Spending All My Time Calling-Emailing "potential Custom

Business By luvscakes Updated 1 Aug 2008 , 11:39pm by indydebi

luvscakes Posted 30 Jul 2008 , 5:13pm
post #1 of 22

Hi there,
I got my new website up and running a few months ago and am now getting people contacting me like crazy- that's the problem- they are driving me crazy!
It takes me so much time to get back to the "potential" on what they want- whether by email or phone- only to never hear from them again.
When I have gotten calls that order a cake- they have been "I need it by tomorrow, or in 2 days"-
Come on!! Seriously- I'm spending so much wasted time.
I wonder how others deal with this?
I recently changed my phone message to refer people to my website for pricing and info. My phone is still ringing all the time but I don't answer iticon_smile.gif

Any other opinions?

21 replies
poshcakedesigns Posted 30 Jul 2008 , 5:25pm
post #2 of 22

I'd like to know what to do also.

I get all sorts of request online for pricing and DUH my pricing is listed on my website. I'd say 3 of 5 I never hear from again I figure the are price shopping. The ones that IRK me the most are those that go back and forth with you on emails to never hear from them again. After you have figured and re-figured pricing and tier shapes to fit their budget.

I have already set my phone to go straight to voicemail with my business info and web link but mine still rings too.

Wish I had an answer but I'm in the same boat, maybe someone can help us.... thumbs_up.gif

1234me Posted 30 Jul 2008 , 6:22pm
post #3 of 22

Do you list on your site that you require a certain amount of time notice? For example, the first things they read on my site under pricing and sizes is that all orders require a seven day notice.

I also looked at your site - I think we may use the same hosting company icon_smile.gif But, back to your quesiton, I looked at your pricing and I understand it all because I am familiar with cake decorating but I could see where someone else wouldn't understand - they don't know if they want fondant, etc and have to inquire.

I know this is probably a huge no-no but I don't list my phone number on my website - it is on my business card so people I have given my card to can call but I prefer to be contacted by email.

mom2spunkynbug Posted 30 Jul 2008 , 6:39pm
post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by wendyintx


I know this is probably a huge no-no but I don't list my phone number on my website - it is on my business card so people I have given my card to can call but I prefer to be contacted by email.




I also don't list my phone number on my website. Instead I have a detailed form that needs to be filled out if they want to contact me. Maybe something like that would help you out? Feel free to check mine out. That way I have most of their information when they start asking questions.

My phone number is on my business card, so if someone calls me, then they must have gotten my business card from a wedding expo, or from someone else who got a cake from me.

Also, in my first email response to the potential, I tell them almost everything they need to know (potential price range; I need 50% of total cost of cake to hold date, etc).

I hope that helps you some! I'm gonna go take a look at your site now icon_smile.gif

CakeMommyTX Posted 30 Jul 2008 , 6:42pm
post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by wendyintx


I know this is probably a huge no-no but I don't list my phone number on my website - it is on my business card so people I have given my card to can call but I prefer to be contacted by email.




Thats what I want to do, I want to take my phone number off my website b/c I cannot handle the amount off calls I get.
I had someone texting me and calling over and over again the other night between 9:30 and 10:30pm! She wanted a cake to serve 50 by the next day!
It was 10pm at night, I was on the couch with my feet up, who orders a cake at 10pm?

I spend about 2-3 hrs a day returning emails and giving qoutes, I do call customers and return voicemails but I rarely answer my phone when it rings. I can't take orders at the grocery store or while I'm bathing the kids.
And if I'm at the shop I don't answer the phone either, I rent by the hour and it would cost me money to talk on the phone to customers.

So basically I'm in the same boat, sorry I could'nt be more help.

Amy729 Posted 30 Jul 2008 , 6:46pm
post #6 of 22

I am also stressed about this.

I am spending so much time on the computer and phone that I feel stressed about getting the cakes done.

Fortunately, 90% of the time they do order but I am feeling way overwhelmed.

I bake out of a liscensed kitchen at my home and it is just me doing it all.

I am very thankful for all the orders but feel like I just can't keep up.

kogden Posted 30 Jul 2008 , 6:55pm
post #7 of 22

I agree with wendyintx, it would definately help to have a minimum time requirement listed. Also, I love your website! It is very professional and the music is nice. As far as understanding the pricing, I am a newbie at this and understood everything just fine. Sorry I can't give you any suggestions. Just wanted to tell you how great your site is. thumbs_up.gif

jacquie575 Posted 30 Jul 2008 , 6:57pm
post #8 of 22

Okay, speaking as a novice looking at your site the one thing that may have so many people calling is were you say

"Because your cake is custom made for you- pricing can be difficult. Cake prices depend largely on ingredients used along with decoration time and amount of decorations, types of decorations to be used."

Even if you are posting your basic pricing for buttercream($2.500, fondant ($3.00) and so on, people are still going to call beause they don't trust that a buttercream cake for 50 people will be $125.

Jasmine33 Posted 30 Jul 2008 , 7:10pm
post #9 of 22

Luvscakes, I did notice you mentioned on the website, 3 months notice. So they do know.

1234me Posted 30 Jul 2008 , 7:42pm
post #10 of 22

I would put the notice as one of the very first things. That is what I do so they see it first and if it is not a 7 day notice, they don't have to continue to look at the pricing icon_smile.gif

Also, how about making up one generic email and then filling in the blank areas with the info that pertains to them. Then you could copy and past it in each email and just add the details that pertain to them in the spaces it needs to be. I have a copy of directions to my location saved and send that when people need it (it can't be found on mapquest) instead of typing it over and over again. Before I had my prices listed on my website, I had a generic email like this that listed serving sizes and prices and would send that to them when they inquired instead of typing it over and over again.

My email also auto responses that they will be contacted in 24-48 hours so they know it may be 2 days before I get back to them.

This has all helped me VERY much -I hated calling customers and answering so many questions a few months ago but implementing the above has helped me tremendously.

costumeczar Posted 30 Jul 2008 , 8:12pm
post #11 of 22

Put these emails in your draft folder and have them ready: One saying that you're sorry, but you can't take any cakes without a certain amount of notice; One with all of the information that you need to send to people who have a tasting appointment with you (directions, what to bring, etc.); And one directing people to the pricing information page on your website with an explanation of what Italian meringue buttercream is (a lot of people don't know.) You can also add any information about minimum prices for certain orders if you have these.

You should put a BIG notice above the contact form on your website that says you need two weeks notice (or whatever you choose) for all cakes. People will still ignore it, but then you can just hit send on the draft for the "Sorry, I can't accept any short-notice orders" email.

You should also put another BIG notice above the contact form that says to please check your pricing page before emailing with any questions. This won't stop people either, but then if people email you with vague questions you can send them the generic pricing page response.

The generic appointment email will save you time when you're emailing directions and to confirm appointments.

I have all kinds of things on the contact page of my website, and it helps sometimes and doesn't help others, but putting it right above the contact form does help. It will screen out most of the people who haven't gone through your entire website and who haven't seen a notice about how much time you need in advance.

Obviously, if you get specific questions about specific cakes and you want to answer those, don't send the generic emails. And don't check your email before noon. If you do that you'll get sucked into it, and it wastes a lot of time. Check it around noon and respond then. That gives people a chance to receive your response and write back if they want to the same day. Also, if an email starts to go back and forth more than twice, pick up the phone and call them directly. That will save you a lot of time.
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playingwithsugar Posted 30 Jul 2008 , 8:36pm
post #12 of 22

Are all, or most of you, running your businesses out of your home?

Theresa icon_smile.gif

indydebi Posted 30 Jul 2008 , 9:17pm
post #13 of 22

Agree with wendy and costumeczar totally!

I have a pre-made introductory memo that I cut-n-paste to email a bride, along with 8-12 attachments LOADED with everything they need to know. Takes me less than 3 minutes to respond.

So figure out ... what info are you giving out over and over again? Pre-format that in a draft, as suggested above and just zap it out.

Someone said it above about them not being sure that a cake for 50 will really cost $150. I call it going math dumb. If they want to buy 3 cupcakes at $2 each, they can EASILY figure out that it's going to cost htem $6. But let them try to buy 200 cupcakes at $2 each and they reaction you get is "FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS!!!!" icon_surprised.gif

I have no idea how much detail you are going into in your initial email, but I'd say evaluate how much time you are spending on giving them all the info and detail before you really have an order.

CakeMommyTX Posted 30 Jul 2008 , 9:18pm
post #14 of 22

I run the business/office part from my home and bake out of a rented kitchen.
So I am at home during the day with all 3 kids.
I do most of my return emails and calling during nap time.
I just don't think it is professional to be talking to a customer and then have to put them on hold to tell one kid not to lick the other.
And of course my children suffer from the "mommy is on the phone everyone start screaming at the top of their lungs for no reason" syndrome. Makes for very difficult order taking when they are awake.

littlecake Posted 30 Jul 2008 , 9:19pm
post #15 of 22

i have a storefront, and i (as opposed to many) have my double freezer full of cakes at all times...so when they need it fast i can get it for them...i'd lose 80% of my business if i had to have a lot of notice.

now, if they want something out of the ordinary i'll need some lead time.

maybe i got em trained wrong, but if i needed even a week in advance...i'd go out of business.

i did take my email address off my answering machine...that was driving me to madness...lol

luvscakes Posted 31 Jul 2008 , 12:30pm
post #16 of 22

Thanks everyone!
I did make a change stating I need a minimum of 7 days notice at the TOP of my page, and I have drafts now saved in my draft folder so all I have to do is cut and paste- I've already gotten to use them 2 times this morning!
I greatly appreciate all the input!
I hope this will help make things easier.
Yes, I do this from my home, and I have 4 small children AND I am preparing to start a PT evening job. I need things running as smoothly as possible!

Thanks again!

MichelleM77 Posted 31 Jul 2008 , 4:35pm
post #17 of 22

Sigh. I wish I had your problems of my phone ringing off the hook and too many emails to respond to. icon_smile.gif

SugaredUp Posted 1 Aug 2008 , 4:43pm
post #18 of 22

Me too, Michelle!

luvscakes Posted 1 Aug 2008 , 8:27pm
post #19 of 22

That is the problem girls- I have everything ringing off the hook and NO ORDERS.
They all want spectacular cakes for the price of a walmart sheet cake!

chutzpah Posted 1 Aug 2008 , 8:32pm
post #20 of 22

They all want a full sheet cake for $19.99, and for that price, it had even better sing and dance and quote Shakespeare.

peacockplace Posted 1 Aug 2008 , 11:32pm
post #21 of 22

My email has an auto response. It says that answers to the most frequently asked questions, including pricing, can be found on our "details" page.

I can't believe how many people ask me for ballpark price on a cake to feed 100, or what ever the number is. I have on my website cakes start at $4.25 a serving. I guess they just don't bother to read it.

Is there a polite way to ask if the customer has read my pricing information before I spend time going back and forth on design options ...ect? I hate doing all that work and then hearing that's more than they can pay. icon_mad.gif I know cakes are expensive and if I'm not in their budget that's fine. I'd just like to know it before I go back and forth, do sketches, plan it out and then find out.

indydebi Posted 1 Aug 2008 , 11:39pm
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by peacockplace

Is there a polite way to ask if the customer has read my pricing information before I spend time going back and forth on design options ...ect? I hate doing all that work and then hearing that's more than they can pay. icon_mad.gif I know cakes are expensive and if I'm not in their budget that's fine. I'd just like to know it before I go back and forth, do sketches, plan it out and then find out.




Ah, the advantage of one-price-pricing! icon_lol.gif

Can you start out with "cake for 100 starts at $425, and that's before we get into extra flavors, designs, etc. What price range were you looking to stay in?"

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