Cake Dummy Pricing

Business By EmilyGrace Updated 10 Jul 2009 , 9:47pm by EmilyGrace

EmilyGrace Posted 3 Jun 2009 , 10:06pm
post #1 of 22

Hi everyone, I know this has been discussed a lot before and I've read through some of the threads on this subject but I'm still having trouble.

Most of you either offer a small discount say 20% or none at all, as you say it is the same time and cost to do a dummy as it is to do a real cake. I'm really not sure about that, in my case anyway. For example, at my local (well it's about an hour away!) cake supply shop I can pick up a 10" round dummy for about $5. There is no way I could bake a cake for that price, not even including filling and buttercream (before I fondant). Plus Using a dummy saves me about two evenings of work. I typically bake one evening, torte and fill the next and then trim/ice in buttercream and cover in fondant and decorate the next. If I use a dummy I can skip the first two evenings all together.

So i'm having a lot of trouble not offering more of a discount. I was thinking of offering between 25%-50% depending on the complexity of the design, if it's more complex only 25% but if it's simply covered in fondant with a ribbon maybe 50% off. Does that sound reasonable?

The cake I have coming up will be a 6" real cake, 8" dummy, and 10" dummy, covered in fondant with a real ribbon. At my regular pricing the 8" would be $128 and the 10" would be $200. Even at 50% off I'm still charging $100 for a 10" dummy that I can do in one evening instead of 3. And probably costs me not more than $10 in supplies (I use mmf). I still feel like it's quite expensive! I charge extra for delivery so thats the same either way.

Is this fair? am I ripping myself off? or charging too much still? What do you think?

21 replies
indydebi Posted 4 Jun 2009 , 12:48am
post #2 of 22

It doesn't matter that you think it's expensive. What is the value of that item? I dont'' care what YOU are willing to pay .... never, never NEVER price your product this way. It's completely irrevelent.

First, let's address that $5 dummy. If the store is about an hour away, I might assume 60 mph means the store is 60 miles away. But also assuming that you may not drive 60 mph the entire distance, I will assume 40 one way miles = 80 round trip miles. Let's assume you get 20 miles per gallon, which means you will use 4 gallons of gas. The price at my corner gas station today is $2.74 x 4 gallons = $10.86 worth of gas. That $5 dummy cost you over $15.

This is a GREAT lesson that I (and others) are preaching on. The cost of ingredients is NOT the only cost involved in making cakes!! But since you didnt really write a check for that gas (it was already in the car, so you didn't feel the cost going out of your pocket), you're not counting it.

Second ... the next thing you're not writing a check for is your time. THe csot of ingredients is not the cheapest part of this equation ... the labor is. Even the 2 hours it takes you to buy that $15 dummy (one hour there .... one hour back); if you were a (pardon the phrase) "real" business and were paying an employee to run over and pick up that dummy for you, you would be paying that $15+ AND paying the employee at least $7/hour ($14), so that $5 dummy is costing you 29 bucks.

And do I understand this right ... you would give a 25% discount for a buttercream dummy but would give a 50% discount for a fondant dummy?

Does that mean your real cakes are priced with fondant cakes being half the price of your buttercream cakes? icon_confused.gif

I think your real issue is your personal feelings on what YOU would pay for a dummy cake. I think you think a cake that's not real shouldn't have a real price or be paid for in real money. Set those feelings and thoughts aside and know and understand the value of your product!!

If YOU don't believe in the value of the work that you're doing, then how do you expect others to value it?

EmilyGrace Posted 4 Jun 2009 , 2:21am
post #3 of 22

Haha indydebi, you are totally right. I feel weird about it because I would never pay it! But of course I wouldn't when I can do it myself! icon_biggrin.gif I definatley have to set those feelings aside.

I did think about the driving cost but I guess I get so much at one trip that I only need to go once a month, so when I spread the cost of the drive over all the cakes I'll be doing, it doesn't seem like a huge expense. I also usually stop by the store when I'm on my way to visit my mom who lives 10 minutes from it. But you are right and I should price it as if I was making the trip specifically for cake supplies.

I don't price differently for buttercream or fondant. I've only ever had requests for fondant dummies. The 25%-50% off for dummy tiers would be dependent on the design, was what I was thinking. For example, If the dummy was simply covered in fondant with a ribbon around it, something that would take me 1/2 hour max, I'd offer 50% off. If the dummy was covered in fondant with an intricate piped pattern i'd only offer 25% off as this might take me an hour or more. Does that make sense? The base price of the more intricate one would be higher too, of course, just as If it were real I would charge more for it than a simple one.

Now even if the dummy costs me $30 including paying someone to drive out and get it and add another $10 (being generous) for the fondant igredients and crisco. I'd still be making $60 for 1 hour of work, including the time it takes me to make the fondant (if I offered the 50% discount for the 10" round dummy, simply decorated - $100). That still seems like lot. No?

costumeczar Posted 4 Jun 2009 , 2:52am
post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by EmilyGrace

...so when I spread the cost of the drive over all the cakes I'll be doing, it doesn't seem like a huge expense...




This is where most people make their mistake...It's the little things that add up, even if they don't think they seem like a big deal at the time.

It sounds like you're thinking of a discount for your time. Okay, figure that the time to get the dummy is similar to the time it takes to shop for ingredients. That's a wash, no discount. You'll have less time mixing and baking, so if you want to take something off there, fine. Decorating, making the buttercream, etc., is the same for a dummy or a real cake, so no discount.

The only place that using a dummy saves you is in the time it takes to do the baking and cleanup after, really. So if you want to do a SMALL discount for that, fine. I'd say 10%, no more.

indydebi Posted 4 Jun 2009 , 3:18am
post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by EmilyGrace

But you are right and I should price it as if I was making the trip specifically for cake supplies.




Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

Quote:
Originally Posted by EmilyGrace

...so when I spread the cost of the drive over all the cakes I'll be doing, it doesn't seem like a huge expense...



This is where most people make their mistake...It's the little things that add up, even if they don't think they seem like a big deal at the time.




Absolutely. I compare this to my strawberry pricing. I price them based on worst case scenario (i.e. out of season pricing .... berries in March are TWICE the price as berries in April). So if they order choc covered strawberries in Feb or March, my pricing covers the out of season cost. If they order them in June, then I'm either money ahead (to cover the lean times!) or I can "let them talk me into" giving a discount and then they think I'm great and they think they got a deal! icon_rolleyes.gif

What if....... always plan for the what if.

FromScratch Posted 4 Jun 2009 , 10:34am
post #6 of 22

I charge 80% of a real cake because I don't use my expensive buttercream and I don't have to spend hours baking them. The labor is still the same. One thing you will also want to do is to limit when dummies can be used. I don't allow them unless 100 servings of real cake are being ordered. I also won't do kitchen cakes unless 100 servings of main cake are being ordered. This weeds out the ones who are looking to order a big display cake from you and then go to Sam's and grab some sheet cakes to serve.

cakesweetiecake Posted 9 Jul 2009 , 5:22pm
post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratch

I charge 80% of a real cake because I don't use my expensive buttercream and I don't have to spend hours baking them. The labor is still the same. One thing you will also want to do is to limit when dummies can be used. I don't allow them unless 100 servings of real cake are being ordered. I also won't do kitchen cakes unless 100 servings of main cake are being ordered. This weeds out the ones who are looking to order a big display cake from you and then go to Sam's and grab some sheet cakes to serve.




Just curious. I know you use SMBC for your cakes. What type of BC do you use for your dummies? I want to practice on dummies, but I dont want to use the SMBC that I use.

dsilvest Posted 9 Jul 2009 , 5:34pm
post #8 of 22

You can use the dummy cake as a display in the future or use it as a rental for couples that can not afford a "real" cake. I have a cake rental business and charge $100 to rent a 3 storey cake.

__Jamie__ Posted 9 Jul 2009 , 5:38pm
post #9 of 22

I use SMBC on the dummies, not practice dummies, but real ordered ones. It takes the thinnest layer, it's great!

EmilyGrace Posted 9 Jul 2009 , 5:49pm
post #10 of 22

I just use Crisco (or whatever shortening you use). I just grease up the dummy with my hands and it's good to go. Saves so much time and money not making buttercream and then icing the dummy.

CutiePieCakes-Ontario Posted 9 Jul 2009 , 5:51pm
post #11 of 22

Both teachers I've had don't BC dummies at all. Run them under the tap, wipe off excess water and the fondant will stick just fine. Worked on my first dummy I did yesterday ... and all the display cakes in my teacher's place as well.

CutiePieCakes-Ontario Posted 9 Jul 2009 , 5:52pm
post #12 of 22

Both teachers I've had don't BC dummies at all. Run them under the tap, wipe off excess water and the fondant will stick just fine. Worked on my first dummy I did yesterday ... and all the display cakes in my teacher's place as well.

dsilvest Posted 9 Jul 2009 , 5:59pm
post #13 of 22

Just a bit of water (damp not wet) is all that is needed to stick fondant to styrofoam. If you are stacking layers a bit of piping gel in the middle holds the layers together like cement.

__Jamie__ Posted 9 Jul 2009 , 6:00pm
post #14 of 22

Oh...yes, nothing under fondant at all...just water or a bit of Crisco.

cakesweetiecake Posted 9 Jul 2009 , 6:25pm
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by __Jamie__

I use SMBC on the dummies, not practice dummies, but real ordered ones. It takes the thinnest layer, it's great!




What do you use on your practice dummies?



Another question, do people use dummies with buttecream only (no fondant)?

__Jamie__ Posted 9 Jul 2009 , 6:32pm
post #16 of 22

I don't really do practice dummies anymore. If I'm making one, it is for a display cake, which in that case would be fondant. If it is to be combined with real cake for an actual order, then the same frosting the real cake has, and/or fondant.

TexasSugar Posted 10 Jul 2009 , 3:23pm
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesweetiecake

What do you use on your practice dummies?

Another question, do people use dummies with buttecream only (no fondant)?




If it is a practice dummy, then you would want to practice with what ever icing you typically use or want to use. Yes you can do a dummy cake in just butter cream with no fondant. You can also do them in royal icing.

I never understood giving grand discounts on dummy cakes, because they still take time and talent to do. Not just anyone can go out and buy some styrofoam and do them. I know the wedding sites and magazines always suggest getting dummy cakes if you want the big cakes to save money or kitchen cakes if you want to save money, but we also know they are often really off on their thinking!

Emily, do you discount your cakes based on easy design vs hard design? If not, why would you treat dummy cakes any differently? So this dummy is easy, maybe the next will be harder, and the costs will even out.

dsilvest Posted 10 Jul 2009 , 3:50pm
post #18 of 22

If you rent a dummy cake from someone who only does faux cakes then there is a huge savings. Not every wedding has to have cake served at the reception. In my area of Canada, cake is not as important as in other areas , like the US. Many venues supply dessert with the meal, why would you need the expense of sheet cakes as well.

My brides reap a huge savings by renting one of my faux cakes. They are not worn or dirty or in disrepair. They can be changed very quickly with the addition of ribbon or silk flowers.

Maybe those of you who do "real" cakes should have a couple of faux cakes for rental purposes to couples who choose to go this route. They could also act as display cakes when not in use.

EmilyGrace Posted 10 Jul 2009 , 6:37pm
post #19 of 22

TexasSugar, I price my real cakes differently depending on the complexity of the design, so why wouldn't I discount fake cakes in the same manner? For example, I just did this cake below, the two bottom tiers are fake, I priced them at my basic charge (as it is a very simple cake) and I gave a 50% discount. The cost of the two dummies was about $12, I make my own MMF wich is about $5 a batch wich covered both dummies. So I spent about $22 in ingredients add on another $10 for gas and other smaller extras, thats $32. And I maybe spent 4 hours on it including picking up the dummies and ingriedents and making fondant. I charged $165 for the two dummies. If I subtract the ingredients thats about $33/hour I made off those two dummies, that seems good to me! And thats at a 50% discount.
I'm doing another cake next week that has one dummy tier however I only offered her a 20% discount as the design is more complex and will be more time consuming. And the price per serving is higher because of the complexity of the design to begin with.
If I had the option of doing a simple real cake at full price or a simple dummy cake at 50% off I would 10 times out of 10 pick the dummy as, in my area anyway, they are way cheaper in cost and they save me hours and hours not having to mix, bake, torte, fill, trim, and ice.
LL

FromScratch Posted 10 Jul 2009 , 6:53pm
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesweetiecake

Just curious. I know you use SMBC for your cakes. What type of BC do you use for your dummies? I want to practice on dummies, but I dont want to use the SMBC that I use.




I use fondant. Fondant is included in the price of all of my cakes and I hate putting BC on dummies, so if you want a dummy... you get fondant.

I think giving a small discount for dummies is acceptable... they save time in baking and prepping and they don't have fillings there no BC.

TexasSugar Posted 10 Jul 2009 , 8:59pm
post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by EmilyGrace

TexasSugar, I price my real cakes differently depending on the complexity of the design, so why wouldn't I discount fake cakes in the same manner?




If your regular pricing is based off of design, then I can understand basing your fake cakes off design. That is why I asked the question. I wasn't sure if you had a flat fee for your regular cakes and then was changing the other.

If you are happy with what you are making then why change it?

When I price almost all cakes the same no matter what the flavor they pick, if they have filling or bc in the middle or what the design is, with the exception of sculpted cakes. If it is something that has extra items (like gumpaste figures) I may charge more for the figure but that is an flat added fee. It just makes my life and math simpler for me. A cake this week may take me longer to make than the next cake, but in the long run it averages out.

I haven't been asked to do a dummy cake with an order. If I had I wouldn't discount that much off of it because to me it is still takes work. I don't have a local shop to buy dummy cakes. So by the time I had to buy online and have it shipped or go out and buy some styrofoam and get it cut I could have already baked a cake cheaper.

To each their own.

EmilyGrace Posted 10 Jul 2009 , 9:47pm
post #22 of 22

Ya, that totally makes sense. Shipping can be expensive. I'm lucky to have a local cake supply store near by that carries dummies, and they are priced really inexpensively as well.
My base price is $4/serving but if someone wants a wedding cake with intricate piping on it then it goes up to $5 or $6, just makes it easier as I know it's gonna take me a lot longer than just covering a cake in fondant and puting a ribbon around it. It seems to be working fine for me so far, whatever works right! icon_smile.gif

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%