How Far Out Do You Book?

Business By acookieobsession Updated 6 Jul 2008 , 2:07am by FromScratch

acookieobsession Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 11:02am
post #1 of 28

Ok, i know I asked how long in advance you gaurantee prices.....but now I need to know how far out I should reasonable book a cake.

I have a bride wanting a tasting for a wedding in June of 2010! icon_eek.gif Am I jsut new to weddings and this is normal or is this too far in advance.

Now how in the heck can I garantee a price for 2 years away? And how do I know what I will be doing then....

Crap why can't they jsut stau on a 6-9 month schedule.

27 replies
MikeRowesHunny Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 11:36am
post #2 of 28

I would ask her to call you in 16-18 months time as you could not give her an accurate price that far in advance. I would think any reasonable person could understand the reasons for this! So much can change in 2 years.

leah_s Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 11:42am
post #3 of 28

I've stopped guaranteeing prices for events more than 1 year in the future.

robinscakes Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 11:45am
post #4 of 28

I'd certainly put her on my calendar, but as far as price goes, I'd only give her an estimate and explain that the price will probably go up in 2 years. My flour prices have gone up 4 times in one year, so I'm sure your going to run into the same thing. I also think that she's probably excited to be recently engaged and wants to get going on planning her wedding, not realizing that she has more than sufficient time to find her cake.

Classycakes Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 11:51am
post #5 of 28

I've been finding the same thing - brides are looking to book so far in advance. It still seems very strange to me too but I'm taking the booking because I figured if they are interested enough in my cakes to want to book that early, then I should return their interest by accepting it.

My 2009 bookings I've been quoting at today's prices - I don't think supplies will go up that much in the next year.

For 2010 bookings, I've given them the estimate of what it would cost now and I've told them that I cannot guarantee that price two years in advance. I tell them that I will guarantee that their base price will not go up any more than $50 max. If my prices go beyond that in 2010, they will still only have to pay the $50 extra. I figure that gives me a little tickle room but it still gives them some reassurance that their price won't go sky high. $50 is a fairly comfortable number for me - it might be different for another decorator.

My policy right now is to ask for a deposit to confirm their booking. For 2010 brides, I also give them the option that their deposit is refundable up until the end of 2009. As of January 1, 2010, their deposit is no longer refundable. Two years is a long time and if they break up or change their plans, then they have the comfort of knowing they can get their deposit back.

Good luck!

Bev

snarkybaker Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 12:57pm
post #6 of 28

I only book one year in advance. I used to book further out, but those are the weddings that have a tendency not to happen, and that gets to be a whole different problem.

I just booked a wedding cake for 200 for NEXT WEEKEND, hows that for cutting it close ?

mgdqueen Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 1:12pm
post #7 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by txkat

I only book one year in advance. I used to book further out, but those are the weddings that have a tendency not to happen, and that gets to be a whole different problem.

I just booked a wedding cake for 200 for NEXT WEEKEND, hows that for cutting it close ?




yikes-hope you charged double! thumbs_up.gif

acookieobsession Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 1:27pm
post #8 of 28

Wow those are some great ideas. I think I will tell here this....

1. You can book your date with a 50% deposit using today's rate.
2. Your deposit will be refundable until Jun 1 2009. After that non-refundable.
3. Your price will be finalized on Jun 1 , 2009 based on the rates for 2010.
Does this sound reasonable?

Thanks for your help!

Julia

loriemoms Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 1:34pm
post #9 of 28

I think a lot of brides are booking so early so they can get today's prices. (I swear there must have been an article somewhere, because all of a sudden brides are doing this) For 2010, I am getting a lot of brides who are just feeling out prices right now to get their budget together. Or like you said, just excited.

indydebi Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 1:46pm
post #10 of 28

To be honest, if I get a lead (from decidio, respond, eventective, etc) that is for 2010, I just delete it. I'm not even interested in talking to someone that far in advance. I think brides may have to book some facilities that early or maybe some photographers that early. These are the vendors that pretty much can only book one event per day, so if you're not first, you're out. But I can book more than one cake/catering per day, so it's crazy to try to "book" 2 years in advance for a cake.

Unless you're Duff or Sylvia ... which I ain't! icon_biggrin.gif

SweetConfectionsChef Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 1:57pm
post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by acookieobsession

Wow those are some great ideas. I think I will tell here this....

1. You can book your date with a 50% deposit using today's rate.
2. Your deposit will be refundable until Jun 1 2009. After that non-refundable.
3. Your price will be finalized on Jun 1 , 2009 based on the rates for 2010.
Does this sound reasonable?

Thanks for your help!

Julia




There are a few problems I see with your plan! icon_sad.gif Sorry! But I really want to point these out to you knowing you have planned wedding shows coming up! icon_wink.gif
1. 50% deposit of today's rate? How does anyone (or why would anyone) sign a contract when the price isn't set in stone? The entire reason for the contract is so the bride gets a secure price/design and you get a solid date with all of the payments in writing.
2.Why would you ever refund any deposit? The deposit is taken to secure their date....you might have turned away 6 brides because that ONE gave you a deposit. So if you let her cancel and give her back $$...what if you can't rebook the date because you've told so many you were booked? NO cancel mama...they lose what they've paid if they do! In all honesty that is a risk they take booking a wedding so far out! tapedshut.gif
3. Refer to #1. When you buy something today...you pay today. If you are giving them a contract and a payment plan then it is off what you charge at that time.

IMO....I never take orders more than a year out. Too many problems could arise on both ends. thumbs_up.gif

indydebi Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 2:07pm
post #12 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetConfectionsChef

How does anyone (or why would anyone) sign a contract when the price isn't set in stone?




Actually, there is a major caterer in town that says, flat out, on their website what their terms are:
- To get on their calendar, $1000 deposit, non refundable under any circumstances.
- Final price will be confirmed 6 months prior to the event.

So if you book with this guy 18 months ahead of time, you are going to hand over $1000 that you will never see again, regardless. AND ... you have no idea how much your food is going to cost for another year.

It must work for them because they are one of the biggest caterers in town. I should DREAM to be as big and successful as they are!

drowsyrn Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 4:35pm
post #13 of 28

I wouldn't even consider taking an order over one year out. Like others have said, too many things can happen on both sides.

SweetConfectionsChef Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 7:13pm
post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetConfectionsChef

How does anyone (or why would anyone) sign a contract when the price isn't set in stone?



Actually, there is a major caterer in town that says, flat out, on their website what their terms are:
- To get on their calendar, $1000 deposit, non refundable under any circumstances.
- Final price will be confirmed 6 months prior to the event.

So if you book with this guy 18 months ahead of time, you are going to hand over $1000 that you will never see again, regardless. AND ... you have no idea how much your food is going to cost for another year.

It must work for them because they are one of the biggest caterers in town. I should DREAM to be as big and successful as they are!




Wow! icon_surprised.gif That is crazy! As a consumer I wouldn't even think of using their services. I would never sign a contract not knowing what I am responsible for! As a business owner I would never expect anyone to do something I wouldn't do myself!

indydebi Posted 4 Jul 2008 , 8:29pm
post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetConfectionsChef

Wow! icon_surprised.gif That is crazy! As a consumer I wouldn't even think of using their services. I would never sign a contract not knowing what I am responsible for! As a business owner I would never expect anyone to do something I wouldn't do myself!




I so agree! First, I could never afford these guys (one bride showed me her quote .... it came out to over $100/person for food, linens and staffing). Second, I'm not contracting with someone and not know what my price is going to be.

leah_s Posted 5 Jul 2008 , 11:27am
post #16 of 28

My deposit policy is simple. "Deposits are non-refundable." I don't care if the wedding is cancelled or anything else. You tie up my calendar, I count on that income, I at least keep the deposit.

AllCakedOut Posted 5 Jul 2008 , 2:22pm
post #17 of 28

I'll take bookings for whenever.. at today's prices.
Even if my prices are more expensive in 2010 (or whenever the wedding date is..), I'll suck it up.

To me, I see a marketing value in being able to say that I have people booking X far out. Some dates get booked solid over a year in advance. It's not a bad thing!

acookieobsession Posted 5 Jul 2008 , 2:45pm
post #18 of 28

I emailed her back and told her that I book 18mos out. If she wanted to book ahead of that time It would take the deposit at 2008 prices, and give her a final price at 18 mos. with a 20% cap. I think either leahs or SweetConf said if your prices of ingredients affect the cost so that you would lose that much money you need to rework your costs. So I figured if i go up 20% in 18 mos I have something wrong in my pricing.

I will wait and see what she says...I just hate to tell people no if I can try to be accommodating.

Thank you so much for all the insight. i love that I can get different viewpoints from people with all levels of experience.

Julia

Lenette Posted 5 Jul 2008 , 2:52pm
post #19 of 28

Great topic! I was so excited to book my first 2009 cake recently and this thread brings up a lot of good points. Luckily, this wedding a in the first part of the year so I think I will be okay.

On another point of refunding deposits- don't do it! I am adopting Leah's policy. I had someone who contacted me like 9 months ago about a cake then recently cancelled stating that the wedding isn't going to take place. I only asked for $50 down so I told her I would refund it. Stupid on my part, especially when I am beginning to think she is lying to me about the wedding being off.

Oh well, we live learn and no longer refund deposits!

icon_cool.gif

FromScratch Posted 5 Jul 2008 , 2:56pm
post #20 of 28

A marketing strategy that loses you money isn't a very good one if you ask me. I will not book more than 1 year out because I can't guarantee that productions costs will remain the same for 3 months right now.. nevermind more than a year.

AllCakedOut Posted 5 Jul 2008 , 3:03pm
post #21 of 28

*shrug* I'm comfortable with my pricing structure, and can't see having to raise prices by more than $0.25/serv in the next year. Our costs are coming down as our efficiency/buying power goes up.

When you run the numbers, eating that $0.25/serving that *may* be lost *if* I decide to raise prices.. it's still incredibly cheap marketing in the long run!

Doug Posted 5 Jul 2008 , 3:06pm
post #22 of 28

might a marketing strategy be????......

preplan how much will raise prices.

example -- I advise the HS newspaper.

we sell ads (self supporting - no $ from school)

we already were selling ads for next year this past May.

we told customers that it would be 10% increase in price beginning Sept. 1

but for loyalty (which you can do w/ newspapers) -- renew by June 30 and get this year's price.

which in essence means the repeaters are always a year behind on the price increase.

now -- take that money and do NOT spend it.

Bank it in interest bearing account.

Works the same for long range deposits on cakes.

---

yes you can book for next year.

my prices then will be x higher than now (use historical and current market trends to project) can express this as a % or as a $ amount.

(i bet IndyDebi has an spreadsheet set up that could do that kind of trend analysis and projection!)

if you want to lock in TODAY's price -- then payment in FULL NOW with part (whatever your standard amount or %) being designated as nonrefundable

then take that full payment and let it sit in an interest bearing account until needed.

no, it might not make as much interest as the prices actually go up, but it will make enough that you are not loosing your shirt.

and if they don't want to pay in full now...

well -- deposit and they pay at the planned price for the time of the wedding.

-K8memphis Posted 5 Jul 2008 , 4:38pm
post #23 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by drowsyrn

I wouldn't even consider taking an order over one year out. Like others have said, too many things can happen on both sides.




And the date just patiently sits in your head like a little pea under your pillow at night.

icon_eek.gif

Doug Posted 5 Jul 2008 , 4:55pm
post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by k8memphis

And the date just patiently sits in your head like a little pea under your pillow at night.

icon_eek.gif




and it's a pea under 20 mattresses to be a real princess!

-K8memphis Posted 5 Jul 2008 , 4:58pm
post #25 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug

Quote:
Originally Posted by k8memphis

And the date just patiently sits in your head like a little pea under your pillow at night.

icon_eek.gif



and it's a pea under 20 mattresses to be a real princess!




Now you know the rest of the story...I'm not!!! icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

-K8memphis Posted 5 Jul 2008 , 4:59pm
post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug

might a marketing strategy be????......

preplan how much will raise prices.

example -- I advise the HS newspaper.

we sell ads (self supporting - no $ from school)

we already were selling ads for next year this past May.

we told customers that it would be 10% increase in price beginning Sept. 1

but for loyalty (which you can do w/ newspapers) -- renew by June 30 and get this year's price.

which in essence means the repeaters are always a year behind on the price increase.

now -- take that money and do NOT spend it.

Bank it in interest bearing account.

Works the same for long range deposits on cakes.

---

yes you can book for next year.

my prices then will be x higher than now (use historical and current market trends to project) can express this as a % or as a $ amount.

(i bet IndyDebi has an spreadsheet set up that could do that kind of trend analysis and projection!)

if you want to lock in TODAY's price -- then payment in FULL NOW with part (whatever your standard amount or %) being designated as nonrefundable

then take that full payment and let it sit in an interest bearing account until needed.

no, it might not make as much interest as the prices actually go up, but it will make enough that you are not loosing your shirt.

and if they don't want to pay in full now...

well -- deposit and they pay at the planned price for the time of the wedding.




Whadda your teach, man, rocket science?

Good call though for sure!!!

Doug Posted 5 Jul 2008 , 5:08pm
post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by k8memphis

Whadda your teach, man, rocket science?

Good call though for sure!!!




Theatre (remember that HOUSE part -- tickets and program ads to pay the production side!)

Journalism (Ad sales to cover editorial)

English (well, we can't all be perfect!)

you can't have the arts or the news without a lot of bean counting financial stuff -- necessary drudgery that enables

CREATIVITY!

FromScratch Posted 6 Jul 2008 , 2:07am
post #28 of 28

I have no problem taking a small save the date retainer (like $50) if they really want to book, but I am not going to promise a price on cake until the date it closer. So if you want to book your June 2011 wedding right now.. awesome.. but don't expect me to quote you a price for your cake at the 2008 prices.. ain't happening. If you decide at a later date that you don't want me to do your cake I have no issue.. no refunds though.

I personally haven't run into many really advanced planners. I have a wedding booked for May 2009 (possibly 2) but that's less than a year. I honestly don't know how you can expect to know exactly how much cake you'll need that far out anyway.

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