I Don't Want To Nickel And Dime Them To Death/what Would You

Business By peacockplace Updated 26 Mar 2008 , 4:47pm by vickster

peacockplace Posted 18 Mar 2008 , 2:22pm
post #1 of 20

I charge four dollars a serving. That's in the upper range for my area. I had a bride send me this picture. Would you charge extra for the ribbon roses? They aren't hard, but are a little time consuming. I just don't want to seem like I'm nickel and dimeing them to death. What do you think??
LL

19 replies
ccr03 Posted 18 Mar 2008 , 2:24pm
post #2 of 20

I would charge a little extra. Like maybe $20-30. Just to cover your time and materials, something that you would feel comfortable with.

indydebi Posted 18 Mar 2008 , 2:34pm
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YOur subject line caught my eye because that's my philosophy ..... I will not nickel and dime a bride to death.

I dont' charge extra for roses or lots of detail, because I figure it averages out when I have the "just iced with a ribbon around the base". I dont' charge extra for the extra's ..... I dont' discount for the simple. I haven't yet run into a design that was so much work for me that I felt it should be priced higher. Maybe I'll run into one of them someday ... but not yet.

Bride's love it. Many have told me that's part of why they select me .... they feel like they are getting screwed, ripped off, taken advantage of (their words, not mine) when they are charged extra for every little thing. They prefer my simple approach ... less stress for them.

For the record, I tell them that some work merits an add'l charge because there is significant labor and add'l cost involved, and I always use fondant and gumpaste as examples. So if they talked to a cake decorator about using those features, it is not unusual or uncommon or unrealistic to have an extra fee involved. But since I dont' do fondant or gumpaste, that's never an issue with me. (see, guys? I got ya covered!! thumbs_up.gif )

peacockplace Posted 18 Mar 2008 , 3:26pm
post #4 of 20

Thank you both for your help. This is going to be a large cake. It will cost about $1000. That's a lot of money. I just don't feel right charging extra for roses when the cake is already that expensive. If they were full gumpaste roses and not ribbon roses I'd have to charge extra because it takes me about an hour to make one of those puppies.

ccr03 Posted 18 Mar 2008 , 3:31pm
post #5 of 20

Yeah, at that price I wouldn't charge any extra.

99% of the time I charge EXACTLY how indydebi stated it. I really always try to put myself in my customer's shoes, aka. what would I pay for this if the shoe were reversed.

vickster Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 11:26pm
post #6 of 20

That's a bit like saying the person who goes in a restaurant and orders a steak should pay the same price as the person who orders a hamburger, so set your price somewhere in the middle. As a customer, I'd hate to pay an "average" price. Let me quantify that, though, by saying my customers are buying my cakes strictly for the decorating. I just offer five or six regular flavors of cake made with Duncan Hines cake mixes. So my overhead cost of cake doesn't change that much. I'm charging my customers for my time. And my cakes vary a lot in terms of what people ask for. Some carved, some FBCT, royal icing flowers, fondant figures, lots of variance. It would be really hard for me to offer an "average" price. On my website I give a flat price for what I call "classic buttercream" that has piped borders, a simple piped design and message. If they want fancier than that, they pay for it. I haven't been able to tell that it bothered anyone. Oh, and I don't charge by the serving either, I charge by the cake.

pastrylady Posted 21 Mar 2008 , 8:27pm
post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by vickster

That's a bit like saying the person who goes in a restaurant and orders a steak should pay the same price as the person who orders a hamburger, so set your price somewhere in the middle.




I agree. Having a set price does not make sense for every business model.

I have a base price for a basic vanilla cake with a vanilla buttercream finish and pretty much any piped design they'd like.

I also offer many different signature cake flavors with multiple fillings and cake flavors all made from scratch. Every cake is totally custom from the flavor to the final design. I can't in good conscience, or as a good business practice, charge the same for my basic cake as I would for one of my specialty flavors finished with fondant, a very detailed hand crafted design and hand made gumpaste flowers.

I don't feel I'm nickle and diming my customers...I feel I'm giving them a choice. They can walk in and take the basic cake (which is still delicious and beautiful) for a very reasonable price, or they can have the cake of their dreams...if they're willing to pay for my time.

mezzaluna Posted 21 Mar 2008 , 8:32pm
post #8 of 20

Actually, those are piped meringue roses (like that old MS cake from like 8 years ago).

peacockplace Posted 22 Mar 2008 , 3:15am
post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by mezzaluna

Actually, those are piped meringue roses (like that old MS cake from like 8 years ago).




Do you have a pic of the one you are talking about? Mine will probably still be ribbon roses, but I'd like to see the other. You can't really see the details in this pic.

CakeryBakery Posted 22 Mar 2008 , 9:48am
post #11 of 20

Very Classy Cake! Clean and Simple Design
I DO charge extra for cetain embellishments, however this particular cake doesn't have any designs other than the roses. Because the design is soo simple I would not charge extra. The time spent making the roses would be very close to the time spent coloring icing and piping a "pretty" design on the cake.

kakeladi Posted 22 Mar 2008 , 10:08am
post #12 of 20

IndyDebi & CakeryBakery ----- **RIGHT ON!!**

Suzy40 Posted 22 Mar 2008 , 10:16am
post #13 of 20

I would not charge extra for this at all
Its quite simple and basic
nothing OTT

Suzy

indydebi Posted 22 Mar 2008 , 12:46pm
post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by vickster

That's a bit like saying the person who goes in a restaurant and orders a steak should pay the same price as the person who orders a hamburger, so set your price somewhere in the middle.



What I said was I haven't yet run into a design that was so much work that it merited an add'l fee. Maybe I will .... someday.

As a matter of fact, I just added my first "extra charge for flavor" cake - Rum Cake.

What I said was that I tell brides there ARE design elements that DO merit an add'l fee so if they have been talking to decorators who wanted to add a fee for fondant or gumpaste, that was not unusual.

What I said is that I will not do in my own business what I've seen some decorators put on their price list: Price for an iced cake; a price for EACH rose; a price for ribbon, etc.

That's like picking up a menu in the steak-n-hamburger restaurant and finding a price for your sandwich ... and a price for your plate ... and price for your salt shaker ... and a price for your waiter to bring the food to you .... instead of one price for the sandwich. Whatever that sandwich might be. I'd never eat at this place because it's just too confusing to order a simple sandwich.

I never said to charge the same for steak and hamburger.

Just wanted to clarify. icon_wink.gif

snarkybaker Posted 23 Mar 2008 , 1:42am
post #15 of 20

Here is how I price for design work:

Our prices are mid-upper range ( $4.50 -$5.50 per person for most cakes). For every $100 in price, 1 hour of non-baking prep time is included in the price. ( I pay my pastry chefs $12-$18 an hour) . Additional hours are $25. So if you wedding cake is $350, all of the torting, filling icing and decorating should take no more than 3.5 hours. Doesn't matter what you want done to it. If it takes longer, it costs more. Of course that means knowing what your hourly costs are.

Wendoger Posted 23 Mar 2008 , 1:51am
post #16 of 20

indydebi's got it righticon_wink.gif

vickster Posted 23 Mar 2008 , 1:50pm
post #17 of 20

It's been a while since I looked at Indy Deb's website, but I'm thinking she does mostly wedding cakes and the cake is part of a whole package of services. If you sell a whole package of services, then the decorating of the cake becomes proportional to that and thus does not affect your per hour earnings as much if the deocrating time varies a bit.
I do only cakes, mostly party cakes, and they vary so much from cake to cake, it just doesn't work to have a standard fee. Last week I did five and the price difference had way less to do with serving size than it did complexity of design. People come in to my shop and they just ask for weird stuff. So I start with a base cake price and then I add on to that depending on how "customized" they want their cake. The way I set my base cake price is that it covers all the ingredients of the cake plus about an hour to an hour and a half of labor @ $20/hr. How I came up with that price is that I could bake and frost and add borders to a cake in about that amount of time. Then I base the final price on how long the "customizing" is going to take me, once again trying to estimate it at about $20/hour. The more I do, the better I am getting at the estimate so that I've been able to start setting a "standard" fee for stuff. The way I do it is when they're in the shop I give them a ball park range of what the cake will cost and then I email them a fairly detailed quote when I've had time to sit down and figure it. Not a charge for every flower, but it does break it down into the basic tasks. Honestly, I don't think the customer really cares about much other than the bottom line. But, I live in a pretty small town and I really do that to protect myself as to why so-and-so's cake was $75 and so-and-so's was $175.
I have a customer base of basically two clients, modest income folks and college kids. I do a lot of cakes that are right at and around $100. That's just what I have for a market. I try to give my customer a good product but on the same token I try to turn them out pretty fast. My cakes are definitely better than what the grocery store offers and they're not "cookie cutter" cakes, but they also aren't up to Kerry Vincent muster. On the scale between McDonalds and a black tie restaurant, I'd say I'm about Olive Garden level. My customers seem happy with that.

TexasSugar Posted 24 Mar 2008 , 1:17am
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by pastrylady

I can't in good conscience, or as a good business practice, charge the same for my basic cake as I would for one of my specialty flavors finished with fondant, a very detailed hand crafted design and hand made gumpaste flowers.




I don't think anyone is saying you have to charge the same across the board if you offer different thing, such as basic vs premuim flavors or buttercream vs fondant.

If you do both buttercream and fondant then yes there is usually a price difference because you have the expense of the buttercream plus the additional icing and the time it takes.

And yes the basic cake flavors may not cost as much to make as some of the other ones. But you can seperate these in to basic groups with a basic cost per group.

Sculpted cakes do and should cost more because of the time and skill that goes into making them.

BUT I have a hard time myself charging different prices for (most) design elements. Do 20 bc roses deserve a bigger charge than 5 roses? Or does a cake with a large FBCT merit a bigger charge than 20 bc roses?

Now if we are talking about an arrangement of gumpaste flowers (or bows or fondant figures) that took you hours to make, then I can see an charge. But I can't see starting with a blank canvas and charging for every design element added to it. I figure my prices knowing I'm going to have to decorate the cake as well as bake and ice it.

In the end you have to do what is best for you and your business.

pastrylady Posted 24 Mar 2008 , 2:19pm
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasSugar

In the end you have to do what is best for you and your business.




I couldn't agree more. As I said earlier, we all have to structure our pricing based on our particular business model. If all of the cakes someone sells are similar in flavor/syle it definitely makes sense to have a set price, if someone offers a wide variety of flavors and syles they need to price accordingly.

I really think we're all saying the same thing from different angles. The problem with an online discussion is that the nuances of each person's statement are lost in the machine..

Of course I wouldn't charge a customer for every single design element individually. I would drive them and myself crazy!!!

What works for me is similar to the way Vickster works. I decided that I need to pay myself $25/hour for decorating time. A basic amount of decorating time is figured into my base cake price. That price will include just about any type of buttercream piping they would want, including buttercream roses, scrollwork or simple dots. My flavors have set prices based on ingredients and labor. All other costs, such as cake circles, dowels, etc are included in the base price.

Much as Vickster does, when a customer wants a more customized design I can usually give a ballpark price during the consultation. I will follow up in the next day or two with an email in which I give a very detailed description of the flavor and design(s) we talked about with a definite quote. I don't itemize out my decorating time, I just give them the bottom line.

On the other end of the scale, several local caterers include my cake as a part of their wedding package. In that case the price is set and they choose from a limited number of flavors and can only get a buttercream finished cake. Since my offerings are limited within the package, I'm quite comfortable having a set price.

vickster Posted 26 Mar 2008 , 4:47pm
post #20 of 20

Yes, pastrylady, that's my approach. As I said, though, the one reason I do itemize my quote to the customer is that my business is in a smaller town and my customers are most certainly going to compare prices. So, that is why I do a more itemized quote. It's not for every detail, but more for extra stuff, like extra for having to carve the cake, extra for doing FBCT, that type of thing. If they just want some flowers, or piped balloons, or something like that, I don't charge extra. I don't want people saying stuff like, "well, she goes to church with her, that's why her cake was cheaper." I want my bakery to be viewed as professionally run and try to avoid the "good ol boy" reputation that can happen.

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