How Do I...sorry - Long

Business By Winter1979 Updated 2 May 2008 , 1:05am by mjcakes

Winter1979 Posted 30 Apr 2008 , 12:56pm
post #1 of 18

say "no"? I am extremely bad at this...I guess you could say I'm a pushover. People ask me to do something I always say yes and then kick myself as soon as I do...

I just started my in home bakery (legally) on April 1st, I have already had over $600 in sales, which doesn't sound like a lot, but my prices are lower than most on the sight and they haven't been huge, that's a lot of cakes. I've had a few think that my prices are too high and go elsewhere so those have taken care of themselves, but this week I have 6 cakes in 2 days!!!!!! I am by no means a professional so they take me longer and 2 of them are pretty involved (for my level anyway). I start to tell people that I am booked for this weekend and they say are you sure you couldn't just do a small one or something? So what do I do...I cave. I've never been able to say no and I don't want to turn the business away, but holy crap this week has been nuts already and it's only Wednesday. I've been up past midnight every night since Friday (sometimes until 2 am) and I've got another 3 nights at least that will be this late. I have a 1 1/2 year old and 4 yr old at home with me so it's just easier to burn the midnight oil, as my DH works 12 hr shifts with a lot of OT.

I'm flattered that these people want my cakes, one lady changed the date of her cake just so I could do it, but it was only by a day, so it doesn't lighten the work load. I don't want to get burnt out right after I started but I am nervous to turn business away a month after I open. It's crazy last week I had 3 people go away because of price but it still ended up to be a very busy week and this week nobaody has really had a problem with prices, even after I raised them a bit...everyday is a new adventure I guess.

Sorry - I ramble a lot and I hope this made sense. I am just looking for any advice on how I can build up my nerve and sense as to how and to know when to turn things down.

I can't wait for this week to be over!!!

17 replies
littlecake Posted 30 Apr 2008 , 1:08pm
post #2 of 18

HA HA HA.....a little different than the problems last week. (:

all i can say, is after you get fed up enough, you will learn to say no.

i've had 6 wedding cakes to do by myself in a weekend, so i didn't take any sheetcake orders....people would come in with their kids...wanting a kid is on the verge of tears...

i've had them try to trick calling...then coming in...then sending another family member in.

i used to never say no in the beginning...but you must, 1 person can only do so much.

after this week is week is coming....welcome to the biz!

you'll build speed and get crazy fast if you keep this it gets easier....

agroeve Posted 30 Apr 2008 , 1:44pm
post #3 of 18

i too just started my biz in april. yes a few people have declined after a quote they seem to think because i'm new at this i won't charge much.
it's hard to say no but when i answer the phone i'm no longer a cake baker and decorater, i'm just a secretary that doesn't have to please everyone, i'm just passing on messages from my boss. (he he) sad i know but it works for me.

dinas27 Posted 30 Apr 2008 , 3:15pm
post #4 of 18

Well, I think that it may be time to review your prices! You said that you just raised them slightly... perhaps you need to raise them a little more if you are that busy. Now only you can make that call - as you know your market but wouldn't you rather be making fewer cakes (worth more $$$) to still be making the same amount of $$$$ (and with a lighter workload).

Now of course this week could be just a anomaly with lots of cake orders, but I think you're probably just that good! Maybe keep on for a few more weeks with your current pricing and see how your demand is then review your prices. Good luck!

CelebrationsbyLori Posted 30 Apr 2008 , 4:27pm
post #5 of 18

Definately evaluate your prices and make sure with the rising price of well, EVERYTHING! that you are charging enough! Then think about how long it's going to take you to make each cake (you will get faster and better organized), then you will know when to say when! There is a cut off as to how much one person can do and keep their sanity. Not to mention, it's first come, first served and sometime it's good to say sorry, I'm booked up. It makes you seem more in demand and makes people want you more!
Sounds silly, but it's true, people want what they can't have! I have customers calling months in advance to book a simple birthday cake after they've been turned down once before! It's OK to say no!

cupcake Posted 30 Apr 2008 , 4:47pm
post #6 of 18

I am with littlecake, at first you don't want to turn down any business. I did the same thing, but I had a retail bakery and the hours were killing me. I did not have children, as mine are all grown, but I was averaging 80-100 hours a week, eventually led me into a health crisis and open heart surgery. I revamped my business after that and now just work by appointment and referrals. I have no problems turning down work, I know what my limitations are and try not to go over that. Sometimes I mess up and end up overlapping my work load, when I do I could just kick myself, fortunately I have people to help me on caterings, but I am still the only decorator. You will get faster and find ways to save yourself some time. Instead of making one batch of icing, make two, bake 2 cakes at a time, pre-load your icing bags, ice all your cakes first, wrap all your boards for your orders, put all your boxes together, make all your colors that you will use and put in sealed tubs, you get the picture I am sure. Anything that you can do ahead will help you in the end. Good Luck.

costumeczar Posted 30 Apr 2008 , 8:39pm
post #7 of 18

The previous posters are right, check your pricing...

You need to decide how much you can do each week, then once you've hit that amount of booked business, say this: "I'm really sorry that I can't help you, but I'm totally booked, and if I took on anything else at this point I wouldn't be able to give your cake the attention it deserves." You might also want to add that you'd like to help them in the future, but since you book up so fast to please call in advance to make sure that you can get them on your schedule. Even if you DON'T usually book up far in advance that will make your cakes look more desirable!

mjcakes Posted 30 Apr 2008 , 8:55pm
post #8 of 18

OMG!!! Same here! I, too, opened recently and for the 1st time I feel some anxiety setting in. As everyone mentioned before, try to do as much as possible before. I make tons of icing at once and wrap boards, etc whenever I have free time, (which is never these days!). I also have a 5 & 1 year old and other moms always ask me how I do it. I just do! DOn't you feel like that visa commercial that once the website is up, orders are flying in quicker than the speed of light! I am considering raising my prices and putting a quote from the Dept. of Ag explaining things. Also, I offer to deliver to avoid too much traffic in my house. While I can write it off, it's killing me!!! Good luck, you can always PM me and we can whimper togerther at 2 am. :>

leah_s Posted 30 Apr 2008 , 9:18pm
post #9 of 18

Give it a little more time and you'll learn to say no. icon_biggrin.gif Actually, throwing a no out every so often is good for business. It trains people to know that you're in high demand (so you must be desirable) and trains them to call earlier. Some days, I'm booked solid - with a nap. OK, that's rare, but it does happen.

Winter1979 Posted 30 Apr 2008 , 11:50pm
post #10 of 18

I appreciate everyones advice - it is great as always. I really did not expect to be getting so many orders right away in the beginning. I expected 2-3 orders a week maximum - HA! Last week I had 5 cakes, this week I had 6 cakes and so far next week I have 12 dozen decorated cookies and 1 cake. I know that I need to give it some time, but like I said - I really did not expect this much so soon. I should probably bite my tongue, I'll probably have a long dry spell if I keep yapping tapedshut.gif

mjcakes - how do you handle your days with the kids? Do you have a set routine or go with the flow? I like to also try and fit in time for exercising, but that's not going so well icon_redface.gif I think I'll have to resort to the acu-staples in my ears and see if that helps with the "bakery fifteen" (I swear starting this has been like putting on the freshman fifteen again). Sorry - off track, just wondering how other SAHM's do it.

Again, thanks to all! You'll all be the first to know if I go off the deep end icon_lol.gif

mjcakes Posted 1 May 2008 , 2:31am
post #11 of 18

Well, I am always feeling guilty about my kids waiting until a cake is done until we go to play. I remind myself that unless I had $ coming in, we wouldn't be able to do the things we want. I'm trying to find that balance these days. My 1 yr. old just started sleeping through the night, so I am adjusted to no sleep. It sucks!!! Just as others mentioned, the best thing you can do is prep ahead of time. I always have at least a triple batch of BC around and I just started freezing cakes, although I tried not to at 1st...quality thing, but no one has complained yet! Most importantly, I try to take the time to stop and hug each of my kids alot, so they get their mommy time. Other than that, I am on my feet for an average of 18 hours a day. I'm at totally at that point where you are, that's why I had to respond and let you know you're not alone. I LOVE this forum, it gives us the insight and ability to have positive people behind us. Who else can you complain to about being "too busy!" : >

Cakenicing4u Posted 1 May 2008 , 5:22am
post #12 of 18

Ladies, where I work, we've been 'in the business' a combined twenty years.. and my boss has had the business herself for four, and I've been there since last fall.. and we are turning cakes away, even after raising prices...

just beware... if you start saying NO, you have to say NO to everyone... and I mean Everyone. Because Someone knows Everyone and will tell! We have four big wedding cakes this weekend, and it's my aun'ts wedding and my boss's daughters' sweet 16 and we have 30 other orders plus our wholesale orders. We HAD to stop!!! And I swear, after we said no to one, she had her sister call, and then her co-worker and her cousin too-- and I dunno, we had to say no to all of them... but it's fishy that we got that many calls at once!

Winter1979 Posted 1 May 2008 , 1:23pm
post #13 of 18

I am going to really focus on this and pay attention to how many orders I have, and not take on too much. My SAHM job comes first and the baking is my part-time job, I have to remember to keep my priorities in order and when my boys are older I will take on more...if I've survived that long icon_smile.gif

After last night I think I definately know that I took on WAY too much this week. I had a little meltdown after the fin fell off of my walleye FBCT, and my husband got an earfull. He has been great the last few nights, helping me with sinkloads of dishes. He is home all day today finally and I know where I'll be...

You'd think after having your husband gone to war the last 4 months of your first pregnancy and the first 10 months of your first childs life...dealing with the stress of him going through 3 surgeries for thyroid cancer, and now dealing with the stress of my 4 year old having a lump on his neck (docter is sure it's not anything, but you just never know) - so now we'll have to have that removed and would think I could handle a few cakes icon_cry.gif And now my sister and mother are fueding and I'm kind of stuck in the middle...

I guess the stress just got to me, we had finally had the bulk of our debt taken care of and then I go and build this kitchen, so here we go again with the bills...I guess I'm feeling a little guilty also. I honestly just want to go on the top of a huge hill and scream like I've never screamed before.

Sorry - I unloaded, anyone here a psychiatrist??? icon_lol.gif

Thanks to all for listening to me vent - it's great to belong to a group like this - I may adopt you all as my second family icon_razz.gif

mjcakes Posted 1 May 2008 , 2:23pm
post #14 of 18

Hang in there! I have days like that, too but you certainly have ALOT to be stressed about!!!!

I am thinking of you and sending you some positive vibes.

indydebi Posted 1 May 2008 , 11:48pm
post #15 of 18

To reiterate what leahs said .... saying no is a GOOD thing. You start the wheels turning with customers on "you have to book early with her! She's in high demand!" which makes people then turn around and think, "Wow, she must be good if she's that busy! I need to get one of HER cakes!"

I belong to a networking orgz. In each meeting, we get to stand and say "I'm looking for referrals who need....." Last week I stood up and said, "If you know someone who needs a cake or a catering in May .... then refer them to someone else because I'm booked solid."

I've turned down over 20 brides for 6-7-08. (Can you imagine if I hadn't learned to say no on THAT date? icon_surprised.gif ). I've sent 3 or 4 people to walmart in the past 2 weeks. In the last month or so, I've referred 3 cakes to a fellow CC'er here in Indy because I was booked. Almost every time, the person said, "well, I guess I'll have to call earlier next time!" icon_biggrin.gif

Saying "no" is pretty much on your Top Ten List of "best forms of advertising". thumbs_up.gif

mjcakes Posted 2 May 2008 , 12:36am
post #16 of 18

Funny thing... I just got a call from a wedding coordinator that I work with who has a bride wanting a fondant squared cake to feed 350 and get this...she wants to spend no more than $500. HAHAHAHA!!! You'd be proud, as I just said NO and I even tried to figure doing some sheet cakes, etc but that would bring it down to less than $1.75 a slice. I wish her good luck!

indydebi Posted 2 May 2008 , 12:51am
post #17 of 18
Originally Posted by mjcakes

Funny thing... I just got a call from a wedding coordinator that I work with who has a bride wanting a fondant squared cake to feed 350 and get this...she wants to spend no more than $500. HAHAHAHA!!! You'd be proud, as I just said NO and I even tried to figure doing some sheet cakes, etc but that would bring it down to less than $1.75 a slice. I wish her good luck!

With all the info out there on pricing, I just have to wonder where in the world these people come up with these numbers? When I get my inquiries from, respond TELLS brides "average price is $3-$5 per serving" yet brides will indicate "200 guests ... budget = $250" WTF? icon_confused.gif

mjcakes Posted 2 May 2008 , 1:05am
post #18 of 18

I know, I am still laughing and I can't wait to talk to the coordinator without the bride there with her. I appreciate her trying to throw me business but....

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