Tastings....old Story (Vent)

Business By karateka Updated 1 Jan 2009 , 5:27am by FromScratch

karateka Posted 29 Dec 2008 , 7:04pm
post #1 of 55

I'm getting so frustrated.

Every time I get a call from a bride, I explain my tasting policies (after they ask). I get a $25 deposit and apply it to their final balance if they book with me.

Every time I say that, they tell me they'll call back....then they don't. I can't afford to keep baking 3 flavors of cake for people and having them not show up. It ends up in the trash can. I can't afford to throw money away like that. What am I supposed to do??

The only thing I can think of is maybe keeping chocolate, white, and one other flavor in the freezer in small pieces, and telling brides they don't have to pay, but they don't get a choice in flavors, either. That way I'm not baking constantly??

Seriously, this is getting ridiculous. How can these bakeries afford this? And the time suck is something else, too. You arrange your whole day around their appointment, and if they don't pay for your time, half the time they don't show up or even call. I'm starting to think I need to abandon this and sell my equipment and be done. (Ok, I'm whining a little....)

Thanks for letting me vent.

54 replies
TexasSugar Posted 29 Dec 2008 , 7:49pm
post #2 of 55

Have you thought about having a tasting day once or twice a month? Set up all you appointments on that day, so you aren't baking every other day for tastings.

FlowerGirlMN Posted 29 Dec 2008 , 7:53pm
post #3 of 55

I'm really starting to rethink my tastings set up.

I'm with you. I don't have a retail storefront. Hell, I don't even do my meetings at the kitchen, as it doesn't really have an area for it, and I pay by the hour.

I've been charging $25/ each for 6" taster cakes. I had a couple orders for these over the past couple weeks that I STRONGLY suspect were not even for weddings (ie: cheap dessert for the holidays!). I apply the first cake against the contract, but baking, torting, filling, and fondanting these for people who aren't even shopping for weddings.. it gets expensive.

I also got stood up for one a couple weeks ago, and I'm still pretty burnt about that.
6:30 appointment. Didn't show up. I called, she'd forgetten, would be on her way, can we make it for 7:30? Ok. SO I go home and ask her to call me when she gets to a point that's about 20 mins away.

7:30 comes, no call. One of us finally calls the other, she's still 30 mins away (TOTALLY impossible if she left when she said she would!), asks if there is any way I can meet her 20 mins further away from my house. I decline, as I was already behind on plans for the evening. (Oh, and she already knew than I was bending my hours by meeting her at 6:30!). She says it's cool.

So she tells me where she is, I estimate how long she'll be, and leave to meet her at the coffee shop we agreed on.

She never showed up.

Called her a couple times, she wouldn't even answer her phone!!

Of course, this was more of a last minute one, so she wasn't able to pay upfront, and I got stuck with a gorgous white chocolate almond amaretto cake.

Man was I pissed!!!

She still hasn't made contact with me.

Aside from that, I'm getting sick of people who think they need to meet with every single cake person in the area, then sending me an email saying that mine tasted best, but they found someone cheaper. Yeah, the ones who can do it cheaper are the ones with much bigger companies, who aren't losing time by meeting with them, either!

Anyway, I'm sort of considering an appointment fee of maybe $50, and including one taster cake at that.

I don't know, wedding season is starting up, and I want to figure it out ASAP.

Cascades Posted 29 Dec 2008 , 8:58pm
post #4 of 55

Boy, I can really relate to this topic. I have a fully licensed commercial kitchen in a separate building from my house, but I can't have people over because of use permit restrictions. I have also chosen to do most of my business and advertising in a larger metropolitan area about an hour from my home.

I don't mind the drive at all. It's the brides that want the world as far as the tastings that kill me. I make the trip out mostly evenings to accommodate them. I bring them 3 or 4 samples and then a lot of times they seem to want to try other samples. I need to be strong enough to tell them I will only meet with them once and after that I will have to charge for my time.
I do not charge for my tastings. I think the best thing to do is to have it on my website that I only have tastings once or twice a month and make it by appointment. Since I meet at local coffee shops it's kind of hard. Anybody out there have any other ideas. I would love to keep this thread going.

CakeForte Posted 29 Dec 2008 , 9:01pm
post #5 of 55

Yep....I had posted on this a few months back. My no show problem has disappeared since Ive been doing the reminder email...but I'm still getting the ppl that say mine tasted the best, but the went for someone cheaper...just like in the previous post....the cheaper ones only offer 4 flavors and are not "custom designers" like I am....so of course they would be cheaper.

Anyway...I've decided to cancel all of my advertising and try a completely different approach because I'm done with what I was doing. It's still in the works, but I'll post my results once I start doing it.

Wing-Ding Posted 29 Dec 2008 , 9:18pm
post #6 of 55

I haven't started tasting appointments yet, but I just had this conversation with my sister since one of her friends asked for me to make her wedding cake yesterday. I decided that when I start holding tastings, it would be once or twice a month (depending on business) and they would have to show up at that time or wait until the next time. I can't afford to have no-shows.

I declined the wedding cake however. It turns out she just wanted me to bake the cake and deliver it to her decorator. I found it somewhat insulting.

cakesdivine Posted 29 Dec 2008 , 9:27pm
post #7 of 55

I have a venue that uses me exclusively. If they contact me for a sampling I don't charge the couple for the sampling because I know I will get the cake order, and they must pay their booking deposit the day of the sampling...But I too use a commercial kitchen and no longer have a store front (long sad story - don't ask) So I turned my spare room into my gallery and consultation area. They can come to me for free, but if they want me to come to them (which I will do) then they pay a $50 sampling fee that is deducted from their booking fee of $200. If they don't book then I have my $50 and I will not show for their appointment nor bake a single cake for their samplings if the $50 isn't received by Paypal at least 48 hours prior to their appointment.

I only allow 4 cake flavor choices and 2 must be my French Vanilla and my Dark Chocolate. Then they get two other choices. I make a Vanilla buttercream, a chocolate buttercream and a creamcheese icing for them to sample. I inform them that the vanilla or buttercream icings can be infused with different flavors of their choice. If they ask to sample a filling I allow 2 filling samples of their choice (I get all this info PRIOR to the appointment date) I do not decorate a cake - that is too time consuming. I cut blocks of cake then pipe the icing with a giant star tip into chocolate cups, each cup is a different shape so I can remember which is BC and which is CC...LOL! The fillings are piped into 1oz souffle cups, and I use those wooden flat spoons that you use to get when you bought a cup of icecream from the corner store. Hobby Lobby sells them. If they know they want fondant, I put a sample of fondant in a sealed souffle cup so it won't dry out. All my cake pics are downloaded onto my Ipod and I use that for them to see my cake photos.

If a couple doesn't show for their appointment I package up the sampling in PressN Seal wrap, if I don't get another sampling or they don't reschedule within a week my family gets cake! They love it when a sampling cancels!

CakeForte Posted 29 Dec 2008 , 9:29pm
post #8 of 55

I did the the tastings every few weeks as well. I will most likely go back to that, but I'm in graduate school right now and I can never predict which weeks would just be overloaded with homework. Then I would have 8 appointments that I couldn't cancel.

So a lot of my issues are the present circumstances and trying to find ways to really pre-qualify the clients and cut out Sunday shoppers.

Wing-Ding Posted 29 Dec 2008 , 9:33pm
post #9 of 55

cakesdevine..... I love your idea!

Bonnie151 Posted 29 Dec 2008 , 10:21pm
post #10 of 55

I do cupcakes because they are fast & inexpensive to make. Most people just want variations of my basic sponge recipe so I bake a dozen cupcakes and just split the batter & add the flavourings. There's usually a few left over which I box up for the bride to take home. I'll do up to 4 different flavours and 3-4 buttercreams. I don't charge for tastings but I haven't had a problem with no shows so far. I have my tastings in my dining room which doubles as the kids' playroom - not ideal when I'm trying to look professional! Thankfully no one has cared so far, at least not enough to put them off booking with me...

indydebi Posted 29 Dec 2008 , 10:35pm
post #11 of 55

I bake an 8" square cake ... choc, white and red velvet. I cut each into 9 squares (slightly less than 3" by 3"). They go in the freezer. (fits PERFECT in a gallon ziplok bag.) When I have a sampling, I pull out one square each, thaw and serve (uniced) with some samples of icings and fillings .... a small scoop of each (about a tsp of each).

I bake once for 9 sampling appts. It's PLENTY of cake for them to sample. Remember ... it's a SAMPLE!!!

I also do not view a sampling as a time when they get to "try out" every flavor of cake I make so they can decide which flavor they want. I view a sampling as a time when they see if they like my baking. I tell them, "My lemon cake is just as good as my white cake except it tastes like lemon."

Once in a blue moon, will I make a sample cake in a specially requested flavor, but that's ONLY if I have the time and ONLY if I feel like messing with it.

I do not charge for samplings and at this point, my stance is I never will. I even do samplings for the catering side and that entails making a small lunch for up to 4 people .... at no charge.

I have almost zero no-shows, but I'm sure it has a lot to do with the confirming email I send to the bride when we book the appointment ... it details what's involved, don't bring kids, allow an hour, and let me know if you need to reschedule so I can schedule in another bride in your time slot. The email sends the message that I am serious, professional, and that I am investing some serious time in getting together with the bride.

Jessica1817 Posted 30 Dec 2008 , 3:21am
post #12 of 55

I don't charge for tastings either, however I don't prepare the samples until I hear back from the client (I send out a reminder email and call if I don't hear back; it takes a few extra minutes but keeps me from wasting time with a no show thumbs_up.gif ) I have small baskets in my freezer with various flavors, and just pull individually wrapped 2"x2" samples as needed. Normally I make samples left from extra batter I bake in small square pans. It only takes a few hours to thaw, then I pipe buttercream with a large tip, box and go. If requested I will cut a small sample of fondant with a cookie cutter and place on one of the samples. All in all as long as my samples are stocked, it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare a box of samples.

indydebi Posted 30 Dec 2008 , 3:35am
post #13 of 55

Jessica, it takes less time than that to thaw. I usually pull the 3x3's out of the freezer just an hour or two before the appt. (Usually two, but I have done it in less time.) Small cakes take no time at all! But I'm with you .... with a thawed cake, less than 10 minutes, and I'm all prepped for an appt! thumbs_up.gif

classiccake Posted 30 Dec 2008 , 3:37am
post #14 of 55

In reading the posts, there are very diverse ways people are having to handle their tastings. I can't imagine driving an hour for a tasting! So I guess we all need to share our methods and everyone adapt to their own situation.

I have a storefront and some weeks we will see twenty potential brides. We offer around 25 flavors of cake. We explain to callers that there is a list of flavors on our website that they can view. After viewing the list, they can call us back with three flavor choices. Generally if they do call, they request flavors we are already baking that week. If the requests are not on our baking list, then we will add their choices. When we bake our orders each week, we bake a single layer 6" round cake of each flavor that we have an order for that week. For the top six flavors, we bake 2 sample cakes. They can sample anything we have when they come to their appointment.

We have two tables in our bridal room and on each table we have a "stand-up" plexiglass photo frame. On one side we list all the flavors and fillings we offer. On the other side, we place a list of all the flavors we have available that day to taste. (We will keep our samples for one week.) We generally have 12 to 15 choices. We cut a small slice from the 6" layers to sample. We always have our filling choices available if they want to try any of them. If they want to try fondant, then we roll and cut a small piece and just lay it on the cake and icing for them to try.

We only call the Saturday brides to remind them of their appointments. We generally do not have too many no-shows. We never charge for a tasting. We feel that is part of our customer service.

karateka Posted 30 Dec 2008 , 3:49am
post #15 of 55

I know I'm losing some business....or at least traffic by charging. But I've had to throw away so much cake for no shows....I don't know how else to handle this.

I don't mind stating that tastings will include this 3 flavors of cake. That would lift the burden a bit. But even then, how do I combat no shows? They say they are coming and just don't. Can I re-freeze those bits of cake? Or do I just keep tossing them in the trash???

At the World Pastry Forum, Anil Rohira was on "those of you who don't charge for tastings" and who only "charge $2/serving" as being basically stupid (although he didn't use that word)

So who's right?? Charge or not charge? And how do I keep from losing my mind when they no show and I've wasted tons of time polishing my glassware, silver, and dining table, in addition to blocking off a chunk of the day for someone who just decides not to show? My DH is a saint, but that was pissing him off. And when we are both irritated, we don't get along well. icon_razz.gif

I can't seem to win for losing. I've no idea what the best format is. Not to sound whiny, I just really don't know what to do next. I'm so tired of the "I'll have to call you back" routine, but equally tired of throwing cake away that I spent all day baking the day before.

Do you guys who send out reminder emails have a set lead time for appointments? (ie, do you do take appointments for tomorrow, or do you insist that appointments made today are for at least next week or later?) Have you ever had someone refuse to give out their email?

Jessica1817 Posted 30 Dec 2008 , 3:59am
post #16 of 55

I've booked consults for the next day or even 6 weeks out (lots of out of town brides), it depends on the availability of myself and my client. I always get email addresses and a contact number--no one has ever refused. I'm licensed out of my home, and with 2 young boys I know the frustration of getting everything in its place and perfectly clean, along with getting everyone out of the house. After reading about others conducting tastings at coffee shops, I decided to give it a try and LOVE IT! I've never had a client ask to meet at my house, esp after I explain that I am inspected and that city ordinance prohibits customer traffic (I can't have pick-ups at my house). This also keeps strangers away from my home, and gives this SAHM an hour or 2 out of the house icon_smile.gif

indydebi Posted 30 Dec 2008 , 4:09am
post #17 of 55

I do 99% of my business via the internet, so, no, I've never had anyone refuse to give me an email. I honestly would have no idea how to deal with someone who doesn't have email. icon_eek.gif

In my ever so never humble opinion, I agree that you've wasted tons of time polishing your glassware and your silver. My goodness, I dont' go to that much work when I'm sampling a catering and I'm expecting an average bride to spend over $3000!

For cake samplings, I use a rectangle PLASTIC tray, that I line with 2 sheets of wax paper. I place the three 3x3 squares of un-iced cake directly on the wax paper. I place little dollops of icing and filling right on the wax paper. I use a Sharpie to write on the wax paper what the flavors are. They get a 6" plastic plate and a plastic fork to eat their cake. If I have bottles of water, they get one of the small ones. If I'm out of bottled waters, then they get a pitcher of ice water (plastic pitcher) and a punch-size plastic cup.

It's a free sampling. If I EVER get some prima-donna complain about this set-up, I will calmly and serenely explain (oh right! if you believe that.....!) that I'm more than willing to do the silver and crystal set-up for them. We can reschedule for tomorrow and I'll take their credit card for $150 today.....non-refundable and non-applicable to their order. (don't screw with me if I'm in a bad mood! ANd complaining about how they are served a FREE sampling will put me in a bad mood!) thumbs_up.gificon_twisted.gif

I make appts with as little as 2 days notice. But during Jan-April (peak planning times), I've had to schedule people as far out as 3 weeks because my sampling calendar was full (last April I had 21 samplings and booked 19 of them).

As mentioned earlier, I believe my confirming email sets the stage for how serious I take this appt and how serious I EXPECT them to take this appt. I don't send reminder emails ... and I rarely have a no-show.

Kitagrl Posted 30 Dec 2008 , 4:11am
post #18 of 55

Luckily so far I have not had no shows....I'm still refining my tastings. Is it possible to take a small deposit online for a tasting appointment? Maybe take some money ahead of time (online) and then refund it when they show up? (Or put it on their bill, or whatever...)

SugarMoonCakeCo Posted 30 Dec 2008 , 4:34am
post #19 of 55

Here's what I do:

consultations: free - approximately 1 hour - we meet at my Studio or at a cafe (as chosen by client) - never does a tasting happen at this time

tastings: $18 - two cake flavours each with a filling of choice (2, 3x3 layers filled and rough iced in buttercream) fondant "label" on top of each - boxed and delivered to your location (it's my part of the "service") or picked up at our downtown coffee shop.

I don't stick around for the tasting - I don't need to see people eat and personally find it VERY awkward. I do suggest the tasting prior to the consultation, but many brides don't even bother with the tasting and just book based on recommendations from previous clients.

I have thought about doing tastings ONLY once or twice a month (still keeping the consultation separate) - this would definitely ease things up... a HUGE consideration for 2009... ooo, guess that's just around the corner, better get on it! icon_wink.gif

indydebi Posted 30 Dec 2008 , 4:38am
post #20 of 55

Kita, do you know what the norm is in your area? Do all the other bakers/bakeries charge for samplings? If everyone does free ones, and you're trying to charge for them, that puts you at a disadvantage. If everyone else is charging for them, then it should be a "everyone does it" thing that brides are running into and it "shouldn't" turn them off from someone who charges.

summernoelle Posted 30 Dec 2008 , 5:19am
post #21 of 55

karateka, I FEEL YOUR PAIN! I hate tastings. I hate wedding cake consultations. But, I do love wedding cakes, and weddings.
Last week, I had a Bride who was only in town over 2 days for Christmas. So on Christmas Eve, with shopping and tons of stuff to do, I squeeze her in. Rainy, cold day. Two kids I have to get a babysitter for. Had to bake all sorts of cupcakes and make frostings for them. They end up sending an email that they aren't interested. Then I had another tasting for this week, everything was ready, and of course she canceled, because a family member is making the cake. I know not every tasting results in a booked date, but with party cakes, it's no big deal. With wedding cakes, it's $ down the drain, and a ton of time.
So, with another Bride, I tried to get out of it. No such luck-she gave me an earful about not having and incentive to order from me, when another bakery would give her a tasting for four.
So, I'm stuck doing them.
Tastings make me want not want to do weddings. I am so frustrated too!
Sorry for hijacking, I just needed to vent.

aligotmatt Posted 30 Dec 2008 , 5:20am
post #22 of 55

I charge $25 for consults and I've only had one caller that 'freaked out' and didn't book a consult. Nobody else in my area charges for meetings. There are 4 of us that are the main folk here, 1 will only have you taste 2 specific flavors, 1 has you taste whatever they are making that week. I charge $25 to taste whatever 2 flavors you want, which is deducted from the total cost of the cake.

I want to revamp this system though. Like, free for 2 specific flavors, $25 for 2 whatever you want flavors, and only deducted from total cost if over $450...

I keep thinking the whole thing would be too confusing though...

CakeForte Posted 30 Dec 2008 , 5:43am
post #23 of 55

No worries about venting Noelle.

I've become strict on my tastings and have put a lot of rules in places just because of things you have said....some on purpose, some just because they happened that way and just didn't sit well with me.

I also do almost all of my business through the internet. Until they come in for an appointment...there is really no need for me to spend 15 minutes on a phone call (x 10 potential clients) when we will talk about the same stuff in a meeting. After a consult is scheduled and confirmed through email....I send them my phone number w/ directions to my location.
I only do tastings on Sundays...no exceptions. Fridays and Saturdays are too hectic w/ events, so I don't even go there.
The last minute meetings just don't work with my schedule and logistics to where I live versus how far away my shop is, so they need to book at least 2 weeks in advance. (usually I just say I'm full for that day if they do ask for a last minute.)
Tastings include a "few of my top sellers" customized tastings are available after they hire me.

If I do a tasting party...then I will bake about 10 flavors and meet about 20 brides in a weekend. Those are on hold until I'm done with school as they take a lot of prep/planning. I do get a really good response though when I hold them.

Bonnie151 Posted 30 Dec 2008 , 3:02pm
post #24 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

I honestly would have no idea how to deal with someone who doesn't have email. icon_eek.gif




icon_lol.gif Neither would I. I've only once had someone refuse to give me an email address but that was for a surprise birthday party and she didn't want her husband accidently seeing my cake confirmation email.

I use email for everything. I confirm wedding consultations via email, listing their chosen sample flavours and giving an overview as to what they can expect at the tasting/what information would be useful for them to bring along. I also send confirmation emails for celebration cake orders even if they've just booked a simple cake over the phone- if I didn't I'm sure I'd spell a name wrong on a cake someday!

At the consulations I have a plate and knife for each person. I put a plate of cupcakes in the middle of the table and have small pots of buttercream so that they can pick & choose which buttercream they want to try with which flavour cupcake. I also put 3 or 4 copies of "Wedding Cakes - A Design Source" (which I try to have a couple of my cakes in icon_biggrin.gif ) on the table. I tell them what is what and then go into the kitchen to make them a tea or coffee & let them start to taste without my being in the room.

When I come back in we usually have an informal chat about their wedding and what they might like for their cake. I mostly try to give them a ballpark figure for how much different designs would cost so that although they may leave without an exact design and price, they have a fairly good idea as to cost. (In the UK most people charge by specific cake design not per serving)

I use our ordinary dinner plates for the tastings. My husband said I ought to pull out our Denby for brides- I said no way! icon_lol.gif A tasting takes me about 20 minutes in preparation (not including the baking time for the cupcakes), 30-60 minutes for the tasting and 10-15 minutes for clearing up/cleaning afterwards.

I don't charge or consultations/tastings - it's not the norm to charge in my area.

-K8memphis Posted 30 Dec 2008 , 3:59pm
post #25 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesdivine

I have a venue that uses me exclusively. If they contact me for a sampling I don't charge the couple for the sampling because I know I will get the cake order, and they must pay their booking deposit the day of the sampling...But I too use a commercial kitchen and no longer have a store front (long sad story - don't ask) So I turned my spare room into my gallery and consultation area. They can come to me for free, but if they want me to come to them (which I will do) then they pay a $50 sampling fee that is deducted from their booking fee of $200. If they don't book then I have my $50 and I will not show for their appointment nor bake a single cake for their samplings if the $50 isn't received by Paypal at least 48 hours prior to their appointment.

I only allow 4 cake flavor choices and 2 must be my French Vanilla and my Dark Chocolate. Then they get two other choices. I make a Vanilla buttercream, a chocolate buttercream and a creamcheese icing for them to sample. ...




So if your booking fee is usually $150 and you get $50 gravy when they don't get a sampling that makes sense. I think.

This is so much additional work for only fifty bucks.

My one 'sampling' I did. The lady that referred me to the happy couple just about went into a diabetic coma over my butter pecan cake. Seriously. So of course I made that for the tasting. Well the bride & company didn't like butter pecan and didn't eat the sampling and ordered white.

Stick a fork in me I'm done! icon_lol.gif

Tastings make me so tired. I'd ony do it like Indy does or cupcakes pre-frozen and microzapped.

But still--people know my cakes. I've only been word of mouth. They already know.

I hear people saying that they would not pay $3000 for a cake without tasting it first. Well we sign up for 5 years of payments totalling thousands of dollars to drive cars we know that have all kinds of flaws. The cake they eat today makes no guarantee to how it's gonna come out three months later as a towering sweet beautiful tier cake.

What if they don't like chocolate (probably aliens recently dropped off the mother ship but...) why waste the cake and effort and money and time.

I do hate tastings.

I will do them if I have to.

But probably only white.

And all the extra money stuff tires me out. Too much for moi.
I have a short attention span and it's time to change the channel.

This is all like a contract before the contract and don't get me started on these five page contracts that make closing on a house look simple by comparison.

icon_biggrin.gif

FromScratch Posted 30 Dec 2008 , 4:41pm
post #26 of 55

I do consults a lot like Debi does. I used to set up a sample plate, but I find that most people don't really want to eat right there.. so I now box up the samples and send them home with them. All of it fits nicely into a 6" cake box that I dress up with my label and a bow. I use 2oz portion cups for fillings and wrap the cakes in plastic wrap. All are labeled with printed stickers so they know what they are eating when they get home. I give them 12 fillings and 5 cakes (all chosen by me). Most of my fillings are flavored SMBC so it's easy to whip them up.. I always have SMBC in the freezer and I'll add some ganache (which I always have on hand) add some fruit purees (which I keep frozen in cubes in the freezer) add some nutella add some coffee.. you get the idea. I keep my 5 main sellers for cake flavors cut into 2" cubes in the freezer as well. It takes me about 20 minutes to set up and pack a tasting box. I charge $25 for a consult/tasting that gets applied to the cake should they book. A consult takes a good hour of my time and I would like to be compensated for that. I accept checks if they can get them to me no less than a week berfore the tasting or they can pay on-line, but I dont' set up anything if I haven't been paid first. If after the initial tasting they want sample somethign specific they can pay for a tasting cake.. single 6" layer torted and filled and covered in SMBC and fondant.. for $20. I only offer tasting cakes to clients that have paid their retainer and are on my books. No one is getting a $20 cake unless they have promised me business. I hold consults in my home since all of my stuff is here and I have my dummies on hand to show configurations. I try to keep my house pretty clean all the time so it's not a ton of work to get ready for a consult. I also send out a confirmation e-mail the day before and if I do not get a reply.. I do nothing. This is explained to them in our initial conversation so the expect the e-mail. I haven't had a no-show to date.. *knock on wood*

I am a licensed home baker so until I get my shop and have the client base to warrant a bi-weekly tasting event this is how I do it. icon_smile.gif

karateka Posted 30 Dec 2008 , 5:02pm
post #27 of 55

Well, this whole thing is a lesson for me, and hopefully others. Having a cake business is not (forgive me....) a piece of cake!

I listened to all those people who told me I could do this for a living, and let my vanity push me into it. It's HARD. Trying to figure out the best way to be competitive while still making money.....teaching oneself techniques from videos and books because you can only afford so many actual classes (when you can find them).....all the trial and error as far as the business aspects go (advertising, tastings, and so on)......trying not to let my passions dictate life for my kids....Gah!!!

I just decided to change my policies on tastings, so we'll see how that goes. One free tasting day per month, I pick 3 flavors of cake and they get to pick fillings...if they want specialty flavor cake they pay. And I send a reminder email like Indydebi does....if they refuse me contact info, they don't get an appointment. Maybe this will help me, may be not. But it can't really get much worse. icon_lol.gif Maybe the mere fact that they don't have to pay will get their butts in the door, and then I have an even chance!

FromScratch Posted 30 Dec 2008 , 5:49pm
post #28 of 55

How long have you had your doors open? In beginning it's not easy.. you don't have tons of orders piling up, but as you go along.. it gets better. You can't fly by on talent alone. You need a sound business plan and a backbone of steel. Things will come together if you really want them to and you put in the hours it requires. (((hugs))) we have all been in your same shoes at one point.

ZAKIA6 Posted 30 Dec 2008 , 5:59pm
post #29 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by jkalman

I do consults a lot like Debi does. I used to set up a sample plate, but I find that most people don't really want to eat right there.. so I now box up the samples and send them home with them. All of it fits nicely into a 6" cake box that I dress up with my label and a bow. I use 2oz portion cups for fillings and wrap the cakes in plastic wrap. All are labeled with printed stickers so they know what they are eating when they get home. I give them 12 fillings and 5 cakes (all chosen by me). Most of my fillings are flavored SMBC so it's easy to whip them up.. I always have SMBC in the freezer and I'll add some ganache (which I always have on hand) add some fruit purees (which I keep frozen in cubes in the freezer) add some nutella add some coffee.. you get the idea. I keep my 5 main sellers for cake flavors cut into 2" cubes in the freezer as well. It takes me about 20 minutes to set up and pack a tasting box. I charge $25 for a consult/tasting that gets applied to the cake should they book. A consult takes a good hour of my time and I would like to be compensated for that. I accept checks if they can get them to me no less than a week berfore the tasting or they can pay on-line, but I dont' set up anything if I haven't been paid first. If after the initial tasting they want sample somethign specific they can pay for a tasting cake.. single 6" layer torted and filled and covered in SMBC and fondant.. for $20. I only offer tasting cakes to clients that have paid their retainer and are on my books. No one is getting a $20 cake unless they have promised me business. I hold consults in my home since all of my stuff is here and I have my dummies on hand to show configurations. I try to keep my house pretty clean all the time so it's not a ton of work to get ready for a consult. I also send out a confirmation e-mail the day before and if I do not get a reply.. I do nothing. This is explained to them in our initial conversation so the expect the e-mail. I haven't had a no-show to date.. *knock on wood*

I am a licensed home baker so until I get my shop and have the client base to warrant a bi-weekly tasting event this is how I do it. icon_smile.gif




i saw your tasting set up in previous posts. i know you state that you now just box up the samples, but when you did/do hold tastings did each person get their own plate?

FromScratch Posted 30 Dec 2008 , 6:39pm
post #30 of 55

I used to have them come to my home and taste the samples with me and each person would get their own plate. I limited it to two people other than the bride. I have no problem doing an in home tasting if someone wants my professional opinion or doesn't mind eating with me there. Most people don't care, but some do. It's easier for me to just send people home with samples for them to eat in their own home and not feel bad if they don't like something. I used to box some up anyway along with a plate, and it was a bit much. It was nice though if the fiance couldn't be there for the tasting. So now I spend the entire consult talking to the bride and getting a feel for her likes and dislikes and talking about her cake and sketching if need be. It's relaxed and they don't feel pressured to give compliments or pick a flavor right then and there.

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