I Need Help!! Please Advise

Business By tdybear1978 Updated 5 Apr 2008 , 3:02pm by tdybear1978

tdybear1978 Posted 4 Apr 2008 , 6:35pm
post #1 of 20

I have now had my shop open for 1 1/2 years. Things have been going well, the bakery is completely taking care of itself and a friend of mine has been helping me out with cleaning and baking part-time (but she is moving now). I am wanting to try and get some help in here because I am literally the only one doing everything and I am exhausted. I just have no idea where to start. I have had some people leave resume's (there is a culinary school right down the street). I was thinking of something like a 2-part interview: 1 - sit down interview and then 2 - have them decorate a sheet cake/round cake/and then stack a cake. Does this sound OK? Is it too much? And then the BIG thing, what is normal/not insulting pay? Minimum wage here is $5.85 per hour. I would not pay that low but on the other side I can not pay a lot, while the bakery is doing great, I am not even paying myself yet. I am kind of in a place where I want to get some help in here before paying myself. I am starting to have to turn away weddings for this summer do to the fact that I can not do that much in one weekend myself. What do you guys think, especially about the pay part. Any help/suggestions would be appreciated. thanks all

19 replies
tdybear1978 Posted 4 Apr 2008 , 7:02pm
post #2 of 20


tdybear1978 Posted 4 Apr 2008 , 7:46pm
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just giving myself a bump icon_smile.gif

tdybear1978 Posted 4 Apr 2008 , 10:09pm
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WOW, I thought more people would chime in - anyone??

tdybear1978 Posted 5 Apr 2008 , 2:22am
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this just seems so surprising - sorry to beg or something but I now am interviewing someone on monday and would love some feedback on this. BUMP!!

beccakelly Posted 5 Apr 2008 , 5:05am
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i'm sorry no one has posted a response yet, and i don't know what help i can be. i know that i wouldn't take a decorating job for less than $8-10 per hour. i think if you pay too low you'll only attract people with no skills. of course, if you just want them to wash dishes then their skills don't really matter.

if you have a part of the interview where they decorate the cake, i think i would suggest walking away and doing some paperwork while they work. i would be a wreck trying to decorate in an interview with someone watching. obviously they can't cheat (unless they sneak in decorated cake inside their coat, lol) so i would leave the room temporarily.

if they're students can you get a reference from the teachers? to verify their skills?

sunnyrunner Posted 5 Apr 2008 , 5:16am
post #7 of 20

I'm totally new here, but my husband is a pastry chef and when he interviews for his assistants, he has them do a "tryout" type thing in addition to the interview. I think it's fine. No idea about the pay, sorry.

JoanneK Posted 5 Apr 2008 , 5:39am
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What about trying out an intern? You could give someone from the school some great experience and you get free help. Or just pay min. wage.

aundrea Posted 5 Apr 2008 , 5:47am
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i agree with having them decorate something. it would be just like taking a typing test. but definately dont be around that person when he/she is taking the test.
also, you can check into your local high school. there may be kids there who are taking a baking course and could use it as volunteer work or internship that may help them with their class and extra credit.
maybe work with the school so its an ongoing project or somehow impliment into their program.
also girl scouts and boy scouts are always in need of volunteer hours too for various awards. maybe contact your local council and see if there are high school age kids who need hours. i know alot of the awards they earn (girl scouts anyways) require 25-50 hours of volunteer time.
good luck!

wespam Posted 5 Apr 2008 , 11:07am
post #10 of 20

I'm kinda in the same boat as you needing someone to help out with the scut work of cleaning up especially on Thursdays and Fridays when push comes to shove on decorating. My shop is doing well, paying the rent and supplies but I'm turning down cakes on occasion because I know I just can't physically do anymore that week. In order to grow I know I'm going to need someone to help. An employee brings in new problems and taxes and insurance so I would need them to be on an independent contractor basis or something. How and what did you pay your friend? Thanks Pam from Bama

dragonaldy321 Posted 5 Apr 2008 , 11:50am
post #11 of 20

Maybe you could talk to the school and see if they would do a co-op type of job. The student learns while they work for you and you can pay them minimum wage.
now this would depend on what you want them to do. If you need them to clean up this would work. If you want them to decorate simple cakes them you would need to pay them a little more. If you wanted them to do wedding cakes them the pay would also increase. I also agree with the statement that they should be independent contractors. That way you have no tax liabilities. 1099 them at the end of the year and they pay all their own taxes. hope this helps

kakeladi Posted 5 Apr 2008 , 12:13pm
post #12 of 20

Taking on an employee is going to cost you *MUCH* more than what you pay themicon_sad.gif There will be withholding taxes, unemployment, an increase in your insurance etc etc. Figure whatever you agree to pay them will cost you dbl! That means if you pay them $8 an hour you will be paying out no less than $16 including all taxes. Trying to 'get away' with calling them 'casual labor' won't work either - the amount of hr they can work is so limited if they work more than a day or 2 in a week/month(?) it's no longer 'casual labor'. BTDT

If you are turning away that much work then raise your prices icon_smile.gif It will weed out those you don't want to do, that are a PIB. People will learn you book quickly and they need to get in there ASAPicon_smile.gif
Many of the 'big names' don't turn on their oven for less than $500-1,000. There's one in So CA who only takes 1 cake a weekend yet she is a really big name in decorating (can't think of it right now-haha).

tdybear1978 Posted 5 Apr 2008 , 1:05pm
post #13 of 20

well, a lot of what they would be doing would be cleaning and helping with all the baking and preparing but I would love to have someone who knows how to decorate. When trying to figure out what to pay I know that I have to take into account the extra insurance that I am going to have to get and then the extra cost of having my tax lady do payroll and those other extra lovely tax things that go along with having an employee. I know whatever people I interview will not have to take that into account. I also did just do a price increase and it did not seem to phase anyone around here. WHEEWWWW - which I think is great that I am growing I am just in a weird place where I can see the growth and I need help but maybe not enough growth yet to get an "experienced" decorater. I know when I started my skills were very limited and I started washing dishes in a bakery and then she would start letting me do the borders on cakes when they got bombarded with orders and then before I knew it I was doing everything - and I was fine with the pay I got (which was not real great) because mainly I was the cleaning person who was given the opportunity to practice my skills. I want to find someone like me then haha. Don't know how realistic that is icon_smile.gif

aprilcake Posted 5 Apr 2008 , 1:09pm
post #14 of 20

i would have interns come from culinary schools...that way they get the experience they need and you dont have to pay!

indydebi Posted 5 Apr 2008 , 1:28pm
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It sounds like you need to sit back and sort out in your mind exactly what you need. You want them to pretty much clean and do pan prep and oh yeah, do some decorating on the side. I think these are two different jobs..... two different skill sets..... two different people.

It will be easier to find a cleaning/prep person who you can bring up to a decorator, than it will to find a decorator who will be reduced to being a cleaning person.

I did a cake decorating demo at my daughter's high school in the (what we used to call) Home Ec class. I announced that I was looking for help in the kitchen. I had a couple come over and apply ... I will be having them make cookie dough, form them into cookie dough balls and freeze them, mix batter, prep pans, cleaning and washing dishes.

I had 3 teenagers come in this past Thursday to make cookie dough balls. They pumped out about 1000 dough balls for me in just a couple of hours.

Teenagers are great for "meanial" labor functions.

If you are wanting someone to help with the decorating, then I'd contact the culinary school. You are very blessed to have such a resource so close to you ... filled with folks who are definitely interested in the food industry!

tdybear1978 Posted 5 Apr 2008 , 1:33pm
post #16 of 20

thanks for responding, I KNOW that I need help with the kitchen work, but the orders are starting to overwhelm me, I get here around 8 on friday mornings and don't leave until 4:30 on Saturday afternoon and I am busting my rear to get everything done. I don't think that I would mind getting someone who has some decorating experience like I had, I had just been doing cakes at home and then I could maybe give them the opportunity to enhance their skills without having to pay them like $10.00 per hour (which I am sure they are completely worth haha) like the girl that I am interviewing on monday went thru a 7 month culinary program and I worry that people like that are going to want a significant wage because I am sure that she paid a pretty penny to go thru that course

indydebi Posted 5 Apr 2008 , 1:44pm
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when you have someone who can mix batter, wash and prep pans, wash bags and tips, cover cake boards, fold boxes, and all of those little things, you will be AMAZED at how much that frees you up to do nothing but cake stuff.

When I was a secretary, I would go on interviews in which they advertised for a "receptionist" at receptionist pay, but wanted me to use my secretary and admin ass't skills. I was insulted and actually turned down a couple of job offers because of it. They were not going to get my $12/hour skills (this was a LOT of years ago when $12/hour was good money) for $7.

You dont' want to do the same thing .... ask for a skilled decorator who you want to help with the decorating, but only offer them clean-up-crew wages.

You really do get what you pay for. Standard rate in my area for catering/buffet server help is WAY under what I pay ... but I have a great crew who consistently makes me (my company) look good!

tdybear1978 Posted 5 Apr 2008 , 1:55pm
post #18 of 20

thank you so much indydebi, I was hoping that you would respond to this. I do think that if I have someone who can help with all the baking and boards and cleaning then that will probably free me up a lot. OKay, so this girl that I am interviewing on monday stated that she has limited decorating skills and feels that her strong suit is all the preparation - what kind of pay should I offer? should i do like a probationary period? Sorry to ask so many questions but this will be my first "REAL" employee and I am having trouble getting started with it haha

indydebi Posted 5 Apr 2008 , 2:42pm
post #19 of 20

Your market will be a factor. Kids around here can work in fast food for $7.50-$8.00/hour. I pay my kids $7.00/hour. I also tell them it's FUN work, not as hot, not as hard as working in fast food, all the cookies they can eat (which I'm sure will last about 3 days before they never want to eat another cookie again!), and not dealing with a rush-rush lunch crowd, and a lower level of dealing with the public. (you know .... those says when you're thinking that running a biz wouldnt' be so bad if you didn't have to deal with those darn customers! icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif )

My catering crew gets an average of $10/hour, minimum $60 a night, plus whatever tips they get from the client. It's not unusual for my crew to pick up $25 to $75 each in tips for a night's work. A couple of times, they got $100 each just in tips, which meant they earned about $20-$25/hour that night. I pretty much never have a shortage of volunteers to work my events!

So anyone in the Indy area, if you know anyone who wants to pick up some extra cash on the weekends, send 'em my way!!

tdybear1978 Posted 5 Apr 2008 , 3:02pm
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thank you for your advice, I really appreciate it. Anyone please feel free to chime in icon_smile.gif

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