Did I Charge Too Much?

Business By tomsmom245 Updated 16 Jun 2008 , 7:33pm by yayadesigns

tomsmom245 Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 3:15am
post #1 of 31

A lady I know called me last minute for a cake for her daughter's 16th birthday. She called me at 5pm friday and wanted it before 6 on saturday. She wanted a 1/2 sheet. She went to the grocery store bakeries and they wouldn't do anything that didn't involve a kit.

She wanted 1/2 white 1/2 chocolate with black buttercream trimmed in red with a chalk outline of a body on it. (murder mystery party).

I charged $40. I always feel like I overcharge. Did I?

30 replies
karateka Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 3:26am
post #2 of 31

A half sheet feeds 54 people. You didn't even charge $1 per serving. So I don't think you charged enough!

poshcakedesigns Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 3:30am
post #3 of 31

WOW she got a deal. And not to mention being a very last minute order. She was lucky you didn't charge a rush fee.

tomsmom245 Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 3:30am
post #4 of 31

Thanks. I just don't want people to think I am ripping them off. I probably would've charged $35 if I hadn't had to use so much Americolor black in the choco buttercream to get it black.

chutzpah Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 3:38am
post #5 of 31

Well, wait for the onslaught, 'cause all her friends and her friends' friends and their cousins and neighbors are gonna be calling you, wanting übercheap cakes.

That was way to little. Did you even break even on this cake?

Raise the bar for yourself and you raise it for all of us.

lisascakes Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 3:41am
post #6 of 31

I just raised by price to $35.00 for 1/2 sheet cake. I also figure that it feeds up to 48 small pieces. I feel that I'm making enough to cover my cost & a little extra and that is all I want to do. I know I won't get rich off this hobby.

chassidyg Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 3:45am
post #7 of 31

Do you have a picture of the cake? That'd be a fun cake.

chutzpah Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 3:57am
post #8 of 31

Well, as long as you are happy working for free. icon_smile.gif

It's a shame, though, that you're undercutting any and all who are trying to make a living doing this.

lisa78332 Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 4:07am
post #9 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by chutzpah

Well, as long as you are happy working for free. icon_smile.gif

It's a shame, though, that you're undercutting any and all who are trying to make a living doing this.




Please also understand that for some of us, we have to base our prices on the market in our area. $40 for 1/2 sheet in my area is way too much. Everyone would probably through the cake back at me. I currently only charge $25 for 1/2 sheet but since prices are all going up in my town, my prices will be going up too. But only about $5 more.

Kitagrl Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 4:20am
post #10 of 31

Depends on how you want to market yourself. If you want to be the person who competes with bakery prices..."just another bakery".... that is fine, although you will get sick of it eventually....staying up late mixing icing for a $5 profit.

Or you can market yourself as someone who does what the person wants, when they want it....and you get what you pay for. If a person asks the other bakeries and "they won't do it" why should you charge what those "I won't do it" bakeries charge? You WILL do it, and the customer should expect to pay more...you custom bake, and you decorate not-with-a-kit.

I won't even do last minute cakes like that except special circumstances. What with gas prices as they are, its not worth it to make an extra trip gathering more supplies for someone who could not plan ahead more than three days.

Kitagrl Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 4:20am
post #11 of 31

oops

Kitagrl Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 4:20am
post #12 of 31

oops

Chefperl Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 4:20am
post #13 of 31

the bakeries in my 'hood charge $48 for 1/2 sheet cake with some flowers and a happy bday on it.
and that is for a nasty cake. I also charge a $15 rush fee

servingzero Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 4:25am
post #14 of 31

I don't consider someone who is doing it as a hobby as "undercutting" someone who does it as a profession. That is sort of silly. You pay for what you get, and alot of pricing is due to talent and reputation. I would say that $40 for a 1/2 sheet is underpriced. I am also afraid of overpricing things, especially being unprofessional.
This is a place to be honest and supportive of everyone's working talent, not to demean. I mean, I know that people can go to walmart and get a $20 cake, and some people hear my prices and do just that. Do I consider them enemies for undercutting me (or other hobbyist bakers)? No. I know my product is good and looks the part. And guess what, they pay it.

chutzpah Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 4:28am
post #15 of 31

I didn't imply that someone who undercuts is my enemy. And yes, a hobbyist who undercharges for cakes does undercut those who do it for a living.

Bohnlo Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 4:35am
post #16 of 31

I have to admit that I underprice my cakes because I am just starting into the business of charging people and most of my clients are people I work with at my every day job. I don't know the prices they are accustomed to and most ask me to make something before even know what kind of price I will charge. I don't really know how to get out of this since they were all my guinea pigs at the beginning since I had been out of the business for about 8 years. How do you suddenly start charging more when these people talk to each other about your product. They all seem to really like my baking ( no one there apparently knows how to bake anything) especially since they were used to getting it for free. Any advice?????

servingzero Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 4:49am
post #17 of 31

Did you overcharge. No.
Did you undercut? Can't really say for sure, not being in the area.
Did you INTENTIONALLY undercut? Not likely. Thusly, moot point, IMHO. So likey an unneccesary one to be made.

No disrespect intended. Truce.

dandelion56602 Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 4:54am
post #18 of 31

I know this issue had been brought up in the business section: if you do undercut other bakeries in your town, they will be more likely to "turn you in" if you aren't a licensensed business. If you "overcharge" they wouldn't probably b/c you would take fewer clients. But if you start taking clients away people will talk & tempers will flare. Just a heads up.

indydebi Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 3:27pm
post #19 of 31

First, whenever I see the subject line of "Did I charge too much?" "Was this overpriced?", the answer is ALWAYS "Heck no!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

Depends on how you want to market yourself. If you want to be the person who competes with bakery prices..."just another bakery".... that is fine, although you will get sick of it eventually....staying up late mixing icing for a $5 profit.

Or you can market yourself as someone who does what the person wants, when they want it....and you get what you pay for. If a person asks the other bakeries and "they won't do it" why should you charge what those "I won't do it" bakeries charge? You WILL do it, and the customer should expect to pay more...you custom bake, and you decorate not-with-a-kit.




I couldn't agree more. Just for comparison, my what-you-would-call-a-half-sheet (because I refuse to use the term), a 12x18, when cut into standard servings sizes of 2x2x2 pieces, will serve 54. Using round numbers of 50, my price for this cake is $75. For straight buttercream, no filling. And I get it.

And don't tell me it's because I live in a "big city" .... my shop is 3 minutes from a walmart and 2 minutes from a Kroger, so cheap cakes abound all around me. I sell LOTS of cakes to folks who do NOT live in "the big city", so the "my clients are from a rural community" reasoning applies here, too.

If you needed a custom made dress, you wouldn't expect to pay a walmart price for it. Cakes work the same way.

And the comment of "I just dont' want them to think I'm ripping them off" concerns me. If YOU dont' understand and appreciate the value of your customized work that you can't get anywhere else, then how do you expect your clients to understand and appreciate it.

It makes me think that you think anything over fifty bucks for a cake is too expensive. You cannot set your pricing based on what YOU would pay. As I've said before, my husband works at a Cadillac dealership. I would NEVER pay $50,000 for a car, but fortunately for the owner of the dealership, he doens't pay any attention to people like me and he focuses on those who WILL pay $50,000 for a car.

I made the choice between being a Nordstrom's or a Walmart in the cake world. Had a lady in the shop yesterday and she tasted my icing ... she asked if I made a 'whipped' icing. I said, 'YOu mean like Kroger?" She said like Walmart's. I said, with a full blown sneer in my voice: I don't DO walmart cakes.

And I'm making her daughter's birthday cake the end of this month. She's paying close to 4 times the price that she would get at walmart (*IF* she could get this cake at walmart to start with!)

But like I said ..... I don't DO walmart cakes!

lisa78332 Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 5:02pm
post #20 of 31

icon_redface.gif I have to appologize for my earlier comment. icon_redface.gif I did put the wrong price. For a 1/4 sheet w/ filling I charge $25, so for a 1/2 sheet w/filling I charge $50. But like I said, I am going to raise my prices a bit due to higher cost of materials. Going to the grocery store is not a problem because I only live 1/2 block away.
In camparrison to where you all live, is this compatible?

christeena Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 7:58pm
post #21 of 31

This is so my problem with the selling cake thing!! icon_lol.gif I just did this cake for a distant relative who was in charge of a baby shower. I had given her a break on a sheet cake before this so I think she was a bit taken aback when I told her that this cake to feed 30 (Earlene's charts) would cost her $60 and I didn't even charge for the fondant accents and gum paste booties. It is a 10" WASC with BC filling. I always feel like a schmuck charging for a cake that I myself would have trouble spending money on - but then again I drive a 2001 Malibu and not a 2008 Caddy!! icon_rolleyes.gif
LL

Chefperl Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 8:57pm
post #22 of 31

I also feel that I sometimes under charge. Until I bought cakeboss i was way undercharging. As I get orders i see I need to charge more. Since I am new I am honest with my customers, and I let them know that I may need to adjust my price in the future. I just finished a cake for someone, the cake was $400 it took me about $50 to make (that includes the first bacth all in the garbage) and it only took me 2 hours to do so i refunded her $50. She thought that was so honest and because of that i booked her anniversary party and a friends party. I made a cake for someone and i quated only $30 becasue i was doing so many other things for her. I ended up giving her a 12x12 cake because all my other pans where being used. I told her that she got lucky and she told all her friends about me and how honest i was and that the cake I made for her was $70 and they all said... thats it? i would have paid more. So its all working out...
i try to remember that it is an art they are paying for not "just a cake"

JulieB Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 11:36pm
post #23 of 31

I'll do a 9 x 13 for $45, nothing fancy on it, just "something simple", and it goes up from there. If it was an order less than 24 hours in advance, and iffen! I was free, it would be more, 'cuz I would tack on a late charge.

abw2005 Posted 16 Jun 2008 , 5:59pm
post #24 of 31

I personally thing you undercharged. I don't do ANY cakes for less than $1.50/serving, and that's just icing and some basic decoration. Fancier work and fondant are more, and anything above 'normal' decoration, like special figurines, or fondant or gumpaste work I charge for by the hour. I live in a town of about 25k people and what I charge for cake is what I charge. We have a Walmart, and 2 other grocery store bakeries in town, and I still get orders for cakes even though I am higher in price a lot of the time. I've only been decorating since October so I am a newbie, but people still pay for my cakes. This is my 'hobby', and if people don't want to pay for my cakes they can go to Walmart or another place and get them cheaper, I'm ok with that. I refuse to lower my prices just to get orders, I'll only be hurting myself in the end. I bought Cake Boss just awhile ago and I LOVE it, it really helps me stay on track with my pricing!

onceuponacake Posted 16 Jun 2008 , 6:20pm
post #25 of 31

what is "whipped icing" from walmart?

yayadesigns Posted 16 Jun 2008 , 6:42pm
post #26 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by onceuponacake

what is "whipped icing" from walmart?




i have been to some kid's parties where they have had the "whipped icing" cakes and believe me, if you have never tried it, DON'T, because it is the nastiest stuff anyone could have ever come up with to put on a cake!

lutie Posted 16 Jun 2008 , 7:05pm
post #27 of 31

I just called our local Super W*A*L*M*A*R*T and was appalled at the prices they charge for their "frozen-before-they-get-them-&-iced-on-the-premises ". You are definitely undercharging... they are not professionals if they are bringing in pre-made frozen cakes and "slappin' on Crisco buttercream" (not my words, but the WM bakery employee's).

The largest round they make is a 10", which is called their "wedding cake". They have a 10" and a 6" round for their 2 tier wedding cakes, with a minimum of 10 days notice, so they can " 'git it in". They are charging $88.00 for the wedding cakes (2 of them).

The full sheet (which supposedly feeds 85 - 100) is $40.97. She did not know how big it was "'cuz they did not have to measure them to ice them". icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

She told me for 50 people, I would have to order a 1/4 sheet cake and a 1/2 sheet cake ($19.48 and $28.97, respectively for a total of $48.45). It would cost $7.48 more for the 2 cakes than it would for the full sheet.

So, if you compare what you do with fresh ingredients, etc., plus the specialized personalization of each cake you create... you need to really up your price.

The "whipped icing", according to this same source at WalMart is Cool Whip added to the sugar icing they get... it is not as sweet... the buttercream is the "one with the Crisco in it and real sweet"... her words.

Hope this helps.

By the way, I have never considered myself "Politically Correct" (in fact, I am the opposite), but there is a BIG difference between a professional and a hobbyist... and, depending upon their location, they do take away a minute portion of business, but not enough to get upset. A hobbyist is one who does something outside their realm of work for "relaxation". A "hobbyist" should not accept any monies for their "creations".
A professional is one who has years of experience and/or education ... participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs (like "golfer"... who do not get paid until they become a professional) or having a particular profession as a career (soldier, for example... who are way underpaid).

So, either we are in the business or not... simple as that! If you still want to bake cakes, then bake them without charging. If you wish to be an artist and use cakes as your medium, then be an artist! Maybe you would not have to be licensed if you were an artist!.... hmm, think I will change my name to artist! icon_rolleyes.gif Yes, that is it! I am an artist (but I will not be a "starving artist)!!!! icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

yayadesigns Posted 16 Jun 2008 , 7:31pm
post #28 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by onceuponacake

what is "whipped icing" from walmart?




i have been to some kid's parties where they have had the "whipped icing" cakes and believe me, if you have never tried it, DON'T, because it is the nastiest stuff anyone could have ever come up with to put on a cake!

yayadesigns Posted 16 Jun 2008 , 7:31pm
post #29 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by onceuponacake

what is "whipped icing" from walmart?




i have been to some kid's parties where they have had the "whipped icing" cakes and believe me, if you have never tried it, DON'T, because it is the nastiest stuff anyone could have ever come up with to put on a cake!

yayadesigns Posted 16 Jun 2008 , 7:33pm
post #30 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by onceuponacake

what is "whipped icing" from walmart?




i have been to some kid's parties where they have had the "whipped icing" cakes and believe me, if you have never tried it, DON'T, because it is the nastiest stuff anyone could have ever come up with to put on a cake!

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