Ok, At What Point Do I Say....

Business By Irish245 Updated 4 Aug 2009 , 7:12pm by costumeczar

Irish245 Posted 1 Aug 2009 , 2:52am
post #1 of 48

"if you need more information or input, you need to schedule a consultation" ???

First, I received this email with two photos (one 2 tiered fondant cake and one 3 tiered buttercream cake) attached that says,...

"i am looking for someone to make a cake for my daughters first bday. i would like it to look similar to one of these pic i found online. do you think you could do this? i just want it to be 2 layers. thank you!

So, of course by this time I have a general information email letter detailing everything and added on are a list of questions I need answers to in order to give her an estimate. I send it and she, of course only answers about 3/4 of the questions so I send another email asking the remaining questions....this goes on for about 15 emails back and forth about decisions on which cake, colors, flavors, etc. I know, I know....too many but I was feeling really nice last night and figured I'd just see how long this would go on hehe.

After all these emails, she sends me one asking which cake I priced for her....well, c'mon woman!!! Scroll back on the email and look it up! After about 2 hours of my timea and I think we're done, I go to bed. The next morning I get a phone call from someone asking me to do a cake the same day, so I email the first woman to let her know someone is inquiring about that date and if she wants the cake, I need a deposit and she emails back that thanks but she changed her mind. ....So at what point do I stop an event like this and say, "you need to make an appointment for a consult"...by the way, I charge $30 for a consult and then if they book, I take that amount off their total cost of the cake. At least I'd know this wway if they are serious and I'd get paid for my time......but at what point do I do this?

47 replies
LaBellaFlor Posted 1 Aug 2009 , 3:51am
post #2 of 48

If people have questions the most info. I give them is if I'm available & a very general price quote such as buttercream starts at $3, fondant starts at $4 & carved cakes atart at $5 with a cake minimum of $100 & carved cake minimum of $150. I suggest a consultation after that. I figure if they are willing to come in the must be a little serious. But out of curiosity is there a tasting involved at you consultation? I'm assuming there is, if there is a charge, but I just wanted to make sure.

__Jamie__ Posted 1 Aug 2009 , 3:55am
post #3 of 48

Sometimes, I don't mind doing that. A LOT of the time, it ends up with a "oh we're going to do something else, but thanks for your time, blah blah blah." I figure, it just sharpens my skills at shooting off numbers and remembering tier sizes and serving amounts, so that one day, SOMEDAY, like Indy, I can shoot off a quote out of thin air! icon_smile.gif


But, yeah, pitas, sheesh!

Irish245 Posted 1 Aug 2009 , 4:02am
post #4 of 48

Sorry, yes, consults involve cake samples for tasting. I usually have 3 types of cake, BC and fondant icings and usually 3 to 4 fillings to sample.

indydebi Posted 1 Aug 2009 , 11:44am
post #5 of 48

I can only imagine it was a pretty detailed cake for that many emails to go back and forth.

since I have flat-pricing, it's a bit easier for me to quote. I don't charge extra for cake flavors or fillings (so I dont' need to know that to do a quote). If they send me a picture, I pretty much have all the info I need. I have to know how many they want it to serve and that's it.

Had a lady send me a photo of 2 shower cakes. I knew how many people so I was able to determine what size cake(s) to use, here's my BC price and here's my fondant price.

Emailed quotes like this always come with the disclaimer of "all quotes subject to finalization at time of actual order."

I would recommend no more than 2 emails and then schedule a time to come in and talk. From the customer's point of view, it's ALSO irritating and intimidating to go back and forth for 15 emails for "just a cake!"

Also .... are you sending her a quote or are you conversing wiht her via email with some numbers thrown in? "Here's your quote for cake A ..... oh change that one thing and add $10 .... oh, delete those figurines and subtract $20 ..... oh, a custom flavor is an extra $0.25/person ....."

This type of quote can be confusing to all. With each change, there should be a new, clean quote:

Cake to serve 100 ..... $350
Special fondant tugboat ..... $50
Deluxe MonkeyButt flavor ..... $50
Delvery ..... $50
Grand total: $500

Then when they make a change:

Cake to serve 100 ..... $350
Special fondant tugboat ..... $50
Change MOnkeybutt flavor to banana creme ..... $25
Customer to pick up at 1:00
Grand total: $425

-K8memphis Posted 1 Aug 2009 , 11:59am
post #6 of 48

MonkeyButt flavor could really stimulate your reputation and be a real marketing tool! icon_lol.gif

LaBellaFlor Posted 1 Aug 2009 , 3:10pm
post #7 of 48

Monkey butt?!?! That is so gross! From now on when my kids ask what is for dinner I will be saying Monkey Butt!thumbs_up.gif

Mensch Posted 1 Aug 2009 , 3:17pm
post #8 of 48

I can totally see how monkeybutt is so much more costly than banana cream

Doug Posted 1 Aug 2009 , 3:20pm
post #9 of 48

does Monkeybutt come with greasy, grimey gopher gut filling?

indydebi -- you are a priceless one of a kind! gotta luv her!

Mensch Posted 1 Aug 2009 , 3:21pm
post #10 of 48

....or possibly little birdies' stinky feet

Irish245 Posted 1 Aug 2009 , 7:36pm
post #11 of 48

Thanks everyone! I guess I knew all this stuff.....sometimes you just need justification that I'm letting it go too long and need to take a stand and ask them to schedule a consult huh? Duh! And as always indydebi puts things into perspective!...may have to add that flavor hehe

mysonshines Posted 1 Aug 2009 , 10:37pm
post #12 of 48

Yes, I often wonder how I could nip this in the bud better. Usually, it's pricing issues but they don't ask that first. I think I'll try to adopt Jaime's thought on this:

Quote:
Quote:

A LOT of the time, it ends up with a "oh we're going to do something else, but thanks for your time, blah blah blah." I figure, it just sharpens my skills at shooting off numbers and remembering tier sizes and serving amounts, so that one day, SOMEDAY, like Indy, I can shoot off a quote out of thin air!


thumbs_up.gif

costumeczar Posted 2 Aug 2009 , 1:00pm
post #13 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaBellaFlor

Monkey butt?!?! That is so gross! From now on when my kids ask what is for dinner I will be saying Monkey Butt!thumbs_up.gif




Whenever my kids say "guess what!" I reply "Monkey Butt." When they were little they probably would have thought that monkey butt would have been something interesting to eat at dinnertime!

And about the OP's question, I'd cut it off after a couple of emails unless they were really quick ones. If they were that detailed I'd tell them to call me.

Mensch Posted 2 Aug 2009 , 1:03pm
post #14 of 48

I always say 'chicken butt', when someone asks "Guess what!", but I think I'll start saying "monkey butt" instead...

indydebi Posted 2 Aug 2009 , 1:09pm
post #15 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaBellaFlor

Monkey butt?!?! That is so gross! From now on when my kids ask what is for dinner I will be saying Monkey Butt!thumbs_up.gif




Hubby tells the story that as a kid he asked what's for dinner and his mom said, "We're having hamburger, people!" Hubby said, "Hamburger People! Ewwww! I'm not eating people even if they ARE made of hamburger!"

(He got in trouble for being a smart mouth!) icon_lol.gif

LaBellaFlor Posted 2 Aug 2009 , 2:12pm
post #16 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by LaBellaFlor

Monkey butt?!?! That is so gross! From now on when my kids ask what is for dinner I will be saying Monkey Butt!thumbs_up.gif



Hubby tells the story that as a kid he asked what's for dinner and his mom said, "We're having hamburger, people!" Hubby said, "Hamburger People! Ewwww! I'm not eating people even if they ARE made of hamburger!"

(He got in trouble for being a smart mouth!) icon_lol.gif





icon_lol.gif I see you guys definetly found eaach other soulmate then... icon_wink.gif

weirkd Posted 2 Aug 2009 , 2:47pm
post #17 of 48

I love it when you get cold calls and they are asking you fifty million questions and think your going to do everything over the phone with them. I usually give answers to most of their questions and to get them off the phone I will say something like "why dont you set up a time that you would like to come out and we can sit down and get all the details out and you can sample some cakes". This way I get off the phone and if they are serious they will call back or email me. (I give them my website to look at as well) So the serious people will get back with you. The others were just going to waste your time. I recently had a woman call me and wanted me to give her information about a wedding cake with cupcakes in the seashell theme. Her son was being diployed to Iraq so they had to bump the wedding up six months. So she was trying to get it all done in three weeks. I sat on the phone with her for over a half an hour and then finally I told her that it would easier if she could come by and sit down with me and get the details. Never heard back. So I guess she decided to go with the Sams Club cupcakes that she mentioned.
I also had a client who's sister was getting married. She was planning the whole wedding because her sister didnt want to be involved in it. (yah, know what your thinking). So after twenty emails (literally), I finally get her to set a date to come in for a tasteing and design consult. So she tells me it will be her and the bride coming, maybe her father. Well the day comes and two woman come in. One the bride, the other a totally different sister, and oh, a nine month old baby from the sister that I was speaking to. Both of them kept saying that they shouldnt of been the ones out here because neither of them knew what they were doing. (Do you have tastebuds people? Then its not rocket science!) So after about fifteen minutes of talking and telling them about myself, etc. I ask what kind of design she had in mind. So the bride tells me how she had no clue. So I said that I could incorporate what they have in common on the cake. Bride sits there with a dumbfounded look on her face. So the sister says "well what do you guys like to do". The bride replys "Drink beer." Okayyyyy. So after some serious brain cells burning (I think I could actually smell them, oh no, that was the baby's poopy diaper) she finally decides that she wants to have a white cake with beer bottles all over it. Then the topper she wants a couple sitting at a bar. Wow. Can you say Match made in Heaven???
So they leave and a month later I still have nothing. No deposit. I email them and ask if they were still interested, telling myself I should just walk away. So then the sister emails me and asks what the pricing would be for a square cake. Well if she had come to the tasting or looked at the paperwork I gave the alcoholic, I mean bride, then she would of had the answer!! (Oh did I mention that I had to mail back a baby toy that they left and never even got a thank you or can I pay for the postage or anything!!) So after another week I finally get a reply that they were going with someone else. Thank God! I dont think I could of handled any more!!

Irish245 Posted 2 Aug 2009 , 8:24pm
post #18 of 48

You just proved why I charge for my consults now! I've had a couple brides not show after I made samples and rearrange my schedule for them. Also, I limit the number of people to 2 or 3 since I of my ex-coworkers came for a consult with her fiance and mother and then they wanted to come back because she said her father wanted to be involved. Well, her, her fiance, her mother, her father, 2 sisters and and the fiance's parents all come......that's 8!!! C'mon people!!!! I'd only made 6 cupcakes so too bad...they had to share. Actually I had more put away for my husband to take to work but I was not about to put any more out. Oh well!

weirkd Posted 2 Aug 2009 , 11:15pm
post #19 of 48

Yah your always going to have someone try to take advantage. I had someone come out for a tasting for a grooms cake. They practically licked their plate. They were surprised by "how cheap" I was compared to the other decorator that was doing her wedding cake but never bothered to book or email me back or anything. To me there are just some people out there that go around either pretending to get married to get free cake or never plan to book with people just so they can get it.

indydebi Posted 2 Aug 2009 , 11:25pm
post #20 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by weirkd

.....there are just some people out there that go around either pretending to get married to get free cake or never plan to book with people just so they can get it.


It just blows my mind that there are people who are SO bored, that they will spend time going around to bakers just to get a bite or two of free cake. Maybe it's a difference in age, in culture, in the values in which someone is raised, but I personally dont' know anyone who would ever DREAM of trying to pull something like that.

I know it happens. I don't doubt it at all. It just blows me away that it does. icon_eek.gif

weirkd Posted 3 Aug 2009 , 1:36am
post #21 of 48

I know! I had a bride that had brought her bridesmaids with her and one of them said that she actually did that. I asked her if she was getting married. She said that she hadnt been asked but she goes to bridal shows and cake tastings and doesnt even have a date! I just cant imagine deceiving someone just to get cake or free stuff. I think your right Debi, its either the culteral, upbringing or something. I would of never of dreamed of doing something like that!

costumeczar Posted 3 Aug 2009 , 1:38am
post #22 of 48

Ha ha ha! There are people who show up at wedding shows that we refer to as the "wedding groupies" because they're apparently permanently engaged. They basically just come for free samples and to get doorprizes. One couple was older (and when I say older I mean older than 20-something, so about my age icon_rolleyes.gif ) and won some prize that my friend was giving away. She knew that they were just there to scam gifts, so she acted dumb and gave them an extensive quiz about their wedding date, color scheme, reception location, etc before she gave them the prize. She had them writhing pretty well.

indydebi Posted 3 Aug 2009 , 1:42am
post #23 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

She had them writhing pretty well.


icon_lol.gif Now that sounds like my kind of fun! icon_lol.gif

__Jamie__ Posted 3 Aug 2009 , 2:02am
post #24 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

She had them writhing pretty well.

icon_lol.gif Now that sounds like my kind of fun! icon_lol.gif





Nice! icon_lol.gif

weirkd Posted 3 Aug 2009 , 2:57am
post #25 of 48

lol, Good for her!

LaBellaFlor Posted 3 Aug 2009 , 4:01am
post #26 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by weirkd

I know! I had a bride that had brought her bridesmaids with her and one of them said that she actually did that. I asked her if she was getting married. She said that she hadnt been asked but she goes to bridal shows and cake tastings and doesnt even have a date! I just cant imagine deceiving someone just to get cake or free stuff. I think your right Debi, its either the culteral, upbringing or something. I would of never of dreamed of doing something like that!





You have to be f-en kidding me! Ok, I thought long & hard about it, it's something I didn't want to do, but you guys have convinced me, I'm switching to charged tastings. It just seems to make more sense, weed out the maybes & possible fake brides icon_confused.gif , saves my time from being wasted, & cuts down on cost.

__Jamie__ Posted 3 Aug 2009 , 4:12am
post #27 of 48

La Bella, before you consider that, I came up with a solution that has worked so far, and if one or two people flake out on the one day I arrange the tasting for, so be it. Usually they all show.

I no longer provide tasting appointments at the whim of anyone. I promote a tasting "event", if you will. One Sat or Sun every two or three months. People can choose which one suits them, and I only have to bake fresh one time for that one day. A group of three couples to one time, spaced every hour. Sit down, water, iced tea, real plates, my display cakes and books laid out for people to thumb through, a sheet of what they are tasting, etc., etc. I stand back, explain when necessary, offer suggestions for flavor pairings, answer questions.

What happens, is these girls all chat together and talk about they like and say "oh, try this one with that frosting, or you gotta taste this one!". And I watch them, and listen to them compare designs, yada yada.....it's fun. A lot of the banter is completely non cake related, but they enjoy themselves. At my tasting. And they are always happy when they leave, and I hear from them very soon after.

This is free of charge, no pressure to sell, just to give them a nice sit down exciting tasting experience. Does it take up nearly an entire afternoon or morning? Yep. But it's one time. Not 20 minutes each and every weekend, for one couple.

Oh, you can't make this one? Well, you're in luck, I'll be having another tasting before your wedding, so keep an eye on my calendar (online calendar) for the next date!

I will never do private tastings again. My system is working great!

LaBellaFlor Posted 3 Aug 2009 , 4:23am
post #28 of 48

Hmmm, I thought about that too. Let me ask you this, how does it work if one of the couples is late & runs over into the next time slot of the next set of couples? I've always kept my clientelle base small on purpose, so I've never had a problems with tastings. I have decided to go ahead and expand a little bit more through networking with a couple of vendors, so my client base will now extend into unknown clients. And no, I don't always personally know everyone I've done cakes for, but they are always reffered by someone I do know. They make it a point to let the new client know, that I don't do this for everybody, so not to abuse my time. I guess i've been lucky like that, but now I'm a little concerned with dealiing with unknown clients.

indydebi Posted 3 Aug 2009 , 11:41am
post #29 of 48

Jamie, so do I understand that they basically come in to eat cake, look at pics, leave in 20 minutes and then if they are interested they come back for a 2nd appt?

playingwithsugar Posted 3 Aug 2009 , 12:12pm
post #30 of 48

After reading all this, I am wondering if she is part of the new breed of pita - the one that wants to sell that cake to someone else, but doesn't know what to charge for it.

I recall a recent thread, not sure if it was on CC or elsewhere, about a woman who contacted a member the same way, only to let it leak to the member that she was asking because she was pricing the same cake one of their clients. Once the true reason for the contact was revealed, the member refused to give any more information.

Next time you're uncomfortable about a clueless contact, tell them you do not give quotes via the Internet, as they need to schedule a consultation with you before any quote can be given.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

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