By summernoelle Updated 26 Mar 2008 , 2:43pm by loriana

summernoelle Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 8:19pm
post #1 of 38

I currently have a very nice customer, who is being a bit unrealistic with what she wants. I don't think she means to be, but here is the synopsis:

She wants the below cake. We have gone back and forth for about 2 weeks now on the sizes, but she finally decided she wants the bottom tier 12 that will taper into an 11, the middle tier an 8, and the popcorn bag to be 6X4 inches. FYI, the height of all my cakes are standard 4 inch tiers. Anything more than that, you pay for it. So last night, I get the following email:

"The bottom tier will have 2 cakes stacked on top of each other to make the elephant drum, right? So, it would make that tier 8 inches tall, the middle tier about 4 and the popcorn bag about 6 inches tall? Which would make the entire cake about 18 inches tall?"

So basically for the height of the cake, she wants the bottom tier to be 8 inches, the middle 4 and the bag 6. So I replied with this:

"The elephant drum won't be 8 inches tall, it will be around 4-5. If you want it 8 inches, there's an extra charge for the extra cake. The popcorn bag will also be about 4 inches tall. In the photo, all the tiers are the same height for symmetry, so it would be the same case here. Right now, everything will be 4 inches. The price I quoted you was for 4 inches, so anything taller than that will be a percentage more. If you want 6 inches, it will be 1.5 times (50%) more per slice, and for the 8 inches, 2 times (100%) more per slice."

And then today she said this:

"I have a quick question, and Iâm sorry this is getting too complicated. Iâm just confused. Itâs sounding like to me the total height of the cake will be about 12 -13 inches. Which is the height of a rulerâ¦.and when I held it upâ¦it just seems way too small. Also, is each tier a double layer cake and how tall was the cake you made for Jacksonâs birthday (Mistyâs son)?"

I really want to help this woman, but I am afraid her expectations are completely unrealistic when it comes to what should be standard on this cake. 8 inches tall seems like a huge cake. Can anyone help?

As a side note, if any of you remember the shame spiral of the Spider Man cake several months ago, the same person that referred that client has referred this one. So........I have to do a really great job so I don't lose her business forever.

37 replies
HeatherMari Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 8:36pm
post #2 of 38

Okay, first off, that is such a cute cake! I love Sugar Creations cakes! She is awesome! I would think, IMHO, that those cakes are taller than 4". They do look all the same height but taller than 4". Since the bottom is tapered and it looks like the top is slightly topsy turvy, I would say they are at least 6" tiers. I always make my tapered and topsy cakes taller because otherwise they can look kind of squat. I would email Sugar Creations and ask her how tall they were. I think she might even be a CCer!
HTH,
HeatherMari

anne4588 Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 8:39pm
post #3 of 38

Well... more cake more\$\$\$ no room to argue. Your price was for a basic size and no more, if she does not understand the size show her once more ,and if she still does not get it it sounds like a PITA thing to me.
I always have dummies on hand to show the size,maybe this could be an option for some cases,I also use the cutting grids to show serving sizes.Some people can not "see" things in their minds.

leah_s Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 8:43pm
post #4 of 38

You also need to think about the plate it wil be served on. Generally dessert plates are 6".

JoanneK Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 8:44pm
post #5 of 38

I agree that the cake in picture has tiers taller then 4 inches. I think having it only 4 inches would make it look to funny.

If this was a good client and refers lots of business your way I would cut her a break.

I would add the extra cake for free. The cost to make the cake is not what really adds up it's all the time and work that does.

JanH Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 8:44pm
post #6 of 38

Perhaps a discussion of what constitutes a serving size would help your customer visualize the total number of servings per 4" cake layer (by pan size) and then the total yield of servings for this cake.

If you could actually fabricate a "serving" out of a sponge or wooden block; the realization that a serving isn't a 3x3x4 slice (or whatever size she's thinking) might sink in.

If she's cutting the cake, providing her with a copy of indydebi's cutting guide would be invaluable:

http://cateritsimple.com/_wsn/page19.html

If she insists that the cake is too small; she always has the option to order more cake at an additional charge. (As you so politely stated.)

HTH

CakesByLJ Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 8:45pm
post #7 of 38

Well, 8" may seem tall for the bottom tier, but looking at the cake, I think it could be that tall. I am not sure what the real dilema is; is she complaining about an increase in price? Work up a price for the cake exactly as pictured, and give it to her... you have already explained the extra work and expense involved.. she has been sufficiently educated..

mommyle Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 8:51pm
post #8 of 38

She hasn't said no to the \$\$\$ yet. Tell her, okay for the 8" bottom tier, plus the two 6" tiers (that's what it looks like to me), the cost is \$XXXXX. If you went with 6" bottom and two 4" tiers, the cost is \$XXX. That is your choice. Period. And you need to know by such a date.
Good luck! Totally sweet cake! HTH

shisharka Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 8:56pm
post #9 of 38

I can see where your client is coming fromâ¦ Iâve been looking at pictures of all the âstandardâ 3-tier 12-9-6â with 4â per tier cakes and always thought âWow, that is huge, itâs a lot of cake!ââ¦ But then, I made one of those myself and was gravely disappointed at how small it appeared in fact. Heavy â yes, fed our party of about 50 or so â yes (Wilton servings donât not apply here, people come for The Cake, lol), but it LOOKED small.

Soâ¦ if your client wants the BIG cake and has no problem with the additional charge for an 8â bottom and a 6â top, then you can just do a 2-tier bottom, doweled and all, with the additional instructions for her on how to cut it, being two 4â stackedâ¦ Thought Iâm thinking that a 7-5-6-inch height may seem a little more balanced than 8-4-6, with the topsy-turvy effectâ¦

Kitagrl Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 8:58pm
post #10 of 38

If I were you, the customer would send me the design and how many servings they need...and then I (BIG I) would figure out how large each tier is to be to match the design according to how much cake the customer wants to pay for. Customers generally do not know how to size cakes...all they know is how they want it to look and how many guests they are going to have. It is our job to then take that and make the right amount of cake. Anything more than that is too confusing.

If it were my customer I'd say "These are the sizes the cake will be in order to serve XX guests. If you want it larger, then it will then serve XXX guests and cost XXX much."

FromScratch Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 8:58pm
post #11 of 38

You could PM Rebecca.. she's is a SUPER nice person. Looking at that I'd say that each tier is 6" tall... the middle one is a whimsical shaped tier so it's 5" on one side and 6" on the other... and the top looks like it's 6" tall too.

Tell her that your price per serving is \$X.XX/serving and that is for a standard 4" tier. If she wants them to be taller the price is your standard price plus 50% of your standard price.. so if it's \$2/serving.. then a 6" tier will be \$3/serving.. they are getting 1/2 a cake extra so they pay for that.

deanwithana Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 8:59pm
post #12 of 38

It sounds from the email that she wrote that she is looking to get as close as she can to the picture.....I would just quote her a price from the picture and then go from there....price will change their mind every single time. Also, the bottom layer does appear larger than a 4 inch....also does the middle since it is on an angle....

marthajo1 Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 9:01pm
post #13 of 38

I definitely think the middle tier is topsy, I also don't think that a 1" difference in the sizes on the bottom is going to be steep enough especially if it ends up being taller.

kakeladi Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 9:09pm
post #14 of 38

I definately think in the pic that bottom tier is more like 6", then the other two are 4". Remember, the smaller the diamater, the taller it will look.
A 6"x4" round *looks* much taller than a 10"x4" round.
The center tier may look wonkey but that's easy to produce by torting the layer on a slight angle, then turning it when replacing the cake after filling.

Mommyle said: okay for the 8" bottom tier, plus the two 6" tiers (that's what it looks like to me), the cost is \$XXXXX. If you went with 6" bottom and two 4" tiers, the cost is \$XXX. That is your choice. Period. And you need to know by such a date.

RIGHT ON!!!! You hit it right on the nose

Chef_Stef Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 9:13pm
post #15 of 38

Another thing to consider, when you have someone who admits they are confused is this: CALL them on the phone. Believe me, a 10-minute phone call will save you DAYS of emailing back and forth with:

Day one: Her: "So, you mean the cake will be this big and cost XX?", ...You: "No, I mean it will be this big and cost XXX." ...
Day two: Her: "I'm confused. If it's that tall, why will cost XXX?" ...You: "Because it takes more time and cake to make it taller."
Day three: Her: "What about if we made just the top tier to X size and then the bottom tier XY size?" .

You can see where this is going...A simple phone call can save you about a week of aggravation and waiting for emails. Call her and explain that the cake JUST like the picture will cost XX, and even taller tiers will cost more. Her choice. You can clear up confusion a lot with just speaking to someone instead of trying to explain it by email.

CakesByLJ Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 9:27pm
post #16 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by jkalman

You could PM Rebecca.. she's is a SUPER nice person.

For all you admirers' of Rebecca Sutterby.. she has graced the cover of ICES this month, and here is a video for the bamboo... check it out..
http://www.ktka.com/news/2008/jan/08/cake_artist_brings_hint_orient/
btw.. I did not intend to hijack this thread.. just some info.. <tiptoeing out now....>

peacockplace Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 9:40pm
post #17 of 38

I agree with the others about a 4" cake looking a little squatty. I can see why the customer would think this too. I hope you can work this out. It's an adorable cake.

getfrosted Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 9:51pm
post #18 of 38

I did copy this cake (thanks Rebecca) and 4" is not tall enough per tier for the design. You could get away with it in the middle tier, but not the bottom or the popcorn box.

If she is a really good customer you might want to just let this one go, but try to explain to her that she is getting a discount due to the up'd serving sizes.

summernoelle Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 10:39pm
post #19 of 38

Thanks everyone!
I have NO problem making the cake extra tall, but I don't feel right about doing it for \$3/serving, which is what she is getting the cake for. My original quote was for \$3 for 4 inches, so I really think anything over that should be paid for.
If you all think it is more like 6-then I will go with that! You may definately be right!
The lady isn't really a PITA, she is very nice. But she is very particular. There have been a couple of details, like the font on the popcorn bag, I really didn't know if I could reproduce, and she was NOT OK with that. It HAS to be JUST LIKE the photo. So, this is where my hesitation comes from
So, for 6 inches, the quote should go up, right?
Thanks again!

summernoelle Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 10:45pm
post #20 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by getfrosted

I did copy this cake (thanks Rebecca) and 4" is not tall enough per tier for the design. You could get away with it in the middle tier, but not the bottom or the popcorn box.

If she is a really good customer you might want to just let this one go, but try to explain to her that she is getting a discount due to the up'd serving sizes.

It actually isn't the same customer. Last year I did a cupcake cake for a girl "M", who referred her friend to me "B". "B" ended up very very unhappy with her cake, and I had to give her a refund. "M" is my very favorite client, although she hasn't reordered from me, but has refered this current client to me, despite "B" being so unhappy with my cake. So, I want to make sure I do a good job and don't let "M" down.

step0nmi Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 10:53pm
post #21 of 38

all I can say is...DO YOU HAVE A CONTRACT? I would specifically state on the contract that you can NOT replicate ANY photos per copy right issues! It does sound like 6" would be better for this cake and I agree with the others that a phone call might be in order with ALL of the prices so that SHE can decide! THEN have her come over to give you a deposit and sign a contract...no doubt!!!

ladyonzlake Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 10:59pm
post #22 of 38

My question would be: Does she want that exact cake not caring how many servings it is or does she have a serving amount in mind? If she knows how many she needs to serve then you could make the cake to fit close to the number of servings she wants.

I agree with everyone else that the cake looks taller than 4". I would just figure out how many servings that the cake is and charge \$\$\$ per servings.

summernoelle Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 11:03pm
post #23 of 38

She wants the cake big, big, big, from what I gather.
And she wants it exactly like the photo, which honestly, I am TERRIFIED! It is hard to reproduce something perfectly.

And no contract yet, or deposit for that matter.

step0nmi Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 11:12pm
post #24 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by summernoelle

She wants the cake big, big, big, from what I gather.
And she wants it exactly like the photo, which honestly, I am TERRIFIED! It is hard to reproduce something perfectly.

And no contract yet, or deposit for that matter.

yeah, you need to have a MEETING with this woman...no more email or even over the phone! You really need to explain that cakes can not be replicated but you can come as close as possible to this! You can make up a contract REALLY quick! Have all of your quotes ready for whatever the sizes are and the servings and tell her what YOU can do! Just because she is referred to you by a good customer doesn't mean you can let her walk all over you. and a meeting will clear up and insecurities that YOU or HER may have...because you are communicating face to face...AND it will go faster!

Have confidence that you can do this!

ladyonzlake Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 11:20pm
post #25 of 38

I would PM or email Rebecca and ask her. I bet it's 3 layers of cake in each tier.

indydebi Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 11:21pm
post #26 of 38

Geesh, I'd be having a talk with "M" about the quality of referrals she's sending to you!

FromScratch Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 11:29pm
post #27 of 38

Yeah.. I agree.. tell her if she wants that exact cake she can drive to Kansas and get one from Rebecca herself..

Tell her that it is impossible to exactly replicate another artist's work but you will come as close as humanly possible.

I agree.. you need to have another meeting with her and get a signed conract. If you make it like the picture I'd say that it will end up pretty close to 18" tall. If you charge \$3/serving.. then this cake will be \$4/serving (same amount of servings as before.. but more money since they are so much taller).. since she is getting an extra layer of cake in each tier.

If she doesn't like it.. then whatever.

peacockplace Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 11:32pm
post #28 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by ladyonzlake

I would PM or email Rebecca and ask her. I bet it's 3 layers of cake in each tier.

I agree. Correct me if I'm wrong, but adding an extra layer of cake doesn't increase the number of servings you get in a cake. Say if your cake goes from 4 to 6 inches. It is still going to be cut in 1x2 pieces, each one will be a little taller, but it will still feed the same amount. I'm not saying not to charge more, I'm just saying it's not extra servings that are being ordered. Does that make sense?

summernoelle Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 11:34pm
post #29 of 38

This is what I decided to say:

For 6 inches of cake I normally charge \$4.50, but I will give you a discount down to \$4. That will save you \$30.

Bottom Tier: \$180 - \$20 (Discount): \$160 for 40 servings
Middle Tier: \$90 - \$10 (Discount): \$80 for 20 servings
Popcorn Bag: \$45

And then some other stuff. I am definately thinking a contract, too. She has already given me a hard time about the topsy-turvy and how it might fall, but it still has to be topsy turvy.

step0nmi Posted 25 Mar 2008 , 11:47pm
post #30 of 38

You really don't have to explain everything to a customer. This is what you tell her: this is what I can do for you on size and price. This is what I would normally charge and this is your discount. This IS a topsy turvy cake and I know how to carve/make this structurally sound, please do not worry about this. This is what I can do for you...let's have a meeting where, based on the price, I will need 50% deposit and for you to sign a contract before I START the cake. (that just meant keyword for her to get off of her butt ) this is just my opinion!