There's Only One Of Me...sorry Long!

Business By CakeMommyTX Updated 29 May 2008 , 3:52am by CakeMommyTX

CakeMommyTX Posted 28 May 2008 , 10:22pm
post #1 of 15

What to do?
There is only one of me, between the constant phonecalls and emails I am swamped!

I'm not complaing about being busy, I just need help and I don't know what to do.
I do all my office work from home, where I also keep all 3 of my kids so when the phone does ring I have to run and hide (sometimes I lock myself in the closet) so that I can take the call.
Most of the time I let it go to voicemail, then I am left checking and returning phonecalls for hours every day during nap time.
Then when everyone goes to bed I am up for another couple hours returning emails.

When Wed. hits and I have to start preparing for all my weekend orders, I have no time for phonecalls and/or emails so anyone who calls or emails me between Wed and Sunday night gets no response until Monday or Tuesday. I'm too busy making cakes, and the kitchen I rent from charges by the hour so it would actually cost me money to answer my phone.

I'm losing business because I am too busy, when I first started out I was able to give my undivided attention to each and every order, I prided myself in my customer service and my ability to work closely with the customer to give them excatly what they wanted. Now I barely have 2 secs to ask them what flavor they want.

My husband has offered to help return phone calls and emails but that just would'nt work, he has no idea whats in my head (prices, servings sizes, designs etc).

On top of this my doctor has insructed me to "take it easy", I have partial placenta previa and she wants me to stay off of my feetn (with 3 kids thats just not possible, I'm dreading the day she says -bedrest).
So I have that to worry about as well.

I guess what I am wondering is what is a nice way to tell customers I can't take more then a few orders a week, and can I take my phone number off of my website? My phone literally rings all the time!

I would also like to put something on my website that says "if you call me past Wed. you won't hear from me until next Tuesday", but I can't seem to word it without coming across bitchy.
Ok sorry it turned out so long, any advice is greatly appreciated!

14 replies
gottabakenow Posted 28 May 2008 , 10:57pm
post #2 of 15

you could say something like

We are very busy, and phone calls and emails are returned twice a week on __ and __. Please make sure to contact us ahead of time so we have plenty of time to plan your cake for your special day.

HTH

KHalstead Posted 28 May 2008 , 11:08pm
post #3 of 15

I think you should do like cakedeco....said with the return calls on certain days, so that it's expected if you don't get right back to them........also, you should put something on your site that says you are a one woman operation and you take the clients order from the conception to the finale and that you are involved in every step of the design, deco, and delivery, etc. and they are all custom creations and that they need to get their orders in early because you book up fast. What to say when they call and you have enough orders.......I'm sorry ...but I'm booked for that day!! You have to draw the line somewhere (I've learned this the hard way too) and only YOU know where that line is!! Sometimes I'll take orders for 5 cakes due on the same day...other times I'll only take 2 because one happens to be a carved and much more involved cake.......only you know what YOU can do!!! Especially in your condition you need to limit yourself........no cake is worth your child's life!!

summernoelle Posted 28 May 2008 , 11:20pm
post #4 of 15

That's a hard one. First, there is nothing more important than the health of your little baby, so take it as easy as possible! I know it isn't easy with little kids around, but try to rest when you can.
I do the same thing-return calls later because normally someone is screaming in the background and I don't want a client to hear that.
If you are booked up, I would post something on your site and your VM that says when your next available date is. Also, the idea about when you return messages is good. I have on my VM that I only return calls Monday-Friday, sometime between 9 and 6. That way, it gives me a big window and gets me off the hook for the weekend.
So far I have only had one snarky comment ("Oh, when you didn't call me back immediately, I thought you were too busy to do my cake." This was at about 2 when she had called at 10), but most people understand that you are busy. Before I have just told people that I am in the kitchen, and can't return calls right away.
I really hope that helps!

mocakes Posted 28 May 2008 , 11:26pm
post #5 of 15

Oh my gosh, girl! I just took a peek at your photos and NO WONDER you are so busy! Your cakes are awesome! icon_eek.gif

I especially love the one with cake slices cut out! I just wish I had customers that would be willing to PAY for a cake like that!

I agree with KHalstead when she said only YOU know where the line is when it comes to saying no. Please take it easy...

step0nmi Posted 28 May 2008 , 11:26pm
post #6 of 15

what type of email do you have? there is an option to send out an email that let's customers know that you are very busy. You should check into your options on that.

yes, put that on your website...whatever needs be! and delegate a voicemail just for those calls!

As far as phone calls...do you have anyone that you could delegate this too? I mean...if your hubby is willing to help then maybe you could write out a questionnaire...the first question being...what is the date you'd like the cake for? lol

seriously...you need to take care of yourself...I know you may FEEL like you need to do all of these orders...but no about of health is worth the money...please take care of yourself...maybe its time to find another baker that does something you do and pass some orders off to them? it would help!

PLEASE take care of yourself!

michellesArt Posted 28 May 2008 , 11:28pm
post #7 of 15

taking it easy is easy to say and i think using your husband is a great solution to some extent. i could start with making a detailed list (this would take some time to start but i think would be worth it in the end) with price per serving or size, however you work it, flavours of cake and icing hey this could help you pare down a bit too, maybe simplify what you have available to make your ordering easier. anyway, your husband could then with that list answer the phone, return calls and emails and if it's a more complicated question he could say you would get back to them at a designated time. it's a start hope that helps

Solecito Posted 28 May 2008 , 11:28pm
post #8 of 15

"Due to our sales volume we are unable to answer call/e-mails from wed to sun, plase plan ahead so we both have time to talk about the details of your special cake."

Or something like that, and if your md told you to take it easy than do it, your health is more important, remeber you are the manager of a bussines and your household, and we all know a houshold with out a mom quickly goes into cahos. thumbs_up.gif

indydebi Posted 28 May 2008 , 11:37pm
post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Solecito

"Due to our sales volume we are unable to answer call/e-mails from wed to sun, plase plan ahead so we both have time to talk about the details of your special cake."

Or something like that, and if your md told you to take it easy than do it, your health is more important, remeber you are the manager of a bussines and your household, and we all know a houshold with out a mom quickly goes into cahos. thumbs_up.gif




Agree. This is a very common practice in corporate offices. I would frequently use my VM as a tool: "I'll be in a meeting from 1:00 to 3:30 so will unavailable to take your call. I will return all messages tomorrow morning, or you may hit zero-pound to be connected with another representative...." This alerted the caller of my schedule and he/she would not be sitting around for 5 hours waiting for me to call them back.

I have a preformatted email that I send out to all new inquiries. It's in a Word document and I just cut-n-paste it to the email I send to the bride who is asking for my preliminary info. I also have a preformatted email that I send after samplings. With minor modifications to personalize the email, I can receive an inquiry and have an email with about 12 attachments of (preformatted) information back out to them inside of 5 minutes.

If you are sending the same info over and over, you might consider writing the email once .... copying it when it's needed ..... then it's just a few seconds to modify it for the specific situation.

I've seen the suggestion a number of times .... if you're that busy, raise your prices. You could be making the same money with less work.

I also prefer to do my correspondence via email. If you find it easier to sit at the computer when the kids are in bed, then think about a voicemail message that suggests ".....you may leave a message and we will return your call on Monday, or send us an email at xxxxx.com with your date, type of cake ... wedding, birthday, etc ..... number of guests expected."

jewelykaye Posted 29 May 2008 , 12:12am
post #10 of 15

I agree with all the above posts. If you set the expectation in your voice mail or on your website of the fact that you only return calls on such and such days, I don't think the customer will be mad.

Also, it is okay to tell a customer you are booked for the week. It's even better if you refer them to someone. The lady I rent from does this. When she is booked she refers the client to me and I pay her a 10% referral fee. Easy money for her and more business for me. Plus the customer appreciates that you were able to provide them with someone else as opposed to just saying no.


Hope that helps!

indydebi Posted 29 May 2008 , 12:28am
post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by jewelykaye

It's even better if you refer them to someone.




Great suggestion! I have a good relationship with a CC'er whose shop is pretty close to mine and I send my overflows to her a lot. My customers are surprised and thrilled that I'm able to help them ... even tho' it's the other CC'er who is doing the REAL help to them! thumbs_up.gif (And she does a fabulous job!)

jewelykaye Posted 29 May 2008 , 12:38am
post #12 of 15

Holy cow!!! Indydebi said I had a great suggestion!

Lol...It's as if Duff were to be impressed by one of my cakes... icon_smile.gif

peacockplace Posted 29 May 2008 , 1:15am
post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by yourstrulytx

What to do?
There is only one of me, between the constant phonecalls and emails I am swamped!

I'm not complaing about being busy, I just need help and I don't know what to do.
I do all my office work from home, where I also keep all 3 of my kids so when the phone does ring I have to run and hide (sometimes I lock myself in the closet) so that I can take the call.
Most of the time I let it go to voicemail, then I am left checking and returning phonecalls for hours every day during nap time.
Then when everyone goes to bed I am up for another couple hours returning emails.





Uummm..... I think we are living the same life! I have three boys and I am constantly trying to do a balancing act. I really do prefer email to phone calls. You can't hear my two year old screaming in the background of an email! icon_lol.gif

When I was pregnant with my third I had to take a break for a few months. Hy DH imposed the break after I got sick 7 times trying to finish a cake. I cried all the way through it, but I had to finish it because they were counting on me. I was too caught up in making people happy to take care of myself. I'm glad he made me quit for a while. You have to take care of yourself and your baby first. I lost some business during my break, but mostly everyone came rushing back after my baby break was over.

Best wishes to you!

drowsyrn Posted 29 May 2008 , 2:28am
post #14 of 15

I agree with everyone's suggestions. You can set your limits politely with the customers. I had a wedding cake call today for two weeks from now. Five months ago I would have taken the order. Not now! I very nicely called her back and said I was sorry but that weekend is already booked. I still am shocked at the time frame people leave for themselves! But, that is another story.

I always leave on my VM that their call is important and will be returned by the end of the next business day. I also state my next available date. That way, they usually hang up if they need it before then and that is a phone call I do not have to return even if it is to say I am booked for that day. All that is very time consuming. And...I won't be tempted to take the order if I know I am already swamped!!

Good luck!

CakeMommyTX Posted 29 May 2008 , 3:52am
post #15 of 15

Thank you for all your advice. I think I will change my vm , I've been wanting to but I have'nt been able to get around to it.
I will also put something on my website about when I return calls.
I'm due in Sept so I planned on working until July and taking August through Jan off.
Last season the holidays where very slow for me so I don't think I will miss out on too much business then.
I have already cut down a bit on orders but I'm working slower now so 3 cakes still take me just as long as 5 or 6 did before I was pregnant.
It will all work out, I'm actually kind of dissapointed right when everything starts to take off, and I'm finally getting wedding cake orders I have to cut back.
I have been telling some of my regular customers that I am expecting and therefore limiting my orders and they are really understanding. I even had one change the date of her party by 6 weeks so I could make the cake before I pop.
I like the idea of a list of questions for my husband to ask customers, its actually not a bad idea for myself, I've been so scatterbrained lately. I took an order and right as I'm setting up to bake I realized I never asked what flavors they wanted, I had to call at 10pm to find out.
Thank you all, and I will take it easy I did'nt schedule any cakes for next weekend so I think I will be sleeping in and hanging around the house in my pjs. My dr would be proud!

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