1St: Don't Understand Some People, 2Nd: Help, Need Advice!

Business By JenWhitlock Updated 11 Jun 2008 , 6:55pm by JenWhitlock

JenWhitlock Posted 9 May 2008 , 3:14pm
post #1 of 27

ok so I just moved and inquired at my new church about using the kitchen for baking. the lady was so sweet and like 'OMG your cakes are great!' she then send out a email to all the ladies in the church group with info on my cakes. woohoo I got over three orders!
one them has me a bit stumped.

a lady inquires about doing a graduation cake and what are my prices...
I tell her $4/serving so $240 for 60 (plus a 10% church discount). well she emails back with an order, yeah! and we starting going back and forth about cake details. she says she wants a "sheet cake so people can serve themselves"

I don't really want to start doing "sheet" cakes so I send her sketches of a 3-tiered cake, and small top tier with mini cakes on a stand below and a rectangular cake with a small cake stacked on top with details...
keeping in mind that I just have a flat fee that I will do just about anything for (except elaborate gumpaste flowers)
she picks the "sheet" cake???
I don't get it, first of all, I don't think it's as cute, and second if she wants easy serving I offered to do mini cakes (all for the same price)
icon_confused.gif
also, I offered tons of different cake flavors and fillings, and she picks white with buttercream???
icon_confused.gif

ok. so now I'm starting to feel guilty.
the cake isn't a standard "sheet" cake. it will be a rectangular TBD 3 or 4" torted and filled cake. covered in fondant with gumpaste decorations.
but $4/serving is pretty steep for a standard sheet cake - she hasn't asked for a discount (although she was appreciative of the 'church' discount)
but if it's going to be something like that I feel like I should lower the price (then again I don't want to set a precident, my business isn't based on 'sheet' cakes)

HELP!?!
what should I do.
LL
LL
LL

26 replies
ccr03 Posted 9 May 2008 , 3:21pm
post #2 of 27

Funny, a lady hear at work had a VERY similar situation this morning. Our vendor quote her a price, she sent out the quote to the customer and when the customer ordred it the vendor said the original price was not right.

1. In my coworker's case, it's a preferred customer that she hooks up all the time, so I told her to leave as is. I recommend you do the same. If she doesn't have a problem with the price, let it. And if I read correctly, it's not a standard sheet cake - it's fondant w/gumpaste design, and that definitely warrants the price you gave.

2. Sheet cakes, without doubt, are easier to cut - point blank. It's much less messy and easier to handle than a tiered cake. She probably wants a no-fuss cake and for the most part sheet cakes are just that.

Tellis12 Posted 9 May 2008 , 3:26pm
post #3 of 27

I totally understand where you're coming from! I was talking to a customer about a graduation cake and all she wanted was sheet cakes, even though I told her it would all be the same price and tried to encourage a tiered cake!

As for the white cake with bc, some people just really like those two flavors. My aunt always picks those -it's just something she loves.

Besides, the cake she picked isn't "just" a sheet cake. It's much better looking, and that might be one of the reasons she particularly wanted it!

step0nmi Posted 9 May 2008 , 3:31pm
post #4 of 27

Even though you are giving them a church discount you need to be up front with what you are wanting to accomplish with the cake AND the price. If you are doing something AGAINST what the customer ordered you may not get a good response from them! Communication is the key here and it seems like you have lost it. You need to email, or better yet call, her and let her know exactly what's going on. Or else you are going to have a BIG communication mess!

Sheet cakes ARE easier. Unless you are going to be attending the event and helping them cut things...let them have the sheet cake...or a few squared cakes...but don't stack them. People don't know how to take them apart! It's true...I did an event once and because my stacked cake was so beautiful they ended up cutting the sheet cake into 1/2 inch by 1 inch slices...this cake a 2 layer cake!!! They had paid for the whole sha-bang but...they didn't want to cut the beautiful cake...you have to remember that customers are more fussy than you think and you can't just go about doing what U would want and ignoring the customer...there has to be a compromise!

*Communication* icon_biggrin.gif

CeeTee Posted 9 May 2008 , 3:36pm
post #5 of 27

You are making this cake for her, not for you. If she wants a white/vanilla sheet cake, then by gosh make her the best one she'll ever have! From what you describe, she's not a "Wal-Mart" shopper. She wants a quality cake. So if she's not balking at the price and thinks $4 a serving is worth it, then don't feel like you have to go lower. Cake still costs the same to make wether it's one tier or three.

Tiered does not instantly mean "Better". Instead of trying to force your customer into something she doesn't want just so you feel more confident, bring yourself up to the challenge of changing her (and your) perception on sheet cakes. icon_smile.gif

Tomoore Posted 9 May 2008 , 3:37pm
post #6 of 27

I sometimes feel guilty also when spmeone orders a more simple cake and end up paying more for it...however, I feel like it balances out when you have a tougher cake that takes longer to do. I hope that makes sense.

aswartzw Posted 9 May 2008 , 3:39pm
post #7 of 27

I know that you don't want to do a sheet cake but that's what she wants and regardless of her reasons (or lack of them) she's the one paying. So why make such a big deal out of it? She's cool with the price so just do it and make it easier on everyone.

Edited to add.... Have you thought about doing a cupcake cake? It would give you something different but still the sheet cake, easy serving that she wants.

tonedna Posted 9 May 2008 , 3:46pm
post #8 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by aswartzw

I know that you don't want to do a sheet cake but that's what she wants and regardless of her reasons (or lack of them) she's the one paying. So why make such a big deal out of it? She's cool with the price so just do it and make it easier on everyone.

Edited to add.... Have you thought about doing a cupcake cake? It would give you something different but still the sheet cake, easy serving that she wants.





I agree...Why would you get frustrated if they are paying you more for a cake that takes less time..And this is coming from a person that hates sheet cakes.. icon_redface.gif
Edna icon_biggrin.gif

JenWhitlock Posted 9 May 2008 , 4:03pm
post #9 of 27

thank you all!
so much great advise so quickly.

I will certainly do whatever she wants.
I offered up different options just to inspire her (and I did send a photo of mini cakes/cupcakes) I'm going to work on the design of the flat cake more and that's what I'll make.

my issue is more with my own confidence (or lack there of) of my pricing. I know what I need to charge, but it's still seems like a lot for this cheap mom icon_lol.gificon_redface.gif

I want her to feel like she's getting her money's worth.

side issue...
any advise for making a large rectangle cake look cool?

thanks again!

CeeTee Posted 9 May 2008 , 4:46pm
post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by JenWhitlock

my issue is more with my own confidence (or lack there of) of my pricing. I know what I need to charge, but it's still seems like a lot for this cheap mom icon_lol.gificon_redface.gif

I want her to feel like she's getting her money's worth.




She's ordering a custom cake for $260 with fondant and gumpaste decorations...what part of that makes her "cheap"? icon_confused.gif

A cake only looks cheap if you make it look cheap. The shape of it has nothing to do with quality. thumbs_up.gif

Quote:
Quote:

side issue...
any advise for making a large rectangle cake look cool?

thanks again!




Lots! Tho I'm at work and have no way to scan any sketches *LOL*

JenWhitlock Posted 9 May 2008 , 4:49pm
post #11 of 27

CeeTee
oops icon_redface.gif I meant that I'M THE CHEAP MOM LOL!

CeeTee Posted 9 May 2008 , 4:53pm
post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by JenWhitlock

CeeTee
oops icon_redface.gif I meant that I'M THE CHEAP MOM LOL!




Ohhh!! *LOL*

Nooo! You are not cheap!! You are awesome! Chin up!! icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif

step0nmi Posted 9 May 2008 , 4:54pm
post #13 of 27

I think I am a little confused...

does the customer know that she is getting fondant with gumpaste decorations for $4 a serving?

does she know it's still $4 a serving for the sheet cake?

maybe when she said sheet cake she thought it would go down in price?

I just want to be sure...maybe you need to check with her!

JenWhitlock Posted 9 May 2008 , 5:07pm
post #14 of 27

step0nmi,
I have a flat price of $4 serving. (for whatever you want)

the customer contacted me and I quoted $4/serv.
then she came back and started discussing design options.
she through out some design ideas like...
I'd like the Purdue colors, and maybe the Purdue tower, and a sheet cake because it would be easy to serve. I just sent her three sketches plus photos of other grad cakes. (see the orginal post for sketches). and I mentioned my thoughts about the type of design and the pros and cons of various options.
(all working under the original price quote.)
she came back and said she liked the last design - the rectangle with the 'P' on it.

I just know that people often charge less for this so I had some concerns...
she hasn't mentioned anything about a price reduction, but I want to be fair.

maryjsgirl Posted 9 May 2008 , 6:46pm
post #15 of 27

I loved your ideas for her graduation cakes! You did a great job and put a lot of thought into them.

I am kind of having an issue with the steep price on the sheet cake truthfully. Maybe its because I am also cheap. I don't know, but I just wouldn't feel right charging the same for an extravagant cake and a sheet cake with a P on it you know?

That being said I also have a question about your pricing and your website. I think you are going to run into problems charging by the serving and then having your cake sizes listed with sometimes up to six different serving amounts. But, I am assuming you are going by the serving with the greatest amount.

For example....
Say I want to purchase from you an 11x15" sheet cake. According to your site it can range anywhere from 35 servings up to 60 servings. So I could be paying as little as $140 up to $240 for the same cake.

step0nmi Posted 9 May 2008 , 7:02pm
post #16 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by maryjsgirl

I loved your ideas for her graduation cakes! You did a great job and put a lot of thought into them.

I am kind of having an issue with the steep price on the sheet cake truthfully. Maybe its because I am also cheap. I don't know, but I just wouldn't feel right charging the same for an extravagant cake and a sheet cake with a P on it you know?

That being said I also have a question about your pricing and your website. I think you are going to run into problems charging by the serving and then having your cake sizes listed with sometimes up to six different serving amounts. But, I am assuming you are going by the serving with the greatest amount.

For example....
Say I want to purchase from you an 11x15" sheet cake. According to your site it can range anywhere from 35 servings up to 60 servings. So I could be paying as little as $140 up to $240 for the same cake.




yes, I am thinking this too...so, if we are thinking this then SHE is probably thinking this...you may want to consider redoing your pricing.

I saw your designs...they are very nice! you are a great designer...but I could see where she would just want the sheet cake with just a "p" on it...they looked a little complicated and people are not use to that. As a designer we kind of have to shift things around to their liking.

I understand your frustrations...I really think you should just call her and tell her what you are thinking...that way she knows you are honest and you want to do what's write for her.

JenWhitlock Posted 9 May 2008 , 7:12pm
post #17 of 27

maryjsgirl,
I don't have info on my pricing on my website, because I'm still in the process of being licensed (long story).
when I quote a price, I'm specific about which serving size list that I use and what size piece that is. (the others are for reference).

as for the cake, I had another idea.
I was thinking of doing a 3" cake (two torted filling layers) and adding a fourth layer over the "P" to give it some more dimension...

even though it is a type of 'sheet' cake and the going rate is less, it is still going to take me a long time to do all the gumpaste and fondant work (especially for the tower) and it's going to take a lot of little fondant 'daisies' to decorate it, so I'm leaning towards sticking with my price.

since the lady is going off my photos only, and it is an expensive cake, I have offered her a couple mini sample cakes to try a couple things so that she will be as happy as possible.
LL

JenWhitlock Posted 9 May 2008 , 7:21pm
post #18 of 27

step0mni,
you are right too.
I will likely call her tomorrow (when she's off work).
I am doing my best to figure this whole thing out.
she has asked for a cake that serves 55-60, and I'm charging her based on the 55 number even though the cake will serve 60 and I'm not counting anything above the 3" base cake.

I firmly believe in qualilty of service and making the best cake for the customers wants. but I just really don't want to get into an ala cart pricing system. as a consumer, that just one of my pet pieves. 'oh you want a berry filling, well that's additional, oh and you want fondant flowers well those are extra' (I went to a bakery like that and it just irked me)
also, I want to do big complex fancy things. that's where I want my biz to go. there is already a lady who bakes simple yummy cakes intown. so I'm concerned about creating a separate 'sheet' cake schedule for my pricing.

CeeTee Posted 9 May 2008 , 7:25pm
post #19 of 27

I LOVE that new design! It's really eye-catching!

And I'm glad to see that you're feeling more comfortable about the price you quoted. You're right, the gumpaste/fondant decorations will be expensive and time consuming, and just because they aren't going on a tiered cake doesn't mean that will magically be easier or cheaper to do, or that the price of the eggs, butter, and flour will go down because it's going to be a rectangle rather than a circle or square.

johnson6ofus Posted 9 May 2008 , 7:41pm
post #20 of 27

How about throwing in some cookies? Maybe as a token "thanks for the order" gift would be nice. You still make the money, and she feels like she got something "extra". You could say, " I allowed myself X number of hours for you, and had some time leftover and thought you would enjoy these." Then it is a sample of other things you can do, and relieves any "guilt" you may have on the pricing. Cookies "keep" longer and can be enjoyed at home later, or for the graduate himself.

BUT, I agree--- stick with the pricing quoted. I just wanted to throw another thought out there.

New to the neighborhood is always an opportunity to showcase your talent and options!

FromScratch Posted 11 May 2008 , 2:50am
post #21 of 27

First off.. that cake.. for $4/serving is cheap. You are not doing a "sheet cake".. you are doing a rectangle base cake with a lot of custom work. I agree with the other regarding your serving ranges.. just put the one that you base your prices off on there. People will come to you with questions about why if a cake serves a range.. that you price for the larger number. The less info you give the better. If you are going to charge the same amount no matter what.. it doesn't make sense to have the range. icon_smile.gif

You should have no guilt about your pricing though.. The way I approach pricing is this.. my base price for buttercream is $4/serving.. this will get you pretty much any decoration (unless it's REALLY intricate piping). Base fondant price is $5/serving because you are getting buttercream and fondant on your cake. I don't upcharge for certain fillings or flavors of cakes.. I price them so that I make enough for the more expensive combinations and if they order just plain white with BC.. well I make more. Gumpaste and fondant decorations like bows and flowers and figures are extra. It takes a long time and effort.. you should get compensated for that. Not charging extra for your gumpaste work is taking a lot away from your profits.. since you are spending HOURS on these items you are making less per hour than you would for a cake that was plain.. that shouldn't be the case.

Don't sell a rectangle cake for less than you would any other shaped cake. icon_smile.gif

indydebi Posted 11 May 2008 , 3:16am
post #22 of 27

If she's willing to pay your price, then there's nothing wrong with your price.

If you want to add some zip to her cake, is it possible to do the sheet cake with a small (small) display cake on the side, like the top tier of your sketch with the tower? This ends up being just a single cake (easy to cut) but can still add something extra to her cake. I think your drawing is very creative!!

suzylynn58 Posted 12 May 2008 , 12:59pm
post #23 of 27

I agree, that is definitely not "just a sheet cake". Your designs are awesome and I LOVE the 3D P in the last design. If you don't mind, I want to borrow that idea one day.

Susan

JenWhitlock Posted 10 Jun 2008 , 12:40am
post #24 of 27

just to let you know I finished my Purdue "sheet" cake
wow it was a lot of work, but it came out good and the lady loved it so much that she paid me more than I asked! (i.e. I offered her my standard 10% church discount and she paid me full price!)
thank you for all your advice!
...one more verdebra in my backbone...

it's in my photos:
http://www.cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=gallery&file=displayimage&pid=1230303

wgoat5 Posted 10 Jun 2008 , 3:35am
post #25 of 27

Jen I just wanna say that cake is awesome!!! And I think your pricing for it was great... you did a BUNCH of custom work.. never second guess your pricing (Ohhh how I should take my own advice icon_rolleyes.gif )

maryjsgirl Posted 11 Jun 2008 , 2:46pm
post #26 of 27

You did an awesome job! I am so happy for you that you have people willing to pay for what you are worth! I am only a few hours away and of the five people that have inquired all five have thought my price of $2 a serving for a wedding cake was way too high. icon_cry.gif

BTW...I was looking at your website again and noticed you accidentally left out the "n" in meringues. I love your decorated cookies!

JenWhitlock Posted 11 Jun 2008 , 6:55pm
post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by maryjsgirl

You did an awesome job! I am so happy for you that you have people willing to pay for what you are worth! I am only a few hours away and of the five people that have inquired all five have thought my price of $2 a serving for a wedding cake was way too high. icon_cry.gif



$2/serving is TOO LOW! but I understand your problem.
honestly, that's why I pushed my hubby to live in Zionsville... I knew it would be better for my future biz...

Quote:
Originally Posted by maryjsgirl


BTW...I was looking at your website again and noticed you accidentally left out the "n" in meringues. I love your decorated cookies!



icon_redface.gif oops, thanks!!! icon_redface.gif
hopefully I caught most of them icon_rolleyes.gif

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