If Piggly Wiggly Makes Money On A $16 Sheet Cake....

Business By vickster Updated 24 May 2008 , 7:10pm by vickster

vickster Posted 24 May 2008 , 2:57am
post #1 of 17

Sheet cakes get a good bit of dissing on this discussion board. So, I'd like to share this with newbies like me. I've been full time for 3 months now. May has been my best month so far, and I'll finish the month with over $1500 in gross sales. At least half of that has been sheet cakes. Graduations, birthdays, retirement, you name it. I charge $40 (sometimes a little more if fancy) for a 12x16. It costs me $8-10 in ingredients, takes me maybe 15 minutes to bake (since I'm usually doing several) and rarely an hour to decorate. So, I'm grossing about $25/hr on these cakes. When customers double them up (16x24) I do even better because though the price is double ($80) it usually only takes about half again as long to decorate the double size cake. Plus, customers are just not that picky on these cakes. You just have to do a nice job, you don't have to nit pick. I am getting a trickle of wedding cakes, which of course are much higher priced. But I find that I spend way more time on the wedding cakes fussing over all the details and really don't come out much better off. Plus, one more cool thing about sheet cakes, even though I've been in business only three months, I've already had several repeat customers on the sheet cake. Can't say that for wedding cakes. There's a good chance many of those customers won't be back. I can understand that there are folks that just don't like doing sheet cakes, but that doesn't mean they're bad business. Or low class. Actually, they can be pretty fun. Several customers have just ordered over the phone and said, "do something golf, or do something baseball, or something with fishing", and I get to have fun. So far they've all been really happy with what I came up with. At first it made me nervous, but last Saturday a lady picked up a cake for a kid's birthday. She had a van full of rambunctious ten year olds bouncing off the windows. Ran in, grabbed her cake, said it looked great, and took off. So, I'm figuring out, these are mostly going to be really flexible, easy to please customers.

16 replies
kakedecorator Posted 24 May 2008 , 3:05am
post #2 of 17

That's great. And you do great cakes too.

indydebi Posted 24 May 2008 , 3:07am
post #3 of 17

sounds like you found a great niche market for you! thumbs_up.gif

Quick question, though .... I"m confused on the 15 minutes to bake a 12x18. Even if you have 4 in the oven for an hour, it's still an hour to bake each cake, not an hour divided by 4. Can you clear up my confusion, please? icon_confused.gif

jeffer01 Posted 24 May 2008 , 3:09am
post #4 of 17

I think you make a very valid point, thank you! I like to do sheet cakes myself and I don't find them low class at all, but I agree that some people do. Not really sure why that is, but my friends and family find them easier to serve large groups.
thumbs_up.gif I wish you continued success, keep up the great work!

littlecake Posted 24 May 2008 , 3:15am
post #5 of 17

i love sheet cakes...i did over 20 today, i make really good money on them, and they are so much less stress....i got about the same amount tomorrow...plus you get crazy repeat business....i got them down to a science...i can do most of them in under 15 minutes...and they are so cute, i put pearl spray, and glitter dust on them....do drawings,graffiti etc.

i know 90% of the people here would rather make 1 big cake than 10 small ones....not me!

i do wedding cakes too...but i do this for a living...and wedding cakes just don't pay the bills for me.

i got about 15 cake themes that i can do on "auto pilot"...i prolly need to take some time and think up some new ones.

they've been liking the leopard , and animal prints i airbrush on them...then some funky hot pink letters...glitter dust...good to go!

leily Posted 24 May 2008 , 3:16am
post #6 of 17

I do think you have good points in there.

I am also wondering though how you bake 12x18 sheet cakes in 15 mins? I am guessing you have commercial equipment so you can have more pans in the oven?

I am one that you mentioned that does not like to do sheet cakes. It isn't that I personally find them "low class" it is that I worked in a chain bakery and that was ALL we could do and I did a lot in my time there. They just are not fun anymore. I charge the same amount for a sheet cake as I do any other shape (I charge per serving) so I usually offer something different to the customer and they are fine with it. However I am finding that Squares are quickly becoming my best sellers because of ease of cutting. (same concept as the sheet cake, no thinking... just cut)

Can I make one suggestion when you post though? Can you add in some returns and make paragraphs, your post was a little hard to follow and I actually exited out w/o reading it all the way through the first time... but of course couldn't stay away.

jlh Posted 24 May 2008 , 3:32am
post #7 of 17

Congrats on your booming business. I totally agree.

FromScratch Posted 24 May 2008 , 3:38am
post #8 of 17

I don't like sheet cakes either, but I would never knock someone for doing them. Then I don't have to. icon_lol.gif It sounds like you found a great market for your work and that is awesome! I hope that you continue to do great business.

gscout73 Posted 24 May 2008 , 3:44am
post #9 of 17

icon_confused.gif I'm also confused over the time thing. I've made many sheetcakes. And while the decorating time reduces over time for repeated designs, the baking time is still the same. Is this an example of that "new math" that was talked about years ago? lol

Or maybe you use a convection oven?

mcelromi1 Posted 24 May 2008 , 3:53am
post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

sounds like you found a great niche market for you! thumbs_up.gif

Quick question, though .... I"m confused on the 15 minutes to bake a 12x18. Even if you have 4 in the oven for an hour, it's still an hour to bake each cake, not an hour divided by 4. Can you clear up my confusion, please? icon_confused.gif





I think she means that she can bake four cakes at a time. If it takes one hour to cook four cakes, it averages out to 15 minutes a cake.=4 cutomers
as opposed to cooking them one at a time which would take a total of four hours.
Whereas you may have to bake 3 cakes to build one specialty cake.=1 cutomer.
(that's how I interpreted it)

I love doing sheet cakes!

BCJean Posted 24 May 2008 , 4:02am
post #11 of 17

vickster

I so share your view on sheet cakes. I love fast paced work and seeing the happy faces of my customers all day. Coming up with ideas for the cake is the fun part and seeing it come to life on the cake is your reward.

Give me 20 sheet cakes a day over 1 wedding cake any time.

I truly don't care if I am never on the food network. I have made hundreds of people happy with their birthday cakes and I had a blast doing them.

chutzpah Posted 24 May 2008 , 5:49am
post #12 of 17

I have a lot of repeat business from wedding cakes. There have been so many times when a couple has come for info and said... we were att XX's wedding and they got their cake from you, or they had the cake and want a b-day cake.

My wedding cakes have segued into christening cakes, naming ceremonies, cakes for bris milah, birthdays, going away cakes, quitting work cakes, cakes just because....

Mike1394 Posted 24 May 2008 , 8:02am
post #13 of 17

Cakes is cakes. It doesn't matter round, flat, stacked, or tiered. If your making $$$$ all the better for ya.

Yes on the baking time. It doesn't matter if your doing one, or hundred. The time for baking doesn't split per cake. Now you can avg. the cost of gas per cake, but to do that for every time you bake, you'll go nuts.

Mike

indydebi Posted 24 May 2008 , 11:29am
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcelromi1

Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

sounds like you found a great niche market for you! thumbs_up.gif

Quick question, though .... I"m confused on the 15 minutes to bake a 12x18. Even if you have 4 in the oven for an hour, it's still an hour to bake each cake, not an hour divided by 4. Can you clear up my confusion, please? icon_confused.gif




I think she means that she can bake four cakes at a time. If it takes one hour to cook four cakes, it averages out to 15 minutes a cake.=4 cutomers
as opposed to cooking them one at a time which would take a total of four hours.
Whereas you may have to bake 3 cakes to build one specialty cake.=1 cutomer.
(that's how I interpreted it)

I love doing sheet cakes!




I kinda thought that was the logic, but to me it's not logical. If four people are in the car for the one hour drive, it still takes you 1 hour to get there. I pay my staff door to door (they dont' clock out just because we climbed in our car(s) to get to the wedding). No way I'd be able to tell them "Well 4 of you in the car for one hour, so you're all getting paid for 15 minutes." icon_confused.gif

If someone walks into the shop and orders a cake, you can't tell them you will have it baked in 15 minutes ... it still takes one hour to bake the cake.

One foot in a bucket of ice water and one foot in a bucket of boiling water does not make you "comfortable" on the average. some things just can't be averaged and still be logical.

vickster Posted 24 May 2008 , 3:26pm
post #15 of 17

What I meant by 15 minutes to bake was the time it takes me to get pans ready, mix and get in the oven. While my cakes are baking, I am usually decorating another cake, washing dishes, stuff like that (or since our apartment is above the bakery, throwing in a load of laundry). Therefore I don't "charge" baking time to that job. In my mind it would be like someone who lays tile "charging" for the time the grout is setting. My long term goal is to net $20 to $25 per hour for my labor. That's after all expenses. But that also includes multitasking, such as decorating one cake while the other is in the oven.

indydebi Posted 24 May 2008 , 3:34pm
post #16 of 17

Oh, thanks for explaining! So it's not actually "baking" time, but more like prep time. I see what you're saying now.

But when I'm figuring my costs, it doesn't matter if my staff is washing dishes or cleaning up while the cake is baking. Those functions are part of the basic overhead and SOMEBODY is paying for that. Me and/or my employee is not working for free, just because they are doing something else while the cake is baking.

Even if there was nothing else for me/them to do while it was baking, we/they would still be on the clock because we HAVE to stay there and watch the cake while it's baking. Can't close the shop and leave the oven on while we go out to lunch or something.

It's called business overhead and it's as much a part of your expense as flour and eggs.

vickster Posted 24 May 2008 , 7:10pm
post #17 of 17

oh, yes. Deb, I agree. I have a bit of an advantage in that I can slip next door and get some things done in the old homestead while I'm waiting for cakes to bake or frosting to crust over. Mostly I try to use that time to get other cake things done. Like working on the book keeping, cleaning the restroom, taking out trash, tweaking the website. You really want to try to minimize "sitting around" time as much as possible.

Before he started nursing school, my husband was a contractor. One of the keys to being profitable on a job was to NEVER let his crew sit around. There was always a plan B or plan C for when a lumber delivery didn't show up or the electrician was behind, or whoever else was screwing up. And a lot of those guys would jump on any excuse to plop down on their butt.

In my previous life as a psychological examiner, we always allowed about 20% time added. Meaning, if you did 45 to 50 minutes of actual face to face, that billed as an hour to allow for your paper work, filing time, billing time, that sort of thing. I do the same with my cakes. You can't just count the actual time of decorating. There's also the washing up, the mixing the BC, yaking with the customer. All that has to be figured in.

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