Pricing Advice For Timid New Decorators...

Business By snarkybaker Updated 9 Sep 2009 , 6:34pm by babykonst

snarkybaker Posted 9 Sep 2009 , 2:20am
post #1 of 19

As I have watched our business grow and change, I have underpriced myself more times than I care to to talk about, mostly because in my mind, it's a cake I want for our portfolio, or I like the person, or they were a referral from a really good customer etc. Here is what I've learned:

Price every cake like you really didn't want to do it. Imagine that you'd have to miss your kids first little league game of the season, or something else that is important to you, but not a complete deal breaker. What is your time worth then?

It is amazing what people WILL pay. Sometimes they won't but then you get to do... ( fill in your imaginary activity here). And what's more, since you'll be getting paid a lot better for the cakes you DO book, you'll have a better attitude about doing them. Being paid well really does make you feel appreciated. The horse cake in our pictures was booked 4 days before it was due. I was trying to get out of town early that day to spend 36 hours or R&R with my husband, so I quoted him a ridiculous price ( $1100) and asked for a 50% deposit before we would bother to send a sketch. Damned if he didn't say "okay..." and give me a credit card number. He approved the sketch the next morning and paid the balance. Now I did have to leave on Sunday instead of Saturday, but not only did they guy and his wife love the cake, they bought us dinner on Saturday and gave me a $100 tip for cutting the cake.

So we got an oceanfront suite at the beach instead of just a room, and a free dinner, and made a tidy $740 profit.

Since I've started doing that with all my 3D cakes ( upped our minimum to $250), we have literally been booked solid with high end cakes. The quality of the work we're doing is better, because we've got to make fewer cakes to hit our numbers, and everybody has a lot more fun, because it's not fun to work in the cake factory.

So price your cakes like it was WORK not fun, because it is work. It's your profession. Make sure you charge like a professional.

18 replies
drummer27 Posted 9 Sep 2009 , 2:37am
post #2 of 19

Wow great advice! Thank you!

indydebi Posted 9 Sep 2009 , 2:39am
post #3 of 19

First .... APPLAUD APPLAUD!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by snarkybaker

It is amazing what people WILL pay.



Amen.

I resisted adding a 20% Service Fee to my catering quote. It's pretty standard with all caters but I didn't want to do it. I FINALLY figured out I'd have to and it was ok (I had to "ok it" in my mind ... long story for another day).

This added anywhere from $300 to $800 to $1200 to my invoices.

Guess what. No one batted an eye. No one even questioned it.


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

Brendabeeper Posted 9 Sep 2009 , 2:50am
post #4 of 19

ok I had to take a look at the horse cake, I didn't see it.. Do you still have a photo to show us?

CakeForte Posted 9 Sep 2009 , 2:57am
post #5 of 19

I agree 100%. Especially since I'm in the boat of renting outside space. Have I done a lot of weddings? Not really, but I've been able to network more and work on other business items. The positive? I booked several high end birthday cakes, and they all paid in full.

snarkybaker Posted 9 Sep 2009 , 2:57am
post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brendabeeper

ok I had to take a look at the horse cake, I didn't see it.. Do you still have a photo to show us?




It's in the top row of our pics.

littlecake Posted 9 Sep 2009 , 3:03am
post #7 of 19

great advice for timid old decorators too...THANX SNARKY!

you're right it is NO FUN working in a cake factory...)*=

i've gone up on wedding cakes...lost a lot of orders....but i am getting to where i do not want to do them for nuttin...i really don't care if i ever make another one.

this biz will chew you up and spit you out...i'm trying to go higher end too...it is kinda scary, since it's my only income.....but i gotta do something, i'm worn out.

i've cut our cupcakes and small cakes cause there is no profit margin, my next thing is cutting out 1/4 sheets...it's scary....i knbow i could make the fancier cakes that cost more...i just got to get the mind set that they could sell around here.

thanks for the post, i need it....i tend to think that since i'm so thrifty...everyone thinks like me...DUH

__Jamie__ Posted 9 Sep 2009 , 3:14am
post #8 of 19

Awesome Snarky....I wish there more out there that thought like us! icon_wink.gif

Brendabeeper Posted 9 Sep 2009 , 3:24am
post #9 of 19

Snarky, Horse cake is very cool, Great job, Sorry I didnt see it at first. The horses are very cute. I am still new at the cake orders , Someday I will charge what they are worth, but I have a lot to learn yet, and still need the practice. I have just started to say no when I know it would be too crazy to take on another cake. All nighters are not good to make a cake and have to work the next day. Thanks for your encouragement to everyone. !

LaBellaFlor Posted 9 Sep 2009 , 3:36am
post #10 of 19

Applause, applause! I love how you said all of that!

cakesweetiecake Posted 9 Sep 2009 , 3:54pm
post #11 of 19

Great advice! Thank you for this post!

Echooo3 Posted 9 Sep 2009 , 4:03pm
post #12 of 19

indydebi, how do you explain the cost of the "service charge"? Don't people feel like that is built into the price of the product?

CakeForte Posted 9 Sep 2009 , 5:04pm
post #13 of 19

the service charge is standard in the hotel and catering field and it's not "optional", it pays for all of the extra costs that come with a catered event. Extra staff, etc.

indydebi Posted 9 Sep 2009 , 5:13pm
post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Echooo3

indydebi, how do you explain the cost of the "service charge"? Don't people feel like that is built into the price of the product?




This was what I struggled with until I saw a caterer website from out west somewhere that explained it perfectly: "If you want to know what the service fee covers, then make arrangements to show up at my kitchen and pick up the food yourself and you'll find out." Once you do ALL of that work, then you'll get it.

So the price for the buffet is the price you pay if you come and pick it up. If I have to have staff come in to load the van, if I have to run the van, unload the van, set up the banquet, clean it up, pack it up, drive it back to the shop, unload it and clean it up .... well, there's a cost involved with that.

Client needs to decide the level of service they want .... and different levels have different costs.

Seriously, no one ever asks about it, because it's so standard in the industry.

Musings9 Posted 9 Sep 2009 , 5:45pm
post #15 of 19

Great advice I definitely needed to hear.

LaBellaFlor Posted 9 Sep 2009 , 6:00pm
post #16 of 19

I've only seen hotels charge the 20% service fee & I know there is 1 caterer that does as well. The rest of the caterers in my area don't.

jnmcustomkakes Posted 9 Sep 2009 , 6:14pm
post #17 of 19

Thank you soo much for posting this. I too have this problem. I have done the all nighters and feel like I work in the cake factory. It's weird though because I have clients that will give me more than what I quoted them and I have clients that will balk at what I think is cheap. How do you do the happy medium?

indydebi Posted 9 Sep 2009 , 6:19pm
post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaBellaFlor

I've only seen hotels charge the 20% service fee & I know there is 1 caterer that does as well. The rest of the caterers in my area don't.




Oh I've done the local research and it's pretty standard around here.

One caterer (VERY expensive guy!) not only charges a 20% service fee, but also charges a 20% up-front gratuity (service fee and gratuity are NOT the same thing) plus charges for staffing labor ("dishwasher: 8 hours x $20/hour") plus charges $5/person for "misc catering supplies".

Now since he pretty much has everything else covered in the other things he charges for (line item charge for linens, plates, silverware, glasses, etc), the only thing I could figure "misc catering supplies" would be are ziploks, chafer fuels, food safety gloves, etc.

Think about this ..... for a party of 100, he's charging FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS for "misc catering supplies". icon_eek.gif

I can't decide if I'm smarter for not charging my clients as much .... or if I'm stupid for not charging my clients as much! icon_lol.gif

babykonst Posted 9 Sep 2009 , 6:34pm
post #19 of 19

thank you soo much OP for posting this!! it really is great advice!!! i still have lots to learn.........i only charged $65.00 for the princess cake in my photos!!! but im learning still, so with every cake i do, i charge just a little bit more!!! lol

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%