Hate Tastings

Business By Kitagrl Updated 14 May 2009 , 11:46pm by snarkybaker

Kitagrl Posted 13 Mar 2009 , 9:53pm
post #1 of 40

Ok. Vent. I hate tastings!!!

Had two for tomorrow.

One cancelled.

Made up the little cakes for the second one (since so far I don't have a ton of tastings, I make two flavors of mini 3" cakes for each tasting...instead of slices) and then found out THEY cancelled, after I already got their tasting ready.

I emailed to see if they could pick up the tasting anytime tomorrow, just to have it so I don't have to make it a second time.

Seems like reserving a tasting is like totally low on the totem pole...the slightest thing comes up and its cancelled. I have recently changed my policy to allow a free tasting, as the charge to cover my butt I used to charge was turning people off...but I guess a free tasting equals "Oh I will if I can make it".

*sigh*

*grumble, grumble*

39 replies
costumeczar Posted 13 Mar 2009 , 10:36pm
post #2 of 40

I feel your pain, especially on the "free=not high on the priority list" thing. I have 6 scheduled for tomorrow, all but one have confirmed, and I'm still going to bet that only 3 or 4 show up.

jammjenks Posted 14 Mar 2009 , 12:09am
post #3 of 40

I actually enjoy tastings...wierd, I know. I probably don't do as many as some on here, but so far none have cancelled on me. A bride did have a car wreck on her way to the tasting and had to reschedule, but I guess that doesn't count. She still came after the wreck and took her samples home to taste. Called later to book.

boy, I know how to ramble huh?

indydebi Posted 14 Mar 2009 , 1:17am
post #4 of 40

I also enjoy them, but Kita, I know you've mentioned before that it seems to be a tough market in your area as far as tastings go.

Do you have a close relationship with other bakers/bakeries that you can talk to them and see if they do tastings, how successful are they? If they are having good results, can you pick their brain to see what they are doing different from you?

I could give you a whole list of things I do, but what works in my part of the country may not work in your part of the country ... so if you can talk to someone who is right there and dealing with the same demograpic brides .......?

Kitagrl Posted 14 Mar 2009 , 1:36am
post #5 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

I also enjoy them, but Kita, I know you've mentioned before that it seems to be a tough market in your area as far as tastings go.

Do you have a close relationship with other bakers/bakeries that you can talk to them and see if they do tastings, how successful are they? If they are having good results, can you pick their brain to see what they are doing different from you?

I could give you a whole list of things I do, but what works in my part of the country may not work in your part of the country ... so if you can talk to someone who is right there and dealing with the same demograpic brides .......?




I know at the caterers I worked at they had tastings, and usually made 6" cakes to slice up...but then they also owned the mansions and stuff and it was a one-stop wedding place...venue, catering, cake, planner all in one.

I don't have a problem with how I do the tastings really, but the problem is how to make sure they show up..ya know? Right now I'm just doing tastings as requested as my bridal orders are not steady. I may change as that changes. But if you have a way to make sure they show up, that'd be great! Right now, I have too few wedding tastings to be able to just keep cake in the freezer for too long between times.

BTW Indy.... I actually have a chance to go down for a big tasting...a museum in Philly is not happy with their current wedding caker and is looking for a new one...so invited several bakers to come down with samples and information so they can choose someone to work with them as an outside baker. So we'll see how that goes!

CakeForte Posted 14 Mar 2009 , 2:00am
post #6 of 40

I enjoy tastings...when they go right. I'm very critical of myself...so If I miss a step or don't do something...I automatically blame myself and say.."well I should have done this instead..." and that's why they didn't show up.

What different ways have you tried? What is your market like? are you in a big city? near a big city?

It took me awhile to refine my process. It's not perfect...but I'm not as frustrated as I used to be. I "offer" weekly tastings now, but don't do them weekly. It's on my site that they are held at a certain time, once a week, by appointment.

I also started to implement that letter that indydebi uses....I've had one no show since I have used it on the last 20 appointments. I think that client was just a flake overall b/c then she called me to order a birthday cake. anywho....off track!

Have you tried "open house" format? I found I had a better turnout and a better response that way. They key to that though is the marketing behind it. I emailed my business contacts and all of my bridal leads (from the bridal shows) to spread the word. Then they could come whenever they wanted during that time and I didn't have to stress about no shows.

Kitagrl Posted 14 Mar 2009 , 2:06am
post #7 of 40

I really really like the idea of an open house. And will probably end up going that direction.

But right now I have so few wedding clients...plus I have four boys and I don't know that it is worth it right now to ask my husband to take the boys somewhere every single weekend....I dunno...and everybody is so busy and can come at different times...

I do have that in the back of my mind though....and will probably try to head that direction once I get a little more steady stream of weddings. My reputation is still as a "party cake" gal, albeit 3D ones....and I'm trying to transfer over to "wedding cake" gal. icon_cool.gif

CakeForte Posted 14 Mar 2009 , 2:26am
post #8 of 40

Actually the open house format (well the version I am speaking of) is more of a every 5-8 weeks type of deal. Every 6 weeks is probably the best. The past 3 years...my wedding season tends to be Spring and Fall...so I push the open houses during the other two seasons.

To best accommodate the most clients....I chose Sunday afternoons from 12-3 PM, but do what works best for your schedule and your market. Many appreciated this since they met with other vendors on Saturdays and didn't like to feel rushed.

For the weekly tastings...I have it on my site so I appear available... But people really don't ask me for appointments every week. So it's "nothing gained/nothing lost" by having that information up.

If I do get appt inquiries... I'll try to "gently guide" people to select the same weekend so I will meet with 3 people on one day instead of one person every week. I'll usually say something like..."that weekend is full, but I have this date and time open? Does that work for you?"

And to move into the "wedding" area...just focus your marketing efforts on that area and you'll be there in no time. Your portfolio proves you can do the work.

Kitagrl Posted 14 Mar 2009 , 2:29am
post #9 of 40

Hm thanks! Lots to think about. So the weekends you set one particular time, but they have to make an appointment? And then every couple months you have an open house? Hmmm.

See now like for instance the one who cancelled for tomorrow, her wedding is coming up in MAY and I assume its her planner who has been in contact with me...but then her planner cancelled it. It seems odd. I dunno.

Next week was a wedding and a bar mitzvah but the wedding one already cancelled.

It sounds like technically though that's the same as what you are doing right? You still have weekly appointments that can get cancelled? But you just try to kinda get them all coming the same day?

Do you schedule them at different times though? Or have a group tasting?

marmalade1687 Posted 14 Mar 2009 , 3:30pm
post #10 of 40

I do monthly consultations on a Sunday of my choosing, and they are at set times of the day (10am, 11:30am, 1pm, 2:30pm, 4pm) - they run for 1 hour, and I have 1/2 hour in between to set up for the next. At busy times of the year, I have bi-monthly consultations (twice a month) so that I am not setting appointments too far in advance.

I have also started using Indydebi's pre-consult email to "remind" brides of their appointment - works like a charm!

I also don't go to the trouble of making full cakes for samples - I offer 3 cake flavors (bite-size samples) and 3 filling flavors, and plate them so that the couple can mix and match them. I always get oohs and aahs when the samples come out.

Very rarely do I have a consultation off my Sunday - usually it is for an out-of-town bride that is only in-town for a couple of days, or a last-minute planning session for a wedding in a month.

Kitagrl Posted 14 Mar 2009 , 3:35pm
post #11 of 40

I guess I really should do that...when brides write, just say when my tasting date(s) are...hmmm.... That way I could more easily present a nice tasting without having to keep doing it over and over.

Wow you know, wedding cake orders are so much more than just being able to stack a cake!

Kitagrl Posted 14 Mar 2009 , 3:56pm
post #12 of 40

Ohhh ok, tasting and design planning are seperate....hmmmm

marmalade1687 Posted 14 Mar 2009 , 4:29pm
post #13 of 40

I decided to do the tasting and consultation at the same time because I run it out of my home...having a bride over twice would be too hard on my family's schedule. That's why I went to the one Sunday a month - it is the least intrusive, and I actually can participate in my family's lives now - not doing one consult here and another there!

Do whatever you feel would work for you - if you think the group tasting followed by a private consult would work better, then go for it. You have to do what is best for you!

Kitagrl Posted 14 Mar 2009 , 4:32pm
post #14 of 40

Hmmm yeah, I'm at home too, with four boys, so the less people that have to come over, the better....

CakeForte Posted 15 Mar 2009 , 1:04am
post #15 of 40

The formats I described...I'm either doing it one way or another...not both at the same time.

So its either weekly appointments (with the goal of getting several on one weekend) or the open houses every 6 weeks. The open houses is when I will go all out and make several cakes because I know I can get at least 10 visitors.

littlecake Posted 15 Mar 2009 , 5:29pm
post #16 of 40

i don't do tastings...
i'm curious....what is the cheapest cake you will do a tasting for?

it seems like so much trouble....i guess being from in a small town, and being open for awhile everyone knows what my cake tastes like, i guess i'm spoiled.

if a newbie comes in and wants to taste something i'll give em a sliver of whatever i'm doing right then, with some icing on it.

Kitagrl Posted 15 Mar 2009 , 5:37pm
post #17 of 40

I don't have a specific line I draw, but I usually only do tastings for weddings or equally large projects...tiered cakes or large 3D cakes that will be several hundred dollars.

If I don't think the cake merits a tasting, I suggest they order an 8" cake for $25, iced homestyle, in the flavor of their choice. Usually they just decide to trust my reputation and testimonials and order their cake. haha.

kellertur Posted 15 Mar 2009 , 5:42pm
post #18 of 40

first~ Kitagirl: your cakes are very pretty! LOVE your avatar.

How long does it generally take (after a tasting) to get a response one way or the other if they choose you as the cake designer? I'm extremely impatient (not in a jerk-ish way, more like a kid waiting to open presents). If they don't call in a day or two, does that mean it's a NO GO? icon_confused.gif

Kitagrl Posted 15 Mar 2009 , 5:53pm
post #19 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by K2cakes

first~ Kitagirl: your cakes are very pretty! LOVE your avatar.

How long does it generally take (after a tasting) to get a response one way or the other if they choose you as the cake designer? I'm extremely impatient (not in a jerk-ish way, more like a kid waiting to open presents). If they don't call in a day or two, does that mean it's a NO GO? icon_confused.gif




Thank you so much!!!!

I am not sure, although I think most of the time you know at the tasting if they want to go ahead. If they don't even talk design much at all, or plans...I would doubt their seriousness. But I don't have a vast experience to draw on yet.

kellertur Posted 15 Mar 2009 , 6:36pm
post #20 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

...I think most of the time you know at the tasting if they want to go ahead. If they don't even talk design much at all, or plans...I would doubt their seriousness. But I don't have a vast experience to draw on yet.




I'm going to guess I'm out then. icon_sad.gif The Groom talked non-stop about everything non-cake (both were very nice). They really weren't sure what they wanted beyond fairly decorated (colors, that's it). I showed some samples, and books and they picked two they liked ~ but they had a couple other places to see. They loved my cake (no other places offered them a tasting), but I've not heard yet. Maybe I'm just not the right fit for them.

I'll just look at it as good practice for the next time. icon_smile.gif

Kitagrl Posted 15 Mar 2009 , 6:41pm
post #21 of 40

So far most of my tastings, they had already all but decided they wanted me to do their cake.

One recently they had not decided yet, and they did not call back after the tasting.

indydebi Posted 15 Mar 2009 , 6:47pm
post #22 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by K2cakes

How long does it generally take (after a tasting) to get a response one way or the other if they choose you as the cake designer?




Debi's Data:

Sequence of events:
1) Get inquiry via a lead-website, phone call or email direct from bride.
2) Send my pre-formatted Intro Packet email with numerous attachments of info.
3) Receive email/phone call from bride with further interest; make sampling appt.
4) Meet with bride; email quote; wait.
5) Bride books the wedding.

2007:
Avg time between when Intro Pkt is sent and bride books: 51.1 days
Avg time between sampling appt and bride books: 27.5 days

2008:
Avg time between when Intro Pkt is sent and bride books: 22.9 days
Avg time between sampling appt and bride books: 10.2 days

2009 (so far):
Avg time between when Intro Pkt is sent and bride books: 20.0 days
Avg time between sampling appt and bride books: 10.0 days

Brides are doing lots of comparison shopping. They are not impulse buying. Dont' expect them to book within 2 days. Yes, some do. In 2008, while the average was 10 days, I had some brides who called back 2 or 3 MONTHS later to book the wedding. Some of it depends on how far in advance they are looking.

Kitagrl Posted 15 Mar 2009 , 6:54pm
post #23 of 40

IndyDebi could you email me a preformatted packet of information? haha....

Seriously though, what all information do you include in that?

weirkd Posted 15 Mar 2009 , 7:15pm
post #24 of 40

Usually when I get a bride to do a tasting they book or book shortly after but I usually know for sure within a day or two or even a week. I cant stand this last one I did, they acted SUPER interested, gave her my packet of info along with take home samples and then a follow up email saying thanks for meeting with me. Its been a week and nothing. I havent heard a peep from her. I thought I would of atleast got a thank you or something but nothing. I know their probably comparison shopping but their wedding is in August and i know that unless they go to a grocery store, Im the cheapest around. I dont get people like that! And it almost makes you want to charge for the tastings. Like I said, I usually dont have a problem with people booking but I certainly dont want to have people calling for tastings that arent getting married and just want free cake! (And yes, one of the bridesmaids that came to a tasting said that she does go to bridal shows and tastings and she is NOT engaged!) But then you also dont want to make people shy away from you either if you charge! Especially in my area where its hard to get bookings to begin with! Its like your damned if you do, and damned if you dont!

kellertur Posted 15 Mar 2009 , 7:18pm
post #25 of 40

Debi~ I had no idea it could take that long. When we were getting married, we went to one decorator (yes, I'll mention him again, as he is THE cake king... www.jacquespastries.com... he knows my FIL, or we would have gone local). ANYWAY~ we tasted the cake and ordered right then. Maybe it was because he was the "only show in town", as far as we were concerned. icon_wink.gif
But, we kept things super simple, didn't even have flowers (fall wedding), did my own hair & makeup, etc., so I'm really not accustomed to all the things normal brides want to do.
It's a lot of work, from what I gather... icon_surprised.gif

Justbeck101 Posted 15 Mar 2009 , 7:20pm
post #26 of 40

When I have a tasting, I do not bake anything until that morning, I always call and confirm the day before. If the tasting is late in the day, I call that morning to make sure they can make it. I usually always have icing made up, and I have made the filling to where they are scaled down so I am not making a big recipe. I have had one no show, so instead of wasting the tasting, I took it to a florist I have been speaking to. Now, I always make sure I have a backup plan for what I am going to do if the bride does not show.

chutzpah Posted 15 Mar 2009 , 7:56pm
post #27 of 40

I am so friggin' tired of consultations. Tired of saying the same thing over-n-over-n-over again. Tired of all the couples who think that they are just soooooo unique. Tired of the entitlement issues many seem to have. Tired tired tired.

On the bright side, 98% of them book their cakes and pay their deposit at the consultation.

nolee Posted 15 Mar 2009 , 8:41pm
post #28 of 40

At this point, I've been successful by going to the homes of my local clients.
I book the tasting/consultation at their home which keeps my kids out of the way, and the general intimidation of having an ENORMOUS dog greeting them at the door.
I bring small 4" cakes of several flavours/fillings or cupcakes injected with filling(If I've made another cake that week I make cupcakes with my leftover batter). I bring my photo albums and a serving chart and we sit down, they taste and we all discuss. I use this as an opportunity to see who the couple is, what makes them tick and try and incorporate that into the cake. I find the colours on their walls are a great indicator of whether they're quiet and sophisticated and prefer something classical and elegant for their cake or bright bold colours tend to suggest they'd prefer something more whimsical or out of the ordinary.

I've found it to be a system that has worked well for me and there hasn't been a "no-show" factor.

Ruth0209 Posted 15 Mar 2009 , 8:47pm
post #29 of 40

Chutzpah, you need a vacation, girl! I had that feeling in my last job. Met with new employees with the same questions over and over. Met with employees who resigned and told me the same things over and over. And I had to smile and nod through it all, over and over. Ugh.

I guess every job can get to be a grind over time.

mommyle Posted 15 Mar 2009 , 9:09pm
post #30 of 40

Well, I haven't read the entire thing yet (trying to watch "Milk" right now too!), but I'm going to suggest this. When you book a tasting with a Bride. make it understood that this is a one-shot deal. Because you specifically bake for them, if they cancell with say 2 days notice, you are able to accomodate them. Any less notice than that, or a no-show, they don't get a second chance at a tasting. They either have to buy a cake from you to "taste" it, or they just have to trust your baking. Personally, I tend to have a few flavors of mini cupcakes on hand at any given time (hence the thighs!!!) and they get a couple of minis with icing. If you like the taste of that, you'll probably like the taste of my full-sized cakes!

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