I have this coming up more lately so I would like some opinions please.
I met with a bride a couple of months ago (June wedding), I prepared samples and talked with her and she booked the cake.
She emailed yesterday and said she wants to start finalizing details, which is fine. She wants to bring her dad (who referred her to me) back for another appointment and have him taste the cake so that they can choose flavors, etc.
Now, here is my issue. First, I am this is the second or third time that someone has wanted a second tasting. I have a licensed kitchen at home, not a storefront so it's not like I have something I can pull out of a case for them. I mean at some point they are going to have to trust that the cake will be good. They can't sample every flavor for crying out loud. Plus, this is getting expensive too.
Also, meeting with brides 2 and 3 times is a bit much to me. I am trying to see it from their perspective, it's their big day and probably the most expensive cake they will buy. On the other hand, this is taking my time. When I have to meet with someone we have to clean the house and get my family out of the house or upstairs out of sight so it is a disruption to my household.
Sorry, I am rambling but what are your thoughts here? At what point do we stop accommodating? I saw a site with a great statement about how the first tasting is complimentary but there was a fee for additional tastings and now I can't find it.
Just want to know if anyone else runs into this and how you handle it. Sorry so long, TIA!
Yeah, I've had calls for a second tasting too. And I say, quote "You had your free samples at your first tasting. What would you like to purchase? I'd be happy to make you 6" cakes in any flavor you'd like. They are $26 each."
As far as second consultations, the only reason they need to come back is to sign a contract and that takes about 15 minutes. Generally the majority sign a contract at the initial consultation.
Could you offer a standard, no extra charge cake tasting and then charge for others? That they would have to buy a cake with those flavors?
That seems reasonable to me.
Perhaps you need to develop a policy that is on your website, brochures, whatever, and in your contract?
I only do one free tasting. If she had wanted her dad he should have come then. I offer 6 flvaors at my tasting, not of their choice but my most popular flavor. I would let them know if they want a second tasting they will have to pay for it.
That really is not right or fair of them to expect 2 free tastings!!
I have seen a few websites like that too....you really need to disclose that somewhere....I also saw where a site said...if you miss your tasting you will be paying for your rescheduled appointment...or you can pick up your samples the same day at no cost...Grrr...I wish I could remember who's site that was on...I thought it was a great idea...I love reading other people's rules....makes me rethink all of mine!!
I bake from home too, so I COMPLETELY understand the whole disruption of the household business!!! I charge $30 for my tastings, because #1 - it's not cheap to do & #2 my time is valuable!
If I spend all day preparing for a tasting and then the bride either doesn't show or doesn't book.... then I want to be compensated for all the work I put into the tasting! If they do book then I take that $30 off the price of their order. Plus.. if I am going to spend a majority of the day in the kitchen instead of with my kids.. I am gonna get paid for it!!!!
And if brides want additional flavors from me, they can order a 6" cake for $24.
.....I should add that I require payment for the tasting one week before their scheduled appointment!
I view tastings as the opportunity for them to see if I can bake, NOT an opportunity to taste every single thing on my menu so they can make up their mind what they want to eat. My lemon cake will taste just as good as my white cake, except it will taste like lemon.
I have had brides ask about other flavors .... and I tell them *IF* I make that flavor in the near future, I will do a small sample one for them on the side and they can come by and pick it up. But that's only happened 2 or 3 times (and it's how I added Rum Cake to my list).
Sometimes I have a sampling and they book with "details to be determined". So 2-3 months before the wedding, they may make another appt to come in and hammer out details .... but it's a no-tasting appt because they've already tasted the food/cake. I don't care how many people they bring by the 2nd time ... it's a no tasting appt.
In my confirming-appt-email, I tell them "I am not a restaurant where I can just go into the kitchen and scoop out foods for you to sample. Your foods/cakes are made just for you......" as part of my "don't cancel or I'll have to kill ya" speech.
I say you print out leah's response and tape it next to your phone.
This has happened with me, too. You have to find a polite, tactful way of saying that they get one tasting free, and then after that, pay your normal amount for a 6 inch round or whatever. I really don't think people understand that sometimes you bake this stuff up specifically for them, and that you go to a lot of trouble for them! Just politely tell her what you would charge for a 2nd tasting, and see if she is still interested.
Let your customers know up front that the first tasting only is free. Or you could charge $25 for the tasting and tell them that price is deducted from the cost of the cake if they book with you.
Thanks all! I will respond that only the first tasting is free and if she wants another then there will be a charge. I will also add that info to my website ASAP.
I have been considering offering more flavors at my tastings but everyone just orders vanilla or chocolate cake. It's a rare occasion when someone orders carrot or even lemon. I just hate to make all these flavors, and they go to waste and no one wants them anyway.
Thanks again for the input!
EXACTLY Debi! You nailed it (as usual) I see the first (and only FREE) tasting as a sample of my ABILITY. If beyond that you don't know or cannot imagine what lemon tastes like...or chocolate or whatever flavor then thats their issue and they can pay me for samples of them. I ask before hand if they have any leaning towards a certain flavor etc. My silly butt used to make tons of samples and things and then spend half a day impressing a bride-to-be and then find that she was on a Wal-mart budget and not even a potential customer for me. I lost lots of money in those days. HEHE
Yeah....if they want more than one CHARGE! Also I have not implemented a pay for the first one unless you book with me policy but am going to soon.
I also offer one free tasting. I give 5-6 samples which are a cross section of all the flavors I offer. If they want to sample a flavor that's not on the tasting, I tell them they can buy a 6" cake. I charge $25 for the 6" cake and tell them I'll deduct that from their final payment if they book with me. But I'll only refund for one cake. After that they can buy them. It's really a waste of time and money making a bunch of little cakes, so I don't want to encourage them either.
I don't mind doing a second consultation to finalize the design details. Usually, if someone needs a second meeting to design the cake they're going to get something pretty upscale and will end up spending more money with me. In that case I don't resent the extra time given to the customer.
I don't mind doing a "free" sampling for a wedding cake or a cake with a 300 dollar and up budget and I too will deduct the 50.00 fee from their cake, if they order.
But I have actually laughed ( snorted ) out loud when I've been asked for tastings for birthday cakes!
my smallest, most inexpensive cake is like 25.00 and you want me to make you samples? I wanna know who's doing that in my area so I can tell them to STOP it. lol
I think that when you have those open house tastings a lot of looky loos slip in that have no intention of buying, ordering or even discussing cake with you.
They are just like Costco shoppers on Sample day! Getting their cake on.
Things are just too expensive now a days to be giving away cake willy nilly.
I do have a thought though. I've been playing around with:
Making up sample boxes, with cupcakes with any extra batter, icing and fillings, (wrapping them tightly) freezing them then just letting the potential brides or customers that they are available for pick up the first SUNDAY of every month.
They can fill out a short form with their contact and event information so I can follow up and I can get them in and out in one day.
Then do a private consult with the 50 dollar fee and do a more personal sample box.
How does that sound?
This is just my ever-so-never-humble-opinion, but I think if you are just handing them some free cakes and shoving them out the door, you are missing the point of the sampling.
The sampling of the food is just the excuse to get them in front of you. The sampling is not so much the opportunity for them to taste your cake .... most people know what cake tastes like!.... but it's the opportunity for YOU to sell the event to them. It's the opportunity for YOU to upsell them the little things you charge extra for. It's the opportunity for YOU to convince them that YOU are the person they should buy their cake from.
I buy and read lots of books on sales and marketing ... when you sell, you are selling yourself FIRST, then your company and finally, selling your product. You can't do that when you just hand them a free cupcake and send them on their way.
Handing them cupcakes out your drive-thru window demotes you to one of those little ole ladies handing out pieces of pizza samples in the Sam's aisle.
Plus ..... word will get out "....she gives out free cupcakes on Sunday; just tell her you're geting married and give her a phony phone number."
Our baking and cooking is the secondary part of this business. The food is the secondary (or maybe even the third-ary!) thing that makes our business. We are in sales first and in sales always. Without the sales skill, we have nothing to bake/cook. We only get to be bakers and cooks AFTER the sale is made....after the person wearing the sales hat has done THEIR job. Then and only then does the baker get to do the baking job.
The sampling is not for them to taste your cakes. The sampling is your sales opportunity. Don't shove your opportunity out the door in a box of free cupcakes.
I have them inquire ahead of time if a second opinion is needed. I tell the bride/mother/granmother this in advance.
I only do the small bite size petit fours of the cakes I offer that way. And charge the petit four prices for the boxed cakes.
Tis has saved me many headaches.
no, no, I was going to do an "OPEN HOUSE" on the first Sundays of the month but the attendees must first register with a valid phone number and email.
How else am I going to follow up?
and I was going to do a limited set amount of sample boxes and put out there that the first 25 registered brides will get theirs.
Then, in the follow up call I would book their private consultation and if they don't book I can get some feed back.
The Private consult will be the one I charge for and the money goes to book the date, which I then would hold open for 30 days before they need to bring me a deposit of some sort ( have to figure out if I want 50% or at least 25% so I can cover any expense that crops up before for the order, like my time to get a design ready, or if they need special platters, separators and stuff)
My place is not so large that I can accomodate people crowding around eating cake! lol
I still have to work this out, I need to set up a pretty area for this.
Oh, am open house thing is much different than what I pictured you doing! So sorry for the misunderstanding of what you had planned!
Oh, am open house thing is much different than what I pictured you doing! So sorry for the misunderstanding of what you had planned!
no worries, this will probably be in place before next wedding season.
I'm still trying to feel my way around things.
But I don't mind taking baby steps
I also feel that by the time they come to the open house, I will have had several interactions with the client, be it by phone or email. I can also give them a few minutes of flesh pressing when they come in because their sample box will be personalized , to a point.
where one bride would like to sample chocolate cakes maybe another would like fruit flavors, so each box will be special made, therein lies the pre-registration for open house.
I also decided to have maybe a few extra boxes of yellow and chocolate (maybe 5 more to round up the number to 30 which would be my goal, I can start at maybe 10 and see how it flies, for those people that just like to SHOW up. Don't want them leaving with a negative feeling even if they didn't follow my rules)
so my goal would be 25-30 pre registered and maybe not once a month but quarterly? or Bi annually. I know this does take a lot of work to pull off.
Right now I offer an 8" cake in 1-2 flavors with 1-2 fillings/icings. If they pay their deposit, its free. If they don't pay a deposit, its $25 for the tasting. They have enough cake to take home and give to whoever they want after the tasting.
I agree, its just so they know the cake will be tasty and so they can see your work and you can talk about their personalized design. There's no reason to come back. If they need another flavor from me (which so far hasn't happened) I would simply ask what kind and give them an 8" for $25 and have them pick it up like any other customer. Actually sometimes customers want to do a "tasting" for their toddlers birthday cake. I do the same...I offer an 8" cake for $25 that they can pick up before the event...but I stress they should order it soon enough to put down the deposit on the actual event. Usually they decide its not as important as they thought it was, to do a "tasting" for a 25 serving cake!
Oh I wanted to add that usually I write the contract out by hand during the tasting so we both know what is going on, but then I type it up afterwards and mail two copies to the customer, including a self addressed envelope, and they mail a signed copy back. So that eliminates the need to come back or whatever, too.
i subscribe to a WONDERFUL WONDERFUL WONDERFUL (do you get that i'm in love with this company and all that they do? hehehE) bi-monthly magazine, and also their website, called "COOKS ILLUSTRATED", put out by "america's test kitchen". i just read an article th other week about how to properly freeze and save cupcakes, which i thought i would definitely put to good use for my samples. i'll try to find the article and then paraphrase it for you.
the sample ordeal has been a thorn in my side for the last year now, since i officially started "sugarbabies". i actually don't have a problem with sampling for a birthday cake, because my cakes run up past $100 usually...and i bake out of my home, so these people don't usually know me, unless they've been referred....but where i'm a new business and haven't had a chance to devote to advertisement yet, cakes come in on a average, once to twice a month... i don't typically want to do wedding cakes, but i did have a girl book with me for may. on the first appt, i made a batch of "southern butter" cupcakes, and boxed up 9 of them for her and her mom to taste. (that flavor just happened to be what i had for another client). when i arranged to meet her the second time to sign the contract, she wanted a sample of the actual flavors she chose to go with...i didn't have any clients that week, so i ended up making 30 more cupcakes, and giving her another 9 of them, having to give the rest away to friends and family...THEN I READ THIS ARTICLE IN THE MAGAZINE!
#1. YOU PAY FOR ANYTHING PAST THE FIRST TASTING
#2. I CAN MAKE UP CUPCAKES AND ICINGS, SEPERATELY, IN POPULAR FLAVORS BEFOREHAND...WHEN NEEDED, I PULL OUT THE CUPCAKES THE DAY BEFORE, LET THEM THAW, THEN GET A COUPLE OF SCOOPS OF THE PREFERRED ICING, AND I'M DONE!
My first tasting is free (one flavor) anything over 1 I charge for. The second tasting I would charge for. They have to realize the work that goes into all of this!
[quote="mixinvixen"]i subscribe to a WONDERFUL WONDERFUL WONDERFUL (do you get that i'm in love with this company and all that they do? hehehE) bi-monthly magazine, and also their website, called "COOKS ILLUSTRATED", put out by "america's test kitchen".
I use Cooks Illustrated website all the time. I poste a while back (it's was lost when all the posts were wiped out) about an article they have in their archives (March 2007, Why refrigerated good go stale). Anyone that's ever wondered if it's better to freeze or refrigerate cakes should read it.