I'm just getting started (sent in paperwork for my inspection, which I hope will be scheduled soon) but have concerns about cakes I've already done for customers. I have not specifically had negative feedback, I'm just worried that they were not satisfied.
Here are the situations: first was 2 cakes delivered on the same day to 1 customer. They were b-day cakes for her little girl and, although I think they turned out pretty well, I was a bit concerned that one of them, the doll cake, might not have cooked perfectly (and completely) all the way thru since I didn't use a baking core. I wished I had afterward, since this is such a tall, thick cake when you use a doll pan. Anyway, despite the apparent satisfaction I saw/ heard when I delivered this and the other cake, when I followed up with a phonecall (ended up leaving a voicemail) and asked her to please send me pictures of the cakes, I have not heard anything more from her.
I'm wondering if that means there was something wrong with the cakes. Silly me for not stopping to take pics after all that work!! They turned out great on the outside, but again, I'm worried about the inside...
Second situation was with a cake I made for another friend's son: a piano cake, with black buttercream and strawberry filling (the cake itself was strawberry too). It looked great when it left my house, but the filling I made was too thin and began oozing out the sides once it got to its destination (pic is attached). Cleanup was not easy, but it was somewhat salvageable (though some filling turned black as it oozed out and tinted the red BC in the base layer)...they were, of course, very cool about it and took lots of pics of it anyway.
Anyway, I had successfully made another cake for the same family a month or so before, so I just hope they were sufficiently pleased with this one to help me out with referrals. Ideally I'd like to have more moms as my target market, and I would have thought I'd hear from some more by now...
I've considered e-mailing these customers with a "satisfaction survey" but don't know if that's a good way to get honest feedback at this point. Also don't know if I could / should make it anonymous so they feel comfortable answering. And is there a good incentive to complete such a survey? Maybe I offer them one order of cake truffles for their time? (Again, that would mean it's not anonymous)...
Thanks for your help - I wonder what everyone else does to get references for future customers from folks who may be less than satisfied (or, ideally, are perfectly satisfied but just haven't been in touch with me about it). Even when you KNOW they're satisfied, what do you do to follow up with them and create new business through them? Thanks!
I do not actively seek out references.
Having a good web site is your best reference. You can't run a good biz without one.
I've learned a lot over the last 6 months Ive been doing this. I also wondered the same in the beginning, when I never heard from someone again and thoguht they didnt like it.
1-a lot of women just arent ones to gush. I'll have someone order from me, deliver it, never hear from them again, then months later they make another order.
2- Ive had people order from me, no feedback, never order again, but their bff calls me and orders and tells me how much they loved my cake. why origional customer never called back? who knows.
3- a lot of my customers consider me the "new find" and want to hord me for theirselves. Even if someone asks them where thery got their cake, they dont answer. They want to be the ones with the "special" desserts no one esle has.
4- some people dont really think of us sitting there wondering if they liked it. The thought of giving back feedback doesnt even occur to them. they think of us like pizza hut or mcdonalds. I ordered, I liked it, I'm done....I've only started giving more feedback on things and restaurants when I started this!
5- How many times have I sat in fuddruckers, and theyve given me that "feedback slip" to fill out, I dont think Ive ever filled it out. not cos I dont like their food...just didnt wanna lol.
I wouldnt worry too much sweetie. when money is involved, if they didnt like it I think they really would have said something. and even if they dont order again, it doesnt mean they didnt like it. They could have gone on a diet, moved, not had any events, or even just found something "new" that they also liked.
Hell send that cake over to me I'll eat it I dont care if its undercooked LOL.
I swear im sure each one of you weighs over 400 lbs and just wont admit it! I've put on quite a few after starting this job!!
Oh, about references, I agree with the website thing. and start a facebook account, thats where 90% of my customers came from. And I always attach 3 business cards to my orders.
Not everyone is going to clap their hands and jump up and down and swoon when they see their cake. To most folks it's just cake.
I have lots of customers I never hear from.... until it's time for them to order again. If I never hear from customers I don't worry about it, and if I get a phone call or an e-mail or a thank you card, well, it just makes my day.
I think it seems rather tacky (and needy) to actively solicit compliments/responses.
I kinda agree with mensh.
I dont really do the survey thing.
I asked a fellow baker once almost the same question, and she said she sends the person an sms the next day asking if they liked it. I never did that, I think it would seem kinda unprofessional....when I order something I dont really wanna hear from that person again lol. the customer might feel put on the spot. They also might get a vibe that youre not sure of your own work.
Even though Im a nervous wreck whenever I make an order, I DONT show it. and I dont ask them if they liked it. I now just trust that if they didnt like it they would have let me know.
and true! when I get that emaiil saying thank you i am on cloud 9 the whole day!
this seems a little silly, but whenever I get a good review, I ask the customer if I can quote them on my website, and I do. the customer kinda likes the feeling of oh wow something I said is on a website, they end up showing it to people, who in turn order, who in turn also give feedback seeing if their quote will go on there too.
LOL well it worked for me...
That would be a big red flag for me... the SMS (text) thing the day after. It signals that the seller was very unsure if the product was up to par, and leaves the seller wide open to complaints (real or imagined) and requests for a refund.
When I finally became licensed 5 yrs ago after giving cakes away for 20 some years, I offered my family and friends a "referral discount", since I was trying to expand my customer base.
I offered 10% off their next order when they referred a new client to me. How it worked........new client orders, pays, I then e-mail the 10% off certificate to the client that referred them to me.
I actually still do this with all my new clients. Every one of them receives this offer with their first order. It really has worked out quite well.
I'm in a unique situation. Most of my cake clients are also my Salon clients. I see them often so I do get feedback from them on almost every cake/cupcakes/cookies they order.
I may make someone's Anniversary cake this weekend, deliver it and by next weekend they're in my Salon for a haircut, so I get their feedback.
I have very very few non-repeat clients...in fact I can't think of any. I really do form sort of a "relationship" with each one. Most brides that come to me for their hair, nails, and makeup on their wedding day are also ordering their wedding cake from me.
I wouldn't suggest a "survey", to me that is a little tacky and may turn off some people. I'd recommend the "referral discount" policy, it's worked very well for me.
Good luck getting your business off the ground......it takes time so don't get discouraged.