What To Do? Words Of Advice? Having To Turn Customers Away.

Business By 1234me Updated 28 May 2009 , 7:33pm by __Jamie__

1234me Posted 12 May 2009 , 6:55pm
post #1 of 31

Oh where do I start??!?!?!

Don't mean to sound as if people are knocking down my door but I feel awful when I have to turn customers away. There is only one me, and too many customers wanting things....let me back up for a minute.

I consider myself a SAHM who does this as a hobby on the side. I have the luxury of being able to stay home (all my children are in school) and we do not need the extra income off of my baking to live. It is strictly money I make for fun and for extras. Don't get me wrong, it is helpful to have the extra cash, but we do not use it to pay our monthly bills.

I would like to limit myself to 8-12 cakes per weekend. I can do this with no problem, but I seem to be getting more and more requests each month and I feel awful turning them away. Especially those ordering several weeks in advance - I can't help it if I am already completely booked for that weekend. I feel as if when I respond and say I am booked, they have to think "how hard is it to add one more cake when that is 3 weeks away!?!?!" I don't want this cake business to run my life, and it is starting to get that way! Why do I let it make me feel so guilty? How can I word this on my website and not make it look as if I am NOT interested in their business.

I do not do wedding cakes - if someone inquires about wedding cakes, I always try to refer them to someone else I know of in their area.

I know I am rambling but this is getting to me. I should be happy and excited about new customers, but everytime I get a new order I feel horrible having to turn them away because I am booked already by cusotmers who REALLY plan ahead. Is wanting to only do 8-12 cakes per weekend being selfish?

I have thought long and hard about possibly hiring some help but that is not the route I want to go.

P.S. Anyone in the Dallas area - north, south, and especially east - if you are reading this, please tell me who you are and if you have a website or a way I can refer some of my customers to you. I know there are others out there that offer great cakes, great prices, and I would love to refer some of my customers to you if they are in your area!

30 replies
Auryn Posted 12 May 2009 , 7:14pm
post #2 of 31

Think of it this way.
If you accept the orders that go over your limit, you will be taking time away from your children and your spouse to give it to total strangers for pennies on the hour.

Does that seem fair to do that to yourself and your family??

8-12 cakes a weekend is a ton for just a hobby.
Don't feel bad.
You are being good to yourself and your family.
Will you still be feeling bad for the customer when you start taking on too many orders so you start getting cranky and mean because your not sleeping enough or your getting stressed out and overwhelmed and start snapping at the people you love???

jardot22 Posted 12 May 2009 , 8:07pm
post #3 of 31

Wow...8-12 cakes per weekend with no help?? Ummm...how? LOL. That is a huge workload, and if that's all you can handle, then by all means, don't take on any more. Your family does need you, and not a tired, stressed-out, overworked version of you. If a customer can't understand that you are already fully booked, then they might be a pain of a client anyway, and aside from that, a lot of good bakeries have to turn customers away during high-demand seasons. If I were you I would just post on the website the dates you are fully booked, and if someone asks you to do a cake during that time anyway, just politely say "I am very sorry but I am booked that weekend, but thank you very much for inquiring about my cakes." Don't feel guilty - you will regret it more if you aren't around when your kids or husband need you. And I totally know where you are coming from - I am getting to the point where I may have to turn some people away as well, as I am getting requests left and right, but I work full time and have a 3 year old daughter and a husband. Hang in there, and only do what you feel at peace about. If you take on more than you can handle, you will get burnt out and stressed out.

sweetcakes Posted 12 May 2009 , 8:56pm
post #4 of 31

why do you feel bad, you shouldn't. being your own boss you set the hours and how many cakes you want to do. Just tell them sorry, im already fully booked for that week, even if it is months or weeks out. i dont know how you handle 8-12 cakes a week that is a huge amount of orders for one person doing it all. ive been turning down orders all this week and i dont feel bad one bit. customers know when birthdays are coming and graduations etc, they're the ones that need to plan better.
Im in the DFW area, but probably too far from you to help.

christybuc Posted 13 May 2009 , 3:16am
post #5 of 31

I am in DFW...Mansfield (south arlington) and I would be willing to help however I can! icon_smile.gif

txsteph Posted 13 May 2009 , 3:49am
post #6 of 31

You say you do this as a hobby .. 8 - 12 is a lot to do. Especially with a family to take care of. Just a question, are you licensed? I am not and only bake for family & friends, but I know you have to be licensed in Texas to sell, and can not be a home baker. But hopefully we can get it to change soon!

BakingGirl Posted 13 May 2009 , 3:56am
post #7 of 31

Raise your prices, that is what I would do. It would hopefully weed out some of the smaller and less interesting cakes, leaving you with less cakes to do but with a better profit margin.

Tita9499 Posted 13 May 2009 , 3:57am
post #8 of 31

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing...

if you're not liscensed I'd be careful of saying anything on a website that would mention selling you cakes. It's still illegal in Texas to sell cakes out of your home, so be careful about that.

mommyle Posted 13 May 2009 , 4:14am
post #9 of 31

first of all, don't feel bad. Even Duff must turn away some people at some point. there is only so much you can do.

To relieve your anxiety about saying "No", say this to people "I am so sorry, but we tend to book about a month in advance. I hope that we can help you the next time."

Good luck!

1234me Posted 13 May 2009 , 10:21am
post #10 of 31

thank you for the replies. And yes, I do work out of a licensed kitchen. I am VERY VERY fortunate to bake at a local ranch that hosts weddings, company events, etc. I have known these people prior to starting and they let me use their facitlities free of charge but I do some things in exchange for them, but I guarantee you I am getting the better end of the deal on this! They are just a few miles down the road from me - it is the perfect situation! I guess that is why I feel like this business is running my life - I am there on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday getting stuff ready for my weekend orders and that to me equates to more time than I want to spend on a job!

FromScratch Posted 13 May 2009 , 10:29am
post #11 of 31

Do you have your own license for working out of their kitchen? That is most likely the requirement... I know it is in NH. Even if their kitchen is licensed, unless you work *for* them... you need your own license. You probably already know that, but just in case. icon_biggrin.gif

I say you are one lucky person to be turning away so much business. And don't feel bad about it. You are one person... you can only do so much. Turn them away and don't over work yourself... especially since you are doing it on the cheap. No way I'd work my behind off and not be making GOOD money you know? icon_biggrin.gif

Bonnie151 Posted 13 May 2009 , 11:21am
post #12 of 31

I turn down more business than I accept and when it gets nuts I just put on my website "We are fully booked through XXXXX. A limited number of wedding consultations are still available during this period." I've been booked through the end of May for some time and having the message does cut down on the number of phone calls/e-mails I receive.

springlakecake Posted 13 May 2009 , 11:37am
post #13 of 31

I agree that 8-12 is a lot even for someone thinking of this as a business (as opposed to a hobby). You can only do what you can do. People will start to learn that they have to order early if you are booked up. If I were you I would raise my prices and my minimum order.

indydebi Posted 13 May 2009 , 11:48am
post #14 of 31

Raise your prices.

Telling people "I'm booked" is never a bad thing. It shows you are popular, in demand, and everyone wants your cakes. It's a direct reflection on how good your cakes are.

You should never say "I'm booked" with a sad face .... you should proudly shout it from the rooftops! icon_biggrin.gif

Tita9499 Posted 13 May 2009 , 3:11pm
post #15 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratch

Do you have your own license for working out of their kitchen? That is most likely the requirement... I know it is in NH. Even if their kitchen is licensed, unless you work *for* them... you need your own license. You probably already know that, but just in case. icon_biggrin.gif




You need to have a foodhandler's liscense (card) to work in a foodservice establishment in Texas. Without one you and the owner of the kitchen where you work can get into some trouble. You also should be registered to pay your taxes if your selling them (unless somehow you're selling them through the restaurant and then they need to be doing the taxes).

This is one of the reasons we're pushing for hime kitchens to be made legal here in Texas.

I think, as Debi said, there's no reason to feel bad that you are booked. Feel bad when you aren't, but enjoy your succes now!

Lenette Posted 13 May 2009 , 3:28pm
post #16 of 31

I read your post yesterday but wanted to think about my response cuz I was in a "mood" icon_wink.gif .

I think my first thought still stands though, you need to raise your prices. I know I would in your situation. I am nowhere near doing that many weekly orders and I am thinking about raising mine. The goal here is not to work yourself to the bone but to make some money doing what you love. You still want to love it in a year or two so don't burn yourself out. Raise your pricing, put a calendar on your website indicating dates you are booked and list them on the front page.

I have had times in the past where I put in my voicemail that I am not accepting new orders until xx date.

Just some suggestions for you. Congrats on your success and best wishes to you! icon_smile.gif

indydebi Posted 13 May 2009 , 3:38pm
post #17 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lenette

Raise your pricing, put a calendar on your website indicating dates you are booked and list them on the front page.



Charm City Cakes has their calendar on their website and they've already blocked out dates in 2010..... http://www.charmcitycakes.com/order-faq#10

classiccake Posted 13 May 2009 , 3:59pm
post #18 of 31

I agree...first of all. raise your prices and do cakes for those willing to pay your charges.

Second, don't worry about turning people away. It lets customers know that you are "desired."

Third, during busy season we are always turning down orders. Right now we are booked until the middle of June. You sometimes have to have thick skin. Remind persistant people that you are

1. Protecting the integrity of your product.

2. Protecting your ability to continue decorating cakes and maintaining a family and marriage.

Good luck and be thankful you are having that problem instead of the reverse.

tinygoose Posted 13 May 2009 , 4:10pm
post #19 of 31

Yeah, I agree with the others...time to raise your prices.

elvis Posted 13 May 2009 , 4:26pm
post #20 of 31

I am so glad that you posted this question because you are describing my situation almost exactly-- and I've gotten a lot from reading the advice. I do the same number per week as you but it's killing me & I'm cutting back to 6 a week for the summer, which means I'm full into July...and people do seem frustrated.

I think having a minimum $40 or $50 (or whatever) order is a good idea, I'm thinking of that myself. I also let my machine weed out a lot of customers b/c I always update it to say "If you are calling about a cake, I am completely booked until xyz".

That said, there is a certain personality type out there that has no problem saying "I know you are so busy but could you please, please squeeze in a small, really simple cake...I don't care what it looks like"-- I've gotten so much better at saying no to these. Instead this is what I translate it to in my mind "Can you please, please stay up until 3:00 in the morning to do a little cake for $35....please"--much easier to say no to that!

indydebi Posted 13 May 2009 , 4:43pm
post #21 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by elvis

Instead this is what I translate it to in my mind "Can you please, please stay up until 3:00 in the morning to do a little cake for $35....please"--much easier to say no to that!


oh that's a good one! thumbs_up.gif

aligotmatt Posted 13 May 2009 , 5:11pm
post #22 of 31

you could also put something in the price section of your site that says something like, I accept orders up to 6 months in advance, book as soon as possible to ensure your date is available.

and i agree about price raising

costumeczar Posted 13 May 2009 , 6:14pm
post #23 of 31

Raise your prices and/or put a minimum price on each order.

RuthWells Posted 13 May 2009 , 9:07pm
post #24 of 31

The typical business advice in this situation is, it's time to raise your prices.

ShopGrl1128 Posted 13 May 2009 , 9:14pm
post #25 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by elvis

Instead this is what I translate it to in my mind "Can you please, please stay up until 3:00 in the morning to do a little cake for $35....please"--much easier to say no to that!

oh that's a good one! thumbs_up.gif




Exactly!!!!
I started doing a minimum 40 serving order and I love it!
Its so not worth to staying up until 3:00am for an extra $60.00 cake squeezed in at the last minute.

Deb_ Posted 13 May 2009 , 9:20pm
post #26 of 31

I agree 8 to 12 in a weekend is not exactly *hobby* baking to me either. To me that's a LOT of orders, of course I have another job and cakes are my part time *therapy*.

Having said that you wouldn't believe the ends that people will go to when they call me for a hair appt at my salon. If I tell them I'm booked on the date in question, they have the nerve to ask me to give up my lunch hour icon_eek.gif Dude...............what lunch hour?!! icon_lol.gif

Never feel guilty about turning away an order, it's part of business. Your sanity has to come first.

debster Posted 13 May 2009 , 9:37pm
post #27 of 31

Could you tell us what your charging to be soooooooooooooooooooo booked in advance? I would be thrilled to have 8-10 a weekend. I'm waiting for the day. Good for you!!!!!!

cakesonoccasion Posted 13 May 2009 , 11:25pm
post #28 of 31

How about take down your website? You said that anyone who orders from you already knows to give you plenty of lead time. So maybe just go on referrals for a while and see if that slows the flow. Good luck!

SugaredUp Posted 28 May 2009 , 7:29pm
post #29 of 31

I'm having this problem, too, and it's stressing me out so I can relate to the OP. However, you guys have helped. I guess Indy's right, being booked isn't a bad thing after all.. sigh

__Jamie__ Posted 28 May 2009 , 7:31pm
post #30 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Raise your prices.

Telling people "I'm booked" is never a bad thing. It shows you are popular, in demand, and everyone wants your cakes. It's a direct reflection on how good your cakes are.

You should never say "I'm booked" with a sad face .... you should proudly shout it from the rooftops! icon_biggrin.gif





Ditto!

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