Once Sympathetic, Now Empathetic! (Long Rant)

Business By jadak Updated 25 May 2009 , 3:07pm by margaretb

jadak Posted 21 May 2009 , 6:11pm
post #1 of 50

Over time, I've read posts on here where a cake decorator has gotten inquisitive emails from a prospective client only to have them not order once the price was quoted. I have always felt sympathy. Now, because it just happened to me, I truly know how it feels and have empathy!

My DD's school contacted me about a cookie bouquet for their centerpiece of their dessert table for a retirement dinner for their secretary. They just raved and raved about how my cookies look and taste (they know because I made a HUGE bouquet of 65 stars for Teacher Appreciation Week and only charged the PTO for ingredients. I donated my time because, as a former teacher, I know how hard they work and I was willing to make that donation to help them all feel special). They explained that they just really really wanted them and they knew it was short notice, but could I make a bouquet for next Wed.?

So, I asked 2 questions: 1. How many cookies do you need? and 2. What's the theme?

I got a response that flowers was the theme, but no amount of cookies needed. I was also asked for a quote (kinda hard to do when I don't know how many cookies I'm making!)

So, I emailed back and told her my prices for cookies (which is cheap compared to many of you, but I can not get any more where I live and people want to balk at what I do charge half the time!). And, I made up a number of cookies (3 dozen) and gave her a quote for that amount of cookies arranged into a bouquet and delivered. I explained that this WAS NOT her quote because I did not know her need yet, but it was a way for her to give the planning committee a ball park to see is a bouquet was within their budget.

Finally, I get an email telling me that she shared my emails with the planning committee and they realized that they already have WWWWAAAAYYYYYY too much food....especially desserts, so they won't need anything from me. Ummmmmmmm, if you have way too much food, why are you even wasting my time inquiring about more? Maybe I'm wrong, but I translated it to "that's too much." They didn't have too much food until they got a quote and we've been emailing back and forth for 4 days.

Oh well....whatever it is, it is. I'm not going to cry over not needing to prep. for a big old cookie bouquet over my holiday weekend. I'm going to cook out and drink a beer and maybe make MYSELF a cookie bouquet!

Sorry to rant.....just needed to get it out and figured you all would understand.

49 replies
cylstrial Posted 21 May 2009 , 8:48pm
post #2 of 50

That's too bad! But as IndyDebi says..."Next"! Someone else will come along and be willing to pay for your hard work and delicious cookies!

CakesbyCindi Posted 21 May 2009 , 8:54pm
post #3 of 50

I personally love a good rant..... Rant on!

solascakes Posted 21 May 2009 , 8:57pm
post #4 of 50

Maybe they were hoping you'll donate the cookies and do it for FREE.

tyty Posted 21 May 2009 , 9:03pm
post #5 of 50

I get that all the time. When I give a quote and they say that's too much, I too feel like people are wasting my time.

I got a call last week from a bride and I really dreaded calling her back. She seemed to know exactly what she wanted, cake design etc. So I finally called her back all geared up to hear "that's too much". But to my surprise she had already gotton a quote from a well known celebrity cakery that has been on Food Network. So she had no problem with my price.

You will get customers that will pay your price.

Ladiesofthehouse Posted 21 May 2009 , 9:07pm
post #6 of 50

I know how you feel because I have had that happen too. It is quite disappointing but I know someone else will appreciate what you do and be very happy to pay the price for all of the hard work that goes into those beautiful bouquets! thumbs_up.gif

Momkiksbutt Posted 21 May 2009 , 9:14pm
post #7 of 50

YUPPER! "NEXT!!!"

Tita9499 Posted 21 May 2009 , 9:15pm
post #8 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by tyty

I get that all the time. When I give a quote and they say that's too much, I too feel like people are wasting my time.

I got a call last week from a bride and I really dreaded calling her back. She seemed to know exactly what she wanted, cake design etc. So I finally called her back all geared up to hear "that's too much". But to my surprise she had already gotton a quote from a well known celebrity cakery that has been on Food Network. So she had no problem with my price.

You will get customers that will pay your price.





Oooh Oooh, lemme guess..." The Cake Girls"....

__Jamie__ Posted 21 May 2009 , 9:25pm
post #9 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by CakesbyCindi

I personally love a good rant..... Rant on!




icon_twisted.gificon_lol.gificon_twisted.gificon_lol.gif

-Tubbs Posted 21 May 2009 , 9:35pm
post #10 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by solascakes

Maybe they were hoping you'll donate the cookies and do it for FREE.



Yes, I think that too. I had an enquiry from my son's school asking about a cake for a teacher appreciation event, and I just gave a regular quote, but said I would cut them a break. I never heard back and realised later (durr!) that she'd been after a donation. Ah well!

jadak Posted 21 May 2009 , 11:29pm
post #11 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by solascakes

Maybe they were hoping you'll donate the cookies and do it for FREE.




I wouldn't doubt it, but I have to tell you there is NO WAY I'm donating another cookie bouquet this school year anyway. That last one was just a couple of weeks ago, I did it for about $25 (ingredients only and my choice) and it was HUGE (for me anyway). I'm a one woman show in an average size kitchen with three little kids. Mama needs to get paid sometimes! icon_lol.gif

I had a little bit of a wicked thought today. I thought maybe I would make the secretary a small, but beautiful bouquet for her retirement FROM ME!!!! icon_biggrin.gif But, then I remembered that I really have NO warm fuzzies for said secretary so I think I will just withhold ALL baked goods for a while. icon_smile.gif

Thanks for all of your replies. It's nice to be heard by folks who "get it."

cakeschmake Posted 22 May 2009 , 12:08am
post #12 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by jadak

I'm a one woman show in an average size kitchen with three little kids. Mama needs to get paid sometimes! icon_lol.gif



I'm gonna use this line from now on... hope you don't mind icon_biggrin.gif

Happens to me all the time: I spent quite a while today emailing back and forth with a potential customer, quotes, pictures, and the cake size and price kept getting smaller.. Havent heard yes or no yet, but I really feel bad that was time I could have spent playing with my kids instead of responding so promptly to her questions icon_sad.gif

Yeah, we get it.... good for you for not doing all that work for nothing!

indydebi Posted 22 May 2009 , 12:24am
post #13 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by jadak

So, I asked 2 questions: 1. How many cookies do you need? and 2. What's the theme?




You need to ask 3 questions:
1) What's the theme?
2) How many cookies are you looking for?
3) HOW MUCH WERE YOU LOOKING TO SPEND?

Cuts to the heart of the matter and you're not wasting your time. With a dollar figure, you're able to tell her, "here's how many cookies you can have for that amount."

aligotmatt Posted 22 May 2009 , 12:32am
post #14 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by jadak

So, I asked 2 questions: 1. How many cookies do you need? and 2. What's the theme?



You need to ask 3 questions:
1) What's the theme?
2) How many cookies are you looking for?
3) HOW MUCH WERE YOU LOOKING TO SPEND?

Cuts to the heart of the matter and you're not wasting your time. With a dollar figure, you're able to tell her, "here's how many cookies you can have for that amount."




3) especially for schools, or non-profit kind of places... often the response is "well.... we were hoping you would donate it" I love when they are happy to pay for my ingredients. icon_rolleyes.gif

Ladiesofthehouse Posted 22 May 2009 , 12:36am
post #15 of 50

Anybody have a good response to "We were hoping you would donate it" I get this from time to time and would like something professional to respond so that I don't look like an ogre, but it is clear I cannot donate at this time. I prefer to pick and choose who I donate to rather than every non-profit on the block--I'd go broke!

indydebi Posted 22 May 2009 , 12:44am
post #16 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ladiesofthehouse

Anybody have a good response to "We were hoping you would donate it" I get this from time to time and would like something professional to respond so that I don't look like an ogre, but it is clear I cannot donate at this time. I prefer to pick and choose who I donate to rather than every non-profit on the block--I'd go broke!



"We've already filled our donation budget/quota for this (quarter, month, year, whatever). If you'd like to be considered for future donation budgets, please let me know. I'll need a copy of your tax exempt status so I can deduct the donation."

Or the one that I used alot when co-workers asked for freebies. It worked:

"I'm sorry, but my baking schedule is full, so oven time is at a premium. I only have room for my paying customers. If you would like to place an order, I'm happy to see how I can fit this in for you."

aligotmatt Posted 22 May 2009 , 12:44am
post #17 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ladiesofthehouse

Anybody have a good response to "We were hoping you would donate it" I get this from time to time and would like something professional to respond so that I don't look like an ogre, but it is clear I cannot donate at this time. I prefer to pick and choose who I donate to rather than every non-profit on the block--I'd go broke!




I had to get donations for a silent auction my church was doing to raise money, and often heard, "I'm sorry, we've met our donation quota for the year" I use that sometimes.

Depending on the month, I DO NOT do donation cakes in May, June, September and October, so it's pretty easy to just say, these are very busy months for my business and I cannot donate during them.

I DO donate a certain amount of my time/cost in cakes per year, so to say I've reached my quota isn't a lie.

Bunsen Posted 22 May 2009 , 12:44am
post #18 of 50

Totally feel your pain, I just had it happen to me too!

Just a thought for future quotes (well for ones that aren't just fishing for a freebie anyway icon_wink.gif) would it work for you to say a basic bouquet of 12 cookies is $25 and each additional half dozen is $10 (no idea what the real price would be but hopefully you get the idea) then the client can work out what they can afford without being put off by an initial high price?

MustloveDogs Posted 22 May 2009 , 8:59am
post #19 of 50

"I'm sorry, but my baking schedule is full, so oven time is at a premium. I only have room for my paying customers. If you would like to place an order, I'm happy to see how I can fit this in for you." (from indydebi)

OOOH! I absolutely LOVE this! Yay.. I am even gonna use this one on the inlaws that I don't adore!
Thanks Deb, you should write one of those books of what to say at the right time.. Similar to the "what to say at an occasion" book, more of a "what to say when you say what you mean" kinda book!
Love it! thumbs_up.gif

Evoir Posted 22 May 2009 , 9:49am
post #20 of 50

How about: "I have an annual budget for charity donations, and this year I have reached the maximum amount already. Maybe next year".

imakecakes Posted 22 May 2009 , 10:28am
post #21 of 50

Back to the original rant for a sec...

If you have a business, I wouldn't think that it's too much to ask for prices. Don't we all price shop for everything from insurance to clothing to cars and cakes? You inquire about an item, get a quote and make a decision based on what works best for you. It's part of the job. Sometimes they say yes, sometimes they say no.

I know for us, quotes are more complicated because every cake (Or cookie bouquet) is different and variations like fondant and detail can make a huge difference in price--but it's no different from a roofer who's giving a quote for a simple ranch home compared with a roof that has numerous peaks and angles.

Life is rough, wear a helmet. icon_lol.gif

jadak Posted 22 May 2009 , 1:20pm
post #22 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by imakecakes

Back to the original rant for a sec...

If you have a business, I wouldn't think that it's too much to ask for prices. Don't we all price shop for everything from insurance to clothing to cars and cakes? You inquire about an item, get a quote and make a decision based on what works best for you. It's part of the job. Sometimes they say yes, sometimes they say no.

I know for us, quotes are more complicated because every cake (Or cookie bouquet) is different and variations like fondant and detail can make a huge difference in price--but it's no different from a roofer who's giving a quote for a simple ranch home compared with a roof that has numerous peaks and angles.

Life is rough, wear a helmet. icon_lol.gif





I don't think it is AT ALL unreasonable to ask for a price, but I wish they would have done that in their first inquiry instead of sending email after email for days. I also have a website with my prices that I've given different teachers over the course of the school year when they've asked for it. Even in the second to last email, they still hadn't even given me the amount of cookies they needed, so I am not thinking a price quote was really in their initial thoughts. I agree with the poster who thinks maybe they wanted another freebie.

I am on a school committee called Hospitality and we treat the staff throughout the year to meals, goodies, whatever. I have provided EVERY dessert for every occassion this year and have been paid only for ingredients. It's been fine. I like to give nice things to the people who are with my children all day everyday and who do a wonderful job. I just think if someone outside of that committee is interested in ordering something from me, they should be willing to pay for it......or grow a pair and just ASK for the donation instead of sending inquiry emails and then dismissing me when they hear a price.

I'd bet money that if I emailed the teacher today and offered to make a bouquet for no charge, they would take it....despite already having too much food.

crazycaker Posted 22 May 2009 , 1:28pm
post #23 of 50

I am so sorry this happened to you. I just had a customer on the phone (while I was desperately trying to finish a cookie order with one hand) who seemed to pause at my price. I got the old "well, I'll talk to my sister, she is making the party decisions" which I know is code for "probably not."

(I use the line "hmm, I'll talk to my husband" too, so I know...) icon_rolleyes.gif

Just a suggestion...I've been working on mentioning price very early in the conversation. "My most popular wedding cake to serve 116 is $XX." That way, I don't have to ask the number of people, etc. and other things which they might not know yet, or want to share.

If the conversation ends quickly, I know it was likely a price comparison. If the converstation contines, I mention other selling points (organic, custom flavors and designs, etc).

It does hurt when sometimes the conversation shuts down quickly (and believe me, it took about 10 tries before I just politely put pointedly mention some sort of price point), but I "talk" to myself, saying "it's better to be a little uncomfortable mentioning price NOW, rather than draw up a design, and get depressed because they pass on it LATER."

Yes, I talk to myself. icon_biggrin.gif

-Tubbs Posted 22 May 2009 , 1:36pm
post #24 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by jadak

I am on a school committee called Hospitality and we treat the staff throughout the year to meals, goodies, whatever.



Am I alone in wondering about this. (Some) Teachers do a great job, but it is just that - a job - it's not like they do it for free. Why do they need all this special treatment? I don't understand. My best friend is a teacher, she freely admits it's the best job in the world. She enjoys kids, loves her subject and cannot believe that she gets paid to do it AND gets massive vacations. Tell me why she has to have special meals and extra goodies throughout the year too?

ziggytarheel Posted 22 May 2009 , 1:55pm
post #25 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by TubbsCookies

Quote:
Originally Posted by jadak

I am on a school committee called Hospitality and we treat the staff throughout the year to meals, goodies, whatever.


Am I alone in wondering about this. (Some) Teachers do a great job, but it is just that - a job - it's not like they do it for free. Why do they need all this special treatment? I don't understand. My best friend is a teacher, she freely admits it's the best job in the world. She enjoys kids, loves her subject and cannot believe that she gets paid to do it AND gets massive vacations. Tell me why she has to have special meals and extra goodies throughout the year too?




As a former teacher and the mother of a teacher and someone who spent a lot of time volunteering in the schools, I want to say something here. Sorry for hijacking the thread!

When I taught school, I almost did it for free. I once figured up the number of hours I worked and determined I made just over minimum wage. Now, things are a bit better these days, but to do the job right, you have to put in a lot of hours.

Secondly, you are never "off duty". There is always more to do.

Thirdly, you have been entrusted with children. A huge responsibility.

You are asked to do the near impossible with very little resources and ever increasing bureaucracy. You have to document everything. You have to go to training upon training session. You have to go to conference upon conference. For all the education and experience, your pay is usually much much MUCH lower than you would make doing something else you are qualified for.

And then you have to deal with so much STUFF. Children in therapy. Children with behavior issues. Children from abused homes. Children who bully. Children who are bullied. Parents who are in jail or should be in jail. Parents who don't care. Parents who lie for their children. Parents who threaten to sue if you follow proper disciplinary procedure. Kids who spit at you. I could go on and on. Children who throw up in class. Kindergarteners who haven't been adequately potty trained.

You can't go to the bathroom when you need to. You can't run errands during lunch. You can't leave sick if there is no one to replace you. You don't get lunch most days because you either have lunch duty or by the time you get your class to the lunchroom and go to where you can eat, it is time to turn around and go back to get them.

You spend your own money supplying kids with Kleenex and crayons and posters to decorate the room. You go to the teacher supply store to pick up some extras to try to help those who need extra help. A few hundred dollars of your salary each year goes into your classroom.

Even if you love the job, it is largely a very thankless one. You stay up nights worrying about the kids, trying figure out how to help little Johnny succeed, worrying about what mom and dad are doing to little Johnny behind closed doors, worrying about how depressed little Johnny is, worrying about how spoiled little Johnny is. If they fail, it is all your fault. If they succeed, well, maybe someone sometime will thank you, but not often.

So, getting a free lunch and a cookie isn't all that much to offer a teacher, is it? I mean, I don't teach any more, but my boss give me flowers, takes me to lunch, gives a Christmas party. Why can't teachers get a fraction of that?

Okay, sorry about that. I've read too many things only talking about the bad teachers. Really, a little thanks and a small gift isn't undeserved.

cakesbycathy Posted 22 May 2009 , 1:55pm
post #26 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by TubbsCookies

Quote:
Originally Posted by jadak

I am on a school committee called Hospitality and we treat the staff throughout the year to meals, goodies, whatever.


Am I alone in wondering about this. (Some) Teachers do a great job, but it is just that - a job - it's not like they do it for free. Why do they need all this special treatment? I don't understand. My best friend is a teacher, she freely admits it's the best job in the world. She enjoys kids, loves her subject and cannot believe that she gets paid to do it AND gets massive vacations. Tell me why she has to have special meals and extra goodies throughout the year too?




Maybe you truly were just curious, but frankly I'm extremely offended by your attitude. Clearly you do not know everything that is involved in teaching children. It is not an 8am - 3pm job with 3 months off for summer vacation. It's a 16 hour a day job with about 1 month off in the summer by the time you deal with paperwork and lesson plans and PITA parents and giving students extra help and staff meetings and all sorts of other things. How about the fact that you are not just a teacher, but a parent and a guidance counselor and a nurse and a psychologist, usually with too many kids in a classroom, many of whom have behavior issues and special needs.

As a former elementary school teacher I will say this: How about you go spend an entire week in a classroom. I'll bet you won't be asking that question then.
Not sure where your best friend teaches, and yes sometimes it really is the best job in the world. But there is so much crap a teacher has to do deal with for the crappy amount of pay that they receive, that until teachers actually start receiving executive level pay, they deserve all the little extras they can get.

ETA: For someone to say "it's just a job" is so demeaning to what teachers actually do...
Oh! I am so worked up about this I could spit!

Nyree Posted 22 May 2009 , 2:00pm
post #27 of 50

Its so unfortunate that price will be an issue with certain people. I think because you are on the hospitality committee they thought this would be something you would do free.

I have learned the hard way, two weeks ago I had someone email regarding a cake, they wanted a purse cake, gumpaste shoe, edible image on purse and cake. I gave her a price, I didn't hear from her for 4 days, to get a call Saturday and tell me the date changed and will the price change if I omit the shoe and edible image. I stopped her and said I booked two more cakes for that day because I hadn't heard from her. I have learned that when someone wants a cake, I let them tell me what they want, and say whats your budget.

Its there loss, you will still be an active mom, committee member, and great baker.

-Tubbs Posted 22 May 2009 , 2:06pm
post #28 of 50

[quote="cakesbycathyMaybe you truly were just curious, but frankly I'm extremely offended by your attitude. Clearly you do not know everything that is involved in teaching children. It is not an 8am - 3pm job with 3 months off for summer vacation. ...

As a former elementary school teacher I will say this: How about you go spend an entire week in a classroom. I'll bet you won't be asking that question then.[/quote]
I have spent a lot of time in my three childrens' classrooms (for free icon_biggrin.gif ), and have loved most of the teachers my children have had, but as I say, they are doing a job which they chose to do. I don't think a small appreciation gift is inappropriate, but meals throughout the year seemed over the top to me.

My friend does not do the hours you suggested, and I don't know any teachers who do. Our schools continually have Professional Development days so the teachers can do more training. They have 2 months off (maybe doing some planning, but they are NOT at school during the summer, except for the final week before term begins) and within 2 weeks they are off again. I understand it can be a challenging job, but there are benefits to it, and I just get a little tired when teachers complain all the time about how awful it is. Just my opinion and I apologize to those who are offended by it.

ziggytarheel Posted 22 May 2009 , 2:17pm
post #29 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by TubbsCookies

[quote="cakesbycathyMaybe you truly were just curious, but frankly I'm extremely offended by your attitude. Clearly you do not know everything that is involved in teaching children. It is not an 8am - 3pm job with 3 months off for summer vacation. ...

As a former elementary school teacher I will say this: How about you go spend an entire week in a classroom. I'll bet you won't be asking that question then.



I have spent a lot of time in my three childrens' classrooms (for free icon_biggrin.gif ), and have loved most of the teachers my children have had, but as I say, they are doing a job which they chose to do. I don't think a small appreciation gift is inappropriate, but meals throughout the year seemed over the top to me.

My friend does not do the hours you suggested, and I don't know any teachers who do. Our schools continually have Professional Development days so the teachers can do more training. They have 2 months off (maybe doing some planning, but they are NOT at school during the summer, except for the final week before term begins) and within 2 weeks they are off again. I understand it can be a challenging job, but there are benefits to it, and I just get a little tired when teachers complain all the time about how awful it is. Just my opinion and I apologize to those who are offended by it.[/quote]

You don't get paid during your "time off". Teachers here get paid for 10 months work, yet during those two months off, they must do preparation work for the next school year, or they won't be ready.

I cannot imagine that teachers dont' work long hours where you live. When do they plan? When do they grade? When do they call parents? Don't they have afterschool conferences? Don't they have afterschool team meetings? The school day is close to 7 hours, with no breaks. Teachers are required to be at school a minimum of an hour and a half extra, often still dealing with students who arrive early and who are required to stay late. Then comes the preparation, grading, learning new ways they are expected to teach, and the endless parent conferences and phone calls.

And even if I could image what you say to be true, what kind of benefits do you see them getting that are over the top? One or two free meals and a couple of cookies during the school year? It isn't like they are being handed the keys to a new car. And as I said earlier, at my present job and at past jobs, my bosses have given me flowers, several free lunches a year, a very nice Christmas party, a Christmas bonus, various other surprise "treats". A free salad bar and a cookie don't really compare.

The only teachers I know who don't put in the 12 to 16 hour days and working most weekends and during their "vacations" aren't the ones I've wanted my kids to have for a teacher.

Mizuki Posted 22 May 2009 , 2:37pm
post #30 of 50

I am also a former teacher, and those hours are right on. In fact, as a former HS music teacher I can tell you that I spent every Friday night from September - February at football games and then basketball games with my band. Then, in February we start the weekend competitions. Not to mention after school practices and lessons. How about all those "regular" teachers who sponsor cheerleading, or debate team...that ain't 8-3!
YES, it was a job I chose to do. But I put in SO much of my own money, and time (that I was not compensated for) and put up with SO much crap and bureaucracy, that believe me a few meals throughout the year to say "we appreciate you" is completely appropriate!!!!

There are SOME teachers that treat it like a job and can't get out of the school fast enough, and SOME like your friend who loves every minute of it (although I'll tell you those people are VERY rare) and the rest of us who love the job, but are realists; and get extremely frustrated when people think teaching is like office or factory work. Words cannot even express how much "spending a lot of time in a child's classroom" doesn't even come close to understanding the job.

I'm sorry...this just really hits a nerve. I'm a former waitress too...don't even get me started on tipping!!! tapedshut.gif

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