Selling Cupcakes...

Business By Mandeepthemom Updated 4 Mar 2009 , 3:51am by LaBellaFlor

Mandeepthemom Posted 2 Mar 2009 , 7:43pm
post #1 of 30

I have a couple of questions. I recently had my first cupcake customer...was pretty excited...until I had to do her order...very time consuming...how could I have handled it better.
Here it goes

1) she ordered 4 dozen cupcakes, half chocolate, half vanilla (fine)
but wanted a 1m swirl on them with 3 colours (blue, green and yellow)
Is that to many colors to ask for...it was a pain coloring the butter cream, washing my bag and tip (only have 1 1m) etc....do people charge more for different colours?
I charged her $1.25 per cupcake...

2) she asked me if the cupcakes were from scratch...I love to decorate cakes, I hate the baking element...I use Duncan Hines...she was not happy with me telling her that the cupcakes were boxed...how should I have worded it to her better? Is it fair for them to ask?


Thanks for the info, love this site

29 replies
pattigunter Posted 2 Mar 2009 , 7:52pm
post #2 of 30

I havent had very good luck with selling cupcakes. They are a lot of trouble and people dont appreciate the work involved. Maybe its my area but I quoted a lady who wanted princess cupcakes $10/dozen and her response was exactly this "I can get 3 dozen for that at Sams".

I told her to order them from Sams!

KellJ Posted 2 Mar 2009 , 8:02pm
post #3 of 30

I don't think its a big deal to have a customer ask for different color frosting for their cupcakes. That is what they are paying for. I buy disposable bags and have more than one tip. Maybe if you are going to decorate you should invest in more than one tip so you aren't having to wash it every time. Customers have the right to ask questions about your product and if you don't bake from scratch and they ask, you need to be upfront about it and just tell them you use box mixes.

I love doing cupcakes they are so much fun and quick to do.

Deb_ Posted 2 Mar 2009 , 8:06pm
post #4 of 30

I think your price was very fair.

As far as the decorating, did you stripe your bag or did you do each color individually. Striping is way easier.

Now the dreaded "are these from scratch?" question. Some may tell you that you don't have to tell your secrets, however if there are allergy issues and you don't tell the truth, that could be dangerous.

If you "doctor" the mix, you could say "I start my base with a mix, but I then add to it to make it my own". Technically you are adding stuff to it.

This is why I bake from scratch. I've found the general public expects it. Some people have told me that if they wanted a cake from a mix, they'd bake it themselves and save the big $$. I am asked all the time if I bake from scratch, almost every new order I get asks me that.

It's really a personal decision...........I LOVED baking long before I learned to decorate. So for me, the passion goes into the ingredients I choose to come up with these recipes. That's where I find the most satisfaction, knowing I created that "delicious" baked good.

cakesbydina Posted 2 Mar 2009 , 8:26pm
post #5 of 30

I think you priced it too low. I sell cupcakes for $3 a piece. That is a lot of work for three colors and you have to factor in your labor cost. As far as the scratch vs. box question... It is personal preference but it is much the same application as well. Instead of using cake flour your using premeasure dry ingredients. What's the difference? If you are doctoring your mixes you are using the same ingredients as a cake from scratch such as egg, oil, water, butter, zests, liquors et... if someone wants to compare you to sam's then they are assuming your cakes are not custom decorated and made by bulk icing and frozen cakes. yours are homemade and fresh and custom to their liking. Also, they are paying for your time and talent. That's worth more than Sam's anyday.

You do not have to tell anyone what your baking secrets are. If they have allergies it's there issue and they need to tell you what they are allergic too. They don't need to know your ingredients or method in baking a cake. Say for example they say they are allergic to soy and want to know if you bake from scratch. Just tell them whether or not soy consist in your ingredients list. That's it.

Let's face it. Not many people can whip out a cake as gorgous as the ones here on CC. Even if it is from a box it's the doctoring and decorating that make it professional and bakery quality.

FromScratch Posted 2 Mar 2009 , 8:36pm
post #6 of 30

I think there is a big difference between scratch baking and mix baking... both in flavor and technique. If you choose to do one or the other it's totally up to you, but you should be honest with your customers.

As for your price... it was low if you ask me. A cupcake is te same amount of cake as a wedding serving (an smidge more actually if you do the math) and they should be priced accordingly. You have to pour your batter into muiltiple tiny wells lined with paper... you have to decorate each individually rather than just one big cake... you have to have specialized boxes to transport them in... the list can go on and on. I start custom decorated cupcakes at $4.50 each. They come filled and frosted with BC. I have basic cupcakes that aren't filled and just piped with a 1M tip and they are $3.50 each.

maryjsgirl Posted 2 Mar 2009 , 9:04pm
post #7 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4littlewops

I think you priced it too low. I sell cupcakes for $3 a piece. That is a lot of work for three colors and you have to factor in your labor cost. As far as the scratch vs. box question... It is personal preference but it is much the same application as well. Instead of using cake flour your using premeasure dry ingredients. What's the difference? If you are doctoring your mixes you are using the same ingredients as a cake from scratch such as egg, oil, water, butter, zests, liquors et... if someone wants to compare you to sam's then they are assuming your cakes are not custom decorated and made by bulk icing and frozen cakes. yours are homemade and fresh and custom to their liking. Also, they are paying for your time and talent. That's worth more than Sam's anyday.

You do not have to tell anyone what your baking secrets are. If they have allergies it's there issue and they need to tell you what they are allergic too. They don't need to know your ingredients or method in baking a cake. Say for example they say they are allergic to soy and want to know if you bake from scratch. Just tell them whether or not soy consist in your ingredients list. That's it.

Let's face it. Not many people can whip out a cake as gorgous as the ones here on CC. Even if it is from a box it's the doctoring and decorating that make it professional and bakery quality.




So it's not the consumer's business what they are eating?

If I were to tell her my son was allergic to red dye would she know that red dye is found in a lot of cake mixes including yellow? Or would I just get to deal with a vomiting child, so she can keep her "baking secrets"?



As for the original question I would always be truthful. If she has a problem with that, then tell her you can make it from scratch, but you would have to charge her .75 more a serving.

snarkybaker Posted 2 Mar 2009 , 11:28pm
post #8 of 30

I do believe if someone asks if you are baking from scratch, you need to tell them the truth. I know it gets tough to ask for a premium for baked goods, especially when you're using a mix.

Our cupcakes are $3.25 each or $33.00 a dozen. We sold 53,000 last year. Right now, with as popular as cupcakes are, it is worth the effort to learn to make a good cupcake. It isn't worth the hit to your image to bake from a box.

cakesbydina Posted 2 Mar 2009 , 11:42pm
post #9 of 30

Oh really maryjsgirl...if you went to eat at olive garden and asked for the recipe to their pasta primivara do you really think they are going to hand it to you? I don't think so. If you have an allergy, like I said before it's your business to tell the server/chef that you are allergic to red dye and if that is in the ingredients of the dish you wish to order that you would have to know so you can order something else. You are never required to give a consumer your baking method/secrets/recipe. Are you kidding?

snarkybaker...I never intended to say that you lie to a consumer. If I was asked if I baked from scratch I would say
"no, I use premeasured dry ingredients and add everything to it you would for a scratch cake".

maryjsgirl Posted 2 Mar 2009 , 11:58pm
post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4littlewops

Oh really maryjsgirl...if you went to eat at olive garden and asked for the recipe to their pasta primivara do you really think they are going to hand it to you? I don't think so. If you have an allergy, like I said before it's your business to tell the server/chef that you are allergic to red dye and if that is in the ingredients of the dish you wish to order that you would have to know so you can order something else. You are never required to give a consumer your baking method/secrets/recipe. Are you kidding?

snarkybaker...I never intended to say that you lie to a consumer. If I was asked if I baked from scratch I would say
"no, I use premeasured dry ingredients and add everything to it you would for a scratch cake".




I wouldn't be caught dead in Olive Garden. I prefer scratch Italian icon_lol.gif

And asking if you use a mix is not asking for a recipe. Do you know exactly every ingredient in every cake mix you use by heart? Do you know the alternative names to all of these lab made ingredients that some boxes have? I doubt it. And that could make someone sick. Not a good look if you are running a business.

I am not against mixes. I use them for things. But, I would never mislead someone into thinking otherwise.

sayhellojana Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 12:09am
post #11 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4littlewops

You are never required to give a consumer your baking method/secrets/recipe. Are you kidding?

snarkybaker...I never intended to say that you lie to a consumer. If I was asked if I baked from scratch I would say
"no, I use premeasured dry ingredients and add everything to it you would for a scratch cake".




But in the end it's NOT a scratch cake. It still contains the chemicals, preservatives and additives of a processed food. If someone is buying a custom cake/cupcake, they obviously do not want grocery store quality, and even if it tastes much better, that is what you are giving them. They should know, even if they don't ask themselves.

method/secrets/recipe - none of them have to do with boxed or not. Boxed is not a secret, its a component in the cake.

Please, the way people choose to bake is their business, but don't be rude to other people on the thread, like snarkybaker or maryj, because your opinions differ.

alvarezmom Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 12:23am
post #12 of 30

If a customer asks if I bake from scratch then I answer...IF they dont then I dont.

As a mother if I knew my child was allergic to a certain product I would ask if that ingredient is in the mix. I dont think it is the baker's job to ask ehat they can and cant put in the cake...it's the customer's job..exp if a person is allergic to something.

I certainly as a baker/decorator do not go around to every customer and ask "May I put this or that" into my cake.....

Just because a person comes to me for a custom cake doesnt mean they want scratch. All it means is they want something original...a cake that you wont find at Sam's or WalMart.

I bake the way I feel comfortable, and if a customer doesnt like it then they can go on down the road to another baker.

majormichel Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 12:29am
post #13 of 30

The cupcakes are priced to low.

icer101 Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 12:32am
post #14 of 30

my teacher told me 13 years ago... the clients are paying for our knowlege of how to decorate the beautiful cakes and cupcakes and cookies, etc. , that we know how to do . . they don,t know how... anybody can bake a cake.. cupcake..cookie,etc.. but not everbody has the knowlege of decorating .. but we do! some people like to bake from scratch.. some box mixes only.. some extended recipes.. the only thing , we should care about.. is doing what we are asked to do by our clients. some people want you to make everything from scratch.. some love cake mixes better... why do we care... as long as it is good and up to our expectations and the clients.. i could go on and on.. but will stop.. this site is bad for thinking what they do is the best.. and putting down others that don,t do things they way they do it.. this same thing is on so many threads since i joined 3 years ago.. it is sad. so we,re all differnt.. we,re all not going to like the same thing... or do the same way.. that is ok.. some that bake from scratch... may not decorate as good as the one that bakes from mixes or extenders.. think about that.. then this subject might not come across this site anymore..

FromScratch Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 1:03am
post #15 of 30

I don't think anyone in this thread has put down either side of the baking story... just said that if asked you should let them know. I'm not saying paste the fact that you use Duncan Heinz mixes all over your site or have it be the first thing you say to people, but if flat out asked you should feel good enough about your product to say that it is from a mix. People act like it's something they have to hide. I'm saying love what you do and people will do the same. There's a place in the baking world for every aspect.

Deb_ Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 1:31am
post #16 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4littlewops

Oh really maryjsgirl...if you went to eat at olive garden and asked for the recipe to their pasta primivara do you really think they are going to hand it to you? I don't think so. If you have an allergy, like I said before it's your business to tell the server/chef that you are allergic to red dye and if that is in the ingredients of the dish you wish to order that you would have to know so you can order something else. You are never required to give a consumer your baking method/secrets/recipe. Are you kidding?

snarkybaker...I never intended to say that you lie to a consumer. If I was asked if I baked from scratch I would say
"no, I use premeasured dry ingredients and add everything to it you would for a scratch cake".




Actually some states including MA where I have a licensed kitchen in my house require us to list our ingredients, so yes they can and do ask. We don't have to give measurements, but we do have to list the ingredients used.

cakesbydina Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 1:57am
post #17 of 30

not in virginia

JenWhitlock Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 2:00am
post #18 of 30

I'm going to stay out of the scratch vs. box thingie.
but as I try to become a better baker, I can say that folks can have the same recipe and produce different results.
this was pretty evident to me at the fair, when I was looking at a cookie bake-off where everyone was using the same recipe -- the cookies looked so different!!!

so in addition to your skills as a decorator, they are getting your skills as a baker, having perfected the exact right amount of batter, time in the oven, temp, brand of ingredients, etc, etc.

good luck!
and I think that you could up your prices, cupcakes around me are $2.50 each.

Deb_ Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 2:04am
post #19 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4littlewops

not in virginia




Well consider yourself lucky because it's a big pain in the a$$........every state as we know is different. I'm just happy to be able to bake at home legally, so I list the ingredients with a smile icon_smile.gif

cakesbydina Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 2:35am
post #20 of 30

I know how lucky I am to have a business where I don't have to answer to anyone. I would not being doing this if it were a pain in the a**!!!!

stsapph Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 3:02am
post #21 of 30

In my own experience with the box vs scratch debate: I actually prefer to bake from scratch, but the majority of the people I know in my area have always complained about them being too rich or dense. When I tried a (very) doctored cake, everyone loved it! It just seems to be the taste here. Granted, no one has asked me whether they were scratch or not, but just from comments, the people I know seem to enjoy the texture of the doctored cakes better. Who knows, it could be operator error! icon_smile.gif Now, if I could find a scratch cake recipe/technique that had the same texture as a mix, I would be in heaven!
Also, I think you definitely undercharged! We charge 2.95 a cupcake where I work, and it's just your basic swirl. I would also invest in a few more 1M tips, and try the 2D tip as well. I like the look a little better than the 1M actually. I think I have 3-5 each of these tips, along with the 1,2 and 3 tips since I always seem to use those!
Above else, just remember to have fun!!

cakesbydina Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 3:42am
post #22 of 30

I'll second that !

Mandeepthemom Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 7:15am
post #23 of 30

wow...not to stir things up...I know I undercharged...it was a lot of work...I think their is nothing wrong with using box mixes...it's a lot easier for me....I just think that she assumed that I would be baking from scratch and I told her that i use boxes and add stuff...she asked I told....I did a from scratch cake recently, it did not turn out to well.......LOL...thanks for all your advice

FromScratch Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 2:50pm
post #24 of 30

MAndeepthmemom... none of the scratch vs. mix stuff was being aimed at you so no worries. She asked... you told her... that's wonderful and how it should be. icon_biggrin.gif There is absolutely nothing wrong with using a mix if that is what you are comfortable with, and I am a die hard scratch baker.

And to 4littlewops... no one ever said you have to tell them your exact recipes or techniques. Just be honest and say I start with a mix and add my own special things to make the recipe my own or I use a mix because they help me provide a consistant product. No one would ever expect you to divulge your list of ingredients including quantites and method. Some states require an ingredient list. it doesn't make it a pain in the a$$... just protocol. Most states that require ingredient lists only require that you submit your ingredient lists to the DOA or DHHS so they can be sure you aren't providing perishable food items since most homestead kitchens aren't allowed to sell those items. No need to put words in people's mouths.

cakesbydina Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 3:01pm
post #25 of 30

jkalman...may I suggest reading the posts accurately before posting your thoughts on a discussion between other people. I did not put words in anyone's mouth, I was simply responding to someone else's words. People on this thread have been very rude and I was responding to them but now i see a lot of people are plain bored and I for one have a busy business to run and a household of kids so I am no longer engaging in this topic. i use CC for good advice and inspirtation not for a negative outlet like some people seem to thrive on here. This is a mute point..I am out!

FromScratch Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 4:33pm
post #26 of 30

Perhaps you are unaware that your own posts have been coming across as rather gruff and confrontational. You reap what you sow, no? And I also think that you are reading more into people's posts than is really there. I haven't read much rudeness in this thread.

And it's a moot point... not a mute point. I know that I appreciate knowing when I say/type something wrong, so please don't take this as an attack or that I am trying to make you look like you don't know what you are talking about. Just information about a commonly misused term. icon_smile.gif

I am the farthest thing from a drama queen so please... take a step back and re-read you own posts and maybe you can see where you are coming across a little gruff. Your response above with all the exclaimation points and seemingly snippy introduction. I'm just saying that it's easy to read the wrong emotions into people posts because you aren't hearing the tone. I haven't posted anything here that I have meant to come across as snippy or confrontational. Though it is easy to take it that way... especially if it differs from your own opinion. icon_smile.gif

If you read my posts in this thread you will see that I don't care either way what someone chooses to do as far as baking their cakes goes nor would I ever expect someone to give a client their recipes. No one ever said you were required to give your recipes until you stated that it was a ridiculous request. Be honest and tell them it's from a mix yes, but no one said give them your recipes.

I am not bored. I don't have hours to waste here everyday. But when someone calls me out, I will respond. I have read the posts in this thread quite accurately thank you. I haven't been negative once in this thread... including in this response. Read it with a smile so there's no confusion as to my tone.

alanaj Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 5:23pm
post #27 of 30

Definitely charge more. I start at $2.50 for friends! Mine sell in a local shop for $2.75 for a basic filled, iced, and garnished cupcake. If I add so much as a little flower it goes up $.25 (and upwards from there for different designs).

I do doctored mixes as well as scratch so when customers ask I say "both, depending on the texture and consistency I'm going for". If they need more info. I give it to them but they always seem satisfied with that.

It's amazing the dropped jaws you get when some people learn you may start with a mix. I read an interesting statement in a previous thread about how the white flour and sugar we use for scratch (as well as other ingredients) is so refined and processed that there's about the same amount of chemicals/preservatives as in a box mix. Interesting I thought!

Deb_ Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 10:45pm
post #28 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4littlewops

jkalman...may I suggest reading the posts accurately before posting your thoughts on a discussion between other people. I did not put words in anyone's mouth, I was simply responding to someone else's words. People on this thread have been very rude and I was responding to them but now i see a lot of people are plain bored and I for one have a busy business to run and a household of kids so I am no longer engaging in this topic. i use CC for good advice and inspirtation not for a negative outlet like some people seem to thrive on here. This is a mute point..I am out!




If you look at my post about listing ingredients being a pain in the a$$, there is a "smiley chef" at the end. How you took this as rude is beyond me, in fact I was telling you that you're lucky to NOT have to do it. icon_confused.gif

You have been on the defensive from your very first post on this thread. Why? Not one person here has given you cause to be "snippy". I clearly stated that in MA we are REQUIRED to list our ingredients, not amounts on our products. So therefore, we DO have to tell the client the TRUTH about what is in our product. At least in my county we do.

Can someone please tell me why SOME people that bake from a mix or start with a mix are not willing to admit it? There is NOTHING wrong with baking with a mix therefore there is no stigma attached to admitting that you do. Please stop being so defensive.

Thanks jkalman for seeing the true meaning behind my posts, I appreciate it. icon_smile.gif

sayhellojana Posted 4 Mar 2009 , 1:39am
post #29 of 30

Well-put dkelly!

Though, I'm not going to try to evade anything; I wrote my earlier post to 4littlewops as snippy because it was meant to be snippy (but not mean). I fight fire with fire, I suppose. Always been a fault of mine.

Anywho, I think the general agreement is that regardless of how you bake you should always be honest with the customer.

And to the OP, sorry for hijacking your thread. Charge what you feel is commensurate with your time/ingredients as well as reasonable for your area

LaBellaFlor Posted 4 Mar 2009 , 3:51am
post #30 of 30

To be licensed in Virginia they do require you to submit your recipes, which is listing your ingredients. They do not require you to label your cakes with a list of ingredients for your customers. They only require that if you are selling packaged items such as a box of cookies. Personally, when I hired someone to bake my wedding cake I asked if they baked from scratch. For me, I am paying for not only your decorating skills, but the quality of the ingredients. I am not saying it is wrong to use a cake mix, to each his own, but using a cake mix is not scratch baking, I don't care how much you doctor it up. And I don't see nothing wrong with people asking if you bake from scratch or a mix. Some people actually prefer cake mixes, but then there are some that feel they should be getting a scratch cake. icon_smile.gif P.S. By all means , if you feel the need, comment on my opinion, but please no one attack me for my opinion, cause I have been seeing that a lot lately on the forums

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