You had an order due for Saturday, (doesn't matter if it's b-day, wedding, shower, etc.) and something came up that was unavoidable; ie funeral, very sick friend or relative, etc...
I did have this happen once (family member gravely ill out of town), and I asked my Wilton instructor to take the order. She did, and she is still my primary referral to customers when I can't take an order. Networking is invaluable to people like us who work solo!
can you give us the type of cake (not birthday ect) but more like the design, or tiers or how adamant the customer is on design?
being part of a cake community is very important for times likes these! I became part of a local group, then my state ICES chapter. So if something comes up, I have a network of "cake friends" that can come to my aid!
This practically happened to me once ... and it was my sister's funeral!
I was at Sis #2's house and we were on the phone with the funeral home, trying to schedule everything. It was going to be a close call on getting the announcement in the paper for a Friday funeral ... or we'd have to put it off for a Saturday funeral. I said, "This is SO tacky, but I have a wedding on Saturday, so Friday will work better for me."
We managed to have it on Friday. But I had the cake done ahead of time and my crew was on standby to do the wedding without me. (it was a small one ... cake and appetizers only... thank goodness).
My second year of doing cakes, this happened to me. I had been having problems with fibroids and the morning I had to deliver a wedding cake, I woke up at 5 am and told my husband I needed to go to the emergency room. He said, "let's go" and I said I had to wait till after 10 am because that was the earliest I could deliver the wedding cake. I felt fine so we delivered the cake at 10 am and then drove to the hospital and parked in the regular lot, walked all the way in, registered and they took me in fast and examined me and did tests and here I had lost over half the blood in my body. I was deemed "critical" and couldn't believe I was able to do what I did. They asked me if I was tired. I told them, "It's August.....I do wedding cakes every weekend and also work at home as a medical transcriptionist full time.....I'm ALWAYS tired!" hehehe My husband was not happy about me going to set up the cake but I told him I would not want to be a bride and not have my cake. Luckily, it was the floating tiers cake stand and all I had to do was drive it there and sit it on the stand.
I push myself - I have my own full time business, do cakes, teach a 26-week certificate course in cake decorating and as of next month will be attending college full time for an accounting degree.....oh and I'm also one of two planning my 30-year class reunion for almost 400 graduates.....but I get bored if I'm not busy.
I did like kelleym and asked the one and only friend who I'd trust to do a cake for me. She gladly obliged. I was doing the cake for free but I decided to pay my friend myself because it was rather short notice and I actually bought the main ingredients for her, just so it was less of a hassle. I'm glad I have one person I can turn to, otherwise I'd just explain what my circumstances were, hoping the client would understand.
I guess what I am wondering if this is happenning to you and you don't have anyone who can help you. Maybe you can change the design from for example do fondant instead of buttercream. So that you can deliver to the family earlier than normal. And if you call them maybe they would be ok with more of a plain elegant look, add some ribbon on bottom edges if you need color for them and then be done. This could all be done tonight could it not? I would be so torn as what to do, but your family comes first right?
What do you think you should do? Follow your gut/heart.
Maybe you can change the design from for example do fondant instead of buttercream. So that you can deliver to the family earlier than normal.
I guess it depends on what you're used to. If the design got changed from BC to fondant, I'd need an extra week to git-r-dun! (When I have to, I can ice/decorate a 3-4 tier in about 4 hours). You dont' have to deliver BC at the last minute .... a fully decorated BC wedding cake sits on my counter for a couple of days before it's delivered, so delivering it at 10:00 a.m. or at 4:00 p.m. doesn't make a difference. (Delivering it Friday night or Saturday morning doesn't make a difference either ... it can sit on their table as easy as it can sit on mine.)
But all kidding aside, you have raised a very serious question that we all need to consider .... having a cake-buddy for a back-up, because you just never know.
I have not had to do that but I had some one call me and ask me on Wednesday evening to do a 4 tier wedding cake for Saturday. Lucky for her I didn't not have any orders that weekend and it all worked out. I am hoping she will repay the favor need be.
This is a fear of mine also, I do have one friend who can decorate well that I could call for back, but I wonder what if she can't, I worry myself sick about ruining someones special day.
Oh I dread this! The closest cake person I know lives 2 1/2 hours away from me. So I'd have to either cancel altogether or hope they'd be gracious enough to know, life does throw us unavoidable curve balls at times. Period.
You do your best, be honest and forth coming as possible and give it to God.
Just my opinion of course.
I don't have anyone at the moment and luckily it has not happened yet. However I do have my best friend (like a sister to me) that I am "training" at the moment. She always offers to help, it's not something she'd ever really do, but she would like to be able to do her kids' cakes or a few for family here and there. She will never buy all the equipment so she just comes here, which is fine by me. I have 3 cakes this weekend and she needs one for a family baby shower. So I told her to come on over and I will talk her through it while I am working on my own cakes. She is not a perfectionist at it like I (almost) am, but she is coming along fine.
She made a whole bunch of fondant buttons the other day for her cake and will be back tomorrow to make the rest of it. I did make baby booties for her 'cause I needed a break from what I was doing to clear my head - otherwise I would have had her do them since I have the cutters. But I can't wait to see her progress!
In return she gets my into her gym for classes a few times a week (she's an instructor) so I don't mind her using my stuff while she is here.
Irish - you are CRAZY! But I can see myself doing the same thing.
Debi - I need to be more like you and not save things to the last minute, this summer weather has been making me so nervous to do stuff ahead of time and have it be too hot - and I have AC!!
I would probably work all night on it to get it done and be glad I had something to keep me busy and I would be able to find some friend somewhere to set it up or deliver it for me. Although I'm sure that someone would really understand if it were a death in the family and you just couldn't physically do it. I think I would call around to bakeries to see what I could get done as a replacement. It would be tough around here 'cause I don't really know of any place in the area that does fondant. I'd be on the phone to jkalman or someone else here on CC that I could find that is remotely close to me begging them for help!! LOL!
(Okay, sorry for the rambling - can you tell I just got back from the gym and I am WIRED???)
I know a lot of decorators in my area with a range skills and busy levels. I would totally call on them if I needed to. we've talked about it before and they wknow they can call on me too.
Well I don't really know anyone who does cakes in my area.....closest person is like 60 miles away. And I am not in this situation yet; but the lady whose cake I am doing this weekend is a real b**** and asked my friend if I was dependable. Kind of pissed me off that she would ask me to do the cake on short notice and then say that. But it got me thinking, what if I did have something come up that was unavoidable. Ya all have some great replies and I appreciate them!!!!
Thank you bunches!!
I don't know that I'll actually start selling cakes, but one idea occurred to me: there are several cake supply stores in this area, and I'm sure they know of a LOT of decorators.
I have it stated on my contract that in event of unavoidable personal illness or tragedy resulting in my inability to provide a cake, they receive a full refund, and that is the limit of my liability.
I am also careful to inform my clients that I am a one woman show. I will do my best to find them an alternate decorator, but cannot absolutely guarantee that I'll be able to find one.
I figure as long as they know ahead of time, they understand and agree when they sign the contract. I'd feel horrible if I had to bail on someone's wedding. But you only have one mother or father, and if they die....
Plus, I could always drop dead. Some things are unavoidable, and I know most people understand that. As long as they don't get the double whammy (no cake and no refund)....
I apologize in advance for the length...
This happened to me two weeks ago. My husband was out of town and my son had stopped by to get some clothes, he lives with his girlfriend. It was about 6:30PM. I had walked out to the car with a client to put the cake in her car. I had six more cakes to do over the next 3 days, 5 birthdays and one baby shower. I turned to walk in the house as she backed out of my driveway. It had rained that day and the driveway was wet.
I opened the door, stepped on the plastic mat by the door and slipped...my left foot shot out from under me. I felt/heard a big pop in the back of my left thigh and kinda went into the splits but fell backward onto my butt. I was lying on the floor clutching my leg having tunnel vision...seeing stars. And my leg was on fire inside. I lay there crying for a few minutes and then remembered my son was there, on the other side of the house. I tried to sit up and couldn't, it hurt so much. I started yelling for my son and he finally heard me. He asked me if I could straighten my leg and it really hurt to try. He asked me if I wanted him to call an ambulance and I said I wanted to try to get up and put weight on it. I was an ER nurse for a long time, and I am a terrible patient. My son helped me sit up and then scoot to a stool. I couldn't sit, but I could put weight on my leg, so I decided nothing was broken.
We hobbled me to the phone and I called my MD's answering service. My Dr called me right back and we talked about how and where and what...all that stuff. He called a pain med and muscle relaxant prescription in for me that my son would go get and told me to go to bed with ice packs for 24-48 hours, or longer. I had an appt with the MD on the following Tuesday for labs, but I would be examined for this injury then if needed. My son helped me into bed and got ice packs and left for the drug store. Then I remembered the cakes orders.
When my son got back, he gathered all my cake orders and I started calling people. I felt so bad about it all. They were all so nice...long time clients. Two of them volunteered to come take care of me if I needed help. One of them is a radiologist who volunteered her ICU RN husband to come take care of me that night if I needed. I was embarrassed by how nice they all were. They all said "Don't worry a single minute about the cake. We'll manage. You take care of yourself and call us if you need anything."
I ended up being in bed for almost a week (first with ice, then with heat) except for that MD appt, because I had torn the muscle in the back of my thigh. Nothing broken except my pride and a blood vessel or two. I was purple/black from butt to knee.
I don't know what I would have done if it had been a wedding cake order I had to cancel. It makes my blood pressure go up just thinking about a situation like that. My wedding cake contract states that if catastrophe happens to me they get a full refund. I know no one close by who could have helped me by taking over those orders for me. In 20 years of decorating cakes, the only other time I ever had to cancel a cake was when my father-in-law died. I believe that people will rise to your expectations, a crisis almost always brings out the very best in them.