A Little Bit Of A Twist To An Old Question

Business By cakesdivine Updated 20 May 2009 , 3:08am by cakesdivine

cakesdivine Posted 16 May 2009 , 2:45pm
post #1 of 10

This has to do with samplings.

I still have about a 50% no show rate on my samplings, and when they do show my on spot booking rate is 99% (I've only had 1 not book on spot in the last 2 years and she ended up booking a few months out from her wedding and at a 10% increase in price because she missed the guarantee date by 2 months). But I digress...

I have tried the must leave CC info incase of no show, and the out & out charging and then crediting the fee to the order when they book, both have not been met well with the public. I end up with no sampling appointment at all, or I get "everyone else gives free samplings" Well I can't afford to give them free unless they actually book their order with me. And because my hit or miss rate for the samplings has been about 50%, I am losing money icon_mad.gif .

So I am thinking about trying the once a month tasting event now that we have our dance studio going...only problem is the area I live in is a big destination wedding location...very few local brides 90% of my brides are from out of town and of those about 30% are out of state. So the issue is they call they are only going to be in town for one day or two days on a set schedule. If that date doesn't fall on my sampling date then I loose the opportunity to service them.

Are there any other fellow cakers out there who also live in areas that tend to be destination wedding areas that most your brides are not locals? and how do you handle samplings, and making sure they actually come to the sampling? Yes I get all contact info, and of course you know the drill, you confirm, they say yes, 15 min after sampling appointment no show you call and phone is not answered, voicemails not returned, no call to you... icon_mad.gif I have to get this undercontrol because it is hurting my bottom line. Oh I live close to Randolf Airforce Base and an Army base as well so I also get alot of bride & groom that are in the service so they really can only come and do samplings when they are granted a LOA.

Any help will be appreciated. (did not have this issue at all in Houston...but here...never saw this issue coming, so I have no reference of knowledge on this to draw from...LOL)

9 replies
cakesbycathy Posted 16 May 2009 , 2:56pm
post #2 of 10

With the destination wedding and military scenario, I do think it would work to your advantage to keep scheduling specific appointment times.

I would continue to charge the credit card for tastings. Even though you may lose the customer, you still need to protect yourself.
People are going to complain so you need to come up with a really polite way to explain it to them. Somebody else here on CC might be able to come up with a good way to phrase it. (Indydebi, maybe even though I know her tastings are free, but she's great with words). I just can't think of something at the moment. icon_sad.gif

karateka Posted 16 May 2009 , 9:11pm
post #3 of 10

I don't have a solution, because I'm in your same position about tastings. I don't live near an AFB or anything....but I get about the same response you are getting. "everyone else does free tastings" and then freakin' half of them show up.

Very irritating....it is making me consider quitting the wedding biz altogether and go with a specialty in novelty cakes.

I guess I just wanted to offer some sympathy.

indydebi Posted 16 May 2009 , 11:05pm
post #4 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesdivine

I have tried the must leave CC info incase of no show, and the out & out charging and then crediting the fee to the order when they book, both have not been met well with the public. I end up with no sampling appointment at all, or I get "everyone else gives free samplings"



I work with a lot of military couples so I can relate to working around their schedule.

Have you tried getting the cc# "in case you're a no-show, you will be billed $25" tactic? To those who say "But everyone else gives free samplings!" your response can be "yours will be free too, if you show up and keep this appt. Unfortunately, the acts of a few ruin it for the good ones and I have to protect my business and my investment." Hotels do this all the time. They take a CC# to guarantee a room ... you can do it to guarantee a time slot.

Do you have any idea WHY they are no-showing you? Any feedback of any kind? LOA canceled? Left town earlier than planned? Photog appt ran long? Forgot? Didn't care? If you had any idea why, you'd be better informed on what to work on.

cakesdivine Posted 17 May 2009 , 3:15am
post #5 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesdivine

I have tried the must leave CC info incase of no show, and the out & out charging and then crediting the fee to the order when they book, both have not been met well with the public. I end up with no sampling appointment at all, or I get "everyone else gives free samplings"


I work with a lot of military couples so I can relate to working around their schedule.

Have you tried getting the cc# "in case you're a no-show, you will be billed $25" tactic? To those who say "But everyone else gives free samplings!" your response can be "yours will be free too, if you show up and keep this appt. Unfortunately, the acts of a few ruin it for the good ones and I have to protect my business and my investment." Hotels do this all the time. They take a CC# to guarantee a room ... you can do it to guarantee a time slot.

Do you have any idea WHY they are no-showing you? Any feedback of any kind? LOA canceled? Left town earlier than planned? Photog appt ran long? Forgot? Didn't care? If you had any idea why, you'd be better informed on what to work on.




Yes I tried the requesting the CC number and tell them the reasons why. Then they decide not to book the sampling or I get "well we are just shopping prices right now and trying samples to decide, well get back to you." sort of response so they don't book the sampling and I loose the potential client. So I stopped asking for a fee or a CC number and still get the 50% show rate on the consults I do book. I always ask for them to let me know at least 48 hours prior if they are not able to come so I don't bake anything if I need to bake (I do usually keep something in the freezer for choc & van but it is the other flavor requests that get me.

I'm thinking that from here on out not allowing them any other tasting choice other than choc or van unless they pay the sampling fee which can be credited to their order and see if that works. But I am going to try the once a month thing anyway for local brides and the few others that might be able to come at a prescheduled event.

I do find it funny though, not even a hour after I posted this I got a call from a woman wanting a sampling today because she and her daughter only have today while in town (another Houston bride getting married in the TX hill country...lol) to choose baker. I was delivering a wedding cake to a venue right next to their hotel so I packed up icing, some samples of choc & van in the freezer and took the sampling to them...They booked on the spot and paid half up front $300! Just goes to show...you never know icon_rolleyes.gif

marmalade1687 Posted 17 May 2009 , 12:38pm
post #6 of 10

I work with a lot of out-of-town brides and military, and although I do 99% of my consultations on one Sunday a month, I do get the odd one that is off the "schedule".

Have you thought of freezing ALL samples? It sounds as if you are losing money because of the time, effort and product that you are putting into these no-shows. If you freeze samples, at least your time and effort would be cut down. I freeze mine, then cut up cake and plate it, and do the same for my filling.

I do find that the people that do cancel do so because they have had a chance to "shop around" and have found someone else in the meantime - they just forget to call and cancel our appointment. My reminder email usually reminds them to cancel, but I have still had a few slip through! icon_rolleyes.gif

Edited to add: Just thought of another point...if you have a lot of people from out of town, they may have appointments with 5 different cakers that same day. If you are the 4th, and they book at the 3rd, they are probably not going to call to cancel the appointment. They're probably going to move onto looking for a florist, photographer, etc.! All in the game of long-distance wedding planning I guess!

cakesdivine Posted 17 May 2009 , 1:46pm
post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by marmalade1687

I work with a lot of out-of-town brides and military, and although I do 99% of my consultations on one Sunday a month, I do get the odd one that is off the "schedule".

Have you thought of freezing ALL samples? It sounds as if you are losing money because of the time, effort and product that you are putting into these no-shows. If you freeze samples, at least your time and effort would be cut down. I freeze mine, then cut up cake and plate it, and do the same for my filling.

I do find that the people that do cancel do so because they have had a chance to "shop around" and have found someone else in the meantime - they just forget to call and cancel our appointment. My reminder email usually reminds them to cancel, but I have still had a few slip through! icon_rolleyes.gif

I do freeze all my samples, but I don't have room in my upright freezer to keep cake in there of every flavor I make, so I only keep on hand choc & van and if they request one other flavor then I bake, but sometimes I'm even out of choc and van...lol!

Edited to add: Just thought of another point...if you have a lot of people from out of town, they may have appointments with 5 different cakers that same day. If you are the 4th, and they book at the 3rd, they are probably not going to call to cancel the appointment. They're probably going to move onto looking for a florist, photographer, etc.! All in the game of long-distance wedding planning I guess!


cylstrial Posted 17 May 2009 , 10:40pm
post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi



Have you tried getting the cc# "in case you're a no-show, you will be billed $25" tactic? To those who say "But everyone else gives free samplings!" your response can be "yours will be free too, if you show up and keep this appt. Unfortunately, the acts of a few ruin it for the good ones and I have to protect my business and my investment." Hotels do this all the time. They take a CC# to guarantee a room ... you can do it to guarantee a time slot.




I'm with Indy!! Just make it a policy and put it on your website. The Cake Girls website in Chicago (Mary Maher owns it) has the same policy on their website.

People might give you grief about it - but I would just go with it. You are ONLY going to charge them if they don't show up or cancel within a reasonable time frame! If they aren't willing to do that, maybe they aren't serious about a cake to begin with!

margaretb Posted 19 May 2009 , 5:32am
post #9 of 10

Do you lose half your sampling appointments when asking for a CC# or all of them? If you are losing half, then I guess you are weeding out the no shows who wouldn't book with you anyway because they are no shows.

cakesdivine Posted 20 May 2009 , 3:08am
post #10 of 10

No when I ask for a CC they either say they don't have one, or I hear no one else asks for that, or they say they will get back with me. None have ever given me their CC to guarantee their arrival. So I stopped asking. The 50% is of actual booked samplings. Half show, half don't. If they do show I have a 99% book on site rate. Maybe it is as the one poster above stated that they have more than one sampling appointment and instead of going to all they choose someone else before they get to me and so no show, no call, no answering the call.

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