Since I moved to this area last year, I put off raising my prices for a while, so I could get a feel for the prices in this area. I came from a beautiful coastal town with lots of wedding business, and was actually in the beginning stages of opening a bakery. But then, my husband received a great job offer, so we moved 2 hours north to a military town. I don't regret that decision at all; he is in love with his job and is flourishing.
I've now been here about 14 months, and my business, which was doing very well where we used to live, has just taken an utter nose dive. I'm getting occasional inquiries, but whereas I used to book about 90% of my consults and inquiries, I'm booking maybe 30%. There are many home businesses in this town who just make cakes at ridiculously low prices...like $40 for a fondant-iced sculpted cake...$15 sheet cakes. That does not even cover materials, for goodness' sake. I can't compete with that. Nor will I.
I know some folks buy their supplies at the bases' commissaries, but still, that barely covers supply costs, the prices some of these folks are charging. It's just frustrating, and I see home bakers advertise copyrighted character cakes, and I just burn inside. But, any action I take would just be done out of my own frustration and pettiness, and I won't go there.
This area has Walmart and Sam's, and one decent bakery that does occasion cakes, and a slew of home businesses (most of whom charge about half of what I do). So, folks are very used to paying next to nothing for huge pieces of sugar.
Fortunately, the business I do get is usually pretty creative and challenging, so that's why i have not packed it in yet. (And usually I have to deliver these way out of this area.) I enjoy it. I enjoy the creating. But the business side of it, which I really once enjoyed, is just frustrating me to no end.
Thanks for the vent.
I wish I had some suggestions for you but you're doing the right thing in not price competing with others around you. Just keep doing what you're doing and good customers will find you and pay what you're asking.
Wow, did I sound whiny last night. That wasn't my intent; I think I just needed to figure out why business has been so bad for me here. My husband reminded me of the first year I was in business, that I spent every free moment networking, meeting and greeting, and just going everywhere I could to promote myself.
Since I moved, I blamed the market here, but have really done nothing to promote myself other than my website, my MySpace page, and some word-of-mouth referrals. So, now a plan of action to get myself out there again is in order!
At least now, I have years more decorating experience and a little more talent (I hope!) that will make it a little easier to get more business here.
It sounds like you have a great attitude! Bummer about having to compete with people who cut their prices so much. I wish you luck in finding your niche!
Congratulations! Both for hitting the wall and now becoming part of your own solution. Sometimes we just need to get our woes and stresses out on paper and then kick ourselves in the behind to do it. I am so proud of you and wish you the best of luck in your new beginning!!!
Sorry to hear about the other business charging so little, but thrilled to hear that you're still optimistic about it and doing what you can to change the situation.
There are still people out there who understands the old saying "You get what you pay for".
I just viewed your photo gallery and all of your work is beautiful. I would hate to see you "pack up" and put your talent aside.
Hang in there...get out there and network...do what you have to do to get your name out there.
Keep us posted.
I hope your business takes off. Before you know it you will have more cake orders than you know what to do with!
When I saw your location, my first thought was, "Oh no". I can certainly understand why it could be more difficult.
I think you just need to spend a little more time looking at the demographics of the area and then looking at your strengths...and your competition's weaknesses. My first thought was to figure out where the high end wedding receptions in a certain radius are held, where the higher end bridal shops are, etc.
I know that Jacksonville isn't your typical high end beach area by a long shot, but you can't bake everyone's cake anyway. Your market is out there, you just have to find it. Figure out what the people with money don't have easy access in cakes now and market yourself to them.
Are there many beach weddings, for example, on Emerald Isle, etc.? Where are those receptions usually held?
I wish you well!
Ditto what Ziggy said. Spend some time on research and find your niche. It's possible that the one's charging very little don't really "care" how much they make and haven't had the success you had.
If there are hotels and other wedding event venues...start building your relationships with them. Network with florists and photographers. Starting out with a simple "hello" email will get you started. Once people respond, that will help give you that energy and you'll find your way.