Share How You Operate Your Business??

Business By Michelle104 Updated 5 Nov 2009 , 12:28am by ladyonzlake

Michelle104 Posted 19 Oct 2009 , 4:26pm
post #1 of 23

I opened my storefront about a month and a half ago. Since I've been in the shop and people know I'm there I've been getting lots of traffic and exposure. It's just me, no employees right now. How do you all do 15-20 cakes per weekend all by yourself? I'm still figuring out the time management and definitely getting better I thought... until I read some other posts about you guys doing so many all by yourself in one weekend. Now I'm thinking maybe not so good with the time management stuff!! icon_redface.gif Can you kind of give me a rundown on your week...anyone? Or everyone? icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif Thanks guys!!

22 replies
jillmakescakes Posted 19 Oct 2009 , 4:31pm
post #2 of 23

I just opened in Feb, and I can tell you that I am no-where-near 15-20 cakes a week (unless you count a tier of a wedding cake as a "cake")

All of my orders are custom, we don't do any walk-in pickups. By myself, I could handle 3 wedding cakes and 2 or 3 small occasion cakes per week. I have expanded my staff to include two part time decorators (one is my business partner who has also handled some of the business side) and I now have two interns. I am still trying to determine how much additional work I can handle with them there helping. I don't want to overload us.

Michelle104 Posted 19 Oct 2009 , 4:42pm
post #3 of 23

I totally understand where you're coming from Jill! I hate to turn away business though. I feel like if others are doing this then maybe so could I. I do custom cakes as well. Although, I've had lots of people looking for the generic kind of walk in thing, that's not what I do. But I just can't keep turning people away...any advice besides hiring help right now?

jillmakescakes Posted 19 Oct 2009 , 4:50pm
post #4 of 23

I can offer two things:

1. Take on one more order that what you think is your "comfort zone" to see if you can handle the challenge.
2. Come up with a good "I'm booked" response.

Even with my other two decorators(paid) and interns (unpaid), I am still turning away orders left and right. It's gonna happen no matter how many people you hire.
For example, I thought my next week looked pretty light, until I answered the phone last Tuesday. In one day I took no less than 15 orders, some for next week, and some for down the road, but now my light week is completely booked!

KHalstead Posted 19 Oct 2009 , 4:52pm
post #5 of 23

I do roughly 5-20 cakes per week depending on the week. I am a home-based business, which can be tricky in and of itself because of having family in and out at all hours.

I bake on Tues/ WEd. depending on how many cakes I have. Get them all cooled, wrapped in plastic (sometimes I'll throw them in the freezer overnight if they're baked tues.) night pull out any frozen cakes.
Thursday torte and fill all cakes and put them on their respective cake boards, cover.
Friday ice one, ice two, smooth one, ice three, smooth two, ice four, smooth three, and so on (I use crusting buttercream, so I let it sit a bit before going over with a paint roller).........then once they're all smooth, I pull out the piping bags and go to work. I try to group all the ones that are getting airbrushing together (if I'm tired, I do the airbrushed cakes first because they go quickly and I feel like I've got more cakes done in less time).........the more you decorate the quicker you'll get too.

I just did a cake that was iced in buttercream (8" round torted and filled with a cheesecake mousse)......I literally started this cake at 5:10pm, unwrapped, torted, filled, iced, let sit a min. , smoothed, and airbrushed a sunset, rippled the water, piped on palm trees, and boxed in and looked at my watch and it was 5:35!!! I was like......."wow, I'm getting fast!" This same cake I used to spend 4 hours just decorating LOL

LaBellaFlor Posted 19 Oct 2009 , 4:56pm
post #6 of 23

I'm homebased, so I have no idea how to do a store front. I also keep myself to a max, because of being home based. I just wanted to let you know, maybe you can PM Leah_s, cause she is also home based, but she takes on CRAZY amounts of orders. She must have some great time management skills.

leah_s Posted 19 Oct 2009 , 5:39pm
post #7 of 23

I bake on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, torte, wrap and freeze. I do have a 20 qt Hobart which helps me mix large batches of batter and icing. I have a dedicated freezer just for cakes. I order supplies by the case and have storage. I have a pasty closet with shelves ceiling to floor right off the kitchen to hold all my supplies. I have two ovens, one convection which baks pretty fast.

DH generally picks up the grocery-type items. 60 pounds of flour, 12 doz eggs, etc.

I do NOT have small children or indeed any kids at home. I do also run with my hubby our bed and breakfast and work for the city two days a month, plus am active in a professional organization.

I've figured out that I can turn out 1000 servings of cake a week by myself.

I don't sleep a lot on Thursday or Friday.

HarleyDee Posted 19 Oct 2009 , 5:46pm
post #8 of 23

I would LOVE to be able to take 10 or 20 cakes for a weekend, but I simply cannot. I do it by myself.. Therefore, I have to turn people away. Dates are booked on a first pay, first serve basis. On my website it states that I am a boutique cake shop, and that I can only accommodate a certain number of cakes per week.

Plus, people want what they can't have icon_smile.gif

cakesweetiecake Posted 19 Oct 2009 , 6:32pm
post #9 of 23

wow! Great thread! Excellent advice

KHalstead Posted 19 Oct 2009 , 7:46pm
post #10 of 23

Harleey, you got that right........I only take on ONE wedding cake per week.......I book out Thurs. Frid. and Saturday for that one cake (I really think someone's wedding deserves the attention).......people that want party cakes will have to have them by wednesday on those weeks. I've actually had brides change the date of their wedding just so that I could make their cake.......crazy huh?

I will not stress myself out doing more than 1 wedding per's stressfull enough as it is~

suzylynn58 Posted 20 Oct 2009 , 2:52pm
post #11 of 23

I am so glad this topic came up. I just had a VERY stressful weekend. My second weekend in my shop and not very organized yet. One of my cakes was a wedding cake and I promised myself that from now on, I would not overbook on a wedding weekend. I agree that a wedding cake needs my full attention.

Leah - my hat is off to you to be able to turn out 1000 servings a week. I never forsee myself being able to go that without help at least not in my current facility. Of course, I do work a full time job and my time is limited as long as I am still doing that.

indydebi Posted 20 Oct 2009 , 6:04pm
post #12 of 23
Originally Posted by suzylynn58

I promised myself that from now on, I would not overbook on a wedding weekend. I agree that a wedding cake needs my full attention.

There have been numerous times that I've looked at the schedule and said, "Who the hell booked THAT many for this weekend?! Oh wait .... that would be ME!" icon_redface.gif

prterrell Posted 20 Oct 2009 , 7:41pm
post #13 of 23

People will start to realize that if they really want your cake, they need to get their order in early, as you only do X a week and orders are first come basis.

costumeczar Posted 20 Oct 2009 , 9:11pm
post #14 of 23
Originally Posted by indydebi

Originally Posted by suzylynn58

I promised myself that from now on, I would not overbook on a wedding weekend. I agree that a wedding cake needs my full attention.

There have been numerous times that I've looked at the schedule and said, "Who the hell booked THAT many for this weekend?! Oh wait .... that would be ME!" icon_redface.gif

Ha ha ha, that sounds familiar. How many itmes in the last month have I said "I have nobody to blame but myself"

Michelle104 Posted 21 Oct 2009 , 1:15am
post #15 of 23

icon_eek.gificon_eek.gif Leah! 1000 servings per weekend!!??!! WOW!!! Oh to be that good someday!!

Does anyone have a top out number?? Like either, no more than so many cakes or no more than so many servings??

cylstrial Posted 21 Oct 2009 , 1:54am
post #16 of 23
Originally Posted by indydebi

Originally Posted by suzylynn58

I promised myself that from now on, I would not overbook on a wedding weekend. I agree that a wedding cake needs my full attention.

There have been numerous times that I've looked at the schedule and said, "Who the hell booked THAT many for this weekend?! Oh wait .... that would be ME!" icon_redface.gif

That's hilarious!! icon_lol.gif

suzylynn58 Posted 21 Oct 2009 , 2:21am
post #17 of 23

That's what I want to figure out--where is the cut off point? Because I hate to turn down business.

tracycakes Posted 21 Oct 2009 , 2:29am
post #18 of 23

I would love to have to turn away business. I went completely legal on Sept. 1 and for the first time since early summer, I have no orders. icon_cry.gif

I did have to turn down 5 cakes for the first weekend in October because I was at OSSAS. I moved my shop to a new place the following weekend and on Monday, I got 2 calls for cakes the next day - 3 doz. cupcakes and another for a birthday cake. I did the cupcakes but there is no way I could do the cake for the next day. I work 10 hours a day at my other job and there just wasn't time for it to cool and be able to decorate.

And I got the first snotty call. icon_rolleyes.gif I work inside a catering company and they were there until around 12:30. I got a call around 1:30 from this 'lady' asking if we were ever going to be open because she had been by 3 times and it wasn't open. icon_confused.gif Called hubby and got a sign 'by appointment only' put up in the window. I just thought 'oh boy, here goes.'

Sorry to hijack. icon_redface.gif I just wanted to congratulate you on your great success! Do you have any special ways that you are marketing yourself and getting your name out there?

suzylynn58 Posted 21 Oct 2009 , 2:39am
post #19 of 23

For me - mine has all been word of mouth. I haven't had time yet to get any advertising out. I'm going out of town this weekend and after that I'm going to get some advertising going. I have turned down a catering job and probabaly 5 or 6 cake for this weekend. LOL! I usually stay booked up a couple weeks in advance. I guess that is one advantage to living in a small town.

Michelle104 Posted 21 Oct 2009 , 4:07am
post #20 of 23

I'm in a small town too. Word of mouth mostly. I had some little flyers printed up and my kids passed those out and a few friends passed them out at thier businesses as well. I had an ad in the paper for a couple of weeks and had like a grand opening/ ribbon cutting with the local chamber of commerce. That will be in the paper sometime soon so that is sort of like free advertisement too. I've given lots of samples as hall workers, salon located by me but my local school too. That in itself created lots of buzz. I don't think you really have to spend lots of money to let people know that you're there and you do something different. Just make up some mini cupcakes, a few of your fav flavors and take them around with some pictures of your work and let people know that you're there. icon_lol.gif Sorry for being so long-winded! icon_redface.gif

Off that subject, do you have a cut off date as well as how many cakes you can or will take in a weekend..are these things that I'm just going to have to figure out for myself?? icon_confused.gif I had a guy come in today to order a cake for friday and there's a message on my machine too for a lady that wants to order a cake for friday. I feel like I'm pretty booked up for this weekend already. Do I tell her no or add a "last minute" fee and see if she''ll pay it??

ladyonzlake Posted 4 Nov 2009 , 11:25pm
post #21 of 23

I rent a shared commercial kitchen so that I can be legal. I advertise with "The Knot" and I have a website. I was doing up to 4 cakes a weekend last summer (wedding cakes) and decided that was way more than I wanted to handle. I didn't see daylight all summer cuz I was in the kitchen!

Anyway, I increased my prices and I have a minimum order of $100.00 and I will only do 2 wedding cakes per weekend (1 per day) and maybe a groom's or celebration cake. I do turn business away a lot and that's tough to do but I dont' want to go insane!

Next summer is booking up rapidly and I hope that I can stick to my guns and not take on more than I want to handle. I do want a life outside of my cake business so I'm hoping next summer will be better!

Michelle104 Posted 4 Nov 2009 , 11:43pm
post #22 of 23

icon_eek.gif Wow Jaqui!! I just checked out your website!! Oh my goodness!! Your work is beautiful and so so clean!!! You do fabulous work! Are you completely self taught??

icon_lol.gif Sorry I just hijacked the thread!! LOL!

ladyonzlake Posted 5 Nov 2009 , 12:28am
post #23 of 23

Thank you Michelle104. Yes, I am self taught...of course with some help from CC too!

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