When Do I Draw The Line? Vent!

Decorating By Jeniwin Updated 27 Nov 2009 , 7:08am by mommyle

Jeniwin Posted 25 Nov 2009 , 6:11am
post #1 of 17

Ok, so I get an e-mail from this guy who wants a birthday cake for his wife, 120 people, in 3 weeks. . . ding ding. He has drawn up his own sketch design. 4 tiers, 3-D figure of himself jumping out of the cake, qulited fondant with pearls, multi colored everything (lettering, "40", six 2-D figures around the bottom tier). . .and he wants it BIG. He wants a 24" bottom tier icon_confused.gif Um, no.

I asked what budget did he have in mind, to which he replied, "dunno know. I'm new to this cake thing, but I watch those cake shows on Food Network". . . ding ding

So before I get too into it, I tell him I don't do cakes that big, but I can look into a dummy that size, and he can get his "wow factor", and still have 3x the cake he needs. He says "great", so I spend a while writing up a quote. (I have 3 under 3, so it ain't easy getting 30 minutes of quiet) I gave him a price, which I thought might be a little high for this guy. He accepts, to my suprise. Then I get an e-mail next morning telling me it is out of his budget and could we make it 3 tiers to save money.. . ding ding

So I replied "sure", but can you please give me an idea of your budget? And I'm waiting for his reply.

My question is this. At what point do you say "I need to know your budget before we go any further so I'm not wasting my time" without offending him? And should I be leary of anyone with Ace of Cakes as a model?

How many more ding-dings do I need, right? icon_cry.gif

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16 replies
browniebatterer Posted 25 Nov 2009 , 6:27am
post #2 of 17

I think you are being a little harsh with him. I know customers can be SO annoying sometimes, but it sounds like this guy has just been daydreaming about an awesome cake and thinks you can make it. He was most likely surprised at how much they cost.
I think you did the right thing by asking him what his budget was. Sometimes what I do is tell them what I charge per serving and then also price out the extras like fondant figures, etc, so they can sit down and think about how much cake they want. I also will show them a serving chart to educate them on how much cake feeds how much.
Good luck. Hopefully he isn't too much of a flake.

JanH Posted 25 Nov 2009 , 6:39am
post #3 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeniwin

I asked what budget did he have in mind, to which he replied, "dunno know. I'm new to this cake thing..




This might have been a good opportunity to advise that your cake servings start at $XX.00 serving... And then advise if you charge more for: fondant, gumpaste/fondant figurines, etc.

Here's a previous thread on how to respond to cake "sticker" shock:

http://www.cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-637190-budget.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeniwin

he replied.. but I watch those cake shows on Food Network". . . ding ding




Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

My response (to) that puts them on alert as far as pricing:

"Oh I LUV Ace of Cakes, too! Did you know...?" (she said in a conspiratorial whisper), "That he has a $1000 minimum on his cakes? And I'm tellin' ya, the cakes you see on his show are no where NEAR a lousy thousand dollar cake. The good news is that I'm not QUITE that expensive .... Now, what were you looking for?"




HTH

Jeniwin Posted 25 Nov 2009 , 6:40am
post #4 of 17

Don't get me wrong, I am so happy to have intrest from him. I guess I have been burned a few times in the past few months by people stringing me along on over the top designs, just to say nevermind. Brides. To be expected, I know. I'm new the biz, begining to actually get busy with referrals an such.

Just trying to define the fine line, you know. Damn you Duff! hahaha

HowCoolGomo1 Posted 25 Nov 2009 , 7:32am
post #5 of 17

Ask what his bottom line is!

If upsets me huge, that those of you can do cakes, can't figure the price.

I'm here to tell you, most of you would get big money!

It seriously upsets me, I can't charge,

Why don't you'all get a grip and charge what you should?

tinygoose Posted 25 Nov 2009 , 8:33am
post #6 of 17

I tell them that generally budget dictates design. I mean you can have a sheet cake with a monkey piped on it, or you can have a 3d standing monkey holding a banana, etc. What's the difference? About $600 bucks.

Bunsen Posted 25 Nov 2009 , 11:04am
post #7 of 17

I think you are being a bit harsh on this guy - he doesn't buy custom cakes every day so he doesn't know how much they cost, give him some guidance. Tell him how much a 3 tier cake costs, tell him how much a figurine costs, give him a couple of options (I'm talking ballpark figures not exact quotes)

As a customer it would just make me uncomfortable if I was enquiring about prices and all I got was "well how much do you have to spend?" - I'd be concerned I was being ripped off.

-K8memphis Posted 25 Nov 2009 , 12:53pm
post #8 of 17

I like the what's your potential budget question as a ping/pong back & forth type exchange. He asked for the moon & thankfully is still in the game--instead of saying Oh Heck no--he's like well let's start tweaking.

So op being energy efficient of her time & resources says--well ok what are we working with here. If we're gonna tweak let me eliminate the deal breakers that arise from budget alone. I see your vision give me your financial investment potential and I'll go from there.

Perfectly reasonable to moi.

Doug Posted 25 Nov 2009 , 1:24pm
post #9 of 17

HINT --

for guys -- talk "cars"

so you want a cake? well the base model is $xxx.
How much would you like to pimp/trick/accessorize it out?
If you wanna add xyz that'll be $xx.
(etc.)
guys get this kind of pricing and will do this kind of dickering to get what they want.

every guy walks into the showroom wanting the top of the line fully tricked out vehicle and then dickers down to what he really can afford.

----
closest analogy for women.
talk clothes, esp. "the outfit"

so "a little black number" runs $xxx
now if you want to accessorize it....
add $xx for the xyz, and then add (just like when you talk on shoes, and scarf and shawl and purse and baubles, bangles, and beads (cue singers from Kismet)


edited because: bad spellers of the world UNTIE! (add typists too!)

gourmetsharon Posted 25 Nov 2009 , 1:41pm
post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug

HINT --

for guys -- talk "cars"

so you want a cake? well the base model is $xxx.
How much would you like to pimp/trick/accessorize it out?
If you wanna add xyz that'll be $xx.
(etc.)
guys get this kind of pricing and will do this kind of dickering to get what they want.

every guy walks into the showroom wanting the top of the line fully tricked out vehicle and then dickers down to what he really can afford.

----
closest analogy for women.
talk clothes, esp. "the outfit"

so "a little black number" runs $xxx
now if you want to accessorize it....
add $xx for the xyz, and then add (just like when you talk on shows, and scarf and shawl and purse and baubles bangle and beads (cue singers from Kismet)





You're goooooood!

(again bowing to your superior knowledge!)

-K8memphis Posted 25 Nov 2009 , 2:03pm
post #11 of 17

Doug rocks!

alvarezmom Posted 25 Nov 2009 , 2:04pm
post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by K8memphis-

I like the what's your potential budget question as a ping/pong back & forth type exchange. He asked for the moon & thankfully is still in the game--instead of saying Oh Heck no--he's like well let's start tweaking.

So op being energy efficient of her time & resources says--well ok what are we working with here. If we're gonna tweak let me eliminate the deal breakers that arise from budget alone. I see your vision give me your financial investment potential and I'll go from there.

Perfectly reasonable to moi.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug-

HINT --

for guys -- talk "cars"

so you want a cake? well the base model is $xxx.
How much would you like to pimp/trick/accessorize it out?
If you wanna add xyz that'll be $xx.
(etc.)
guys get this kind of pricing and will do this kind of dickering to get what they want.

every guy walks into the showroom wanting the top of the line fully tricked out vehicle and then dickers down to what he really can afford.

----
closest analogy for women.
talk clothes, esp. "the outfit"

so "a little black number" runs $xxx
now if you want to accessorize it....
add $xx for the xyz, and then add (just like when you talk on shows, and scarf and shawl and purse and baubles bangle and beads (cue singers from Kismet)




Words of wisdom to live by. Very good advice from both posters. You could go either route.

alvarezmom Posted 25 Nov 2009 , 2:04pm
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by K8memphis-

Doug rocks!




As do you!

Jeniwin Posted 25 Nov 2009 , 2:05pm
post #14 of 17

You guys are so funny. . .Doug- exactly!

We did spend some time discussing 3-D vs 2-D pricing, and the cost of a large scale, time on detailing, etc. I actually gave him a pretty worthy price, as I said, and he wanted to go for it. I guess the issue is, how many times do I go back to the drawing board because he won't tell me the "ballpark"?

Doug, I'm using your car when I talk with him today! LOL!!

Thanks all!

Doug Posted 25 Nov 2009 , 2:10pm
post #15 of 17

further hint:

ask-- what are you WILLING to spend

not - how much can you afford.

(yep, going into debt to get "the dream" is definitely an option esp. when trying to impress "the lady")

HowCoolGomo1 Posted 27 Nov 2009 , 6:24am
post #16 of 17

Doug,

I love the analogy. Personally, I would've had used shoes. I made my own clothes for years, just so I could get really good imitations of shoooooes.

mommyle Posted 27 Nov 2009 , 7:08am
post #17 of 17

I agree with the OP. When the client starts mucking around with your time, you need to find what they are willing to spend before you keep wasting your time on sketches, and planning, and so on. Your time is money. And it's time away from your kids. Thanks to Doug for the good wording!

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