Consult Before Tasting

Business By karateka Updated 15 Sep 2008 , 2:32am by AZCakeGirl

karateka Posted 14 Sep 2008 , 3:23am
post #1 of 18

I have a client I found thru decidio. The original lead said it was for 51-100 people and the client wanted a tasting, so I told her I don't do them unless I have at least 130. She emailed back saying "I don't know what the website told you, but we are expecting 150-200" She went on to tell me it's a 3 occasion event: new baby, son's bday, and new house. Also, treating it as a wedding since her and her partner's anniversary is coming up.

She says she wants a consult before the tasting since she wants to pick the very best concept for this cake. Do I do sketches?

" I want a white picket fence-y thing for the bottom tier, superhero theme for the middle and baby for the top". Then she wants a tasting after some sketches have been done and discussed.

I sent her a time I was available this coming Tuesday for a consult and said I was avail the 25th for a tasting. She hasn't gotten back to me.

Is it odd to want to see sketches before you taste? I don't want to send her out of my house with my sketches, either. How would you handle this? I'm starting to feel so inexperienced lately. So many odd requests and behavior.....or is it a full moon?

Also.....Surely she doesn't think she can just drop by any time Tuesday between the times I gave her...does she??? Surely she'll email back and say I'd like to meet at 1pm or something. I find it odd she hasn't responded, and I can't have her just popping in whenever. I don't hear from her tomorrow and I'll have to email her or call to cancel Tuesday.

Geez, I'm really tired. Maybe that's getting the better of my judgement.

17 replies
indydebi Posted 14 Sep 2008 , 3:37am
post #2 of 18

why wouldn't you just go ahead and feed her cake while she's there anyway? These things take lots of time and even my 15 year old employees know how to recite "time is money!" in my place! icon_biggrin.gif Why does she THINK she needs to approve the design BEFORE she knows if she likes your cake or not? Obviously, this cake civilian doesn't understand how much time is involved in design work for a project like this.

I would tell her that you are available for a consultation/sampling on this date .... a 2nd meeting, that you dont' usually do, will cost $150 for your valuable time that will take you away from designing another paying customer's cake. (of course, I tend to take the smart-a$$ approach on prima donna's like this!)

Kitagrl Posted 14 Sep 2008 , 3:49am
post #3 of 18

I charge $25 for a tasting OR free with deposit on the cake date. That way no time wasted.

karateka Posted 14 Sep 2008 , 11:26am
post #4 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Why does she THINK she needs to approve the design BEFORE she knows if she likes your cake or not?




That is exactly why I posted. Of course my first instinct was to agree. I gave her a consult date (this Tuesday). There is no way I have time to bake before Tuesday and I won't bake anymore without my tasting fee since I am starting to feel VERY taken advantage of with free tastings anymore. (People bring the whole damn neighborhood and treat it like a restaurant)

Frankly, if I hear from her again, I think I will do what you said. ONE appointment. And she can't have my sketches to take home. She has to look at them here and make a decision here. I don't want her taking my sketches anywhere else to see what they'd charge her.

And if she shows up on Tuesday without having called before then for a specific time I'm telling her to get lost. Since she didn't make a specific appointment I "figured you weren't coming" and made other plans.

See what being up all night will do for ya? My inner "bee otch" takes over and stiffens up my spine.

Sometimes I wish there was a job where I never had to interact with John Q Public. But maybe I just need some friggin' sleep.

chutzpah Posted 14 Sep 2008 , 11:53am
post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by karateka

........I am starting to feel VERY taken advantage of with free tastings anymore. (People bring the whole damn neighborhood and treat it like a restaurant)




Why why why are you allowing this to happen? You are letting these people tell you how to run your business, for Pete's sake!

Take charge of your consultations and you'll resent them less.

I tell people exactly how many they can bring (two... the bride and groom). Occasionally they'll ask if a parent can come... it doesn't really bother me, but I do them that there is enough cake for two persons, and chairs for only two persons, so if the parents/friend/MOH don't mind not sampling cake and having to stand for an 1-1½ hours, well then, bring them. They usually drop it then, and come just themselves. I also tell them that if they have children that they'll need to organise a sitter for that time. I don't like kids in general, and think that small children are gross and don't want them in my kitchen. Parents also have a hard time concentrating on the consultation if they have small children, as little kids need an extreme amount of attention.

karateka Posted 14 Sep 2008 , 2:55pm
post #6 of 18

Well, I'm not anymore.

I recently changed policies because I'm so tired of it. Now they pay for a tasting and the best they get is to apply it to the balance if they book with me.

I might be changing it to 2 people, too. It's hard, though, because every bride wants to bring mom. But I have disallowed children because the last ones were wanting to run around, talk to me, ask me for stuff....I'm not a damn babysitter. I am also considering changing my policy to only get to try my 3 basic cake flavors. That way I don't have to make 3 different flavors every week and end up with buttloads of different flavors in my freezer that may not be sampled again for a while. Some recipes don't work well only making one small 4in layer. So I have 1 4in layer, or one half of a pair of 6in layers of several of my more different flavors all wrapped up in the freezer, waiting for an audition. Nuts.

The whole reason for free tastings was that I've been told repeatedly that they don't think they'll pay for a tasting with me when "everyone else offers them for free". I needed people to try my cake, so I had free tastings. Now I'm grouchy and tired and making them pay.

My main problem is that I don't need to alienate brides, what with the other decorator right in town here that charges much less. I guess I don't have much of a reputation, or brides in this reasonably well to do area are spending their budget on other things, because money is THE guiding force around here. I have a hard time saying no to odd requests when I have open weekends. I want the business. I'm quitting my job to devote time to this. So that's why I immediately tried to accomodate this chick. But now that I'm tired, cranky and crammed full this weekend I'm just trying to find a diplomatic and reasonable way to say "NO" so I sound more professional and less bitchy.

Geez, I'm long winded today. Sorry. Going to take a nap.

AZCakeGirl Posted 14 Sep 2008 , 3:14pm
post #7 of 18

I make little mini-cakes that are a really nice sample for two people to have. However, if they ask to bring more people, I tell them that the sample cakes can be cut into 4's, however they are obviously smaller tastings & only about 1 bite each. This way I do not end up having to do any more baking - it's up to them whether or not they are willing to split their samples up into smaller pieces. I used to only have 2 chairs in my consultation area, but now I have 4. I've found that a lot of parents want to come since they are the ones paying for the cake. As long as they understand they are getting smaller pieces to sample & don't expect me to do any extra work beyond normal "free" time, it doesn't bother me to have the two extra chairs sitting there. But, I always make sure to tell them that 4 is the max.

snarkybaker Posted 14 Sep 2008 , 3:37pm
post #8 of 18

I always use old platitudes to make our policies. So our tasting policy is " He who pays the piper calls the tune". In other words, I will sit with you and talk to you about cake, give you a cupcake or two from the case and not charge a thing, since I decide if I have enough time, and I decide what you are eating.

If you pay us $35 for a tasting fee, I let you choose the flavors. We pack the flavors in a to go box, so I don't care how many people you decide to feed cake. You're still getting the same amount. The fee is creditied against a purchase of $350 or more.

indydebi Posted 14 Sep 2008 , 4:53pm
post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by karateka

I am also considering changing my policy to only get to try my 3 basic cake flavors. That way I don't have to make 3 different flavors every week and end up with buttloads of different flavors in my freezer that may not be sampled again for a while.




I only give them 3 flavors and I choose what they are. I tell them, "My lemon cake tastes just as good as my white cake except it tastes like lemon." icon_biggrin.gif

I bake a 10" square of each flavor, then cut it into 9 squares ... that means I cut the 10" square into 3 rows by 3 columns .... approx 3" x 3" squares. It fits perfectly into a gallon size zip-lok bag. For a sampling, I just pull one of each flavor out of the bag ... they thaw in about 20 minutes. It's also plenty of cake for up to 4 people ... I only have 4 chairs so only 4 people. So I only have to bake once for 9 samplings.

I generally serve white, choc and one other flavor (red velvet or spice or carrot).

My email that confirms the appt spells out the "rules" ... call me if you need to reschedule or are running late; don't bring children since a catering facility is not a very entertaining place while mom and dad are in a business meeting .... call it a "business meeting" and they tend to take you more serious; they should plan at least an hour; if they have photos or color swatches, they should bring extra that they can leave with me.

Kitagrl Posted 14 Sep 2008 , 5:09pm
post #10 of 18

The only thing I don't understand (maybe Indy can explain?) is when some brides will say "I want this cake, and I want it chocolate, and here is your deposit. When can I have the tasting?" I mean, if they trusted me enough to make a deposit and to tell me what flavor they already know they want, and etc...why the tasting? Is it just so they could say they had one...or to get free cake...or what? Is the "tasting" practice relatively new (15 or so years old) on the scene, or old? I just don't remember all this from when I got married 12 years ago but then I had a friend do my wedding cake, as I didn't decorate at that time.

I guess I just don't understand tastings too much. I can understand if you want to compare a few vendors, or if you want to make sure one vendor has quality stuff...but so far, the tastings I've had, some of them have already made up their minds to use my services and/or have heard rave reviews already from a friend. Why, then, the need for a tasting?

indydebi Posted 14 Sep 2008 , 5:14pm
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

The only thing I don't understand (maybe Indy can explain?) is when some brides will say "I want this cake, and I want it chocolate, and here is your deposit. When can I have the tasting?"



while I've never had this happen, I WOULD ask them, "why do you want the tasting?" icon_confused.gif I would then explain how a tasting is to determine IF they like my baking and IF they want to book with me ... since they've already decided "yes" to both of those questions, a tasting is not really necessary.

I'm confused by some bakers who won't do a tasting until they have a non-refundable deposit in their hands. My question is, "what's the point of a tasting at that point?" icon_confused.gif

AZCakeGirl Posted 14 Sep 2008 , 5:16pm
post #12 of 18

Kitagrl - I think some brides just want t have the "experience". Kind of the same as when shopping for a wedding gown......even though they saw the one they want in a magazine, it's always a big deal to go "dress shopping".

Kitagrl Posted 14 Sep 2008 , 5:22pm
post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

The only thing I don't understand (maybe Indy can explain?) is when some brides will say "I want this cake, and I want it chocolate, and here is your deposit. When can I have the tasting?"


while I've never had this happen, I WOULD ask them, "why do you want the tasting?" icon_confused.gif I would then explain how a tasting is to determine IF they like my baking and IF they want to book with me ... since they've already decided "yes" to both of those questions, a tasting is not really necessary.

I'm confused by some bakers who won't do a tasting until they have a non-refundable deposit in their hands. My question is, "what's the point of a tasting at that point?" icon_confused.gif




Yeah, I guess I should ask if that happens again. I do ask for either $25 fee or a deposit....so far they've always given the deposit! icon_biggrin.gif Maybe some of the fault, too, is those bakers who want the deposit before a tasting. Maybe brides are being trained to feel like having a free preview is part of the price of the wedding cake????

AZ that is what I'm thinking...the "experience". Some of my brides I could tell they wanted to make sure I was the right baker for them, but some seemed like they had their mind made up already so to me, the tasting really shouldn't have mattered because they were buying a cake from me anyway. Whatever!

KHalstead Posted 14 Sep 2008 , 5:44pm
post #14 of 18

it sounds more to me like she's wanting YOU to draw up a sketch and then she's going to take it around and try to shop for a better price! JMO, but it seems a little suspicious. I would tell her that a "consultation" costs the same as a "tasting" and instead of her paying that cost twice, she may as well combine the two. When she asks why a "consultation" costs the same....give her one of Debbie's lines "Time is money" and just let her know.....hey....whether you take me away for an hr. to "design" your cake or an hour to "design and taste" your cake, it's still time that you have to charge for, otherwise you'd be handing out sketches to everyone in town!!

Kitagrl Posted 14 Sep 2008 , 8:34pm
post #15 of 18

Yeah I don't sketch without a deposit...I also don't sketch last minute, or for people who are ordering a smaller, cheaper cake.

Deb_ Posted 14 Sep 2008 , 9:17pm
post #16 of 18

I don't know how much time you are planning on investing in the sketch for this client, but if it were me I would tell her there is a charge for you to do a detailed sketch. Sometimes when someone comes in for a consult, I just pencil sketch their idea on a paper for them to get an idea. The main reason is just to be sure we're on the same page, I definitely don't get into detail. Once the deposit is in hand, I do a colored sketch for them.

I'm with indydebi about the sampling appt., I let them sample 3 cakes of my choice, basically what I've worked on that week. When I'm baking for my orders I make a cupcake out of each flavor if I know I have a tasting coming up. The purpose of a tasting is not for them to taste every single flavor combo we offer. It is for them to judge our baking abilities so they can make an informed decision about hiring us.

If they order a different flavor than what they've sampled and they ask if they could get a sample of that particular flavor, I tell them I also sell small 6" cakes and I'd be happy to take an order for their exact flavor combo. I'm doing this parttime, I'm not doing this to feed free cake to every potential bride in my area.

I'm also a hairstylist. I've had brides hire me for their Wedding day to do their hair and their Wedding party's hair. Many want me to try different styles on them before the big day and a good number of them are shocked when I tell them that I charge for practice styles. If I'm doing the same hairstyle(usually an updo) that they'll have on their Wedding day, and I charge minimum $75 for an updo, why wouldn't I charge them the same amount for the trial appt.? I'm not going to work for free, would they?

I think some young woman feel they should get a lot of free passes when they become the "future Bride". I only hope they put as much energy into their marriages as they do into planning their Weddings....it's just one day and it doesn't make your marriage any happier in the long run.

avgsuperheroine Posted 15 Sep 2008 , 2:09am
post #17 of 18

I think if it's all about the "experience", a little form email or a form sent with some rules (call them 'what to expect at your cake tasting') would be totally in line. Why worry about the baker who charges less--your product has a higher "perceived value" due to the higher cost. I would think the rules and organized fashion you explain them would just make you seem more organized, more busy, more professional. Just keep an "I'm doing this for your benefit to be helpful" spin on it.

I know it's a stretch to compare, but when I rent costumes out, there are definate steps that have to be completed on both sides before the costumes get shipped out. It's important that we go through this process legally, but it's also my way of judging if a new contact person is responsible and reliable. You should be able to get a real feel for your customers when you see how they react to your polite, positive, professional, yet firm policies.

AZCakeGirl Posted 15 Sep 2008 , 2:32am
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by dkelly27


I'm also a hairstylist. I've had brides hire me for their Wedding day to do their hair and their Wedding party's hair. Many want me to try different styles on them before the big day and a good number of them are shocked when I tell them that I charge for practice styles. If I'm doing the same hairstyle(usually an updo) that they'll have on their Wedding day, and I charge minimum $75 for an updo, why wouldn't I charge them the same amount for the trial appt.? I'm not going to work for free, would they?




dkelly27 - This made me laugh! I completely agree with you there! Afterall, it's THEIR trial run, not yours! If I were a client coming to you, I would assume you already know how to do up-do's and don't need any practice trial runs! I've never done hair before but would laugh if someone asked me to do a trial wedding cake for free to see if they liked the end result of the final product! LOL!

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