Help I Need Advice On Pricing. I Had A Bad Experiance.

Decorating By erilay Updated 24 Oct 2009 , 3:39am by erilay

erilay Posted 22 Oct 2009 , 5:53am
post #1 of 35

I would like any opinions on how much this cake should go for. It was to serve 30 people and I made a cake for 45 so she would have enough, and have a nice size cake. I did a 10 and a 8 inch cake that had 3 layers and were about 4 inches tall. I sent her pictures to choose from , but she told me to do what I wanted but use brown, blue, and white. She also said that she likes stripes and circles or dots. I asked if she wanted a bow, baby, booties, or a mommy on the top. She said a baby. This is what I came up with and was very proud of it. I put so much time and thought into it. I spent a whole day making the topper so that she could save something nice to save from her shower. I even added a little teddy that she asked me to change to a monkey last minute. I had no time to change it, but did it anyway and really needed that time when it came to finishing my second cake.

I really liked dealing with this woman though. She was so nice and easy to deal with. I was so shocked when she called me 2 days latter pissed off. I asked how the cake was and she said she was not happy with it. I asked why and she said she did not feel that it was worth the money. I sent her plenty of pictures of my cakes and samples of other cakes. I don't know what else I could have done to the cake. I was proud of the cake and was in shock and felt horrible to get such an unappreciative nasty call. She said she almost got a divorce over it. She told my husband it was great when he dropped it off and paid him. I think her husband freaked out and got her all upset. I also sent cupcakes to thank her and she mentioned that I did not send enough cupcakes. I reminded her that she did not pay for cupcakes and they were just a thank you.

I am so upset about this and can not get this woman out of my head. I make these cakes to make people happy and give them something special on a special day. You guys know how much work goes into these cakes. It is a labor of love. She had nothing bad to say about the cake thank goodness. I was scared she was going to say it was dry or not good. All she could say when I asked if there was anything actually wrong with the cake was, "no I just did not feel it was worth the money". I always make sure that I am less than a local bakery. I am just curious what price do you think is reasonable? I am in New Jersey. Thanks for your help.

I tried to upload a picture but can't. You can check it out uner my name . It has the baby ontop. Thanks Again.

34 replies
JanH Posted 22 Oct 2009 , 6:27am
post #2 of 35

Prices are usually higher in larger cities as opposed to smaller, but what part of the country also makes a difference.

However, the first thing I noticed in your post was that your supplied an additional 15 servings beyond what the customer needed. Did you charge her for these additional servings? If not, you're giving cake away - if you did (and she didn't agree) then the cake would certainly be more expensive than she was expecting.

In order to prevent this from happening again, it would be wise to start all your cake orders with one of indydebi's lines, i.e., "Do you have a dollar figure we want to keep this UNDER?"


shanasweets Posted 22 Oct 2009 , 6:38am
post #3 of 35

I am not sure what you charged, but the wilton chart says this would serve 66 servings. I did this recent size for a friend with a large discount. I charged 55.00, but made sure she knew normally would be 75.00. I am in the midwest and have to charge less than i reckon you would. I would not let her get you down. Yours was fondant to, so it should be alot more.

Ruth0209 Posted 22 Oct 2009 , 6:58am
post #4 of 35

First of all, that is a very cute cake. You did a nice job on it and you should be proud of your work.

However, from a business standpoint, I see quite a few problems with this transaction. When someone orders a cake from me for 30, they get a 9" cake that serves 32 and they pay for 32 servings. I'm not sure why you would want to make a cake that serves 45 when she only asked for 30, and by my estimation a 10"/8" actually serves 62 so you gave her much more cake than she ordered. I have a feeling that regardless of what you charged, if you charged for 30 servings she got a bargain.

And I'm completely mystified why you would send someone "thank you" cupcakes for ordering a cake from you. If you do this as a hobby, that's cool. But if you're doing this as a business, you can't possibly be making money if you're giving away product as if she was doing you some kind of a favor by ordering from you. You need to stop giving away cake and start running your business like a business. Decide how you determine a serving size, how much you should charge, create order forms and contracts so everyone is clear about what they're getting and what they're paying for it, and stick to that.

Secondly, you sound way too personally invested in this cake. It sounds like this woman was a stranger to you. I agree that it's a great feeling to know that you created something really wonderful for someone's special occasion, but every cake can't be such a "labor of love" that you're traumatized if the customer doesn't like it.

If you were clear and specific with this woman about what she was getting for the money, and the cake looked like what you discussed, if she all of a sudden has buyer's remorse because her husband thought she spent too much money, WHO CARES? That's not your problem. The only appropriate response to her is, "I'm sorry your husband didn't think the cake was worth what you paid for it, but that's between the two of you. You agreed to the price and I delivered the cake you ordered."

You need to put this woman out of your mind and focus on how to gain the confidence to run your business in a less apologetic way.

MikeRowesHunny Posted 22 Oct 2009 , 7:59am
post #5 of 35

How much did you charge? I would have charged her approx $210 for the cake you made (well over the servings she needed), but if I had done a cake to serve approx 30 (and I would have made a 6 & 8in = 36 servings), then I would have charged approx $150.

If I make a bigger cake than they really need, it's only by their request (because they don't trust my experience in serving sizes - sigh!), and they certainly pay for those extra servings! I also don't send freebies unless it's someone I know & really like and I want to. Being generous to customers nearly always comes back to bite you in the butt, and is rarely appreciated.

Caths_Cakes Posted 22 Oct 2009 , 8:38am
post #6 of 35

Regardless of all said, The cake is beautiful, but i think you need to practise alot more before 'selling' your cakes. please dont take this as an offense, as said, i think the cake is beautiful, a bit more practise and it would have been even better, and from your other pictures, you obviously have a good talent for this. But i feel if i were the mom recieiving the cake, i would of had the same thoughts unfortunately.

this will problies light a fire under some peoples backsides but thats just my opinion icon_smile.gif

Bluehue Posted 22 Oct 2009 , 9:17am
post #7 of 35

She said she almost got a divorce over it

I am thinking this is the reason why she called. Perhaps when her husband heard the price he went icon_mad.gificon_cry.gif

If people have a real problem with a cake then one would think that they would contact you either that day or night - not wait 2 days.

Re-read what everyone has said and learn from it - then move on, as Ruth0209 said.


aundrea Posted 22 Oct 2009 , 10:01am
post #8 of 35

I think it would help to know what you charged her. did you charge her for 30 servings or for the additional cake? Was the price agreed upon prior to you making the cake?
Your cake is lovely and you have talent. You have to put this behind you and know that you do great work. It will be her lost if she does not order from you.
Good luck!

bbmom Posted 22 Oct 2009 , 11:29am
post #9 of 35

I dont usually get involved in pricing threads, but what on earth did you charge her? a 10 and 8 is a lot of cake and to the poster who ONLY charged someone $55 for 66 servings-OMG not to be rude but....I dont care where you live but thats only 83cents a serving!!!! okay back to OP, the topper was the most adorable thing I've seen and if you've been reading any of the forums on here you have to know that its worth at LEAST $25 and probably more...its very cute and well made. As far as the cake goes its a really cute design, I dont do fondant so cant critique it, but if she's seen your other work, she should have known what to expect. Didnt you quote her? As far as I can tell the going rate for fondant seems to be anywhere from $3 and UP per serving. And why would you send her cupcakes? How rude of her to say there werent enough. And you say she was easy and a pleasure to deal with? I would put her on the no cake for you list for future reference. You need to come up with a pricing structure and stick to it, no freebies, no thank you gifts...if you are trying to run a business.
But, really cute cake, so keep at it.

Donnagardner Posted 22 Oct 2009 , 11:58am
post #10 of 35

Just because her DH got mad at her you should not feel bad. Your cake is very cute and the figures are too. She got more than she paid for in my opinion. Don't waste another thought on her and move on.

LaBellaFlor Posted 22 Oct 2009 , 1:35pm
post #11 of 35

Cakes are NEVER a labor of love for me. They are only a labor of love when I make them for free for someone I love. Clients get nothing but business from me.

indydebi Posted 22 Oct 2009 , 1:53pm
post #12 of 35

A 10/6, in round numbers serves 60 times my fondant rate of $4.50/serving = $270. Even at $3/serving = $180. Were you even close to this kind of price? If not, she got a bargain.

You didn't send enough cupcakes???? icon_eek.gif She didn't ORDER freakin' cupcakes, so what the hell was she complaining about? Talk about NERVE!!!!

Did you give her a price before delivery? That may sound silly to ask, but I see too many threads on here where price is discussed AFTER delivery instead of getting it all cleared up before hand. Price needs to be settled LONG before you even turn on the oven.

And I totally agree with the above poster ..... what her husband thought is not your problem. Especially *IF* you had settled on price beforehand. And the only "problem" she can cite is "it wasn't worth the money"??? Definitely buyer's remorse, fueled by a husband, and husbands never have an idea of what cake is worth because it's not beer or a tool.

Stop giving away cake ... in extra servings AND in thank-you cupcakes.

cupcakemkr Posted 22 Oct 2009 , 2:06pm
post #13 of 35

1. Your cake was really cute.

2. I charge $4.25 per serving for fondant covered/trimmed, toppers are extra depending on detail $5 and up (I'd have charged $30 for yours). If the customer says I need cake for 20 and I have to make it for 22, I tell them so and charge for 22 servings

3. I send an email thanking a customer for their order saying that I hope that they and thier guests enjoyed thae cake - I look forward to making a special cake for them in the near future - NO FREE CAKE/CUPCAKES

cylstrial Posted 22 Oct 2009 , 10:12pm
post #14 of 35

The baby and the monkey are adorable!!

And the fact that you didn't send enough cupcakes for her chaps my hide! Those were free!!!!!!!!!

__Jamie__ Posted 22 Oct 2009 , 10:19pm
post #15 of 35

Well I'm glad to hear you mustered up a shadow of a spine and mentioned the cupcakes were free so she could stop bitching about that. I am speechless. This is a perfect example of why people should take some business classes.

__Jamie__ Posted 22 Oct 2009 , 10:23pm
post #16 of 35
Originally Posted by Ruth0209

.....and focus on how to gain the confidence to run your business in a less apologetic way.

Oh this is poetry. Haven't seen something this good in awhile. thumbs_up.gif

blessedist Posted 22 Oct 2009 , 11:11pm
post #17 of 35
Originally Posted by LaBellaFlor

Clients get nothing but business from me.

HELLO!! thumbs_up.gif

erilay Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 12:49am
post #18 of 35

I really appreciate everyone's help and advice. I have not been doing this for very long. I am starting to get a decent amount of work now and am still in the process of figuring it all out. I have taken lots of courses and am still learning a lot from online courses. Pricing and savings per cake are the most confusing part for me. Wilton servings are so small and I am not sure how you get that many slices out of a cake. Do you use the Wilton chart for party size slices? I feel like people are used to cutting such big slices. I take the chart into consideration but also checked out other peoples interpretations of the chart. I took my pans and counted the maximum number of slices I would think you could get from a cake and it was way less than the Wilton chart, and even less than the other charts I found. I took a number in-between my estimate and Wiltons. So she got way more cake than I charged her for. I charged her 290 with delivery an hour and a half away. I added 10 dollars because she got both liquor and nuts in the filling and chose pound cake. The area that I am in charges a base price of 4.50 a slice they add on for everything and usually end up charging at least 8.50 a slice but 12 is not unheard of. I would never charge this much for my cakes so I feel like she got the cake for a good price. She decided to go with a larger cake because she wanted the look of it and she wanted extra cake rather than not having enough. I told her she could go smaller but she chose to get the larger cake. She said that she had a budget of 300 - 350 so I kept it under what she was planning on spending, and she was happy about that.
I said that she was easy because she went online and checked prices before talking to me and was prepared. A lot of people have no idea how much these cakes cost or how much work goes into them.
I also sent her pictures of my cakes so she knew what to expect. I included some pictures that were not as clean as my work just because I liked the design or idea. I try not to ever use pictures that are out of my league or cleaner than I know I can do right now. She told me to do whatever I wanted and it would be great. I made sure to get the colors she liked and asked her to at least give me an idea of what she wanted. I did exactly what she asked for and more I thought. I was hoping to get a bow on the front, but had no time. She did not know that though and was not charged for that anyway. I apologized to her on the phone, but also said that I sent you pictures and you knew what you were getting, and how much you were paying. If there was something wrong with the cake it would be different, but you are not telling me that the cake was bad. I also use only the best ingredients and fondant that I order special for my cakes. I pride myself in the quality of my ingredients and do not skimp when it comes to what I put into my cakes. I sent her am email stating the same thing. I guess that is all that I can do. If anyone has any further help as to how to handle it that would be appreciated. Thanks Again you guys are great on this site. It is so nice to have a safe place to vent and discuss. A business course would be great icon_smile.gif
I am lucky it was not worse. At least she paid for the cake.
I should probably work on a disclaimer to have people sign before they order a cake.
I guess free cupcakes are a no no....

Kitagrl Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 1:14am
post #19 of 35

You guys all use the Wilton wedding chart? I use Earlene's chart for most of my cakes, but sometimes the Wilton party chart as a reference for doing 3D cakes. I know my customers do not know how to cut the Wilton wedding slices so I just use Earlenes. Of course after I add it up I make sure I am satisfied with the price after I multiply cost per serving.

I LOVE the topper, your figurines are GREAT!!!!!!

The honest part though....if my customer wanted 30 servings for that design... I'd have made a 9"/6" tiers (using Earlene's chart) and would have charged $5-$6/serving plus probably $25-$40 for the the MAX I would have charged would have been $200-$225 for the cake the customer asked for (no extra servings and no cupcakes....believe me, some people do NOT like having extra cake). Then yes I would have charged for delivery, or offered pickup.

So I will say that as far as what the customer ordered, they did pay kind of alot....and although your figurines ROCK, (gorgeous!!!!) I have to admit you could work on the smoothness of your tiers and fondant work before charging quite that much. For this lady I'd probably offer her a small refund, maybe $90 or so, because she was not satisfied.

indydebi Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 1:20am
post #20 of 35
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

I know my customers do not know how to cut the Wilton wedding slices....

In my world, that doesn't matter. I use the wilton chart to determine pricing. If they want to cut a 10" round in half and hand out two forks, that doesn't matter to me. They are paying for the 35 servings (I round down to the nearest '5'). I'll tell them, "This will serve 25 to 35, depending on how you cut it." I *DO* give them general instructions on how to cut it to achieve those servings, and I tell them a servings is based on a slice about the size of a folded over peanut butter sandwich, but the bottom line is .... I dont' care how they cut it.

costumeczar Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 1:21am
post #21 of 35

Right, no mroe free cupcakes!

You came in under her budget, and she told your husband that she loved the cake. It's not your problem that her husband wasn't aware of her budget and bit her head off when he found out what she spent.

Kitagrl Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 1:27am
post #22 of 35
Originally Posted by indydebi

Originally Posted by Kitagrl

I know my customers do not know how to cut the Wilton wedding slices....

In my world, that doesn't matter. I use the wilton chart to determine pricing. If they want to cut a 10" round in half and hand out two forks, that doesn't matter to me. They are paying for the 35 servings (I round down to the nearest '5'). I'll tell them, "This will serve 25 to 35, depending on how you cut it." I *DO* give them general instructions on how to cut it to achieve those servings, and I tell them a servings is based on a slice about the size of a folded over peanut butter sandwich, but the bottom line is .... I dont' care how they cut it.

LOL...I guess in a way its semantics...maybe I charge more per serving than someone else but the entire cake would end up costing about the same...? To me, I'm giving them plenty of cake but *hopefully* charging the same overall as someone who would use the Wilton wedding chart. Although in this thread it looks like I might charge slightly less than others....which surprises me because you wouldnt' believe all the people my prices have scared off this week!!!!!

indydebi Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 1:33am
post #23 of 35
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

LOL...I guess in a way its semantics...maybe I charge more per serving than someone else but the entire cake would end up costing about the same...?

Oh, yeah, you're right since you charge more per serving, then! Semantics!

erilay Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 2:12am
post #24 of 35

I charged her for 45 servings based on Elaines chart basically. I think her chart even gave you more servings than that. I added 40 for the topper and 10 for the nuts, liquer, and lb. cake. that comes to 252.50. I added 37.50 for delivery just to make it an even number. I was going to charge 40. It was 3 hours of driving between getting it there and getting home. That is how I got the number.
Thanks Again

denetteb Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 2:47am
post #25 of 35

The other day I was pondering if Wilton wedding serving guides of 1 inch by 2 inch would really work. I drew a 9 inch circle and then horizontal lines 2 inches apart. Then 1 inch lines vertically. There were unusual shapes on the outer perimeter cause of the round edges but then I drew the outer lines to get the same size in area to adjust for the rounded edge. I didn't use the Wilton circle style of cutting, I used the alternative version which worked well for the wedding cake I cut last year and which the caterer also agreed worked better than circles. Then I numbered the pieces. I was amazed to end up with....32. Exactly the number in the Wilton chart.

erilay Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 3:20am
post #26 of 35

I should try it that way. I was cutting sliced becase at a party people usually cut it that way. I guess I should not worry about the size of the slice. I am sure it is worht mentioning to the costomer though. Do you agree?

indydebi Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 3:26am
post #27 of 35

Here's how I cut the cakes to get (about 10% more than) the wilton wedding servings:

Here's what a 1x2x4 piece of cake looks like:

Ruth0209 Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 5:00am
post #28 of 35

Thanks, Debi for the picture of the serving size. I just read on here yesterday that in Europe and Australia they have a serving size that is 1 x 1 x 4. As usual, it appears that we Americans are the piggies of the bunch. : )

I used to think a 1 x 2 x 4 inch piece of cake couldn't possibly be enough until I cut some of my own cakes. Believe me, it's plenty enough cake. A serving of cake is not intended to be a meal. We've just super sized everything else so much that we think that 8 SQUARE INCHES of cake isn't enough.

The Wilton size is the industry standard for a reason - because it works just fine for most people. If they think they'll want bigger servings, advise them to order more total servings from you.

I don't have any problem with Earlene's chart, but since I do mostly wedding cakes cut by caterers, I know they're going to use the Wilton cutting guide so it makes more sense for me to use that.

LaBellaFlor Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 5:03am
post #29 of 35

That is such a good pint Ruth0209. We always want bigger and more, when in reality 1x2x4 is plenty of cake for a serving. We have such a super size mentality!

Ruth0209 Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 5:10am
post #30 of 35
Originally Posted by LaBellaFlor

That is such a good pint Ruth0209. We always want bigger and more, when in reality 1x2x4 is plenty of cake for a serving. We have such a super size mentality!

Yeah, me included, and now I'm on my treadmill every morning trying to work off my supersized butt. Sigh...I've been eating too much of my wares, I'm afraid.

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