Receiving Customers At Home Based Business, Share Your Idea

Business By Solecito Updated 5 Sep 2008 , 12:32am by indydebi

Solecito Posted 3 Sep 2008 , 10:42pm
post #1 of 20

I love running my businnes at home, but sometimes I want to give it a more professional turn, I don't like to be "The cake Lady"; I'd like to have an office for consultations, but don't have time to be running around to meet clients and baking from home, so I'm thinking in renovating. Right now I have a small den or room where you enter, but not the living room, that has a patio chair set and the walls have lots of ceramic suns hanging (I collect them because my nick name is Sol wich means sun). The wall are painted in tan colors, actually the colors are "toasted coconut" and "vanilla". This is where I meet my clients, but to me has a homey feeling, not business like.
So I'd really like to ask for ideas on how to make it more "professional". Maybe some of you can share pictures of your offices, even the ones with a store front.

19 replies
indydebi Posted 3 Sep 2008 , 11:36pm
post #2 of 20

A desk with a bulletin board on the wall looks "office-y". thumbs_up.gif

mixinvixen Posted 4 Sep 2008 , 1:19am
post #3 of 20

lose the suns, lose the outdoorsy furniture IF it definitely screams outdoors.

****furniture can be purchased from your local site for super cheap. have a desk, a nice cabinet or shelf for cake books, some comfortable stylish chairs in front of your desk for consultations, a great rug underfoot, some great lamps.

****the top of your desk needs to be extremely organized, and you need to have all your forms/contracts at the ready. i have an organizer on the top of my desk with coloring pencils, rulers, sketch book etc, which shows the art aspect of it.

*****have a few of your best cakes blown up at kinkos or a printing shop, then go to tj max or marshalls and get some really beautiful mathcing frames to put them in...also a great place for the lamps!

***have a basket HIDDEN in a cabinet with a few small toys to occupy young children while mommy is making her decisions with you.

****i really suggest having a seperate entrance that steps them directly into or near your cake room. they do not need to go through your home...try to keep the two seperate.

cakes are a luxury item, and you need to have things in your office that speak to all the senses, such as:
**great food oriented candle=pumpkin and vanilla has been proven to affect emotions...yankee has a christmas cookie, sugar cookie, and buttercream that is to die for
**lots of textures, like velvets, silks, leather, ornamental grasses, feathers, whatever floats your boat, but things that make you want to touch them.
***very light music in the background, which helps to fill in awkward pauses, or lets them peruse the cakebooks without fear of farting...hehehehe icon_redface.gif
***beautiful colors that stimulate good emotions and can find this on google...carefully choose your wall colors!!!!!!!!!!!! i know it sounds far out, but it's also proven! you can control emotions of your guests by the colors you display in your home.
***obviously the taste part would be to have a couple samples of your most popular flavors for them to try, with a couple of your complimentary icings that they can spread on at their whim. you can also have a candy on your desk, such as chocolates, that is seen to be decadent or luxury.

while these things sound picky, it set the client up for a luxury experience, which leads them to belive that you are a totally different breed from walmart...that's right where we want them, isn't it?

good luck!

lorrieg Posted 4 Sep 2008 , 1:21am
post #4 of 20

A desk with a bulletin board would work. And it wouldn't even have to be a regular office desk. you could probably get something that suits your lovely surroundings. Like rattan with a glass top or something.

Sounds pretty darn nice to me. icon_smile.gif

Solecito Posted 4 Sep 2008 , 4:46am
post #5 of 20

Thank you ladies.
I've been thinking about the desk, it's just that I don't know how to set it up. I'm defenitely changing the location of the suns, and I was considering the pictures of my best cakes. I love the idea of candles, I don't particularly like candles but I can see how the smell can make the place more inviting. I had customers come in when I just baked something and they comment on the wondeful aroma.

So, anyone else?

ccr03 Posted 4 Sep 2008 , 4:48am
post #6 of 20

I would keep the suns. Me imagino what kind of suns you are talking about and I think it gives a personal touch.

Definitely a desk, bulletin board is a good idea, organized computer/phone/fax/printer/copier/etc.. area.

Imaginate una oficina que admiras y ponele tu toque especial.

Mike1394 Posted 4 Sep 2008 , 8:46am
post #7 of 20

Are your customers happy? Have you heard anything negative about the room? A desk will surely help, and it's needed. I would keep the homey feel though. It adds to the ambience of the moment. I wouldn't go to business like.


ccr03 Posted 4 Sep 2008 , 1:11pm
post #8 of 20

OH, I'd have to agree 100% with Mike!!

lorrieg Posted 4 Sep 2008 , 3:05pm
post #9 of 20

Yep, Mike is right. You are working from home and that is probably part of what your customers like. icon_smile.gif

mixinvixen Posted 4 Sep 2008 , 3:32pm
post #10 of 20

i think it depends on the area you are in. there are many upscale bakeries in this area that i'm competing with, and clients/celebrities/catereres who have money to burn. when having a home based office in this type of area, you are fighting an uphill battle to prove that you indeed do have the right to charge just as much, maybe even more, than the storefront down the street, and you present an equally professional product.

this business is absolutely 100% all about perception. they walk into my home and see my daughters toys and her shouting from the potty that she needs her booty wiped, my dirty breakfast plate in the sink, my quirky personality decorating that is specific to my family, my rug that might have little fuzz balls of lint and needs a quick vacuum, my piano bench you can write your name on...and i slip a notch down in their mind. i'm not downing anyone by using these examples...that is my house right now, at this second! i am just speaking for my demographic alone.

when potential clients ask about my whereabouts, i tell them a website is in the works, and i work out of a cake studio attached to my home. we have just moved to an upscale residential area, and they usually recognize the name of my development when they ask my location. when my studio is finally put together and i start taking appointments again, it will be carefully decorated to compete with the elegance and whimsy of the bakeries nearby.

when we found this house, part of its appeal was that we have two garages and a seperate driveway for husband's in the basement part, and mine that is on the main level with a service door entrance that leads directly to the side of my kitchen and a set of stairs that leads to the studio area. they walk up the few stairs, turn the corner, and there's an open airy room that will live up to their high expectations. a seperate room is one more flight of stairs up that will house all my supplies.

once again, i am speaking for my area. your area may be a bit more low key and laid back, like alot of vacation type areas. in that instance, i would walk through the bakeries in your area, and get a feel for the type of customers they cater to, and their decorating styles. that will let you see "which way the winds blow".

i wish you tons of luck...go with your gut and have fun!!!!!!!!

Solecito Posted 4 Sep 2008 , 4:01pm
post #11 of 20
Originally Posted by Mike1394

Are your customers happy? Have you heard anything negative about the room? A desk will surely help, and it's needed. I would keep the homey feel though. It adds to the ambience of the moment. I wouldn't go to business like.


I do believe they're happy, no one ever said anything about this room. I guess it's just me. Lately I have a lot of new customers and when they call me for info, after seeing my work on my web page or the bridal show I did, it seems to me they are imagining a store front, not a house. But they still come and I really like to talk to them, they seem comfortable, some of them spend more than an hour here, just talking. And people here (in Mexico) still prefer "home made" cakes, instead of bakery cakes.

Reading all your ideas I think I'll take a little from everybody. I'll keep it homey, but a little sophisticated, a desk, I like the ideas of the lamps a lot, maybe take down some of the suns or leave just a couple and hang pictures of my cakes. Since this room leads to the living room thru a big arch I wont' put up a door but maybe a screen. I have a large glass show case where I display cookie arrangements, but I think I'll loose that one.
Thank you again for inspire me:

jennifer7777 Posted 4 Sep 2008 , 4:34pm
post #12 of 20
Originally Posted by mixinvixen

see my daughters toys and her shouting from the potty that she needs her booty wiped

LOL!!! OMG...this reminds me of my daughter yelling from the toilet "Mommy, I'm finished!" This was too funny.

mixinvixen Posted 4 Sep 2008 , 4:54pm
post #13 of 20

i wouldn't personally put up a screen that covers a wonderful architectural feature like an arch...there are some awesome patterns that allow you to make a curtain panel that follows the top lines of an some great fabric at a local fabric house, head over to tj max, marshalls or a home improvement store and buy an appropriate curtain rod, and then sweep the two panels back to their respective sides, with a puddle of fabric on the floor. it makes the entrance stylish, but kind of denotes a seperate living space. when we moved into this house, we have windows that have that same kind of arch..i asked that the panels stay...when i moved in and actually looked closely at them, i realized she didn't even use a rod of any kind, just velcro!!! works for me!! here's a can also google and get all kinds of ideas for that same type of window treatments. try "curtain" and "arch"...whatever you do, you're such a lucky girl for getting to have so much fun and choices...remodeling in small increments can really be so much fun!!

mixinvixen Posted 4 Sep 2008 , 4:55pm
post #14 of 20 house isn't built sideways...lets try to edit that...bear with me.

i'm sorry...for some reason, photobucket will let me rotate the pic, but still won't show it that way. hmmm....i'm so not good at this uploading thing!!

Solecito Posted 4 Sep 2008 , 6:11pm
post #15 of 20

The arch is between the entrance room and the living room, I'm not trying to cover it just create some privacy divider, so clients won't see my living space.
Have a look, the screen would go between the arch and the sofa. The next picture is the whole little room it's about 6'X16'. It's very iluminated during the morning, as the window faces south, but late afternoon it needs ilumination so that's why I liked the idea of lamps.

You ideas are very artsy,classy, well very nice, so if you see something I can do to this room please keep the ideas coming.

mixinvixen Posted 4 Sep 2008 , 6:16pm
post #16 of 20

OK...i just realized that i dropped the ball on this one and had a total brain fart...i confess, when you said screen, that i thought of the window type screens!!! you meant a folding screen didn't you?

guess i need to go post in the "stupid" thread now!!

Solecito Posted 4 Sep 2008 , 6:26pm
post #17 of 20

Partially my fault, I couldn't find a proper translation, but I meant a folding screen, I saw one looks like paper, very oriental, very pretty.

So could you look at my poorly taken pictures and give me more suggestions? I wanted to decorate this room "world-y" the kind you have things from different cultures, like chineese figurines, african mask, etc. But i'm stuck. I know I need help.

Petit-four Posted 4 Sep 2008 , 7:11pm
post #18 of 20

Perhaps if you wanted a temporary screen or divider in front of the archway when you have clients, maybe place some large potted plants in a nice arrangement in front of it.

That might look nice with your tile floor, suns (hermoso!) and outdoor look.

When you just want the room for family, you can move the plants outside or in the corners.

Also, if you have an entrance you want clients to go to, again, place large plants or flowers in planters to block another path, or to direct visitors to your office.

If people are staying to talk, then they most likely like the room. thumbs_up.gif A very professional, yet friendly looking place. I'd love to order a cake there!

Solecito Posted 4 Sep 2008 , 8:28pm
post #19 of 20

Plants sound very nice, actualy I call it my "sun room" not exactly because of the sun coming in..... so although I never really consider it to have an outdoors look, may be I should go there.

indydebi Posted 5 Sep 2008 , 12:32am
post #20 of 20
Originally Posted by mixinvixen

****the top of your desk needs to be extremely organized,

Oh come on! Let's not get all radical here! icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

Mine is organized in the "a pile for everything and everything in it's pile" system!! icon_biggrin.gif

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