How does one forgive oneself?
I think I may have made an error in taking a new customer's order for her daughter's 1st Birthday last week. First birthdays are a big deal. The cake was going to be so cute in pinks and greens and very girly. I was excited about doing it and excited about creating joy for the family and friends and was all set to create the decorations and bake the cake for NEXT Monday.
I am trying to recollect the phone conversation between me and the little girl's mom when I wrote up the order. Whether it was my error or hers - the bottom line is - I had written on the order that the cake was to be picked up on June 2nd - BUT THE BIRTHDAY PARTY WAS for today - Memorial Day. The little girl's dad came in to get the cake and there was NO cake ready for pick-up. I do not make cakes ahead, they are all made fresh and custom baked - but this may have caused me to give that "food for thought" for the future - keep something in reserve. I hope there never is a "next time." I don't enjoy having something like this happen.
The mom was very, very upset when her husband called to let her know we were a week late on the order. I called her myself to apologize for the confusion and told her I had the order for next Monday, June 2nd. I can understand her being upset. I would have been upset too. But she wanted me to whip up a cake in time for the party. There simply was no way to have a cake ready - baked, cooled and decorated in 2 hours time. I apologized over and over and offered to pay them whatever it cost to buy another "ready made" cake. I felt that was all I could do at that point. But needless to say I feel AWFUL. "I am so sorry" just doesn't seem to make anything OK. I just don't know why I wrote June 2nd on the order if she said for May 26th? She said she told me it was for Memorial Day. Perhaps I looked on the calendar and wrote the wrong day. I just don't know - but I feel so totally low right now.
But I realize I have to forgive myself and not totally beat myself up for this error. I have to think about all of the things I have done correctly and right!
I also have to stop and think about how I have been "burning the candle" at both ends and never allowing myself a day off from my business. That can begin to take a toll on a person both physically and mentally.
If anyone else reads this and has any suggestions on how I could have handled this any better and has suggestions on how to let go and forgive yourself for a mistake made - I welcome them. Thanks!
Soo sorry to hear this happened. I had this happen in past bakeries I worked in and it is not fun to be the one to have taken the order.. or the one to deal with the customer.
Once I have a conversation with my customer I type of a Quote. I email it to them and they are to review it and send a signed copy back with a minimimum of 50% of their total price. I also do by order only and request 2 week notice.... if it is shorter than that it really usually takes 2-3 days since I am using email to get the quote to them.
My quote has delivery date/time/location (in your case pick-up time) Line items of what they ordered, Cake flavor, icing, colors, design, filling, etc.... Once they sign it and send it back to me I file it and put it in my calender.
THANK YOU so much for your suggestions here. I do that very thing with ALL of my wedding cake orders - I have a signed contract, etc. - but have not done that with the specialty cakes - but this will change my method of taking these orders from now on! I appreciate so much you taking the time to reply.
I just wanted to say I'm so sorry this happened to you - how awful! I think offering to buy her a cake was a very thoughtful gesture, and I can't really think of anything else you could have done. Chin up!!
I can see how this happened....... Memorial Day is usually around the END of the month...... the 30th or 31st....... traditionally celebrated on the next Monday, which by looking at the calandar would have been June 2nd........ They have changed the celebration day to the LAST Monday in May, no matter what the date happens to be..... this year it is the 26th of May........
As you can imagine, Memorial Day is a big deal over here in Indy 500 town .... and everyone is talking about how it's a week early and throwing off everyone's schedule.
I also email all paperwork to the customer and I tell them, "Be sure that what I've written down is what you're expecting." But like you, I rarely do that with non-wedding cakes (I dont' do many non-wedding cakes). Your story motivates me to be consistent and do this for all of them.
First of all, I'm so sorry this happened to you. <<<<HUGS>>>> BUT, you can't keep beating yourself up over it. You are a human being - not a walking-talking computerized robot/android type creature that has a 2 billion gigabyte memory.
Because you care so deeply about what happened, you can be approximately 99.9% sure that it won't ever happen to you and/or any of your customers/clients again. You'll check and double-check. There's nothing wrong with that. You're conscientious. One thing you could do is get their email addresses, and/or their cell phone numbers, and set it up so that your computer automatically sends a message verifying/clarifying the date/time. If it's wrong, fix it.
You admitted that you are tired; you need a rest. Human beings make mistakes, especially when they are tired, but remember, you're still not sure who made this one. However, the customer may not always be right, but in this case.... It was a hard lesson to learn, but learn you did.
You need some "me" time. Take a day off, go to the spa, get a back rub/massage, get a facial, get a manicure/pedicure, or just kick back and watch TV. Maybe a movie is more your style, or go to the beach, buy yourself some jewelry, etc. Do ALL of these! Spend all day on CC with friends who will support you. Call a friend you haven't talked with in a while, go shopping, catch up on all the news in each others' lives. (DO NOT MENTION THIS INCIDENT AT ALL!!!!! IT'S DONE; OVER!!!!!!!!)
Guess what - you're not the only one this has happened to and unfortunately you won't be the last. And, while I can remember what cake my children had on their first birthday, they could care less as long as they keep getting them. It's over. Tomorrow is a whole new day; make the best of it, and don't look back. HTH
Friends in CC,
Guess what - you're not the only one this has happened to and unfortunately you won't be the last.
I meant to share this story with my last post.....
Had a wedding a couple of years ago in which the florist wrote the date wrong on her calendar. Bride calls the florist, who just HAPPENS to be in the shop, on her way to the lake to get on the boat with her family for the day!!! Florist called it "a wedding vendor's worst nightmare!" My person at the wedding sent bridesmaids to the local grocery to get all the calla's they had (I was surprised they had calla's at a grocery store florist dept!). In the meantime, the florist was driving to the wedding and making flowers in the car as she drove!
See? You're not the only one. It happens.
Ladymike - You have just made me feel so much better! You have let me know it is OK to be human and make mistakes!
I do feel things happen to teach us something and I feel I have learned from this one! I also realize that my customer needs a reality check too - this was just CAKE - not some life threatening, disaster... and she needs to get past this as well! Oh my - isn't life interesting!
I REALLY do appreciate all the support here and your suggestions will be well taken! Again - THANKS!
Glad I could help. Now, take a deep breath, stand up straight, put your shoulders back with confidence, and put a great big smile on that face my dear.
Friends in CC,
If the order is several weeks out, I will call the client right before I start the cake process just to go over the details one more time just to have my head on straight! So far I have managed to avoid disaster with this policy and the client appreciates that I care enough to pay such attention to the details of their order. Great PR and in this fast paced society we live in, people love that feeling of being special enough to verbalize the order!
I always follow up with an email, detailing everything. Something about having it in writing and having a paper trail really will help. I just always ask for their email address, and then say that I am going to send them the details to make sure it is right.
I'm so sorry this happened!
Everyone is right you can't beat yourself up over this. I had the same thing happen to me for a little boy's birthday. The mother tried to blame me but I was lucky and had a note from her in her hand writing with the date she wanted it and she had written the wrong date. But she swore that I had changed it. I just ignored her because I knew the truth. No matter what happened it's over hold your head up and go forth and BAKE!!!! PS what part of nc are you in?
It happens to all of us. I once had 400 school teachers show up for a happy hour they thought they had booked (when in fact, they were not contracted and they only had been mailed menus). Don't beat yourself up. This is a weird May-usually Mem. Day is the last weekend in May, and it's not this year, so maybe that messed you up? Whatever, what's done is done. Go have a glass of wine.
Thank you SO much everyone for sharing with me and for the support!
I tried to call the woman back again yesterday to offer to send her a check for whatever cake she was able to buy. I got her voice mail and she hasn't returned my phone call. After wracking my brain I finally remembered our initial phone conversation when she was placing the order. Keep in mind - her little girl was screaming in the background as we spoke - and when I asked her when she needed the cake - she said "I will pick it up on the Monday following Memorial Day weekend - whatever that date is." I remember looking on the calendar and seeing June 2nd as the Monday that would follow Memorial Day weekend. She never actually said "I need the cake for May 26th - she did not give me a specific calendar date - just "The Monday following Memorial Day WEEKEND" - she never said -" I need if FOR MEMORIAL DAY." SO - it was her fault AND MY FAULT for not asking for a specific number date! Boy have I learned on this one! I am going to be so freakin' careful from now on.
Snowy - I am in Charlotte, NC - Where in NC are you?
Now you can definitely stop beating yourself up over this one - the Monday following Memorial Day weekend is definitely June 2nd.
Vicki, here's a story that hopefully will make you laugh. Ever had an obnoxious boss? Well when I was in college I worked for a woman who was the female version of Michael Scott on "The Office". Anyway, her son was getting married and she told the happy couple she wanted to take care of the cake as one of their gifts. She wanted to use this big baker in Tampa, Alessi's, (this was 1988 not sure if it's still the big one) and went and ordered their cake. Well, she invites the whole office crew and we all get to the reception and lo and behold no cake. (We had heard about this cake for months!) Well turned out Judy had given them the week after as the wedding date. They ran to Publix and cleaned them out of cakes-these included cakes with "Happy Birthday" written on them, etc. The happy couple were mortified but we all just thought it was the funniest thing in the world.
This is definitely HILARIOUS - (not to the woman I am sure!) But this could be a great scene in a movie! Thanks so much for sharing and help me to start the day off with a big smile!
OH Vicki, I'm sorry this happened to you! I think you've done more than enough to try to make it right, whether they call you back or not.
BTW, I'm in the Charlotte area, too! Concord, actually.. just 5 miles from the wonderful speedway! (gotta love Bruton Smith - NOT!) HA!
That's like one of my worst nightmares, I so feel for you! I live behind a church and when an unknown car pulls up in the parking lot at a strange time of day, I get nervous wondering if I forgot somebody!
Anyway I always confirm pickup dates/times the week of the pickup, no matter how many times we've been over details before. Usually during the weekend I look at my cake orders for the coming week and send them all an email confirming pickup.
I don't do contracts for party cakes either, and don't really see the need, as long as something is written down somewhere to document the order. Most parents don't want to go through the hassle of signing something for a 20 serving birthday cake. But just call your customer, maybe the week before?...esp if its been awhile since the order...and confirm date and pickup time.
I have started baking and freezing though...not far ahead, only a few days mostly, no longer than a week...the cakes are moist and taste fresh and that way I have everything ready to go when decorating days come around.