Calling Other Bakeries For Prices...

Business By TexasSugar Updated 10 Dec 2009 , 8:20pm by CakeForte

tcakes65 Posted 27 Nov 2009 , 7:40pm
post #31 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

"Secret Shoppers" is not a new idea, it's not illegal, it's not underhanded, it's not even sneaky. Large, successful chain companies across the country use them on a regular basis.

I consider myself a success if someone wants to Secret Shopper me. No one wants to find out what the BAD companies are doing! icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif




You're right, Secret Shoppers are not new or illegal. However, a majority of Secret Shoppers are utilized by major corporations to check up on their own stores/restaurants, not the competition. It is their way of ensuring their employees are maintaing good custom service and a clean store. Therefore, I don't think there is anything wrong with me having issue with my competition's spy wasting my time at an hour or longer consult that could be spent on a legitimate bride providing legitimate money for my business. As I stated in my previous post, you can obtain valuable market research from the legitimate brides that come through your door. They talk amongst themselves and openly (unprovoked by the way), and discuss the competition's pricing, etc. I obtain much more valuable information by listening to the brides. I never said I make phone calls, as I don't. However, I would prefer the competition call and talk to me then send a spy. I run a successful business based on what works for me. If a spy works for others, that's great. It's just not for me.

tcakes65 Posted 27 Nov 2009 , 7:45pm
post #32 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by K8memphis-

I used to be a secret shopper. Got nice perks & free/reduced price food.

I mean isn't it a discussion--we are all free to ping and pong back and forth with our comments & opinions.

Quote:
Quote:

Your response targeted toward my post is uncalled for.



Why? I mean you're not addressing me here but it's a discussion--I have a sweeeet sweeeet cyber friend who cannot abide any other opinions but her own--do not challenge her no one on this board-- complete agreement only--control much?

But still yet as a control freak in my own right I am at least careful enough to only try & control what I can control kwim. and half the time that don't work either~~ what???




I'm all open for debate and love to hear all different opinions. It's what makes for a good discussion. I've learned a lot from the forums and new ways of doing things. I had no issue with her take on things. However, her last remark seemed to be a jab rather than anything productive. So hence I responded. icon_biggrin.gif

indydebi Posted 27 Nov 2009 , 7:47pm
post #33 of 65

My husband was in banking for 25 years and they sent secret shoppers to open accounts and get loan info from other banks all the time. No biggie .... he always knew when the other banks were doing the same thing to him! icon_biggrin.gif

jillmakescakes Posted 27 Nov 2009 , 7:55pm
post #34 of 65

I wasn't gonna post, but couldn't help myself.

While I have the utmost respect for snarky and debi, I have to respectfully disagree. icon_surprised.gif

Secret Shoppers spend money in the stores they are reviewing. If snarky were to have spies order a cake, pay for it, then bring it in for review, I'd be totally on board. However, sending them out for a free tasting with no intention of ever following through, just seems to blur the ethical line.

snarkybaker Posted 27 Nov 2009 , 8:02pm
post #35 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by K8memphis-

Quote:
Originally Posted by grandmom

...I am just pointing out from what I see on the FDIC's website that it appears the previously cited reference expired years ago. That would lead one to believe that surcharges are indeed legal, except in the states where it is prohibited.



Gotcha. Thanks.




Offering a " discount for cash" is legal. Quoting a lower price, and then raising that price because a buyer is opting to use credit is bait and switch, and that IS illegal....see above. The above mentioned baker, who is a prominent baker in the area says specifically on her website "plus an additional 3 percent for credit cards via paypal"...big fat illegal thing to do, because she uses the lower price throughout the website.

-K8memphis Posted 27 Nov 2009 , 8:15pm
post #36 of 65

My problem with sending out spies is that I might/would not trust my spies to do their job. I don't deep down believe that if anything can go wrong it will go wrong for me but if history is an indication...it could easily come back & bite me. But if I had an operation like Snarks I'd be tempted to take the risk too.

Once again, I retreat to the safety of my book stacks. icon_biggrin.gif

-K8memphis Posted 27 Nov 2009 , 8:16pm
post #37 of 65

I think I'd go for theatre/acting students...

icon_biggrin.gif

Instead of 007 it'd be double 9x13 icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

WykdGud Posted 27 Nov 2009 , 8:45pm
post #38 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by jillmakescakes

I wasn't gonna post, but couldn't help myself.

While I have the utmost respect for snarky and debi, I have to respectfully disagree. icon_surprised.gif

Secret Shoppers spend money in the stores they are reviewing. If snarky were to have spies order a cake, pay for it, then bring it in for review, I'd be totally on board. However, sending them out for a free tasting with no intention of ever following through, just seems to blur the ethical line.




I was thinking the same thing! Thanks for saving me the effort of typing it out myself. icon_smile.gif

-K8memphis Posted 27 Nov 2009 , 8:54pm
post #39 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by snarkybaker

Quote:
Originally Posted by K8memphis-

Quote:
Originally Posted by grandmom

...I am just pointing out from what I see on the FDIC's website that it appears the previously cited reference expired years ago. That would lead one to believe that surcharges are indeed legal, except in the states where it is prohibited.



Gotcha. Thanks.



Offering a " discount for cash" is legal. Quoting a lower price, and then raising that price because a buyer is opting to use credit is bait and switch, and that IS illegal....see above. The above mentioned baker, who is a prominent baker in the area says specifically on her website "plus an additional 3 percent for credit cards via paypal"...big fat illegal thing to do, because she uses the lower price throughout the website.




Standard operating procedure by the state of Tennessee.

snarkybaker Posted 27 Nov 2009 , 9:28pm
post #40 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by WykdGud

Quote:
Originally Posted by jillmakescakes

I wasn't gonna post, but couldn't help myself.

While I have the utmost respect for snarky and debi, I have to respectfully disagree. icon_surprised.gif

Secret Shoppers spend money in the stores they are reviewing. If snarky were to have spies order a cake, pay for it, then bring it in for review, I'd be totally on board. However, sending them out for a free tasting with no intention of ever following through, just seems to blur the ethical line.



I was thinking the same thing! Thanks for saving me the effort of typing it out myself. icon_smile.gif




Secret shoppers sometimes spend money in businesses they report on. In a bank, for example, they recruit secret shoppers who specifically have an account already at said bank.
Doing consultations is part of the cost of doing business, period. If someone charges a fee, we pay it. If it is a free service, it is a free service. If you're really trying to be a Business then you need to know whats going on in your market. You think Walmart doesn't look at what Amazon has on sale, or go into Traget ?

If my competitors had storefronts, I could just send a girl in to get brochures and ask some questions, but they didn't bother to invest in them, so they're gonna end up popping for some free cake.

Mensch Posted 27 Nov 2009 , 9:31pm
post #41 of 65

Like you said, too, Snark, anyone with more than two brain cells can have a legal kitchen (from home) in your state.

jillmakescakes Posted 27 Nov 2009 , 9:58pm
post #42 of 65

Snark, you're right, they don't always spend money. Since I know you were just waiting for my approval ( icon_biggrin.gif ), it makes me feel better knowing that you would pay for a consult too!
I didn't notice that your state is a free-for-all when it comes to legal kitchens. That does make market research a bit more difficult.

I research my competition too. While this may be my ego, one of my competitors has made some pretty big changes to their website and business name since I came on the scene. It may be totally coincidence, but they are my closest competition (geographically).

I will visit my competitors shops every few months and make a few quick phone calls. I also make it a point to attend bridal shows (even if I'm not a participant) and see how they set up their booths, how they present their samples and how their samples taste. I usually take a few moments to introduce myself, unless they are busy.

Mike1394 Posted 27 Nov 2009 , 10:30pm
post #43 of 65

MCC, Why should I care if I cause a competitor to spend money needlessly? Why do I care? I don't get the point. If I send someone in for a consult, or force you to use a higher quality ingredient what does it matter? It simply means I'm getting to my competition.

Mike

WykdGud Posted 27 Nov 2009 , 10:51pm
post #44 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike1394

MCC, Why should I care if I cause a competitor to spend money needlessly? Why do I care? I don't get the point. If I send someone in for a consult, or force you to use a higher quality ingredient what does it matter? It simply means I'm getting to my competition.

Mike




So if my competition is McDonald's - should I be able to go in whenever I want and take their napkins, ketchup packets, etc. just because they set them out for free?

Those items are provided for their CUSTOMERS - just like consultations are done for customers... you know - people who actually intend to spend money at an establishment, as opposed to those who come in under false pretenses to gain an advantage over the competition.

indydebi Posted 27 Nov 2009 , 11:19pm
post #45 of 65

But not every consult ends up being a customer.... so they are, in effect, taking your ketchup and napkins.

jillmakescakes Posted 27 Nov 2009 , 11:31pm
post #46 of 65

look at us having a grown up discussion, disagreeing without name calling or badmouthing. I'm so proud icon_cry.gif

Just goes to show that it is possible to have a discussion where not everyone agrees without it turning nasty

thumbs_up.gif

snarkybaker Posted 27 Nov 2009 , 11:56pm
post #47 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

But not every consult ends up being a customer.... so they are, in effect, taking your ketchup and napkins.




And if you go into McDonald's, use the bathroom, grab some napkins and a pack of ketchup nobody gets bent, do they ??? Nope, because it's part of doing business and McDonalds is a business...get it?

Price Posted 28 Nov 2009 , 12:07am
post #48 of 65

Yes sometimes fast food places do get upset! I was in a Chik Filet and took 3 straws, 1 for myself and just grabbed a couple extra incase my sister and niece each needed 1. A lady (manager I would guess), came up to me and asked if I found everything I needed and gave me a dirty look! icon_eek.gif

Texas_Rose Posted 28 Nov 2009 , 12:14am
post #49 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Price

Yes sometimes fast food places do get upset! I was in a Chik Filet and took 3 straws, 1 for myself and just grabbed a couple extra incase my sister and niece each needed 1. A lady (manager I would guess), came up to me and asked if I found everything I needed and gave me a dirty look! icon_eek.gif




Tha's when you think of something else you need that isn't there and ask for it icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif "Oh yes, as a matter of fact I don't see any Grey Poupon and I could use just a smidge."

When I worked retail, we had people coming in all the time to check out our prices. In the smaller stores, we were told to tell them to leave, if we saw them taking pictures or writing prices down in notebooks. We weren't allowed to give out gas prices on the phone either, were told it was against federal law.

Price Posted 28 Nov 2009 , 12:24am
post #50 of 65

Texas_Rose:

Quote:
Quote:

Tha's when you think of something else you need that isn't there and ask for it "Oh yes, as a matter of fact I don't see any Grey Poupon and I could use just a smidge."




LOL icon_lol.gif Good one! See, I just don't think fast enough! My brain is just getting too old and worn out!

indydebi Posted 28 Nov 2009 , 12:58am
post #51 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas_Rose

...if we saw them taking pictures or writing prices down in notebooks.



SOmetimes that's legit. As a caterer, I would go into Sam's with my list of items I buy and do a price update. Clipboard & pen, going up and down the aisles, writing down product codes, packaging, size, servings and price. It's how I determined my own pricing. The only people who ever said anything were other customers who asked me, "where can I find ......?" icon_lol.gif

And with today's technology, it's too easy to text/email yourself product info in a store. I see folks texting all day long in a store .... how do I know whether they are sending pricing to someone or telling their kid that yes they DO have to do the dishes first? icon_lol.gif

(pssst! Snark ... I'm not sure by your last post, but I'm agreeing with you! thumbs_up.gif )

WykdGud Posted 28 Nov 2009 , 1:59am
post #52 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by snarkybaker

Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

But not every consult ends up being a customer.... so they are, in effect, taking your ketchup and napkins.



And if you go into McDonald's, use the bathroom, grab some napkins and a pack of ketchup nobody gets bent, do they ??? Nope, because it's part of doing business and McDonalds is a business...get it?




Yes, actually they do. Just because they let it slide more often than not doesn't mean they like it. Stores don't like shoplifters, but they know there are people who are alway going to steal - and therefore, they account for that "shrinkage".

In essence, you ARE stealing from a business - whether it's a packet of ketchup or some cake samples and the employees' time. If you have no problem with the ethics of it - so be it. I, on the other hand, would not feel good about deceiving ANYONE for my own benefit. Call it "business" all you want, I put my morals and conscience above my bottom line.

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

tcakes65 Posted 28 Nov 2009 , 2:52am
post #53 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike1394

MCC, Why should I care if I cause a competitor to spend money needlessly? Why do I care? I don't get the point. If I send someone in for a consult, or force you to use a higher quality ingredient what does it matter? It simply means I'm getting to my competition.

Mike




Wow, really? Interesting. I thought the purpose of sending out spies was for market research and determining what the market supports regarding per serving prices, not to "get" to your competition. Nice to know that some businesses have ulterior motives. So I take it you don't care if other businesses apply the same tactics toward your business? I believe cake businesses should network together rather than sabatoge one another. Spies are a nuisance and don't cause me to change my business plan or course of direction. My competition doesn't dictate what I do and certainly doesn't force me to use different ingredients...lol. Along with market research, I run my business based on what is right for me and my business, not according to the direction my competition wants to "force" me to take. That would be considered a knee jerk reaction and not a good business decision.

cakesonoccasion Posted 28 Nov 2009 , 4:04am
post #54 of 65

My problem with the issue is this...WHO cares if your competition is charging a "preservation fee", or reusing flowers, or charging a percentage for credit card transactions...all I'm saying is karma is a bitch- and if they're doing things they should not be, they'll get what's coming. I don't find it to be my job to police others. Yes- I want to know their pricing- but the other info helps me not one bit. As far as "hidden costs" go- a bride who's on the fence will compare- and see the difference once she's visited both bakeries.

Texas_Rose Posted 28 Nov 2009 , 4:15am
post #55 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas_Rose

...if we saw them taking pictures or writing prices down in notebooks.


SOmetimes that's legit. As a caterer, I would go into Sam's with my list of items I buy and do a price update. Clipboard & pen, going up and down the aisles, writing down product codes, packaging, size, servings and price. It's how I determined my own pricing. The only people who ever said anything were other customers who asked me, "where can I find ......?" icon_lol.gif

And with today's technology, it's too easy to text/email yourself product info in a store. I see folks texting all day long in a store .... how do I know whether they are sending pricing to someone or telling their kid that yes they DO have to do the dishes first? icon_lol.gif

(pssst! Snark ... I'm not sure by your last post, but I'm agreeing with you! thumbs_up.gif )




Nobody comparison shops prices in convenience stores unless they have a convenience store...any regular person that interested in prices will go to the real store. I see people writing down prices in Walmart all the time and never think anything of it (except a little personal satisfaction that I can remember all the prices of everything I buy without a notebook icon_biggrin.gif)

But not letting them take pictures was a security issue. Of course, this was all back when cell phones didn't do anything but call people, and not too many people had them. Now you can't tell if anyone's taking pictures anywhere or not...just look at People of Walmart icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

-K8memphis Posted 28 Nov 2009 , 4:56am
post #56 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesonoccasion

My problem with the issue is this...WHO cares if your competition is charging a "preservation fee", or reusing flowers, or charging a percentage for credit card transactions...all I'm saying is karma is a bitch- and if they're doing things they should not be, they'll get what's coming. I don't find it to be my job to police others. Yes- I want to know their pricing- but the other info helps me not one bit. As far as "hidden costs" go- a bride who's on the fence will compare- and see the difference once she's visited both bakeries.




It's not cake policing it's leveraging the sale in your favor. The hidden fees are very important to price comparison--the bride may never even get that every bakery doesn't charge those. She thinks/feels she's getting a lower price because she gotten a lower quote.

If Snarks or anyone can tell the bride how the competition gets to that seemingly lower price point by them tacking on weird surcharges and scary discounts then...You're right about karma---

sherrycanary62 Posted 28 Nov 2009 , 11:45am
post #57 of 65

I am not a business owner and have never done business market research but have been a consumer for a long long time

I have seen commercials (can't name specific companies) but they have said things like "...and no hidden fees"....isn't that showing a consumer the difference between your company and your competition?

I have seen lots of commericals with similar tag lines...it just seem to be a marketing strategy that a is fairly common..to show why you should choose them over their competition and in order for them to tout this in an advertisement (or sales meeting, or??) then I would think they would have had to have done their market research.

I'm not offended when I hear a commercial like this (and I'm thinking that a bridal cake consultation is basically a commercial ad, well kinda sorta anyway)...don't even think anything about it really. icon_biggrin.gif in fact it must be a good strategy cuz as a consumer that has stuck in my head and when faced with making a decision between two companies I am probably going to chose the company that has shown me that they are the better deal for (especially when faced with spending hundreds of dollars for an item ie: wedding cake).

I would expect, from the consumer prospective, that a company is going to get creative when trying to sell their product. I would be much more disappointed in a company that has promised me the "pot at the end of the rainbow" with their product/service only to find out that they have flat out lied to get my business("yes our price is $4.00 a serving...great get me a contract...oh you charge a $1.00 a mile for delivery...oh you charge for decoration, well is icing a decoration, cuz I am confused now, oh you charge a preservation fee...huh wth? I thought it was $4.00 a serving?) than to find out that the company I have chosen has sent out market spies (or used any other tool for market research) as a way to sell me what they offer.


Interesting conversation.

cakesweetiecake Posted 28 Nov 2009 , 1:12pm
post #58 of 65

This thread made me think of this article that I came across a few days ago on Entrepreneur Magazine's Website:

Get to Know Your Competition
7 shrewd strategies for forging alliances--and staying ahead of the pack.


http://www.entrepreneur.com/marketing/marketresearch/article204092.html

kimmypooh79 Posted 28 Nov 2009 , 1:23pm
post #59 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quantum

Quote:
Originally Posted by snarkybaker

For example, in one round, I found out that a pretty well known home decorator around here charges an extra 3% to use a credit card. That is against Federal Law.



Just to clear something up (or, possibly, muddy the waters): no, it is not against Federal law. Visa and MasterCard prohibit surcharges for using their credit cards and American Express discourages them. In addition, some states have laws that make surcharges illegal, but they are not illegal under Federal law. Personally, I think it's more than a little scuzzy for a business to do it. And companies can always get around it by charging X price, but cutting X% off for customers that use cash.




I noticed recently that a local gas station charges customers more per gallon for gas transactions that were paid for by credit card than the customers that paid with cash. Also, Baskin Robbins in my old neighborhood charged a fee for using your credit card for purchases under a certain amount.

-K8memphis Posted 28 Nov 2009 , 1:25pm
post #60 of 65

Not to mention the difference between a home caker who has little to no additional overhead to a shop like SnarksBuddy where the thought of the payroll checks alone make me have to run to the bathroom. I mean if she doesn't have a stellar week she's still gotta cough it up--brb---I'm off to the john...what if she doesn't have a stellar two weks in a row--brb...

In our little bookstore I have unstellar weeks all the time--I'm a non-profit owned by a church--the stress would literally kill me.

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