Omg!! Hotel Charges To Cut & Serve!!!

Business By nhbaker Updated 8 Apr 2008 , 1:34am by FromScratch

nhbaker Posted 7 Apr 2008 , 12:46pm
post #1 of 18

I live in rural NH and have done a few wedding cakes for brides having their wedding at an area "grand hotel". The hotel doesn't really have an in-house pastry chef (though I heard they are starting to offer their own cakes but people have said they're gross). I was talking to a potential client last night and they told me that if a cake is brought in from an outside bakery the hotel charges $3 to cut and serve it -- THAT'S MORE THAN I CHARGE TO MAKE IT!!! So the client really ends up paying double for the cake!! I told this person that I'd cut and serve it for a whole lot less!! (but the hotel probably wouldn't allow that). I'm dumbfounded!! I'm obviously not charging these brides enough - heck if there willing to pay that much for someone to cut the cake , they shouldn't even blink if I charge more per serving!!! RIGHT???

I've only been making cakes for about a year. I started out with higher prices but this area just doesn't warrant it. People would price me out and then went elsewhere - they seem to be more intersted in price than quality.

Maybe I should have two pricing structures - regular & grand hotel!!!

Any opinions/ideas???

17 replies
costumeczar Posted 7 Apr 2008 , 12:52pm
post #2 of 18

The 5-star hotel here charges $6 a serving to cut the cake, but the coordinator there told me that if I do the cake they'll waive the fee if the bride asks. You could tell your customers to ask them to have the fee waived and they might do it...But you have to keep in mind that the fancier hotels will cut and plate the desserts, they don't just slap it on a plate and serve it, so it does take time, plates, garnish, etc. to do that. Not $6 a serving worth, though, if you ask me! It's worth it for the bride to ask about those kinds of extra fees, though, they might get them reduced if nothing else.

foxymomma521 Posted 7 Apr 2008 , 1:12pm
post #3 of 18

Would they charge the same for cupcakes?

chocolatecake Posted 7 Apr 2008 , 1:24pm
post #4 of 18

NHBaker-

Hurry and go now to the Hotel Banquet Manager with your portfolio and samples- ask to become the "Preferred cake Vendor" (they recommend you & sometimes only you- you may give them a % of the job )

The cake cutting costs etc can be then negotiated and you could really increase your sales and exposure.

It could be a big opportunity . . . even if you just to introduce yourself the banquet manager I'm sure will referr 1 or 2 jobs

TheButterWench Posted 7 Apr 2008 , 1:27pm
post #5 of 18

The Big hotels actually lose money on events, they make more when they book conferences, meeting and seminars.

They make the brides pay for cake cutting service because they want to discourage brides from booking outside cakes.

Just like a lot of CC members don't want the brides to bring in kichen cakes from other people, it's sort of the same principle.

They do not want to take the risk of bringing in an outside cake due to liabilities, so they will charge an outrageous cake cutting fee so as a bride you book the cake with them.

My suggestion to you would be, if you are a legal cake business is to talk to the event planner, make an appointment and see if you can become their cake designer.

aliciag Posted 7 Apr 2008 , 1:29pm
post #6 of 18

They are charging $4 to cut the cake at my brother's wedding(I'm making the cake)

But if he wants their cake, they charge $4 a piece and don't charge for cutting. But they can only choose from one of their 4 designs. And don't ask to change anything, the picture is what you get.

So they charge you the wedding cake whether you want it or not! thumbsdown.gif

beccakelly Posted 7 Apr 2008 , 1:36pm
post #7 of 18

its really not uncommon, nor is it outrageous. they are providing a lot of staff to plate cake for 1-300 people. that takes time, and really often they embellish the plates with fruit or a chocolate drizzle or something really pretty. then they have to pay their staff to clear all the tables and wash all those dishes from a cake they didn't even make money on. so its completely understandable. most venues here include the cake cutting fee in the package, so its there, just not separated out for brides to see.

nhbaker Posted 7 Apr 2008 , 1:53pm
post #8 of 18

The hotel called me last fall and asked if they could use me as their "exclusive contact" so I guess that's not an issue. I have since heard that they are now offering their own cakes. I guess I need to call my contact there and see what's going on. This hotel starts are $150 a plate, for weddings so I guess a few hundred for a cake is not biggy. I guess I'm just trying to feel out whether I should charge more per serving on not. I feel like I'm selling myself short when they charge more to cut and serve it than I do to bake it.

beccakelly Posted 7 Apr 2008 , 2:42pm
post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by nhbaker

I guess I'm just trying to feel out whether I should charge more per serving on not. I feel like I'm selling myself short when they charge more to cut and serve it than I do to bake it.




don't sweat it. i think its pretty common for venues to charge just as much or more in the cutting fee than the total cost of the cake. $3-5 per serving from what i understand is typical, and i think most of us charge right in that range, if not less.

CakeDiva73 Posted 7 Apr 2008 , 6:07pm
post #10 of 18

I do see the hotel's point....to a certain degree. Why should they cut, plate and serve an item for free? And then have to wash all the additional dishes/cutlery. I think a modest fee is acceptable - but $3?? And yes, as a cake decorator, I would be ticked thinking I am the one baking, decorating, etc. - probably cutting them a deal and they drop just as much for the person to serve?

I realize once you set a price, it shouldn't matter what else the bride and groom spends on other stuff, which I suppose is why cutting deals is not a great idea.

chocolatecake Posted 7 Apr 2008 , 6:58pm
post #11 of 18

The Hotel knows it's costs- and thus the pricing they need to charge.

Do we really know if the price per slice we charge is profitable?

If we really add up our direct costs (ingredients, the time it takes to buy , bake, decorate, supplies electric- gas, delivery time -if we do not charge that on top) as well as our indirect (rent, phone insurance, consultation time, advertising) - does it cover our costs? Your account can help with this

If because of the market in your are and the competition you can only charge X $ - how many cakes/slices a year do you need to sell?

I don't want to be preachy but is the question really the Hotel is not charging too much- but are we charging too little?

chocolatecake Posted 7 Apr 2008 , 7:41pm
post #12 of 18

The Hotel knows it's costs- and thus the pricing they need to charge.

Do we really know if the price per slice we charge is profitable?

If we really add up our direct costs (ingredients, the time it takes to buy , bake, decorate, supplies electric- gas, delivery time -if we do not charge that on top) as well as our indirect (rent, phone insurance, consultation time, advertising) - does it cover our costs? Your account can help with this

If because of the market in your are and the competition you can only charge X $ - how many cakes/slices a year do you need to sell?

I don't want to be preachy but is the question really the Hotel is not charging too much- but are we charging too little?

LeckieAnne Posted 8 Apr 2008 , 12:42am
post #13 of 18

I payed (but only $1.50 per serving) to have my cake cut and plated. I didn't mind, I made my own cake. The fee was for the dishes and the service. They had quite a few people plating on china and offering the various flavors to my guests. I thought it was well worth the price - I might have thought twice for $3 to $5 though. I could have had someone cut and serve it for me, but it would have been on paper plates and my guests would have had to come up and get it -- we had a very nice served meal, so it seemed inappropriate to have them get their own cake.

SweetResults Posted 8 Apr 2008 , 1:10am
post #14 of 18

*Silently waiting for Indydebi to appear and set things straight on why they charge...*

LOL! Actually she will say the same as the rest of you - they aren't making money on the cake, but they are working to get it out there to all the guests.

I'll admit though that the very first time I heard about a cake cutting fee (years ago) I was initally shocked as well. Of course once I thought about it I realized it is common sense, of course there are some places that use that fee as a Discouragement Fee, to prevent you from going to an outside source, not just a cover their costs fee.

indydebi Posted 8 Apr 2008 , 1:10am
post #15 of 18

beccakelly pretty much covered it.

It's unfortunate that it's called a "cake cutting" fee, because they are not really charging you to cut the cake..... they are charging for the use of the plates, forks, staff to cut, plate, serve, collect the plates, wash the plates, cost of the dishwasher person, cost of the $25,000 dishwasher the dishes are run thru, etc. etc.

And did I mention they were making ZERO MONEY on this cake since it was not made by them (since they dont' have a pastry chef, as indicated by the OP)?

Look at it this way .... would any of you drive to a job, bring the plates, forks, etc., stay for hours to cut and serve the cake, clean up and put everything away .... for free??? Well, neither is the hotel.

If they don't charge this if you buy THEIR cake, then it's because they ARE making money on the cake .... as opposed to a cake that's brought in by one of us.

It's really not unreasonable .... nor uncommon.

SweetResults Posted 8 Apr 2008 , 1:17am
post #16 of 18

See? I told you she'd be here soon! icon_wink.gificon_biggrin.gif

CarolAnn Posted 8 Apr 2008 , 1:20am
post #17 of 18

I guess that's the price the brides pay to use the big venues. What can you do. She has the choice of bringing in an outside cake of her own design and paying the fee for cutting/plating or choosing from the 4 designs the hotel provides. So you started out pricing higher but came down to a price more suited to your area. Now since you know this bride is willing to pay the additional $3 per serving to bring in an outside cake (yours) you think you ought to raise your prices? I guess I don't get it. What sense would it make to raise your prices for that reason, when that'd bring you back up to and probably beyond what you charged before and decided you couldn't get. Brides, smart ones anyway, are always going to shop around before deciding on their cake, unless they're going with family, a friend, or decorator
they already know.

If my niece wants me to make her wedding cake but wants to get married someplace that charges $4 to cut it I wouldn't feel I should charge her more because the deal she gets at the venue includes a cutting fee and she's willing to pay it. She's essentially stuck paying it if she wants my great cake for her reception at the swanky joint. That just doesn't make sense to me.

I'm not criticizing you, really, just trying to understand what you're saying. Maybe the venue will waive the fee if you talk to them. Maybe you can even get in there as their exclusive cake lady! Good luck!

FromScratch Posted 8 Apr 2008 , 1:34am
post #18 of 18

My thought is that is $3/serving is more than your price then you probably need to raise your prices regardless of cutting fees. I couldn't stay in business if I charged less than that. I charge $4/serving BC and $5/serving fondant.. and often it's not as much profit as I'd really like to see.

It all depends on where you are marketing yoruself. I am pushing the higher end birthday/occasion cakes and wedding cakes. It's the most profitable arena for cakes. I would rather have ten $20 cakes walk away and do one $200 cake anyday.

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%