I Am So Terrible With The Business Side Of Cake Business...

Business By SpoonfulofSugar Updated 12 Mar 2009 , 3:14am by indydebi

SpoonfulofSugar Posted 11 Mar 2009 , 4:13pm
post #1 of 16

even though I have a degree in bus go figure. With a full time job too it's hard for me to keep up with things...like emails and phone calls from customers

example: I lost an order...someone emailed me about a wedding cake...I responded ....she responded but it was not an email that needed a direct response back...it basically just said...I'm from out of town which was her response to when can we set up a consultation....well I didn't respond right away and now she has another vendor. I can't take the calls during the day b/c I'm working and can only respond to the emails during lunch and when I get home

Do you guys who bake out of your home and work full time (some with kids too...don't know how you do it) do you handle everything yourself or do you hire help like interns or something?

I wish I could afford someone to take the orders for me....I just can't keep up with it.

Any advice?

15 replies
-K8memphis Posted 11 Mar 2009 , 4:33pm
post #2 of 16

My advice is give yourself a break. It's ok. That one was not a good match. There'll be another one.

Ruth0209 Posted 11 Mar 2009 , 4:45pm
post #3 of 16

When I was working full time and baking part time, it was VERY part time. I had to be really careful about how I budgeted my time. I either turned down orders for the middle of the week, or I scheduled a vacation day to complete them. I told people up front that I needed at least a week advance notice for a cake order. After some long nights and sleepy days at work, I realized I just couldn't do it all.

Last week I got laid off my corporate job (yipee!!) and now I can do the cake business full time. All that part time work prepped me to be able to do that. Maybe eventually you'll get to do it full time.

Chef_Stef Posted 11 Mar 2009 , 4:46pm
post #4 of 16

Yes... there will be others. It's hard to juggle multiple balls...

Do you have a phone that catches your email, like a blackberry? Mine have been a lifesaver. My customer's emails pop up on there, and I can at least email or text them back a quick note that I'm 'out of the office' (meaning, in the car, at my kids' play practice, at the mall, or whatever), and I will call them "just as soon as I'm back at my desk". That way they get an immediate response, and they don't go somewhere else.

Or you could put an automatic response on your emails (or website if you have one) that somehow that tells people that their business is important to you, but you are only able to answer emails between the hours of x and x...?

alvarezmom Posted 11 Mar 2009 , 4:46pm
post #5 of 16

Your cakes are beautiful! I wish I could offer more advice..but I agree with k8memphis. Just take it easy. I'm sure the bride would have been difficult to work with--seeing how she is from out of town. It's better when doing a cake consult to have the bride and groom there tasting what they are ordering.

ziggytarheel Posted 11 Mar 2009 , 4:47pm
post #6 of 16

Since you are so busy with other things, it needs to be okay that you can't do it all.

I don't have a cake business, but I do have 2 jobs, one which requires me to organize my time at home to be successful. I've learned that I have to have organizational systems in place in order to manage.

For example, you say that her e-mail didn't require a direct response. I think that perhaps it did. She was replying to what you asked, giving you information about her situation. You could then have offered her options or continued to market yourself and your product to her.

I'm very partial to email. I think it is much easier to keep up with everything with email than phone calls. I would suggest that you put on your schedule certain times of the day you check your cake email AND respond to each email as you choose. That you set up a system of follow ups as needed. I think if you decide what you need to do and set up a system to do it, then you just need the discipline to follow through.

But, it really is okay to not get every order. And it is especially okay to learn from every situation!

costumeczar Posted 11 Mar 2009 , 4:48pm
post #7 of 16

I have intake sheets that I fill out for everyone who emails, and then I file them in an accordion folder that I keep next to the computer. When someone emails and asks for an appointment I email back, then their paper goes under "emailed back, waiting for response." When they do answer me I can just pull out their intake form. If they schedule, I move the sheet to the pocket for that date's appointments.

I have a terrible memory for names, so I have to write everything down. The only time I ever have trouble keeping things straight is when I don't write the emails down as they come in.

Even responding fast doesn't assure you that they'll book an appointment or hire you in the long run. I have plenty of people who I respond to right away, but they don't write back to set anything up. Don't beat yourself up over it too much, more will come along.

momtobtb Posted 11 Mar 2009 , 4:57pm
post #8 of 16

I run into that problem all the time. I work full-time and have a 5 year old son at home. Plus, my husband is a deputy and works nights, so it's just myself and my son at home when I get home from work. I have to limit myself to only a few orders a month so I make sure I spend quality time with my son without neglecting him to do my cakes. During my full-time job I'm able to keep my email for my website up all day so I can at least do emails if I have to.

From December up until a few weeks ago I had a rough time with my cake business. My husband came back from deployment in December so I didn't take any orders for that month at all. I got pregnant 3 weeks later so I had to cancel orders I had for September (for when I was due). The pregnancy was terrible from the start and I had to cancel several orders due to my health. Unfortunately I lost the baby about a month ago and it's taken me this long to get my mind straightened out and refocused. I lost several customers during this time, but I was able to re-book with a bride I had for in September.

Time magagement is key and I'm still learning the ropes!

SpoonfulofSugar Posted 11 Mar 2009 , 4:58pm
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by alvarezmom

Your cakes are beautiful! I wish I could offer more advice..but I agree with k8memphis. Just take it easy. I'm sure the bride would have been difficult to work with--seeing how she is from out of town. It's better when doing a cake consult to have the bride and groom there tasting what they are ordering.




Thanks alvarezmom for your kind comment on my cakes!

And thanks for all your responses....I'm feeling better now. I was really beating myself up for it b/c I don't want to run this business poorly. I'm going to take this advice and use it...respond to emails (not just read them) certain times during the day. And I'm going to start a file system and actually use it. I'm organized at my day job but for some reason just can't keep up with my own business. I think I need to take time to organize.

Thanks again!

SpoonfulofSugar Posted 11 Mar 2009 , 5:02pm
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by momtobtb

I run into that problem all the time. I work full-time and have a 5 year old son at home. Plus, my husband is a deputy and works nights, so it's just myself and my son at home when I get home from work. I have to limit myself to only a few orders a month so I make sure I spend quality time with my son without neglecting him to do my cakes. During my full-time job I'm able to keep my email for my website up all day so I can at least do emails if I have to.

From December up until a few weeks ago I had a rough time with my cake business. My husband came back from deployment in December so I didn't take any orders for that month at all. I got pregnant 3 weeks later so I had to cancel orders I had for September (for when I was due). The pregnancy was terrible from the start and I had to cancel several orders due to my health. Unfortunately I lost the baby about a month ago and it's taken me this long to get my mind straightened out and refocused. I lost several customers during this time, but I was able to re-book with a bride I had for in September.

Time magagement is key and I'm still learning the ropes!





I'm so sorry to hear about your situation. My one email that I didn't respond to seems so insignificant now that I think about. There are many more important things in this life. I wish the best for you. God bless.

sweetlayers Posted 11 Mar 2009 , 5:04pm
post #11 of 16

I work full-time and do caking part-time on the side with a legal biz. I let people know this upfront and most of the time they are cool with it.

However, I must also say that I am blessed to have my own office at my full-time and a fairly light work load most of the time with LOTS of flexibility. Therefore, if I need to take an order with my cell phone, make a 2 pm delivery on a weekday or confirm some logisitics with my email, I can with little to no backlash.

Again, these are not typical work circumstances for most, which is why I say I am BLESSED!

momtobtb Posted 11 Mar 2009 , 6:30pm
post #12 of 16

SpoonfulofSugar

I hope I didn't make you feel bad. My whole point was that things happen and if you lose one customer there will be others. I have had my business going on 2 years now and I'm still learning how to organize myself and make things run more smoothly.

Good luck!

cakedout Posted 11 Mar 2009 , 8:04pm
post #13 of 16

momtobtb---- just wanted to poke in here and say how sorry I was to hear about the loss of your baby. That is always traumatic and heartbreaking.

Glad to hear you are feeling better! {hug}

SpoonfulofSugar Posted 11 Mar 2009 , 10:02pm
post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by momtobtb

SpoonfulofSugar

I hope I didn't make you feel bad. My whole point was that things happen and if you lose one customer there will be others. I have had my business going on 2 years now and I'm still learning how to organize myself and make things run more smoothly.

Good luck!




Oh no not at all....but you did help me put things in perspective. I'm so glad to hear that things are going better for you. Thanks again!

Wesha Posted 12 Mar 2009 , 2:28am
post #15 of 16

Don't be too hard on yourself. I am in a similar situation. I work a full time 9-5 job, finishing up college (done in 3 more weeks), have a 10 year old and 2 year old at home, in addition to trying to draw in new customers. It gets overwhelming at times, I do admit. I have turned down 2 orders this week, why? Well, one was a last minute order (less than 24 hour notice) and one lady wanted a Hello Kitty cake to feed 10 people. I told her that I could not make a cake the way she wanted to feed 10 people. Lost that order, but it is okay, there will be others.

indydebi Posted 12 Mar 2009 , 3:14am
post #16 of 16

I will agree with the automated email response. I just got internet at my shop yesterday (YAY!) so for the past year, I've had no access to email during the day. My auto responses says that: "I do not have access to email during the day and will respond to you when I get home later this evening."

I also can keep up with email MUCH better than phone calls. All emails are filed in one place ... on my computer. Phone calls are written down on the back of my light bill; on a post-it note; in the margin of the newspaper or on the pizza ad. Emails also give me time to do a little research, calendar checking, price confirming, etc., before I have to give them a response.

Most of my phone calls end up with "I'll email you the info." If it's not in writing, then it doesn't count.

Do not feel pressured or compelled that you have to respond RIGHT NOW. I used to do that and eventually got over it. Prompt response, yes. Right this second? Not necessary. I used to fall over myself to answer my biz phone at home at 8:30 or later at night. Now I have the attitude of "no one expects me to be open at 8:30 at night ... and that's what voicemail was invented for."

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