Venting.. Why Do People Think Good Cakes Should Be Cheap?

Decorating By Spuddysmom Updated 20 Aug 2009 , 6:04pm by madras650

Spuddysmom Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 3:19pm
post #1 of 36

Ok, more a "sigh" than a "grrr". Been doing the cake thing as a hobby for years, after checking out hd and biz requirements am nearly ready to start my business. Been doing cakes for my husband - his contribution for the semi-annual luncheons, etc.
One of his office workers wanted to place an order for a groom's cake and told me, "of course I will pay for it". I mentioned the kitchen I will be renting is charging me $25 pr hr. (so far best deal I can get) but that my DH wanted me to do this so for her cake for 25, a cool shopping bag from her fiance's favorite store, on it's side spilling out a couple of cds (ei covers) next to a "handwritten" list of his pre-wedding "to-do"s I quoted $75 - that's $3 per serving, everything edible. She choked, "for a cake?" end of order.
I think Doug brought up the thought that t.v. cake shows seem to encourage people to think that most anyone could do this, if they wanted to, and, because they never show prices, it must be free or something. Is it the economy? Maybe I should just keep it as a hobby for a while longer until I come up with a better kitchen alternative. Sorry this is way too long. Thanks for allowing venting... better now.... going to make cake ...

35 replies
pursuing_perfection Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 4:39pm
post #2 of 36

Tell her that you get what you pay for! She could get a generic sheet cake at the local supermarket, but it wouldn't taste as good, would probably be poorly decorated, and wouldn't be anything like what she is asking for. If you want a custom-designed, well-decorated cake, it is going to cost!

I recently made a cake for a shower that cost me over $50.00 to make (and that was just for ingredients!). Then there is the 20+ hours to bake and decorate. I have not gone into business because I figured my time was worth more than $1.00/hour, and no one I know would be willing to pay what my time is worth! So, I make cakes for family and good friends - as an enjoyable hobby.

Price Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 5:06pm
post #3 of 36

I'm with you as far as doing it as a hobby goes. People just don't realize the time and energy it takes to bake, ice and decorate a cake and do it well. I love making fondant figures. People sometimes think we can just sit down and whip them up a nice figure in 10 minutes! When I tell people if I made a Bride and Groom to sell,the 2 figures would be about $125, they about choke. I can see their eyes bulging out!! LOL.

I like decorating the way I want to do it, and not have to stick to someone else's plan or vision. It's much more fun doing my own thing!

apetricek Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 5:37pm
post #4 of 36

This I think is going to forever be an issue in the cake world.....I have been doing cakes for 12 years. I have some customers that would pay just about anything for my "works of art" as I feel that is what they are. They know they are going to get quality work, custom ideas, and my cakes are awesome (if I do say so myself icon_wink.gif ). Then I have others that want a huge 3-4 tiered monster, for a walmart sheet cake price...There is always going to be people be "cheap" or want something for nothing...You also have people with different levels of what they are willing to spend...It's like going to Bloomingdales to buy a shirt vs. buying one at Walmart, still a shirt does the same thing...just whatt you want, and are willing to pay for....Don't sell yourself short first off...your time and skills are way worth it. It took me sometime of doing the small cakes that were cheaper, till the word got out about me, and now people are willing to pay. Don't start out too cheap either, since it is hard to then raise your prices without people having a fit! I do agree even though I love the cake shows...people have no idea what does actually go into doing a cake. Most of the shows only show the idea of the cake, and then basically the end result....giving people the thought, wow that is easy, why should I pay $200.00 for that...what they don't see is buying/ordering the supplies, prep time, baking time, making all those details, the time it takes to actually decortate, etc....They also should start putting a price tag on the creations that they make, so people can actually see what those cakes go for! I think then they would have a someone perspective on things...I had someone call me the other day and want a champagne glass with bubbles, for no more than $30.00 umm yeah NO!! Are you kidding me! It was to be 3D and sculpted forgot to mention that! Her reply was oh, but that shouldn't take that long to do, not much to it....good if you feel that way by all means do it yourself, and let me know how you make out with that!

JoJo0855 Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 6:05pm
post #5 of 36

Price will always be an issue where homemade is concerned, especially with something that not only takes skill, but artistic flair.
How does an artist justify charging $400 for a drawing ... it's only paper and a few pencil crayons. What about that vase ... it's only clay.
I also (used to) do stained glass. Like cake decorating, it requires a great deal of skill, a creative eye plus it can be dangerous (have the scars to prove it). Yet potential clients will balk at paying $100 for a 10"x10" piece of art, but they'll buy a plain piece of glass that is machine stamped and painted for $115. Go figure!
I now only do pieces that I want to do for myself or as gifts for family and friends.

Mensch Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 6:07pm
post #6 of 36

I had a friend who did stained glass. He used to make the most fantastic creations!

cylstrial Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 6:08pm
post #7 of 36

People are just dumb. I think you should be charging more than $75 anyway!

__Jamie__ Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 6:12pm
post #8 of 36

Well she really would have choked at my price.

Mensch Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 6:33pm
post #9 of 36

haha... she's have been hospitalized if I had told her my price!

mandymomof3 Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 7:26pm
post #10 of 36

Been there, done this about 4 times. My final decision has been to do this as hobby only. I have been "s c r e w e d" over by people who are supposedly friends/acquaintances who want an awesome cake for cheap. I've learned my lesson the hard way a couple times, and have decided that I will continue this only as a hobby. If someone asks me to do it, I tell them up front what approximately costs may be, and if they still want it, then fine. I made a cake for my sons' bday on Saturday, told my mom what I would charge for it, and she about had the big one right there on the floor. Then I told her my costs, and the time spent on it, and she understood. But people aren't willing to pay for a consumable like they would something that lasts I swear.

Eisskween Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 7:45pm
post #11 of 36

I just went through this with a customer, I quoted her $50 each for a disney fairy cake, three levels with the various fairies (purchased at a cost of $19.95 plus shipping); and a carved Optimus Prime from transformers. She's a friend so I cut her some slack. She then told me that she wishes she was rich and could afford to pay that much, she was thinking more in the $25.00 range. The fairies alone cost that much, does she really think that I am willing to lose money so she can have a cake.

I'm sorry that the economy is bad, but it's effecting everyone and I cannot afford to give things away. icon_sad.gif

erinalicia Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 7:50pm
post #12 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by apetricek

This I think is going to forever be an issue in the cake world.....I have been doing cakes for 12 years. I have some customers that would pay just about anything for my "works of art" as I feel that is what they are. They know they are going to get quality work, custom ideas, and my cakes are awesome (if I do say so myself icon_wink.gif ). Then I have others that want a huge 3-4 tiered monster, for a walmart sheet cake price...There is always going to be people be "cheap" or want something for nothing...You also have people with different levels of what they are willing to spend...It's like going to Bloomingdales to buy a shirt vs. buying one at Walmart, still a shirt does the same thing...just whatt you want, and are willing to pay for....Don't sell yourself short first off...your time and skills are way worth it. It took me sometime of doing the small cakes that were cheaper, till the word got out about me, and now people are willing to pay. Don't start out too cheap either, since it is hard to then raise your prices without people having a fit! I do agree even though I love the cake shows...people have no idea what does actually go into doing a cake. Most of the shows only show the idea of the cake, and then basically the end result....giving people the thought, wow that is easy, why should I pay $200.00 for that...what they don't see is buying/ordering the supplies, prep time, baking time, making all those details, the time it takes to actually decortate, etc....They also should start putting a price tag on the creations that they make, so people can actually see what those cakes go for! I think then they would have a someone perspective on things...I had someone call me the other day and want a champagne glass with bubbles, for no more than $30.00 umm yeah NO!! Are you kidding me! It was to be 3D and sculpted forgot to mention that! Her reply was oh, but that shouldn't take that long to do, not much to it....good if you feel that way by all means do it yourself, and let me know how you make out with that!




I'd have told them that for $30 they could get a real champagne glass with a cupcake shoved inside and iced with buttercream "bubbles". There you go! LOL

jlynnw Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 8:00pm
post #13 of 36

Must admit that "it's the economy" bit for people choking on the cost of a cake is getting old. They have been complaining for years on how much a cake costs, after all it is just flour, sugar, eggs. I also don't buy into the grocery store agruement that it would not be a nice cake. Many stores have great decorators that do a great job, within the limits the store sets. Taste, that is the biggest arguement for getting a cake from a custom baker. The cake will most always be better than a grocery store. People see box cakes for 99 cents and think to add a few eggs and water and that is a done deal. They never think about the equipment needed to make and decorate with, the electricity, cleaning supplies, and lastly the boards and boxes. Yes, they want a professional custom cake, set up on their schedule and then they want to pay wholesale discount prices. It is not the economy, it is poor judgement and misinformed clients/customers. If granny can make the cake for the $20 you are willing to spend on it go for it, it will cost me $50 to make and get everything and no profit, so thanks "friend" for thinking of me. icon_confused.gif

LaBellaFlor Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 8:40pm
post #14 of 36

You have very generous pricing, cause I would have charged $137.50.

DeeDelightful Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 9:21pm
post #15 of 36

I had an order for a purse cake, stated $85 for it. the order has changed once already and i just have a feeling there are more changes/cancellations to come before it's over.

indydebi Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 11:11pm
post #16 of 36

I have found the the best way to address this kind of stuff is compare it to Ace of Cakes. When the cake was described, I'd start out with "Oh, you're wanting a cake like Duff makes. Did you know he has a $1000 minimum on his cakes? The good news is that I'm not QUITE that expensive. So let's see what we can do for you ......"

When you include the figure of $1000 in the start of the conversation, they're on notice and it softens their reaction when they get a real price from you.

FullHouse Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 11:29pm
post #17 of 36

I understand people not wanting to spend a large amount on cake, but I don't understand why they bother taking time to design and price a custom cake only to say "Thanks anyway, but that's more than I wanted to spend." I can't figure out if they are hoping to haggle or just not paying attention to my price list. I just hate wasting my time with them for no reason.

tracycakes Posted 10 Aug 2009 , 11:54pm
post #18 of 36

I think I would prefer people tell me up front that they don't want to pay that price than to just not pick up the cake, like happened to me this weekend. It was for a young man for his grandmother's birthday. He saw some of my photos and compared me to Duff (yeah, right icon_lol.gif ) but he knew he could get something better than a grocery store cake. He wants a bed with a quilt on it and a Bible and mints on the pillow. So I price it and give him a call and he says okay. I use cutters to make lace on the edges of the 'sheets' and make a headboard and make a multi-colored quilt using patchwork cutters.

Well, he wouldn't show up to pick it up and then quit answering his phone. So, my coworkers got to enjoy free cake today and I did get great comments from them. icon_biggrin.gif I've also learned a valuable lesson - get payment ahead of time but that had never been an issue before. I did get a cute cake for my portfolio and I'll get it posted soon.

Lcubed82 Posted 11 Aug 2009 , 12:00am
post #19 of 36

I do cakes as a hobby and gifts. People balk at custom Handsmocked dresses for more than $20 too! ("It's just a baby dress!") So I will only do those, and cakes, when I like for who I like!

Cake_Princess Posted 11 Aug 2009 , 4:12am
post #20 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spuddysmom

Ok, more a "sigh" than a "grrr". Been doing the cake thing as a hobby for years, after checking out hd and biz requirements am nearly ready to start my business. Been doing cakes for my husband - his contribution for the semi-annual luncheons, etc.
One of his office workers wanted to place an order for a groom's cake and told me, "of course I will pay for it". I mentioned the kitchen I will be renting is charging me $25 pr hr. (so far best deal I can get) but that my DH wanted me to do this so for her cake for 25, a cool shopping bag from her fiance's favorite store, on it's side spilling out a couple of cds (ei covers) next to a "handwritten" list of his pre-wedding "to-do"s I quoted $75 - that's $3 per serving, everything edible. She choked, "for a cake?" end of order.
I think Doug brought up the thought that t.v. cake shows seem to encourage people to think that most anyone could do this, if they wanted to, and, because they never show prices, it must be free or something. Is it the economy? Maybe I should just keep it as a hobby for a while longer until I come up with a better kitchen alternative. Sorry this is way too long. Thanks for allowing venting... better now.... going to make cake ...




Rather than offer negativity maybe I can offer a suggestion. Next time you are in a situation like this ask yourself, 'How can I turn this situation around?'. A good friend of mine suggested asking, 'Well how much do you want to spend? What is your budget?' When the client says X dollars. Then you simply reply, 'Ok, for X-dollars here is what I can do for you'. This gives the client the opportunity to possibly come up with something in their budget and you still end up getting to make the cake and get a fair price.

Cake_Princess Posted 11 Aug 2009 , 4:17am
post #21 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spuddysmom

Ok, more a "sigh" than a "grrr". Been doing the cake thing as a hobby for years, after checking out hd and biz requirements am nearly ready to start my business. Been doing cakes for my husband - his contribution for the semi-annual luncheons, etc.
One of his office workers wanted to place an order for a groom's cake and told me, "of course I will pay for it". I mentioned the kitchen I will be renting is charging me $25 pr hr. (so far best deal I can get) but that my DH wanted me to do this so for her cake for 25, a cool shopping bag from her fiance's favorite store, on it's side spilling out a couple of cds (ei covers) next to a "handwritten" list of his pre-wedding "to-do"s I quoted $75 - that's $3 per serving, everything edible. She choked, "for a cake?" end of order.
I think Doug brought up the thought that t.v. cake shows seem to encourage people to think that most anyone could do this, if they wanted to, and, because they never show prices, it must be free or something. Is it the economy? Maybe I should just keep it as a hobby for a while longer until I come up with a better kitchen alternative. Sorry this is way too long. Thanks for allowing venting... better now.... going to make cake ...




Rather than offer negativity maybe I can offer a suggestion. Next time you are in a situation like this ask yourself, 'How can I turn this situation around?'. A good friend of mine suggested asking, 'Well how much do you want to spend? What is your budget?' When the client says X dollars. Then you simply reply, 'Ok, for X-dollars here is what I can do for you'. This gives the client the opportunity to possibly come up with something in their budget and you still end up getting to make the cake and get a fair price.

LaBellaFlor Posted 11 Aug 2009 , 4:49am
post #22 of 36

Heres the thing on asking somebody how much they want to spend, they probably will say something like $40. There is absolutley nothing I can do for anyone at that price. I spend more then that just getting everything I need to make a cake. I feel it is best to just have a flat out cake minimum, that way the can see potentially what they may be having to spend. And Icubed82, I would be more then willing to pay $20 for a handsmocked dress!!!!!! They are gorgeuos, and a true folk art that is getting lost. I wish you were by me, cause I have 3 little girls.

venuscakes Posted 11 Aug 2009 , 3:24pm
post #23 of 36

I know exactly what you mean, I have read a few bride forums where the brides think they could get some 6 tiered creation for half the quoted price or reckon they could have a bash at it themselves HA

Even as an experienced cake maker things go wrong - sometimes on the things that seem straight forward.

I think you have to decide what your time and expertise are worth and stick to your guns.

Also be realistic, when I first started this as a business I was so desperate to get orders I would bring prices down on cakes where there is little profit to start with.

Of course if you are making a 5 tiered super dooper wedding cake there is room for negotiation but always dropping pirces sends out the wrong signal and you under value yourself.

I'm ranting on a bit here. I thought about a business many years ago but wasn't in the right mindset for it also it really p***d me off that people wanted stuff cheaper.

Now I don't take it personally, it still amuses me when people say "I want something really special" and then change thier minds when you give them the price.

Ok I'm done, whatever you decide on best of luck

Amandax

indydebi Posted 11 Aug 2009 , 6:45pm
post #24 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by venuscakes

Also be realistic, when I first started this as a business I was so desperate to get orders I would bring prices down on cakes where there is little profit to start with.

Of course if you are making a 5 tiered super dooper wedding cake there is room for negotiation but always dropping pirces sends out the wrong signal and you under value yourself.




Great advice. Being realistic and sending the wrong message are two pieces of advice I would frame and hang by the phone.

From my quote collection:

If you put a small value upon yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price. --- Unknown

Letting your customers set your standards is a dangerous game, because the race to the bottom is pretty easy to win. Setting your own standards, and living up to them, is a better way to profit. -----Seth Godin

nesweetcake Posted 11 Aug 2009 , 9:27pm
post #25 of 36

Love all the comments! But, what is our time really worth. I just had a wedding last weekend and sure undercut myself. I had over 17 hours alone working on the custom flowers from a Ron Ben Is cake the bride found in a magazine. I charged a fair price for cake itself, but I really lost it on the time for the flowers. It's all my fault, but when looking back, how much an hour should/would you charge making custom details. I made my own pattern, cut out each petal, dried, dusted, steamed, assembled, wired, and numerous other details so it was picture perfect....I'm not afraid to charge, but what's fair. Even at $10 an hour, I under priced my self by a couple of hundred bucks! Any input. Thanks in advance.

indydebi Posted 11 Aug 2009 , 10:40pm
post #26 of 36

nesweetcake, I think sometimes we look at the total and WE think "wow, that's a lot of money!" (I did this a couple of weeks ago on a catering quote. icon_redface.gif ).

But the reality is "it is what it is". If your time is worth $10, $15, or $20 an hour and it takes 100 hours, then the client is going to pay $1000 to $2000 dollars for those bells and whistles .... or they don't get the bells and whistles. They have to know and understand that.

But more importantly, WE have to know and understand that.

Most of them will have no idea how long it takes to actually make a sugar flower. They need educated.

Case in point:
When my daughter got married 10+ years ago, I was SHOCKED to hear that a flower girl basket was going to cost $25. My reaction was "For a wicker basket of dead petals?????!!!!!" They then explained that they pulled the petals from the roses and it took at least 10 roses at $2.50/rose. I knew nothing about florals and actually asked them, "You mean you don't have a big bin of dead and loose petals that you use for a little girl to just throw on the FLOOR!?"

Uh, no. They don't. icon_redface.gif

I needed educated on how it's done. I didn't like it. But at least I got educated. And I found another alternative option that we went with. But NOW I understand how they price it and why.

nesweetcake Posted 12 Aug 2009 , 12:07am
post #27 of 36

Thanks indydebi, you are so right. It's also about figuring out what we feel or time, talent and education we invested in is worth! Thanks again.

leah_s Posted 12 Aug 2009 , 12:22am
post #28 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by nesweetcake

Love all the comments! But, what is our time really worth. I just had a wedding last weekend and sure undercut myself. I had over 17 hours alone working on the custom flowers from a Ron Ben Is cake the bride found in a magazine. I charged a fair price for cake itself, but I really lost it on the time for the flowers. It's all my fault, but when looking back, how much an hour should/would you charge making custom details. I made my own pattern, cut out each petal, dried, dusted, steamed, assembled, wired, and numerous other details so it was picture perfect....I'm not afraid to charge, but what's fair. Even at $10 an hour, I under priced my self by a couple of hundred bucks! Any input. Thanks in advance.




And that's exactly why I buy the vast majority of the flowers I use. You can't pay me enough to make them. I can buy a beautiful rose for under a dollar, airbrush it, dust it and sell it for $4 - $6.

wizemagick Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 8:23pm
post #29 of 36

I am a beginner doing cakes with MMF and tiers and all and have only done it for friends as gifts, but having done so and realize how much work as well as creativity and cost of materials to make them really goes into them, I tell everyone that even what I thought as "ridicuously" priced high end designer cakes cost, they are reallyl worth every penny that they charge for them!

KHalstead Posted 17 Aug 2009 , 8:47pm
post #30 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by leahs

Quote:
Originally Posted by nesweetcake

Love all the comments! But, what is our time really worth. I just had a wedding last weekend and sure undercut myself. I had over 17 hours alone working on the custom flowers from a Ron Ben Is cake the bride found in a magazine. I charged a fair price for cake itself, but I really lost it on the time for the flowers. It's all my fault, but when looking back, how much an hour should/would you charge making custom details. I made my own pattern, cut out each petal, dried, dusted, steamed, assembled, wired, and numerous other details so it was picture perfect....I'm not afraid to charge, but what's fair. Even at $10 an hour, I under priced my self by a couple of hundred bucks! Any input. Thanks in advance.



And that's exactly why I buy the vast majority of the flowers I use. You can't pay me enough to make them. I can buy a beautiful rose for under a dollar, airbrush it, dust it and sell it for $4 - $6.




I don't get a ton of orders with gumpaste flowers, but recently did just that.......I bought a box of 18 gorgeous roses and some other filler flowers...and all together with shipping, I think I paid about .20/flower......and charged 1.00 each. It was so nice not worrying about whether the flowers were gonna dry in time, all I had to do was figure out what size I needed and I was golden. Soooooooooo much easier.

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