What Do They Expect?

Business By Winter1979 Updated 28 Apr 2008 , 12:17am by michellenj

Winter1979 Posted 22 Apr 2008 , 6:40pm
post #1 of 45

In the past three days I have had 3 people cancel because of price and 3 people change their orders to MUCH cheaper orders. I have my prices very cheap I think, and these people are so excited to have something other than a crappy Wal-Mart cake but apparently want me to work for free!! I'm beginning to wonder if starting this business is worth it.

Sorry - just had to vent. I'm getting really annoyed by this whole situation. Is my work really that crappy that it's not worth the $$$?

44 replies
TexasSugar Posted 22 Apr 2008 , 10:44pm
post #2 of 45

Some people have a hard time paying for something when they know they can go to Walmart and get it cheaper. Of course they don't factor in the quality or that they are getting a custom cake design and not just picking a picture out of a book. You have to train them. You are worth the extra price.

Laura102777 Posted 22 Apr 2008 , 11:44pm
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Wow, I checked out your website. Your cakes are really nice, and they are really inexpensive. I'm not sure your prices are more than the ones you can buy out of the case at my local WalMart. Those people are crazy if they think you're charging too much! If you lived close to me I'd just contract you to make my cakes and then resell them to my customers for a nice little profit! I'm joking of course, but I sure couldn't compete with you!

indydebi Posted 23 Apr 2008 , 12:17am
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If they are leaving you because of price, they were never a customer to start with.

You use larger portions than I do (I go by 1x2x4 ... you use 1.5x2x4), so they are getting more cake from you than they would with me. I use 14/10/6 for a wedding for 100. Your price for these is under $130. My price is $300.

As I learned in one sales job ..... "Who cares? Who's next!"

CoutureCake Posted 23 Apr 2008 , 3:45am
post #5 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

If they are leaving you because of price, they were never a customer to start with.

You use larger portions than I do (I go by 1x2x4 ... you use 1.5x2x4), so they are getting more cake from you than they would with me. I use 14/10/6 for a wedding for 100. Your price for these is under $130. My price is $300.

As I learned in one sales job ..... "Who cares? Who's next!"




I WHOLEHEARTEDLY AGREE!!!!! If they're comparing you with Walmart, let them go to Walmart and get 1/3 the cake for 1/3 the price... The serving chart our local Walmart uses say a 6" serves 20 people... Um, yea... In whose dreams??

Don't be afraid to turn orders away!!! Sometimes you NEED to because it will ultimately bring people back in the long term because you value your work and the quality of your product. Once you've been in biz for a while, you're going to get the reputation of being a bit higher but a long ways higher on the quality compared to what they can get elsewhere in the area.

Also, as hard as it is, just be corteous to the people that are on the Walmart budget because they still may like your product/service so may send you referrals for shower cakes. You never know... OTOH, don't be afraid to send them on their way!!!! Also, don't be afraid of having a minimum order amount. I have a $65 minimum for "friends" and $100 everyone else...

Just keep your head up, this is what is going to set your pace for future business. It's a lot easier to go up from $3/slice than it is from $1.50...

littlecake Posted 23 Apr 2008 , 4:05am
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your cakes are nice...and really affordable.

maybe not enough people know about you.

honey, LET THOSE WAL MART SHOPPERS WALK ON BY!

i bet 10 people a week at least opt out for wal mart for me....and that's just fine with me...i'll send them there myself...

Winter1979 Posted 23 Apr 2008 , 12:44pm
post #7 of 45

Thank you all, I just needed to vent. I guess I just need to learn to not take each order (or failed order) so seriously and just move on to bigger and better things. A couple of examples of the ones that changed their orders due to price are
1) a cake in the shape of a calculator for an accounting majors graduation. It was to be covered all in fondant and serve around 40 people, I quoted $70. Just for future reference what would others have charged?
2) a diaper bag cake (suppose to serve only 10) I would have started with three layers of a 9 x13 cake and carved it down, they would have had extra servings, but any smaller I think it would have looked funny. I was going to make gumpaste booties, pacifier and rattle to put on the board beside - $50 is what I quoted.

I have thought about bringing something to a local radio station to get my name out there, for those of you that have done that how do you approach this, I'm kind of timid when it comes to shoving my stuff at people.

Thanks,
Winter

indydebi Posted 23 Apr 2008 , 12:55pm
post #8 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Winter1979


I'm kind of timid when it comes to shoving my stuff at people.




If you're going to be in business, you need to get over this fast. You're not "shoving" it at people. You are GIVING them the OPPORTUNITY to check out what fabulous work you do.

During April (no weddings in April), on every Friday, I make 10-12 boxes of cookies .... about 12-15 cookies .... and drive them around to area businesses. I have my cards and a couple of pricing flyers. Banks, manufacturing companies, car dealerships, various offices, businesses, police depts, etc. I just walk in to the receptionist and say,

"Hi! I have some free cookies for you. I'm just out introducing myself to my neighbors. We just opened a new shop down the road, next to (well known restaurant). We do cakes, catering and cookies. So here's some cookies, and some info! Share them and enjoy them and give us a call to let us know how we can help with Employee/CVustomer appreciation, and other special events! Have a great Friday!"

I'm in and out in 2 minutes. No high pressure, just an introductory visit. I'm not "shoving" them down their throat .... they are fortunate that I chose to share my luscious wares with them! icon_biggrin.gif

littlecake Posted 23 Apr 2008 , 1:02pm
post #9 of 45

I think those prices are more than reasonable, it's the customers that aren't.

They amaze me sometimes, i've had them come in....want a 3 tiered stacked cake for a baby shower...meanwhile they are feeding 8 people with a budget of like 30 bucks.....and are amazed at the price of a triple tiered cake...i can't come down on my prices because they are ignorant about cake!

When i started out, i went at lunchtime to each school here...brought them a decorated 1/2 sheet and a price list, and address and phone # (taped to the top of the box) to the teachers lounge....just walked in smiled real big and said "i brought ya'll a cake!"

Those teachers knew a lot of people...and they really got the word out....it was amazing....this would be the perfect time to do it with graduation comming up....people LOVE cake...they won't be mad when you bring em a free cake.

deb12g Posted 23 Apr 2008 , 4:35pm
post #10 of 45

Winter-

About the radio stations- I work with a local station near me with a trade-off. For instance, they are honoring a local broadcaster who received a prestigious award next Monday. They called me & asked for a cake to have an open house. I make the cake, give them a bill (they tell me to inflate the price) then they give me free airtime. It's a win-win situation. But, you do have to be careful with this trade-off thing, because someone can take advantage of you. Here, they know my actual prices, but want me to show more on the invoice in order to more than compensate me in advertising.

poshcakedesigns Posted 23 Apr 2008 , 9:32pm
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I use to be in the same boat as you. Trust me you will start to value your time and work and when these price hagglers show up you'll be happy to see them go. There are those out there that will value what you do and will appreciate a unique GREAT tasting cake and will be back for more.

Don't feel like your a failure - it's not your fault that some people are CHEAP. LOL blame it on WM they have engraved into the minds of people that they are the low price place and some people will compromise quality for something cheap. Nothing we can do but try to educate them differently.

FromScratch Posted 23 Apr 2008 , 11:24pm
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First things first.. just because they want a cake for 10 people doesn't mean they pay for 10 servings. There is NO way you are making a diper bag made from three 9x13's make a 10 serving cake. You charge for they cake you make.. not the amount of cake they want. That cake would have started out as 60 servings (a single layer 9x13 will serve 20 2x2x2 servings). So you charge $50 for that (plus all the extra stuff) and you are charging $0.83/serving.

For a carved cake like that covered in fondant I would have charged at least $300. 50 servings $6/serving. They may only cut it into 10 pieces, but the cake is designed to serve 50.. so they pay the price of take a hike.. no harm no foul.

Looking at your website.. you are WAY under charging. $0.80/serving.. are you covering your costs to make the cakes?? Not to mention your time.. you do GREAT work.. I wouldn't sell a cake for less than $2/serving ever.. You need to recoup your costs for ingredients and gas to get them and electricity and your time creating them.. even walmart charges more than $0.80/serving for their "custom" cakes. And your cupcakes.. they are the same amount of cake as a serving of a layer cake.. I charge the same amount for a cupcake as I would for a serving of cake.. not to mention they are more work.. decorating each little cake separately.. You need to up your prices.. you do nice work and people will come if you market yourself right. You don't want the walmart customers.

indydebi Posted 24 Apr 2008 , 12:22am
post #13 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by jkalman

First things first.. just because they want a cake for 10 people doesn't mean they pay for 10 servings.




Yep!!! If you want to make a peanut butter sandwich, you have to buy the whole loaf of bread .... you can't buy just 2 slices.

Had an inquiry for a birthday cake ... told her the 11x15 served up to 35 and a 10" round served up to 38. She asked "Can you make a cake that just serves 30?" icon_eek.gif

Sure lady ... let me just lop off one end of the cake and trash it and then LOWER my price for you. Yeah...no problem! icon_confused.gif

littlecake Posted 24 Apr 2008 , 12:24am
post #14 of 45

Sure lady ... let me just lop off one end of the cake and trash it and then LOWER my price for you. Yeah...no problem!

HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!

People are the same everywhere aren't they?

Winter1979 Posted 24 Apr 2008 , 4:35am
post #15 of 45

I know that there are cheap skates everywhere, but honestly to my area this is something completely new. From the research I've done there are a few wedding cake decorators, other than the grocery stores and WM, and I have not heard good things about them. I have only found one person that makes more than sheet cakes, but they are all Wilton pans, no carving and are way less than mine. So I guess, I just need to settle down, be firm in my pricing (which I did plan on increasing after the first 6-8 months) and try to educate people on what "real" cake is worth. Thank you all so much, you are a wealth of knowledge that I just cannot find around here. I want to set myself apart from anyone else around here that does this, so I will practice patience and not take the "Blue Light Special" shoppers to heart.

Kitagrl Posted 24 Apr 2008 , 4:57am
post #16 of 45

I noticed the OP lives in South Dakota....that could be some of the problem right there. I don't know what the specialty cake market is out there but I lived in Rapid City as a teen and I'm thinking anything short of living near Rapid or Sioux Falls would be time consuming to get a good customer base going. It will happen, it just might be slow going.

Definitely charge MORE! I just had someone who wants a car cake, for 10 people. I charge around $6/serving for fondant 3D cakes (sometimes $5/serving for more simple designs) but I won't accept just $60 for a car cake no matter how small it is, so I bumped it to $100. Haven't gotten an answer yet. Normally the smallest cakes I do are like 25 servings as far as 3D stuff. I'm in Philly area where the cost of living is higher so I have been raising my prices, so I might be able to charge more than some, but then again, I've been told by others I could go even higher. I'm good for now, but will be watching.

$50 for all that gorgeous work? Wow. You underestimate yourself! The customers will come...don't be tempted to underprice just to get them, because you want the RIGHT customers. You want the ones that come back every year saying "Last year's party was so great, we want it even bigger and better this year, how much do you want for it?" It will happen, it just may take a few years.

mommyle Posted 24 Apr 2008 , 5:20am
post #17 of 45

So, on the other end of the spectrum, here's one for you. A mom at my DD's school has been throwing business towards a boutique instead of towards me (it's a long story!!!!). My prices are exactly between boutique and grocery store. I bake from scratch. The particular boutique is bulk/box baker and not a stick of butter to be seen. And cannot guarantee no nuts (which is what this mom is trying to sell).
So, Stick to your guns. Your prices might be too high, but I'd rather be panned for that than the fact that they are too low. Give me a f********** break!!!!!

SweetConfectionsChef Posted 24 Apr 2008 , 12:39pm
post #18 of 45

The only thing I wanted to add to what everyone else has said is this.....if customer's are paying up front (like most special orders require) then there is absolutely no chance of cancellation or tuning down the order at the last minute. Well, I guess they could, but you'd still have the $$$ so they might as well take the cake you made all the arrangements to make. icon_wink.gif

Something I have learned in the 3 1/2 years I have been running my business....if you sell something for cheap people expect something cheap and they actually treat you differently than if you are harder to book with, charge a higher price (which you are DEFINATELY worth), and give them something they can't get anywhere else!

Mac Posted 24 Apr 2008 , 1:14pm
post #19 of 45

Thoughts to ponder:

Duff's cakes start at $500.00

Kerry Vincent does not turn on her oven for less than $2000.00

Tom Cruise just paid $5000.00 for Suri's 1st birthday cake

I have had 3 different people call on ONE cake for a wedding to get prices...I guess they think they may get a different price. Nope--every call I price it at $3.50 per serving. The bride-to-be FINALLY called and ordered the cake. So hang in there

Winter1979 Posted 24 Apr 2008 , 5:12pm
post #20 of 45

So, do I raise my prices now? Will I tick off the few people that have already ordered from me when they want to order again? I'm so new at this and value all of your guys' opinions.

ccr03 Posted 24 Apr 2008 , 5:50pm
post #21 of 45

I had your same prices - until recently. I raised them 10%. I've had one past customer order and she noticed the slight increase and I was honest with her, with the increased price of gas I had to increase. She didn't hesitate ONE second to say, "Oh, that's fine. I understand."
I would keep any outstanding quotes/orders at your old price. I told the story on here how this lady who called me the other day with a quote more than a month old and out of good customer service I kept that price for her.

FromScratch Posted 24 Apr 2008 , 8:15pm
post #22 of 45

I would definitely raise your prices now.. and make them $2/serving for buttercream and $3/serving fondant. No one should work for less than that.. especially since you are giving them larger servings than most bakeries would. An 8" buttercream cake would be $30 by your servings. That's not a lot at all. I charge $80 for an 8" buttercream cake. If you sit and think about the time it takes to shop for ingredients.. bake.. level and fill.. decorate.. clean up.. it is a long time. You want to make more than $1 an hour for your effort. icon_smile.gif

playingwithsugar Posted 24 Apr 2008 , 8:48pm
post #23 of 45

And you're surprised by this?

Not meaning to take away from your vent, but we read about this every day. I am so glad that all of you cake professionals have somewhere to bring this issue to, really. But after reading all the threads, especially over the last year, about PITA customers, I am not surprised that you are going through this.

Some people would blame the economy, but I don't think that is it. I think they're just plain cheap.

I do not sell cakes, but I did a cake for the friend of a relative last year. She wanted a Sweet 16, 7 tiers for 225 people. I only asked that she pay my expenses. Well, even then, she thought she was going to get it damn near free. She even asked if she could "borrow" my cake stands! I insisted on a deposit for them, because they were a Wilton discontinued item, and irreplaceable.

When I went into the reception hall, and saw the decorations on the day of the event, I knew that she had paid at least $30,000 for the party (the hall alone was a $5,000 rental, not including catering!). The place was covered in balloons, fresh flowers, candles, and custom table linens to match the decor of the event.

On top of that, when she came to make her payment (prior to delivery) she drove a brand new Cadillac Escallade! So, now I ask you, was she hurting for the money that she could have spent by having a pro do it - No. She just wanted to be cheap about it.

She was the cake baptism by fire, even though she wasn't really a paying customer.

So now, if I ever start selling cakes professionally, I will expect some PITA to walk in the door, and hopefully, I will be wrong, in the positive direction.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

mcook1670 Posted 24 Apr 2008 , 8:50pm
post #24 of 45

I crtainly undestand your frustration. I live in Tampa, nd one would think that a city of almost 3 million( with surrounding areas) that you could charge a decent amount of money for cake, especailly custom cakes. Unfortunately, I surrounded with walmarts, targets and publixs, that don't charge anything for cakes. They taste like crap, I always hear how great they look, I get so tired of it.

Jenn2179 Posted 24 Apr 2008 , 8:58pm
post #25 of 45

I get those people all the time too but then I get the people who don't bat an eye at my prices. Stick to your guns. You are a business.

littlecake Posted 24 Apr 2008 , 11:07pm
post #26 of 45

"Something I have learned in the 3 1/2 years I have been running my business....if you sell something for cheap people expect something cheap and they actually treat you differently than if you are harder to book with, charge a higher price (which you are DEFINATELY worth), and give them something they can't get anywhere else!"

Michelle is right!...the customers respect you more if you are priced a bit higher....and it really seem love it more when i'm booked up and can't take every order.

Where i live the economy isn't the greatest...however, there are always well to do business owners etc. who DO NOT want to get a cheap cake from wal mart.

it can get to be getting a custom cake from you can be a status symbol....for me a few of the very well to do ladies in town started buying from me....of course they told all their friends at the parties ...and it has gone on from there....the well to do are so much easier to deal with than the penny pinchers...and easier to please many times.

I think winter1979 is gonna do great....she just needs to get her name out there...that's the first thing....certain people are looking for quality...and are willing to pay.....

indydebi Posted 24 Apr 2008 , 11:46pm
post #27 of 45

When Orville Redenbacher first put out his popping corn, he flat out put on the label "The World's Most Expensive Popping Corn". (bolding added by me!)

And the rest ..... is history!! thumbs_up.gif

I'm trying to figure out a way to incorporate something like that on my cookie info sheets.

SweetConfectionsChef Posted 25 Apr 2008 , 12:14am
post #28 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by littlecake

"Something I have learned in the 3 1/2 years I have been running my business....if you sell something for cheap people expect something cheap and they actually treat you differently than if you are harder to book with, charge a higher price (which you are DEFINATELY worth), and give them something they can't get anywhere else!"

Michelle is right!...the customers respect you more if you are priced a bit higher....and it really seem love it more when i'm booked up and can't take every order.

Where i live the economy isn't the greatest...however, there are always well to do business owners etc. who DO NOT want to get a cheap cake from wal mart.

it can get to be getting a custom cake from you can be a status symbol....for me a few of the very well to do ladies in town started buying from me....of course they told all their friends at the parties ...and it has gone on from there....the well to do are so much easier to deal with than the penny pinchers...and easier to please many times.

I think winter1979 is gonna do great....she just needs to get her name out there...that's the first thing....certain people are looking for quality...and are willing to pay.....




Thanks littlecake! You are right about the "status symbol" thing. It's very true! I've actually had people call and give me the date they need the cake and say "I really hope you can fit me in" and the party is a month away! I might have complete availability but I say "oh wow, you got lucky....I can still take another order or two!" icon_biggrin.gif

leily Posted 25 Apr 2008 , 12:35am
post #29 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Winter1979

So, do I raise my prices now? Will I tick off the few people that have already ordered from me when they want to order again? I'm so new at this and value all of your guys' opinions.




If they get ticked off at you raising your prices then they are just mad people all the time. I can go into the grocery store or to the gas station 7 days in a row and the price on everything will be going up, up, up. Why would it be different for anyone else?

indydebi Posted 25 Apr 2008 , 1:03am
post #30 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by leily

Quote:
Originally Posted by Winter1979

So, do I raise my prices now? Will I tick off the few people that have already ordered from me when they want to order again? I'm so new at this and value all of your guys' opinions.



If they get ticked off at you raising your prices then they are just mad people all the time. I can go into the grocery store or to the gas station 7 days in a row and the price on everything will be going up, up, up. Why would it be different for anyone else?




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