Please forgive the intrusion -- I'm not a regular here. I actually just ran across your thread while searching the Internet to find a certain novelty cake pan. But I read edencakes' post and all the great replies and I wanted to add another perspective to the discussion if you'll indulge me for a moment.
When I was in college, so so so long ago, I took a freshman level economics class called "Free Enterprise". The professor was a guy who had run many businesses both small and large in his lifetime. He had a philosophy that might be of interest in this discussion. He said that when he was younger he had a business where he sold copiers. He said that it wasn't uncommon for people he knew (especially people he went to church with, for some reason) to approach him and say something like "Hey Bob, since we're friends why don't you give me a 20% discount on that copier?" And his response was always to turn to them and say "Hey 'Friend', since we're friends why don't you pay me 20% extra for that copier?"
I've never forgotten that story and it has changed the way I look at doing business with friends. The "going rate" for a product or service should serve as a baseline, and any discount given off that price is money coming out of someone's pocket. My philosophy is that if a friend *offers* me a discount on something then I'll certainly consider it. If I feel like the offer is such that I'm going to feel like I'm taking advantage, then I can't accept it. The fact is that I'm going to be perfectly happy to pay them in line with what I would have paid anyone else for the same product or service. If I'm going to have to pay that much anyway, wouldn't I rather have the money going to a friend than a stranger? It seems so simple!!
Anyway, like I said, sorry for the intrusion. You have a great little community here!!
OK edencakes - I'm SO glad you wrote this!! I delt with this not too long ago with one of my best friends. She's cheap to begin with - always stiffing us on group gifts for showers, saying she's broke and then you see her at the mall in Express! Well, she got engaged (never even told me for 2 weeks - but I'm a BF - yeah right!) She sets up an appointment for a consult, I sat with her for almost 2 hours and was as professional with her as a stranger off the street. She's seen my work, tasted my cakes and KNOWS she's getting quality goods. She wanted all chocolate - cake, fillings, buttercream AND ganache! Talk about a toothache! So, I told her I would cut her a deal. I charge 3.50 for buttercream cakes. I charged her 2.75. Her total came to $450 for almost 200. She calls me the next day flipping that the banquet place will do the same thing for 2.00 a slice - now I knew that was hard to believe, but whatever (I should add I was IN the wedding as well! The dress and shoes she wanted us to wear came to almost $400.) So I stupidly said I would do it at cost. Well, I ended up pricing EVERYTHING! down to the dowels.... SORRY, but if I have to do it at cost, you're getting it AT COST! Well, at cost came to 350. So I told her and she flipped out again!! I was like, then have the banquet place do it - you said they would do it for practically nothing. Then she says - oh they only do white cakes... and her ENTIRE theme is based on this cake... um then PAY FOR IT! Any normal bride that did her research would know cakes go for 3-15 a slice. And she's getting getting a custom cake! Well, she said she would send me a check but wanted something that said she paid me... Yeah, you'll get a CONTRACT like all my clients! Never heard from her for 2 weeks, then she calls me at work accusing me of "scr*wing her"! R U Serious?? So I landed in on her! She said someone else was doing the cake and couldn't believe how a perfect stranger can charge her SO much less... You guys will not believe how much "less" $12!!!!!!! WHAT!!!! I sat there and was like - you know what, if saving an entire $12 is THAT important - I hope you get what you pay for and that your cake looks great! I told her a few weeks later I couldn't be in the wedding because I'm having hip surgery - she couldn't get - NO PROBLEM out quick enough... went on about how I can't really afford to pay for everything in vein - now she's concerned about MY finances?? But, I have the last laugh - the woman making her cake just bought her business from a very good decorator and doesn't have a clue! She doesn't even bake her own cakes!! He website shows cakes/comments from the old owner!! I absolutely LOVE IT!! You get what you pay for!!
Sorry this is so long... I've been holding it for a LOOONNNNGG time!!
WELL SAID Mark
I know pricing is a touchy issue when you're dealing with a friend...But don't sell yourself short..you do lovely work, and $2.00 a slice is very cheap..... It's not your fault she's invited soooo many people...
No intrusion at all. That is a very good perspective.
Welcome to Cake Central. I hope you continue to join us here.
Stick to your guns edencakes, don't offer even another penny discount! There are just some people out there that will never appreciate what you do for them, even if they did know how many hours of labor and worry go into a wedding cake! On another note, Mac, I totally enjoyed reading the link to the Washington Post you posted about the couple that made the wedding cake as a gift...had my laugh for the day! Thanks!
Stick to your guns. I wouldn't expect a cake in Memphis to be priced below $5/slice.
I am in a rural area and my base price is $1.50 for simple decorations.
Specialty flavors, fillings and detailed designs cost more.
My last wedding cake I found out I am definitely underpriced.
It was for 300 people. Was an 8in, 10in, 12in and 4 sheet cakes. The entire cake was served as they get a 6in to take on their honeymoon. So they can actually enjoy it.
It was for a co-worker so they got a 10% discount their price was $325
I know that sounds low but over 200 servings were sheet cakes.
The bride was so pleased she had priced one other place and it was over $500 for the same amount of cake. So needless to say I will be rethinking my pricing.
As it was the ingredients total were one $60 and the design was so simple it only took about 1 1/2 to decorate the entire cake and sheet cakes.
Someone that really loves the taste and look of your cakes would not ask for a discount. In July I did a 3 tier cake w/fresh flowers for a 25th wedding anniversary and I charged my based price. The person ordering was a friend and best customer. She pointed out to me that she has learned to distinguish a good quality cake from a store bought cake. And that my decorating style is superior from other bakeries. It is clear this person is not your friend and if I was you I would not have given her a discount. Charged her for your talent as you would someone else. And maybe its best for you to not do her wedding cake (you decide) but if from the start she going to give problems that is not a "good thing".
I think that it was very generous of you to charge her $450 for a cake that will run you a lot of time and money. If that were me I probably wouldn't have been so nice about it considering the disrespect she showed you. She should appreciate such a great friend.
Hi Edencakes...Your cakes are gorgeous and completely worth the money!! I just got married this summer, and I too had sticker shock when I found out how much wedding cakes cost last year. I thought a cake for 300 people would run me $300. HAH!!! I was getting quotes for anywhere from $600-1000!!! So being the cheapskate that I am, I did what I thought would be the least expensive thing: I took cake classes and made my own wedding cake!! (you can check it out on my profile) Now I found a hobby I LOVE and ADORE!!!! My new hobby ended up costing me anywhere from $600-1000 in supplies (I'm addicted to the cake aisle at the craft store), but it was worth learning the skill, and if I get good enough, I'd love to break into the business. Nonetheless, don't let her upset you. Tell her to check around and compare prices, and she'll see that you compare VERY reasonably to others.
It doesn't do anyone any good when you underprice yourself! I would rather work hard for ONE cake at $1,000.00 than 1,000 cakes at $1.00...get my drift?
I have a suggestion for you, if you start adding a 20% to 25% surcharge to all your cakes, so, when someone complains about your prices and asks for a discount...you can knock off that surcharge and make your money!!..hahaha...why not?
Don't big ticket items go on sale like that?
If they DON'T complain? Well, you got yourself a little BONUS. That was what used to pay for all the "FREE" cakes I'd give my customers, that surcharge covered me for the cost of doing business...you know, when the price of butter and eggs goes up that week.
Also, if your customers get used to paying premium prices for your work, they won't freak out if you ever decide to move your business into a commercial location and you have to raise your prices to cover all the "NEW" costs.
The BEST way to learn how to price your cakes? You don't need the PRICING MATRIX or the number of servings per cake...
What you need to do is look at the rent at whatever location you would like to open a shop in, then figure out how many cakes you make, for example:
a $600.00 rent needs 24 cakes at $25.00...and that is JUST to pay the rent. Then you need to figure out your light, water, sewage and the cost of your ingredients.
Let's say it takes you about 40 hours to make a wedding cake from start to finish...and let's say you will pay yourself $7.50 an hour...that's $300.00 for your time...your ingredients the usual is to multiply the cost of ingredients by 2.5 or 3 so you can profit.
Get the idea?? you MUST keep track of your hours so you can figure out your rate of pay.
If you are giving up a day of pay to make a cake for someone ... you ALSO need to incorporate this into your pricing.
I hate to sound profit hungry or mercenary, but, like I said...if I can do just ONE cake and earn enough and NOT work myself to death...I'm happy.
Before I give ANYONE, friend, family or foe a price quote... I will ALWAYS ask, "so, what is your cake budget like?" and if they give me some ridiculously low figure...my response is "WOW, I"m so sorry that I'm not going to be able to do your cake, but I have the name of a FABULOUS baker at the local supermarket that can accomodate your budget." Do you know HOW fast that makes the client come around? and if it doesn't...do I really want some pennypinching Bridezilla as a customer?
But, the customers that I do have, I cherish and spoil rotten. I had them ordering 2 cakes at a time, they would come in and order a cake for the event and one to take home..lol, YES...they were that good!
Also, I'm the BEST marketing tool I have. I tell ALL my friends and family that I DO not touch a cake for under $50.00. YES, so by the time ANYONE comes to me, they KNOW that's my starting price. Believe me, ten years ago, I wouldn't touch a character pan for less than $35.00, now? I'm up to $50.00.
So, PLEASE...keep in mind your future when you're coming up with these super low prices, you're only selling yourself short and when you realize that you MUST raise your prices to stay in business ( and make your customers unhappy and grumble and they threaten to go someplace else and bail out on you )--You will have to do that LESS often.
Don't sell yourself short, because your customer will NOT appreciate it.
Another of my pet peeves is the one, when you give someone the price of your cake and they say "WHAT, that much just for sugar, flour and eggs?"
My answer to that has always been, "No, you're not paying that much just for sugar, flour and eggs...You're paying that much for my experience, education and TALENTS!"
heavenlycakes....I can not believe your story about your so called best friend. I was grinding my teeth while reading. You will have to keep us posted on the end result. I just can not believe she did that for $12. I am just getting started and luckily most of my friends are already married. I hope I can stick to my guns when it comes to making birthday/anniversary cakes for them and charge them what I would charge everyone else. The only people getting free cakes are my parents and siblings. I am a stay at home mom as of last week and I need all the extra money I can get!
WHAT ...............she better be worried about her pictures im a photographer myself and $150.00 is crazy for pictures................
she should be worried about that not her cake
eden, I think we all need to get our own mindset to where we KNOW we are worth the price. I have been doing cakes since 1972 & homemade candy since 1978. I am at a point in my life that if someone doesn't want to pay my price, I am fine with it. When we start coming down in price, then we are telling the customer that we don't need to charge that much. I read on someone's cake website once, that the most expensive ingredient of our cakes....is TIME. There is no way you can describe to a customer how many hours can go into specialty cakes. Stand tall. Charge more. Reduce your stress level!
All the responses to this post have made me feel SO much better. I have definitely put my foot down and decided not to undercharge for cakes EVER AGAIN. I've quoted a couple of cakes in the last week and didn't get the jobs, but I'm not discouraged because the ONE I did get won't be a waste of my time because I'm making what it's worth!
I will still be making the cake I originally wrote about, and for the deeply discounted price. I want to do it because I am aquainted with a lot of the people who will be at the wedding, and if I can impress them then I'm hoping to gain a lot of future business from this cake. I will still do a good job so I can be proud of the result, but I will not take anymore sh!t from the bride from here on out (and I even told her so! )
Thank you so much to everyone who has helped and supported me, I don't know what I would do without this forum!