How Should I Respond?

Business By cakedesigner59 Updated 9 Apr 2009 , 9:28pm by Cakepro

cakedesigner59 Posted 7 Apr 2009 , 12:27pm
post #1 of 25

Okay, this is a little unusual. I did a cake back in February for a lady retiring from the military. (I occasionally do cakes for a catering company/restaurant here in my town). It was a 12x16x3, with an 8" square cut at a diagonal (making it a triangle) and stacked on top, and a fondant flag (similiar to this one I posted...I couldn't find a pic of the exact cake). I charged the restaurant $60 for the cake, and I know I undercharged a bit (everyone agreed). But I think the hardest part of doing this for money is knowing what to charge. I have tried those pricing matrix things, and it's more effort than I'm willing to expend (my eyes glass over at the math). Anyway, yesterday I got the sweetest card thanking me for the cake (from the retiree) and she enclosed $40 cash. She said she knew that I had undercharged for the cake, and she knew what effort went into making it because she has family members who decorate cakes. She said she'd love to recommend me, but only at a price "a bit more deserving" of my work. Then she gives me her email and phone numbers and asks me to contact her to let her know if that's ok.

All good, right? Well, not exactly. In the note she also tells me that money is tight, and she has 16 cats and four step children to support, just now started her new job and was playing catch-up with her bills, or she would have paid me this extra $$ sooner. I feel awful! I mean, what a lovely thought, but I feel like I'm taking food out of her kitties and children's mouths. What in the world should I say/do? My friends say if I return the cash I will insult her. One suggested I donate it to the homeless shelter in her honor but I wouldn't like that if it were me. I would feel insulted, thinking if I wanted to donate to the shelter I would have done it myself.

Help!!!!
(sorry this is long).
LL

24 replies
foxymomma521 Posted 7 Apr 2009 , 12:40pm
post #2 of 25

I think I would call/write to thank her, and send her a gift card (grocery store?)back in the same amount... Or if it would make you feel better, you could always make her another small cake (8"?) and drop it off with some of your cards/brochures to hand out...

jillmakescakes Posted 7 Apr 2009 , 1:26pm
post #3 of 25

From your info, it sounds like this woman has her pride. Returning her money, donating to charity or something along those lines may insult her pride.

I suggest giving her a "coupon" or gift card off of her next few cake purchases. Maybe a percent off for a year (with a note mentioning how much you'd like to do her kid's birthday cakes). This way, you are respecting her mention of liking your work, getting more business, but also offering her something to help her out in these tough times without providing charity.

You could even tell her, in jest, that the card requires her to refer you to at least 4 of her friends.

kelleym Posted 7 Apr 2009 , 1:46pm
post #4 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by jillmakescakes

From your info, it sounds like this woman has her pride. Returning her money, donating to charity or something along those lines may insult her pride.

I suggest giving her a "coupon" or gift card off of her next few cake purchases. Maybe a percent off for a year (with a note mentioning how much you'd like to do her kid's birthday cakes). This way, you are respecting her mention of liking your work, getting more business, but also offering her something to help her out in these tough times without providing charity.

You could even tell her, in jest, that the card requires her to refer you to at least 4 of her friends.




I agree. I had a similar situation once, and didn't want to take the"extra" payment that came a couple of weeks later. It was pointed out to me by the lovely people here that my customer had already made the decision to do this, and it would be rude of me to just overturn it because I thought I knew best.

LKing12 Posted 7 Apr 2009 , 1:57pm
post #5 of 25

Keep the money and when you drop off your business cards-give her a thank you card telling her that you appreciate her understanding of your commitment to make great cakes. And, in the future should you have the opportunity to honor another HERO, you will again pay it forward.
This will show that you appreciate her once again.

tripleD Posted 7 Apr 2009 , 2:05pm
post #6 of 25

"Keep the money and when you drop off your business cards-give her a thank you card telling her that you appreciate her understanding of your commitment to make great cakes. And, in the future should you have the opportunity to honor another HERO, you will again pay it forward.
This will show that you appreciate her once again"

I agree with LKing12.

Our service men and women deserve so much.

she appriciated what you did.

2txmedics Posted 7 Apr 2009 , 2:11pm
post #7 of 25

I agree, dont hurt her pride, she is already struggling, she saw your hard work in this, and also loved your cake. I would send a thank you card, and maybe enclose something like:

Thank you so much for your consideration, not everyone knows how much work goes into our cakes, and appreciates them as much as you and your family. I understand times are hard, they are for all of us. But I was truly honored to be apart of honoring a Hero.

I look forward to working with you again, find enclose (and then maybe put down a total percentage you want to give her or offer her a small 6" or 8 depending on what you feel for free) to use at her time of need? just an idea. Im in a small town, and just starting so I would take something like this into consideration, BUT...Im learning...DONT GIVE IT AWAY FREE...lol...which I use to do alot.

ShayShay Posted 7 Apr 2009 , 2:18pm
post #8 of 25

That was very nice of her. I would keep the money and thank her for recommending you to her friends. Even if it is tough times I don't think she would have given you the extra if it meant depriving her own family. Use it to enjoy something with your own family!

Mencked Posted 7 Apr 2009 , 2:20pm
post #9 of 25

Accept the woman's $40 with no strings attached. How wonderful to find someone who really appreciates the effort, work, and skill that goes into making cakes. She truly wanted to thank you in the best way she knew how and did so willingly. Tell her thank you and don't feel guilty about any of it!!! She knows what $$ she has coming in and going out and obviously she thought your lovely cake was well worth it or she wouldn't have given you any more $$! She appreciates you and your skill's worth and now you need to as well icon_smile.gif!

sadsmile Posted 7 Apr 2009 , 2:25pm
post #10 of 25

First off Wow! How wonderful that a customer whould go out of her way like that! I agree it would offend her to not accept or give it away...ect. Look that bit about her situation was only added in there to appease her own conscience for not giving you what she thinks you deserved sooner. Think nothing of it and don't make a big deal or mention anything about her situation in the future. I agree with Jill! I would offer a % off her future orders for being an outstanding customer and then just let it be or you may step on her pride. What a great customer!

solascakes Posted 7 Apr 2009 , 2:35pm
post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by LKing12

Keep the money and when you drop off your business cards-give her a thank you card telling her that you appreciate her understanding of your commitment to make great cakes. And, in the future should you have the opportunity to honor another HERO, you will again pay it forward.
This will show that you appreciate her once again.




I agree to this,i feel it's a good idea.

tinygoose Posted 7 Apr 2009 , 2:42pm
post #12 of 25

I also think returning the money, donating it, etc would insult her. She wanted you to have it, so be it. I would send her a nice thank you note, telling her how much you appreciate her and her support towards your career, and that you are so grateful for clients like her. That's really all you need to do. I think she knows she will continue to be on the "special pricing list" anyway. She is sending you a message not to give your talent away.

cakedesigner59 Posted 7 Apr 2009 , 4:06pm
post #13 of 25

thank you all! You make me feel less guilty about keeping the "bonus". (I think I might have confused some of you who thought the lady was the owner of the catering business, she's not. She was the retiree, the servicewoman, so I won't be going by her house to drop off business cards).

I've decided I will send her a nice email (seems weird to send a thank you card in response to a thank you card, but maybe that's just me) and tell her that I appreciate her SO much.

question: If I say I'll give her a discount on future orders, isn't that counter-productive to what she was trying to teach me, to charge more? LOL

tinygoose Posted 7 Apr 2009 , 4:25pm
post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakedesigner59



question: If I say I'll give her a discount on future orders, isn't that counter-productive to what she was trying to teach me, to charge more? LOL




Oh with a client as lovely as that, you could probably say. "I just love having you as a client, what were you hoping to spend?" And go from there. I wouldn't do that with anyone else though.

cakedesigner59 Posted 7 Apr 2009 , 6:42pm
post #15 of 25

Thank you all so much for helping me out. Here is what I wrote to her this afternoon (in case you were curious):

Dear Lisa: I hardly know what to say, I am so overwhelmed by your card and the bonus you sent me. I think in all my years of making cakes, your note has moved me more than any of the thank you notes I have received. I feel terribly guilty accepting the extra payment from you knowing of your years of service to our country makes what I do seem so trivial, it hardly bears noticing. I was truly honored to be able to add my touch to the celebration of a true hero (for that is what you are: no less than a true hero). Please feel free to recommend me (thank you AGAIN). Pricing my work is probably the hardest part of what I do, to be honest. I am so flattered that you think I am undercharging. Its what my husband has been telling me for years, but I never listen (he HAS to be my fan!).

I see from your card that you are Christian woman, as am I. But I didnt need the card to tell me thatyour actions speak for you.

God bless you! I would say enjoy your retirement but it seems you are already back hard at work.

I cant thank you enough!
Robin (and I included my address, phone number, etc)

tinygoose Posted 7 Apr 2009 , 6:57pm
post #16 of 25

Very nice thank you note!

imakecakes Posted 7 Apr 2009 , 7:17pm
post #17 of 25

A perfect reponse!!

Mencked Posted 8 Apr 2009 , 12:17pm
post #18 of 25

Robin that truly was the perfect response!!! Way to go!

cakedesigner59 Posted 8 Apr 2009 , 12:32pm
post #19 of 25

Thanks, y'all. I couldn't have done it without you. icon_smile.gif (haven't heard back from her yet).

patticakesnc Posted 8 Apr 2009 , 12:48pm
post #20 of 25

I like the idea of making her a small cake and offering it with advertising materials for her to hand out.

Maybe offer to give her a "credit" towards every customer purchase that she refers. This way she can save on cakes for the kids (birthdays aren't cheap ya know).

I wouldn't return the money or donate it. She wanted to do this and I know that 99% of the time I am more than broke and if I give something (a tip etc) to someone I want them to accept it. It makes me feel good to be able to do it and if it were returned, given away, or refused I would be devistated.

OhMyGanache Posted 9 Apr 2009 , 12:17am
post #21 of 25

I didn't read everyone else's responses, so not sure if this has been said or not... but I recall a story in the bible (it was back in grade school, so I don't remember all the names/details) but several people tithed their 10% (or whatever) and then a very poor man came and gave a very small amount. Jesus was far more appreciative of this man's small contribution than the larger contributions - because he gave more than he could afford.

I would be honored that someone thought so much of me and my work that they were willing to sacrifice something to honor me with such a gift. She knows what she can afford, and I'm sure she would not make her children or animals suffer to pay for the cake.

I would write her a very nice thank you note and bask in the glow of such a tremendous compliment. Don't insult her by returning the gift in ANY way. If you want to pay her back in some way, offer her a referral fee (discount towards a future order) for any orders she sends your way. That way, it doesn't look like you are taking pity on her, but thanking her for sending you business.

cakedesigner59 Posted 9 Apr 2009 , 1:31pm
post #22 of 25

thanks! I know the story well, it's called the "widow's mite". She gave her last two cents to the church. Great lesson. I appreciate what you said and will take it to heart. I did write her that email (see above) but haven't heard back from her yet. If I don't hear from her, do you think I should call her (she gave me her number too)? I don't want to worry that the email wasn't received (though it wasn't returned).

sadsmile Posted 9 Apr 2009 , 2:38pm
post #23 of 25

I love that Widow's mite lesson.
Did she call you to make sure you got her Thank you note? I would let well enough alone. That would be another thank you for the thanks for your thank you... I don't think so. Makes me think of of that Chevy Chase movie where they can't stop bowing to eachother. Yeah don't go there. LOL

cakedesigner59 Posted 9 Apr 2009 , 9:08pm
post #24 of 25

No, she didn't call or email me back. I bought a card today; if I don't hear from her after this weekend, I intend to write her and thank her. I just worry that my email might have gotten lost in cyberspace. I know, it's probably overkill; but it will help me sleep better at night!
Thanks again! (you crack me up...you're right about the bowing thing!).

Cakepro Posted 9 Apr 2009 , 9:28pm
post #25 of 25

16 cats?? Good God, isn't that against the law in most states??

That was a very nice thing on the part of the cat collector to send you a tip but so tacky to give you a sob story.

Your response was wonderful. Good luck to both of you.

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