that they are crazy if they want you to make a cake with 3 days notice??
So far i've only made cake for friends and family, but i'm starting the process to go on business in the fall. My neighbors know that so they are starting to ask me to make cakes for them. I'm now saying no since i'm not ready to do it as a business because i want to get licenced/inspected etc first. But i've noticed that they usually ask me with a couple of days in advance...they are going to know that i'm not that busy in the beggining to tell them that i'm already booked. How can i tell them to order with more time in advance without turning business down or sound presumptious?
Start letting them know, NOW, you require x number of days for a cake order.
Just tell them w/ everything you have going on it would help if you had a few more days notice.
You can also tell them that you're not licensed & don't feel comfortable taking orders yet, but thank you....... I'm sure they'll insist, so you can also thank them again and let them know that maybe next time they can give you about a week's notice (or however much you require).. so you can gather supplies, cake boards, etc... as you don't have anything in stock as of yet. HOWEVER... if I were you, I'd take the order to get some practice! Just charge them a lower price. If they're friends/neighbors, I believe it's okay to bake for them, even if they pay you (I'm probably wrong, but it's probably safe to bake for them & then you can get some feedback!) good luck with it!
This is definately something you just have to be firm about right from the very beginning.
My friends & family know that I need at least a week's notice...and they know this because I have told them (often many times in the very beginning!). You might think that you are being mean, but once people know your "rules", it gets way easier. Good Luck!
It's amazing how some people don't know what it takes. ou are just going to have to tell them, and yusually family is good at spreading the word, because, if you are like me, a lot of ppl go through them. If they know, they will say, "Oh, you really need to get in touch with her a couple of weeks ahead of time, so let her know sooner rather than later." Word will get around, and then when you start up, put it on your menu, brochure, website, whatever.
My "thing" about turning-away potential business though, is that you are turning-away other potential business which would stem from the initial order. Even now, if I receive a request only days in advance, I provide them my limitations & I try to make it work. There are times when I cannot, however with a 3 day notice & no other orders - maybe run to the store & make it work. All the guests at the party are going to want cake from you too.... so maybe start your business now instead of this Fall? I'm not trying to be pushy!! I just get a feeling that you're nervous, and if that's the only thing holding you back - don't let it! When I do the short-orders, I always tell the people that I'm normally booked-out 3 months in advance, and it's rare when I can take an order with less than a 2 week notice (especially during wedding season!)... but I just wanted to play devil's-advocate a bit. I do respect your decision if you cannot do it =) It's busy/hectic/stressful at times, but I hope you enjoy starting-up!!
You have to set your own perameters... I, personally, don't have a problem with a three day notice... but again, that's just me. I figure that if I have 3 days notice, then I'm still ahead of the game...
It is very important though to make sure your customers know what YOUR guidelines are for ordering cakes. If you don't start letting them know now... whenever you do open up your own business you will be struggling... and it can also hurt your reputation in your town... Word of mouth is your biggest advertisement.
How about something along the lines of..."I'm sorry but I have plans already and won't be able to make this cake for you. If I had known last week (or whenever you decide) I would have been happy to help you. That way they know to give you more notice. You said only that you had plans... not a cake. You could have plans to take a long bubble bath for all they know!
here is my dilemma:
on one side: i REALLY want to start on the right path and be licenced/insured/inspected BEFORE my first paid order. That is just me, i would be up all night if i take money and don;t pay taxes on it etc. So, i need time to get my paperwork done etc. But since my neighbors know this, they are starting asking me to do cakes now.
Also, i want to build a reputation of cakes bake from scratch, custom cakes, accents etc...so i don;t want people to think that they can get a cake within 3 days since i know that because of the scratch baking/attention to detail and lack of experience i will need the extra time.
On the other side: i have no customers yet, so i'm in no position to turn people away...specially in the beginning.
Is it ok to maybe take some of the shor time notice orders once i'm ready, but to tell them that due to the time constraints i will only be able to do a kind of basic design???
I laugh out loud and say, "Do you know how many DAYS it takes to make a cake like that? You don't REALLY think it's just 30 minutes baking time, do you?" (Keep laughing so they feel like a real butt!)
But then .... that's just me!
It is NOT a bad thing to turn down business. The word gets out really quick that "Man, you better call her right away ... she books up FAST!"
Think about the best hair stylist in town..... do you think people wait until Thursday to try to get an appt with him/her on the next Saturday? Heck no!! "She books up fast!!!" so they call 6-8 weeks ahead of time to get the appt. Do people NOT call her because they can't get in right away? Heck no!!! They make it a POINT to call her way in advance so they can get on her baking, uh, hair cutting calendar.
I just think that if you are always (!) taking last minute orders, then it sounds like you're not busy (which means you're not in demand and no one really wants your cakes anyway) and it sounds like you're desperate so you'll grab onto ANY cake order that is miraculously tossed your way.
By all means.... you have to remember... this is YOUR business... not theirs... Your work will speak for itself, and will bring in the customers...
Don't be afraid to test the water right now... but at the same time... let the your customers know that you're trying to build your clientele and that once you have "officially" opened your business... then you will have a more defined time frame for cake orders.
Fisrt of all....thank you all for your advice! you are so talented and experienced that I feel flattered that you come to help me.
I guess I'll have to find a balance between turning down business because of the lack of notice and be the cake lady that can make you a cake in 24hrs notice!.
Is just so hard because I have a vision of what i want for my business so I don't want to compromise my standards to accomodate others.
It's hard to tell you what to do at first, and I think you're right to wait until you're legal etc.
In order to not feel rushed on 3 days notice, here's what *I* do, seriously, if someone actually calls (and they have), to order a cake for, like, tomorrow.
Customer: "I need to see if you can do a birthday cake for my boys for day after tomorrow. I wanted something really cool for them, not just a grocery store sheet cake. They're into motocross bikes. Can you do something like that?"
Me: "Oh, dear! I'd LOVE to make your boys something, but two days is too short notice for me to have time to design something amazing, and I have weddings every weekend this month. You might try XZY or Walmart for something so last minute...? And--call me a few weeks to a month ahead next year and see if I have the date available, and I'll make them something awsome!"
What I'd...LIKE...to say is: "Oh, I'm sorry. Did their birthday sneak up and SURPRISE YOU this year??"
It's good that you have people already asking, though! Just gotta find a balance at first, because one thing you'll find is that if you start out being the go-to girl for quickie last minute cakes, guess what? It's very hard to change that, later on. "But you always did it on late notice befoooorrre...(insert whiny voice here)".
I used to do the same thing and I got burned out really quickly. I didn't know how to say no and I stressed myself to the point that I didn't enjoy it anymore. It won't take long and they'll learn to plan ahead.
I've been trying to practice new techniques and hubby has decided to give me some "challenges" to help me grow. I work 4-10 hour days and I'm off on Fridays. He thought he would give me a challenge each Thursday for me to make on Friday. I said "nope! You have to give it to me on Monday so I can plan", even for my practice cakes.