Trying To Run A Business But Keep Giving Cakes Away

Business By DisneyDreamer Updated 1 Aug 2009 , 2:09pm by sandeeb

DisneyDreamer Posted 25 Jul 2009 , 8:37pm
post #1 of 35

Its funny before i went to culinary school i always charged for cakes no exceptions. i get a culinary degree in my hand and lost my back bone. for the past two years i have not charged for a cake and if i do im losing money. its time for me to grow a spine again. this wake up call came after a wedding cake i did in march and never got paid for or my cake dummies back! please help!!

34 replies
costumeczar Posted 25 Jul 2009 , 8:59pm
post #2 of 35

We will give you a virtual dope-slap! The next time you get the urge to give a cake away, or get asked to do something for free from a beggar, tell them "I need to think about what I would have to charge for that, I'll get back to you." Then run to your computer and tell us that you have the urge to give a cake away. We will slap some sense into you and you can return and tell them your price.

Even better, if you think that you're going to cave in, email them with the price. That way they won't be able to beg and whine in front of you, and it will be easier to stand firm in the knowledge that your time and skills are worth more than ZERO!

Jannie92869 Posted 25 Jul 2009 , 9:08pm
post #3 of 35

costumeczar....good answer...I should have asked you that a couple months ago...so I could have gotten the virtual slap!!! Now I am regretting doing a wedding for virtually nothing!

Doug Posted 25 Jul 2009 , 9:17pm
post #4 of 35

culinary school?

student loans?

rent?

cake = rent payment!

cake = student loan payment!

better yet

cake = rent + student loan payment.

----

you didn't your culinary degree for free....

why should anyone get your cakes for free!

those cakes have to earn their keep!

jillmakescakes Posted 25 Jul 2009 , 10:07pm
post #5 of 35

how about if you come work for me for free and I'll keep the money from the cakes!!!!

jillmakescakes Posted 25 Jul 2009 , 10:07pm
post #6 of 35

how about if you come work for me for free and I'll keep the money from the cakes!!!!

Cheyanne25 Posted 25 Jul 2009 , 10:23pm
post #7 of 35

DisneyDreamer, I just graduated from culinary school myself, and if your Chef professors were anything like mine my advise would be to imagine what THEY would say to you if they knew you were giving away for free food that you had put your time and talent and ingredients.

You got the degree, you are officially part of the world of professionals who have put time and money into learning how to cook and bake amazing foods so that you can SELL it to other people who don't have the same time/knowledge/inclination. That is the backbone of the profession you are in. Remember that whenever you have the urge to give away a cake.

DisneyDreamer Posted 25 Jul 2009 , 10:23pm
post #8 of 35

ive been thinking about it all day and i think i know why i do it! one i never think they are good enough so even though i quote them a LOW price i still dont think its work it! so i just give it to them and two i dont think they are willing to pay what i think its worth

costumeczar Posted 26 Jul 2009 , 1:03am
post #9 of 35

I am going to give you a dope-slap! This is typical "woman think." We're so worried about offending people (well, maybe not all of us are worried about that icon_wink.gif ) that we 1. don't want to charge them anything for fear of inconveniencing them, or 2. devalue our own ability so that we won't have to worry that we're looking uppity and conceited about our own skills.

If you went to culinary school you have the knowledge to do a good cake. If people are coming to you for cakes they value your product. You should be charging a fair price that will cover your costs and pay for your skill and time.

Go to a few local shops that do the same kind of decorating as you do and see what they're charging. Do NOT go to Walmart and use them as a basis to compare, go to places that do custom cakes. Then go home and make up a price list based on that. If you're not comfortable setting prices yourself, you'll at least know that what you're charging based on your research is what the market in your area is bearing.

Now comes the hard part for softies...TELL PEOPLE YOUR PRICES WHEN THEY ASK FOR A CAKE. Don't tell them what you think they want to hear, don't tell them what you think will be what they can afford, and don't tell them that it will be free!!! Use the price list that you made up and is based on your market research, then stick to it!!! You won't get every job that people approach you about, but that's okay. You want to establish yourself in the correct price range, or you'll get the reputation as being the person who undercharges, and that's hard to get away from once word gets around.

It's VERY IMPORTANT to remember that not every customer is going to be your customer. Don't get desperate and start dropping your prices because a couple of people say that you're too expensive. That just means that you're too expensive for THEM, not for everyone. As long as your pricing is similar to what other people in your area are charging for the same type of cakes, you're doing the right thing. Do NOT undercut the competition, it will just make other bakers mad at you, and once again it will put you in the underpaid and overworked category. If you never have people tell you you're too expensive, it just means that you're not charging enough.

costumeczar Posted 26 Jul 2009 , 2:58am
post #10 of 35

Did I just kill this thread? Am I a thread-killer? icon_razz.gif Disney, let me know when you get your price list ready! I'll call and order a cake from you and you can tell me how much it is, then I'll whine at you so that you can practice holding firm on your pricing! icon_smile.gif

DisneyDreamer Posted 26 Jul 2009 , 3:22am
post #11 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

Did I just kill this thread? Am I a thread-killer? icon_razz.gif Disney, let me know when you get your price list ready! I'll call and order a cake from you and you can tell me how much it is, then I'll whine at you so that you can practice holding firm on your pricing! icon_smile.gif




i read you post and you right i need to make a price list if i had something to look at when people called i wouldnt do the standard 20 for any cake price! ive looked around and seen $7 a slice i do think thats a lot so im at a loss right now

littlecake Posted 26 Jul 2009 , 4:05am
post #12 of 35

are you just trying to sell to your family and friends? that could be your problem, it seems that it's hard for some people to charge folks they know.

one of my best friends came in the shop and got a cake yesterday, i charged her full price, plus she gave me a healthy tip....that's what real friends do, they support you in your biz ventures, not look to get stuff for free.

Mensch Posted 26 Jul 2009 , 5:50am
post #13 of 35

Oooohh, threads like this irritate me to no end.

I just want to whap the OP upside the head good-n-hard.

indydebi Posted 26 Jul 2009 , 1:25pm
post #14 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

I am going to give you a dope-slap! This is typical "woman think." We're so worried about offending people (well, maybe not all of us are worried about that icon_wink.gif ) that we 1. don't want to charge them anything for fear of inconveniencing them, or 2. devalue our own ability so that we won't have to worry that we're looking uppity and conceited about our own skills.




AMEN SISTA! MEN don't have this problem! It seems that only women tend to wuss out on this stuff and then whine about imaginary glass ceilings and why they can't get ahead. Ticks me off! icon_mad.gif

This is business, not a friend-making contest. If you want lots of friends, then give your cakes away hand over fist. But if you're trying to run a business, then you need to run it like a business.

Let me know if your supplier feels sorry for you and gives you eggs and flour for free. I know mine doesn't!

Where are you at? I'm starting the caravan to come over and slap you silly AND give you a dose of mom-finger in your face!

littlecake Posted 26 Jul 2009 , 4:40pm
post #15 of 35

This is business, not a friend-making contest.

HA HA HA...GOTTA LOVE IT!

FromScratch Posted 26 Jul 2009 , 10:24pm
post #16 of 35

Youare in Cali... so you would automatically have overhead since you can't do this from your home kitchen in a any way shape or from. You HAVE to charge for your cakes... how else can you make rent and pay for ingredients. You would be driving yourself into the poor house right quick. You are also lucky since in Cali you CAN charge $7-10/serving and no one will really bat an eye.

A complete ditto to all of the advice you have been given already. You need to make a choice... either you charge for your time or maybe it's time to give it up. No reason to drive yourself into debt to make other people cakes. They aren't doing you a favor... you are doing your clients a favor. Making that cake that they either can't or don't want to make on their own.

Get that backbone back!!! icon_biggrin.gif

DisneyDreamer Posted 27 Jul 2009 , 5:56pm
post #17 of 35

OKAY OKAY i got the point no more free cakes and every time i think to just give a cake away i will be sure to remember what you all have said. i have even helped my chef see the light on giving cakes a away. she did the belly cake to feed 75 (it was two 12in for the belly and 2 6in for each boob) that comes to $2 a slice and if you bring a cake from outside the club we charge a 1.50 cutting fee so it would be cheaper for people to just buy our cakes.

anyway i did a price guide for my self

6in $20
8in $30
10in $40
12in $60

9x13 $60
12x18 $100

stacked cakes $20 up charge
3in 1st birthday cake free

cylstrial Posted 27 Jul 2009 , 7:19pm
post #18 of 35

HOLD ON!

Your prices are WAY TOO LOW! Especially for CALI!

Indy is going to be back wagging her finger again!

__Jamie__ Posted 27 Jul 2009 , 7:28pm
post #19 of 35

((looking at prices)) OMG. Come on!

costumeczar Posted 27 Jul 2009 , 8:06pm
post #20 of 35

Raise those prices and get back to us! I'm going to be driving the van cross-country and picking people up on the way so that we can come to California and give you a collective slap! icon_biggrin.gif

leah_s Posted 27 Jul 2009 , 8:30pm
post #21 of 35

Dear DisneyDreamer,

::whump up sidea yo head::

Please resume your pricing.

Nchanted1 Posted 27 Jul 2009 , 8:32pm
post #22 of 35

We have all been where you are now. We are reluctant to stand up for ourselves. So ask yourself, If someone treated my best friend as disrespectfully as I am treating myself, wouldn't I stick up for them? And demand fair treatment?

So, here's what to do. Start charging $3 per serving right now. In 6 months, go to $3.50. And as your skills and confidence grow, keep raising your rates.

I review my costs and rates twice a year, in March and in September. The March date covers Easter, First Communions, Confirmations, Graduations, and summer weddings and showers. The October date covers all the Holidays.

This is just a start. Decide to be a LUXURY baker. there's no money, pride, or glory in being the cheapest baker in town, so be the best!

Nchanted1 Posted 27 Jul 2009 , 8:33pm
post #23 of 35

We have all been where you are now. We are reluctant to stand up for ourselves. So ask yourself, If someone treated my best friend as disrespectfully as I am treating myself, wouldn't I stick up for them? And demand fair treatment?

So, here's what to do. Start charging $3 per serving right now. In 6 months, go to $3.50. And as your skills and confidence grow, keep raising your rates.

I review my costs and rates twice a year, in March and in September. The March date covers Easter, First Communions, Confirmations, Graduations, and summer weddings and showers. The October date covers all the Holidays.

This is just a start. Decide to be a LUXURY baker. there's no money, pride, or glory in being the cheapest baker in town, so be the best!

indydebi Posted 27 Jul 2009 , 9:10pm
post #24 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by DisneyDreamer


6in $20
8in $30
10in $40
12in $60

9x13 $60
12x18 $100

stacked cakes $20 up charge
3in 1st birthday cake free




Assuming the sheets are single layer:
9x13 @ $60 for 24 servings = $2.50/serving
12x18 @$100 for 54 servings = $1.85/serving

6in $20 = 12 servings = $1.67/serving
8in $30 = 24 servings = $1.25/serving
10in $40=38 servings = $1.05/serving
12in $60=56 servings = $1.07/serving

Which means .....

6/8/12 serves 92 for a total cost of $110 + $20 for tiered upcharge $130 = $1.41/serving for a wedding cake.

Your 12" cake is twice the price of the 8" cake, but you are giving them 2.3 times as much cake. You're giving away 1/3.

The 10" is twice the price of the 6" but they are getting more than 3 times the cake in the 10". Read this again. THREE TIMES THE CAKE for only TWICE THE PRICE. And overhead on smaller cakes is much higher than on larger cakes.

The lesson here is your pricing is all over the board. It looks like you did the "that price sounds good!" method. icon_lol.gif (And we've all done that method at one time or another in our lives!) icon_biggrin.gif

You need a good pricing structure so your pricing is predictable and logical, and oh yeah, profitable! icon_biggrin.gif We all hate this par icon_biggrin.gif , so welcome to the club! thumbs_up.gif

cylstrial Posted 28 Jul 2009 , 11:58am
post #25 of 35

LOL! I warned you Indy would be back. And I was right! And all of her info is great.

And Leah, I'm still laughing over your whump and "please return to your normal pricing." It's like when you're on a plan, please return to your seats. hehe.

FromScratch Posted 30 Jul 2009 , 3:49am
post #26 of 35

Well I am going to assume you are doing this from home? And thus trying really hard to fly under the radar since Cali is so strict about home bakers? That's the only way I can *almost* understand you pricing yourself so low. You are selling cakes for pretty much what it costs me just to make cakes. For reference... I live in a tiny little town in southern New Hampshire and I charge $5/serving. You need to reconsider your pricing. I charge $100 for an 8" cake... you can certainly command $3-5 per serving too and you don't even have to be AMAZINGLY good.. not that I am dissing your work, I'm just saying that in Cali... prices are higher and people are used to paying more. Once you get amazingly good you can command $8-10/serving. It's just the way it goes. (and it goes in your favor) icon_biggrin.gif

JaimeAnn Posted 30 Jul 2009 , 5:57am
post #27 of 35

I am in Cali and not "flying under the radar", but not everywhere in Cali supports $7 / serving prices . Mine start at $3.50 for BC and $4.50 for fondant. That is considered high for my area.

My most recent baby shower cake & cupcakes was $360 . My customer had no problem with that she understands you pay $$$$$ for custom designed cake but even though everyone OOOHHHed & AAAHHHED over the cake they were shocked at the price. Most people here will not pay more than $3.00 a serving for ANY cake.

To the OP you have a culinary degree ! They aren't buying grocery store cakes from you. Your prices are too low .
I would rather do 1 $300 cake than 10 $30 cakes and if people don't want to pay my price than I don't need to make their cake. Fine with me.

JaimeAnn Posted 30 Jul 2009 , 6:04am
post #28 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratch

Well I am going to assume you are doing this from home? And thus trying really hard to fly under the radar since Cali is so strict about home bakers? That's the only way I can *almost* understand you pricing yourself so low. You are selling cakes for pretty much what it costs me just to make cakes. For reference... I live in a tiny little town in southern New Hampshire and I charge $5/serving. You need to reconsider your pricing. I charge $100 for an 8" cake... you can certainly command $3-5 per serving too and you don't even have to be AMAZINGLY good.. not that I am dissing your work, I'm just saying that in Cali... prices are higher and people are used to paying more. Once you get amazingly good you can command $8-10/serving. It's just the way it goes. (and it goes in your favor) icon_biggrin.gif




Actually bigger city doesn't necessarily mean more money. It does mean more bakeries to choose from , less exclusivity than a small town and in most instances LOWER prices because people will just go down the street and get their cake from the next baker if you are too high. And I have also found that the people with the most money ( Beverly Hills, Palm springs ) actully think it should almost be free for them as if having money somehow makes them entitled to free stuff, like i should be going to them saying "Please let me make you a cake".

Sorry got a little Ranty today! icon_biggrin.gificon_lol.gif Its been a bad week. icon_cry.gif

saffronica Posted 30 Jul 2009 , 6:43am
post #29 of 35

This is the advice I once received from a very successful business owner: 1/3 of your customers should be whining that your prices are too high -- if you don't hear complaining, you're not charging enough!

notjustcakes Posted 30 Jul 2009 , 1:52pm
post #30 of 35

leahs and indydebi...
OMG...You guys make me laugh!!! Please send me a virtual slap too.... I need it...two free wedding cakes this weekend and 150 free cupcakes....I told my husband...this is it....no more free cakes.....I did stick to it too....I lost two orders this last month because I asked $60 for a 1/4 sheet cake (filled)with little creatures on top...the other order was for 18 cupcakes each with little sugarpaste zoo animals (five different animals) on top....$3.50 each...
I have not had any additional orders since then....I DON"T CARE!!!!!I am either going to do this and be paid what I'm worth...OR ......I QUIT!! Too much blood sweat and tears, equipment, logistics, melted frosting, transporting, feeding my kids pizza and nuggets, etc. have gone into my "hobby"...

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