I have a few regualrs that I make cakes for but I would like to do more. How did everyone else get started? How do I find people that want more than a boring old grocery store cake? I thought word of mouth would work but it seems like people just don't want to pay for nice cakes.
It takes forever to build up clientele! I started making up business cards and with every cake I delivered, I give them about 5 cards to hand out. Some people even offer referral discounts too. I usually end up with one more person ordering a cake each time but it took 2 years to get to that point. I've also done some odd ball things like contributing a bunch of cakes to the school bake sale, that gets the word out at school, you could do the same for a local church or firehouse. I've given away alot of freebies to my siblings to take to their work parties too and a ton for my sister to take to school with her. I just finally got them to notice me this year and they gave me my largest order to date this past week. there are 75 teachers in the school so I'm hoping that will get me a few orders down the road. good luck! I'd love to hear everyone elses ideas!
craftycakes - do you work in a public job when you're not doing cakes? I do and I have found that my co-workers are my most frequent customers. I just had a lady yesterday order four cakes from me between now and the end of Dec. I has taken me two years by word of mouth and now I am finally legal to run my business out of my home kitchen. I now have business cards, flyers, etc. and will be selling cake slices in our town's Apple Festival this Saturday. I expect to get a lot of attention from that. You just need to make sure you deliver an exceptional product (in taste AND looks) and in time you'll have more customers than you know what to do with!
I just started a new job and I get a few orders from my co-workers within my agency. My office is housed in the hospital which I do not work for. I thought about bringing a cake every once in a while to put in the break room. There are a lot of people in my building that I have not met and that do no know I do cakes.
I want to start making more cakes to practice different techniques but I do not want to eat them all. Should I donate the practicec cakes?
Maybe you could make cupcakes and take them around while you introduce yourself. The practice cakes are a good idea too. I'd probably donate a couple, but not too many or they'll get used to free cakes and may be surprised when they place an order and you charge them. I've seen that happen too.
I've been in business for a little over 2 years. I teach in a small school, so lots of my original customers are people I work with. They, in turn, have referred their family & friends to me. REFERRALS are your best advertisement! I've done ads in the paper, some radio spots, but they don't produce like referrals do. I joined a business referral organization(BNI - Business Networking International). In this organization, they only allow ONE proffessional from each group (ie, caterer, lawyer, banker, real estate agent, etc.). We each, in turn, work at getting to know each other better and finding ways to pass business on to each other. This organization (I've belonged only 4 months) has increased my business quite a bit! It also has helped me get out to people I would never have met before. It has also helped me with"people" skills, and speaking to a crowd (of adults).
I agree about referrals and word-of-mouth business. I have been in business less than a year, don't have business cards or a website, and manage to be busy enough to turn down business regularly. (I do NOT recommend doing it this way -- I choose to do it this way because I can't afford to be more busy than I am now. So, I make it a little hard for people to get to me!)
I am pretty active in my neighborhood and our social circle . I did gift a several cakes when I first started out, but only because (A) I was really close to the host/hostess and really wanted to gift it, (B) because I got to practice a new tecnnique or style that I really wanted to, and (C) because I knew it'd be somewhere I'd get a lot of exposure. It's worked out pretty well for me.
Good luck -- once word gets out that you do good work, it'll spread like wildfire, and you'll be more busy than you want to be!
These are some great ideas. I too have been decorating cakes for a little over a year. I started by making cakes for all my family members birthdays and special events for church, etc. I then started advertising on a local selling network in our area. That is where I have gotten most of my business. When they pick up their cake I give them business cards to hand out and a brochure of all the items I offer (cakes, pies, cookies, cupcakes, etc.). My business is growing, but it is a slow process. I get frustrated sometimes because I want to grow faster and stay home and work this business, but I am being taught patience. I also have a webpage where I post pictures of all my cakes that I have made, and on my advertisements I direct them to that page. All my calls tell me they see my cakes and love them. That's why they call. If they really like your work and have the money, they will pay for it! If they enjoy the cake they will past the word along. Hope this helps. I am interested to hear other ideas to help me along as well. Best to you!!
I see you said your office is housed in a hosp? Well speaking as a nurse...they LOVE to receive free cupcakes and cakes to munch on in the break rooms and at nurses stations...they'll take it to the proper place after you leave it of course.
Plus.....docs and nurses and EMTs and staff at hosp are great tasters who can easily become customers too.
Not to mention donating to your local churches, nursing homes, fie houses and libraries too. These are typically forgotten people on the treats circuit...also good to donate to these people for the fun, practice and joy of it too. And if you happen to get a few customers to boot, well that's the icing on your cake....sorry couldn't resist that!
Make sure you leave a way for them to identify who made the goodies and a way to contact you....business cards, labels on the boxes, maybe fliers of special sales or discounts or specials you may want to run to try to get people to taste your wares and then they'll come back.
A good wesbite!!!!!!!!!
My website has more than paid for itself. I am not joking when I say all my new customers mention my website and how they love the look.
A good wesbite!!!!!!!!!
I agree. The majority of my customers have found me online. Business is growing and I'm getting more referrals, but my website was how I started!
Advertise: Business Cards, Website, Myspace, Word-of-Mouth and the occasional fundraiser/charity. When they get to see what you're capable of and taste how yummy it is - they'll be begging for more.
HOWEVER, The economy has forced people to be more frugal with their very limited funds, so you'll find that a LOT of ppl just accept a crappy cake from Wal*Mart for $12-15.
Hang in there
I've seen lots of posts on here about where to go for more business and I'm afriad of looking pushy and/or desperate. It's a fine line and I'm not a good salesperson.