serves 44-64) $95

I realize my figures are not perfect but I was trying to come up with a somewhat 'flat rate' pricing structure that would allow the customer to chose based on how big they want their slices. This way, I have the same price for a party cake as a wedding cake but have some numbers in place so I can make sure the sizes of cake are appropriate.

My theory is if someone wants a cake for 120 (wedding), we can pick out the tiers using the smaller serving size and then I am charging $10 additional for each tier of stacked cake and delivery would be extra.

I also say these cakes "start at" so we can add extra for specialty flavors, fillings and designs.

According to this system, this cake would cost $175 (not counting delivery.) The breakdown is $95 + $35 + $15 for cakes, $20 for tiering and and extra $10 for the fondant work. Does this sound acceptable? thanks icon_smile.gif

26 replies
daveilg Posted 18 Mar 2008 , 2:35am
post #2 of 27

First off, that cake is beautiful thumbs_up.gif . Your prices seem reasonable, however are they for a single layer or two layers. An easy way to help, that I use, is a copy of Alice's pricing matrix posted at the very top of the Cake Business forum. I found that this gets me in the ballpark with the competition (not Walmart or Sam's Club) !! But check out your competitors and do what's comfortable for you!! Just don't give them away icon_smile.gif

CakeDiva73 Posted 18 Mar 2008 , 3:09am
post #3 of 27

Thank you icon_redface.gif Wasn't trying to show off the cake - it's just that's the only one I have done where there were tiers and would potentially qualify for my system of pricing. I honestly have no clue what others around here charge. A couple years back we checked and some of the local homebakers were anywhere from $1.50-$1.75 per serving but I have no clue what they considered a 'serving'.

I am comfortable enough with these prices to know that if I lose business because they are too high, that's fine...any less then this and I cry my way thru the work because I think, "Why bother?"

I am not one of those who do it just for fun. I am trying to get licensed properly so I can do this for a living, lol. (insert prayers here!)

CakeDiva73 Posted 18 Mar 2008 , 3:11am
post #4 of 27

Oops....forgot to say that all the cakes are 4" high and have 2 layers of cake - 1 of filling. (And I don't do sheet cakes.) I used to torte and they are much prettier but sometimes it's such an unholy pain that I just skip it......that's why I didn't specify layers, lol. So if I'm running behind or just in a crazy mood I am not locked in.

daveilg Posted 18 Mar 2008 , 3:17am
post #5 of 27

If you got to the Wilton site they have a chart there for cutting party and wedding cakes. I usually start at about 3.00 per serving, party or wedding. Of course by the Wilton chart wedding servings are smaller, so the same size cake costs more for weddings. And go ahead and show off a little, that's one of the reasons we all come here, to get opinions of other decorators, the ones who really count!!!!!!!! icon_biggrin.gif I just started my business in January this year so I know how it is icon_cry.gif

indydebi Posted 18 Mar 2008 , 3:45am
post #6 of 27
Originally Posted by CakeDiva73

.... but I have no clue what they considered a 'serving'.

Gosh, this is a really good point! I saw a cake in "The Big W" store. It looked like a 12/9/6, which according to the wilton chart serves exactly 100. They had a sign that said it served over 150!!! My daughter pulls my arm to get me moving, because I"m just staring at it saying over and over, "No way! There's no way that cake serves 150! No freakin' way!"

CarolAnn Posted 18 Mar 2008 , 3:53am
post #7 of 27

Boy, it's funny to see this thread just now! I've just been sitting here working on my pricing and just went to the home page before closing for the night. I was going to search the pricing threads tomorrow, but not sure what I'll find after the crash. I'm counting on certain others to chime in with their pricing opinions pretty quickly so I'll check back in tomorrow. I really want to simplify my pricing and can't find the list I'd worked out a couple years ago.

Cakediva, thanks for starting this thread and for your input! I'll be back.

JoanneK Posted 18 Mar 2008 , 5:19am
post #8 of 27

I'm also in CA and I can tell you that your prices are way to low. You should at least $3.00 per slice for buttercream and $4.00 for fondant. Then add on there for any extras such as fillings other then buttercream, 3D cakes, gumpaste and extra hard designs.

You are selling yourself short and once you do become legal and get a kitchen you are going to be losing money. Rental space is very costly in CA and home bakers are not legal so you will have to factor that cost into your plan.

You don't want to start out being very cheap and then when you get a shop your costs shoot way up so your price will have to also.

Maybe in other states your prices would be ok but that cake sold here in CA would go for about $300 and up.

FromScratch Posted 18 Mar 2008 , 1:14pm
post #9 of 27

The big problem I see (aside from your astronomically LOW prices) is that your price per serving varies with each cake.. I calculated using the higest serving amount listed and got many different per serving prices. Your 6" cake is 1.66/serving and the 8" is 1.36/serving.. that is WAY too low no matter where you are in the country. You are in Cali.. and those prices are WAY WAY low. How much does it cost you to make these cakes?? Can you possibly be making a real profit off them? The other problem you are going to have is when you do get legal (and I'll insert my obligatory "you really should get legal first" mantra.. especially in Cali).. and HAVE to raise your prices.. your customers are going to have a s h i t fit.

I still think putting your prices on your cards is a bad idea too. But ultimately it's your decision. But definitely raise them prices and have a consistent price per serving across the board.. anyone doing cakes for less than $2/serving is not going to make much money.. and you will get burnt out fast. And customers WILL figure out that you are charging less for a 8" than you are for a 6" and want to know why.. even if it's 30 cents. I used to have a serving range.. and different prices for wedding and party slices.. but I stopped doing that because people don't want it. They don't want to know that a slice of cake is 2.25 square inches in area.. they want to know your price per serving and how many servings they will need. It is very easy to over think things, but simpler is ALWAYS better in business.

What sizes are that cake you posted? Remember that no matter what you consider a serving.. the person cutting the cake (if they have been trained) is most likely going to cut it using the Wilton guidlines.

Have you calculated how much it costs you to make your cakes?? That is the most important first step towards figuring out your pricing.

Chef_Stef Posted 18 Mar 2008 , 4:27pm
post #10 of 27

I settled on the Wilton chart as well, wedding serving size only, for my pricing. It makes it easier for me; plus, I mainly do weddings anyway. If they want a birthday cake, I'm still making the same cake using the same ingredients etc, so why should the pricing be different? If they're going to eat two 'servings' each, that's up to them, but I make sure they understand that. No one's ever asked me to adjust that; though I have seen a few birthday party cake customers go down the road when they realize that yes, my 8" round will cost them $85.00. Fine by me; I'd rather not do those anyway. icon_rolleyes.gif

I don't do flat fees for sizes of cakes, though I have seen a few local bakeries do that. The only thing I see with that is you have the flat fee, then you start nickel and diming to death with extras for stacking/detail work/special this or that or whatever.

I agree with the above advice: Figure out what everysinglesolitaryitem in that recipe costs you. Then add the cost of cake boards, dowels, base support, cake box if delivering, etc. Don't forget you're using a little bit of cooking spray, parchment, or whatever, too...little costs that we forget...And, very importantly don't forget to MARK THESE ITEMS UP--Don't just get your money back--Mark them up 1.25 at LEAST. Then figure your time, and pay yourself WELL. Would you take a bakery job if it paid you $1.00 an hour? I like the $15-20/hour range, so I charge that. Figure your time also to plan, design, sketch, consult, emails and phone calls to the customer, and drive time deliver/setup the cake, if not included in your decorating/baking time. Don't forget use of pans, tools, tips, oven, electricity, gas, etc. There's a lot more there than icing and cake...

Long story short: Figure ALL your costs, and set a price that makes you a profit. Try one of the pricing matrixes on here--it changed my whole way of figuring my costs.

Good luck!

CakeDiva73 Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 8:25pm
post #11 of 27

Crap, I knew my price per serving was going down a bit but I am in Central CA and if I charge $2 per serving, I can't get $100 for a 12" cake (using the smaller serving size which I figured was 'wedding'). What am I supposed to do?

I put ' 2008 ~ prices subject to change ' and I put cakes START at blah, blah, blah so I am not locked into anything. I agree, printing the prices wasn't a great idea to begin with but since I already did it and people have the old cards, I have to update them with the new ones so they have an accurate reference.

I was trying to come up with a system and even when I sort of split the difference between the serving sizes, so they were bigger than Wiltons' (which looks impossible, btw) but not too big, I was faced with charging too much for smaller party cakes and to little for the wedding cakes.

I WANT TO SCREAM!!!!! I am so frustrated right now. And I just ordered the blessed cards last night - with the prices printed. Thanks for all the input - I am simply mad at myself.

FromScratch Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 8:59pm
post #12 of 27

You don't HAVE to put the prices on (eventhough it's all done) just because you did. You can mail out new cards and that's that. No explaination why you don't have them.

I have a serving chart that is a bit more basic.. and come to find out it's almost exactly what Collette Peters uses (someone told me in another post where I posted this). I like round numbers so this is what I came up with.

6" - 10
8" - 20
10" - 30
12" - 50
14" - 70
16" - 100
18" - 125

6" - 15
8" - 30
10" - 50
12" - 70
14" - 100
16" - 125

Sit down and figure out what it costs you to make your recipes and see what you make per hour for a profit.. it only takes a few I-made-nothing-on-that-cake cakes to make you realize you are worth more. In all honesty.. $2/serving isn't THAT much more than what you are charging now.. and prices for ingredients are going up.. flour went up almost 50% here.

Good luck with getting it all figured out. This is the hard part.. then you have to stick to it.. ((hugs))

ssunshine564 Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 9:13pm
post #13 of 27

I just have to jump in here and tell you that your cake is beautiful.

christielee Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 9:43pm
post #14 of 27

jkalman, do you really think that square cakes have that many more servings? I basically use the same amounts as you do for rounds, but I didn't think square would add that many more servings??? Cake Diva, I am trying to figure out all this too, while trying to meet with the health dept, and everything else to get my business up and running hopefully by summer. Good luck to you, and all this info is really great, and a lot to think about.


indydebi Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 9:51pm
post #15 of 27
Originally Posted by christielee

jkalman, do you really think that square cakes have that many more servings? I basically use the same amounts as you do for rounds, but I didn't think square would add that many more servings???

I'm not jkalman, but I'll jump in here because I do a LOT of square wedding cakes, and yes, there is a significant difference in the number of servings between round and square. Take a 14" round pan and sit it INSIDE a 14" square pan and you an see how much more there is in a 14" square.

Also you can see the difference when you realize it takes 2 cake mixes to fill a 14" round pan and THREE cake mixes to fill a 14" square pan. So for a 2-layer 14" square, you have 2 more cake mixes than you do in a 14" round. (Put in perspective even more .... 2 cakes mixes fill fill a 11x15 sheet, which serves 35 people.)

CakeDiva73 Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 9:56pm
post #16 of 27
Originally Posted by christielee

jkalman, do you really think that square cakes have that many more servings? I basically use the same amounts as you do for rounds, but I didn't think square would add that many more servings??? Cake Diva, I am trying to figure out all this too, while trying to meet with the health dept, and everything else to get my business up and running hopefully by summer. Good luck to you, and all this info is really great, and a lot to think about.


LOL, well my calculator definitely tells me the squares serve more! More surface area and they take more cake batter...... and they are a pain in the a.....bum icon_lol.gif to get the corners square. Which is why I was going to charge more.

I appreciate everyones opinions - I am, of course, second guessing myself now. I like jkalmans idea of nice round numbers and your sizes are good. I am still stuck with the sad fact that I cannot get $100 for a 12" cake, even though it's worth it.

I was doing 12" square ( 4" high) cakes last year for graduations for $50!!!!! And crying thru the whole thing because I had so terribly undercharged. I know these very same people will come again thinking they will get those huge flippin' cakes for peanuts......wanna see how huge it was?

Check out this pic of my adorable daughter (this one was the base the baby shower cake - a freebie for my friend which is why she is sort of hanging over it....okay, no excuses. She needs a hairnet) Anyway, it's one of the 12" cakes that were $50.

** And it looks taller then 4" too...I think it was 4" of cake plus filling and frosting....... icon_cry.gif FOR $50!

FromScratch Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 10:05pm
post #17 of 27

Debi beat me to it, but YES.. squares yeild a lot more servings than rounds. I have no idea about how many mixes, but I trust Debi.

FromScratch Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 10:21pm
post #18 of 27

Hey.. I live in a small town too and I charge a HECK of a lot more than you and I get business. Remember how you felt making that HUGE a$$ cake for next to nothing?? Is that how you want to feel everytime you make a cake? Remember that it is MUCH better for your sanity to do one cake for $200 than it is to do ten cakes for $20/each. Let them walk away. Remember too that they aren't getting a 12" round cake for $100 they are getting dessert for 50 people for $2/head. NOWHERE can you get dessert for that many people so cheap.

I don't mean to rub the salt.. honest.. but until you REALLY take a look at what you are doing.. you'll never be in a place where making cakes is as fulfilling as you want it to be.. it's gonna get old REALLY quick. They aren't really paying for the ingredients.. they are really trivial in this equation.. what costs is your time. The blood, sweat, and tears you shed to make that cake a reality. Nowhere will they get a 100% custom cake for anything close to what wal*mart is charging. And if they don't appreciate what you are doing.. then you don't need them as customers. ((hugs)) Prices go up.. if you have people calling you expecting last years prices simply tell them that wil the cost of everything rising your cakes have gone up to $X.XX/serving. If they walk away.. let them.

CakeDiva73 Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 11:10pm
post #19 of 27

I agree with you, I do......I will keep that in mind when the lady with the 3 year old postcard comes a knockin'! Blech... she sort of pisses me off anyway. I do cakeballs, which she loves, as long as she doesn't have to pay for them. She wanted custom fondant and decoration sugar cookies in a cheerleader theme and wrinkled her little nose when I tentatively said $2 per cookie (way too friggin' cheap, thank God she didn't order!!)

I need to get my self confidence back. I have always preached about never underestimating or underpricing yourself and here I am doing both.

jennifer7777 Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 11:30pm
post #20 of 27

CakeDiva73...I totally agree with everything jkalman has said, while feeling where you are at the same time. This process of pricing, and a lot of other stuff in this industry, is hard. But at the end of the day, you want to be proud of your work AND get paid properly for it. Although it's hard, it's something that can be worked through. However, if you keep saying that "noboday will pay $x.xx for this", then they won't.
When you are able to turn people away for not wanting to pay your prices, they will see that you are serious about what you do, and you know your worth. I am with you on this one and am definitely trying to "practice what I preach".
Good luck with everything you do!

FromScratch Posted 20 Mar 2008 , 12:11am
post #21 of 27

"However, if you keep saying that "noboday will pay $x.xx for this", then they won't. "

Truer words have never been spoken. You set up the way people are going to treat/recieve you. If you doubt yourself and waiver on your prices you are saying.. "Hey.. if you press me.. you'll get that cake for next to nothing as I smile and nod." I know that's not what you want. Taking those first steps towards growing your cake backbone are the hardest ones. Believe me.. when I was starting out I was going to have my prices set at $2/serving for BC.. but then I sat down and did the math and there was NO way I was going to take that much time away from my family and only make $5/hour (if that much). Not worth it. Like I said before.. state your price.. if they want to walk away then let them walk. There will be people who will pay your prices. You can always send them a quote from me and let them see what a deal $2/serving can be. icon_wink.gif

I feel for you because it wasn't long ago that I was in yoru shoes.. but then I got tough.. I decided that thsi business can grow slowly in the beginning if it means that there will be less stress. And making cakes is stressful.. but not so bad when you are making good money while doing it. ((hugs))

christielee Posted 20 Mar 2008 , 1:11am
post #22 of 27

Thanks you guys for clarifying that! I knew it was more, I just didn't realize it was that much more!! icon_redface.gif Thanks for all your help, and cakediva, I got that same pricing dilema, but I have gone up a little every few months with the rising cost of things and with more practice on making high end cakes, so I hope to get to city prices by next year! Do any of you charge for delivery over a certain mileage? I wasn't but driving a big SUV with $3.50 gas, I might need to start.


FromScratch Posted 21 Mar 2008 , 12:55am
post #23 of 27

I do.. over 20 miles, but with the rising gas prices I am going to have to stop..

teenycakes Posted 24 Mar 2008 , 9:14pm
post #24 of 27

Thank you all for having this discussion, I just made 3 cakes this weekend and feel totally ripped off. The cakes were all 6" cakes: peanut butter, red velvet, and chocolate and of course all different batters and frostings. I charged $14 for each cake and in the end, it was not worth my time. I felt like the person buying them would pass me up if I didn't reduce my pricing. She told me what she wanted and then said she only had $45.

I had previously calculated the costs of each recipe and frosting and thought that this would be a good place to start, I was wrong, way to cheap for all the hours of work.

I made these cakes for one of my daughter's 5th grade teachers. She has a brother who is looking for cakes in his cafe. There's no way I can charge like this and make any money. I won't make this mistake again.

Just one question, which serving is best to use? Party sized or Wedding sized serving? I've come to the conclusion I can't make any cake for under $2. For all the effort I put in it's simply crazy.

Also, do you jkalman and other believe it's best to start at $2 per serving. I bake everything from scratch and am very picky about taste and presentation.

Thanks sooooo very much!!!!

FromScratch Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 2:04am
post #25 of 27

No.. I don't think it's always good to do $2/serving.. you need to make sure that you are re-couping your costs.. espceially if you are doing it all from scratch. Find out what it costs you to make your stuff.. think about what you want to make for a profit and then figure your prices. No one price will work for everyone. icon_smile.gif

indydebi Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 2:54am
post #26 of 27
Originally Posted by teenycakes

Just one question, which serving is best to use? Party sized or Wedding sized serving?

I use the wilton wedding chart to determine pricing, because (1) most places cut wedding cakes in the industry standard size of 1x2x4 (2) 95% of my business is weddings (3) I make more money on the cake using this chart.

My attitude is they can cut a 10" cake in half and serve it with two forks to two people for all I care, but they are paying for the amount of servings it is DESIGNED to serve .... 35 ..... not for the number of servings they plan to cut from it ..... 2.

Here's a page from my website showing how I cut a cake to yield these numbers of servings. I always have wedding cake leftover and I usually have a few people ask me for "A smaller piece, please".

teenycakes Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 2:40pm
post #27 of 27

Indydebi & Jkalman,

Thank you both for responding to me. I have costed out all of my recipes and only plan on using the wedding cake serving chart as a guide. I plan to price my cakes so I am not giving my time away. Thanks for the link, Indydebi, to your website; I love your example on how to cut a cake!

I sincerely appreciate both of you sharing your expertise!!!!! icon_biggrin.gif

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