Too Much To Handle

Business By Confections_with_a_K Updated 15 Feb 2010 , 7:52pm by JenniferAtwood

Confections_with_a_K Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 1:54pm
post #1 of 98

Need some help! My husband and I started our decorating business a year ago and it's turned into a monster. We didn't expect it to grow quite so fast. I'm at home with a 1 year old, a very demanding one year old, and I can only handle so much. I've had a lot of physical problems lately that are limiting my participation in the business. Daycare IS NOT an option. Fortunately, my husband had been able to keep up, barely, but he has a day job and is burning out fast.

We've developed a good, solid reputation in a short amount of time and we don't want to squander it, but we can't handle the ever-increasing volume. I'm not in a position to work in the shop during the day, my son gets upset when I get on the phone. It must sound very unprofessional when my son is whining in the background when I'm talking to customers. icon_sad.gif

I KNOW some of you ladies have experienced this, need some of your advice.

Question: How can I POLITELY not take calls? Do I put a message on the answering machine saying that I check messages x number of times a day and will return them in the evenings?

Anyone advice would be greatly appreciated. icon_smile.gif

Sincerely,

Confections_with_a_k

97 replies
jennicita Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 2:14pm
post #2 of 98

Sounds like it's time to raise the prices...


Your answering machine suggestion sounds perfectly fine to me - it's nobody's business why you're not taking calls - whether it be a child or a cake you're working on. As long as you return the calls as promised that sounds like a very professional way of handling it. And maintaining your sanity - you know sanity is always a good thing so preserve it any way you can! icon_smile.gif


Good luck! You can do it!!!
And congratulations on the booming business!

leah_s Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 2:34pm
post #3 of 98

Without a doubt, it's time to raise your prices. Same amount of income, less work.

indydebi Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 2:35pm
post #4 of 98

Agree it's time to raise pricing.

My office phone voicemail also encouraged people to contact me by email, which you can check at your leisure and it doesn't matter how much noise is in the background. icon_wink.gificon_wink.gif

There are many schools of thought on this but why do people think they HAVE to answer the phone every time it rings? icon_confused.gif There's the old story about the customer who has to wait at the counter because the phone call keeps taking priority. Hey! I actually CAME to your business to talk to you compared to the person who is just blobbing on their couch calling you!

I actually hate phones. I view them as an interruption and there's a great train of thought that you HAVE to drop everything RIGHT NOW to accept the interruption the other person at the other end of the phone decided to lay on you RIGHT NOW.

Some suggestions are "Thanks for calling. I'm either with a client or up to my elbows in powdered sugar and cant' get to the phone. You may leave a message or send us an email at xxxxxx.com. We'll return the call within 24 hours."

KHalstead Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 2:37pm
post #5 of 98

I tell people all the time that they can email me anytime that I check several times a day, but that I only return phone calls during certain hours! I let them know that I am baking, decorating, and in and out all the time getting supplies so I have to set aside a certain number of hours just for phone conversations. Nobody has ever thought this was "strange", some people love to handle everything through email since they are busy as well, others prefer that I call them during my "phone time"....I don't think it seems unprofessional to do this (they don't have to know that your child screaming in the background (I can TOTALLY relate to that one) is the real reason lol)

Also....there are times when someone I've been trying to get ahold of will call at a random (non phone-)time and I'll answer, and my kids (have 3 of them) are SO LOUD that sometimes I have to duck outside and shut the door behind me just to have a conversation! However, I did find it helpful when I first started to tell my kids, "Mommy has to make some calls to customers and if you're all good while I'm on the phone and QUIET, then we'll play a game when I'm done".......yes I know, I bribed them......but I only had to do it a few times.......then all I had to do was say "ok, it's a customer calling...let's be quiet" when the phone rang and they got the idea. They realized that most of the time I was on the phone for only a few minutes anyhow!

I would practice with your son, and do some "fake calls" and see how he reacts. He's young enough that maybe you could find a special toy that he can play with ONLY when you're on the phone...that way he would start to enjoy the idea of you being on the phone because he could play with that one certain toy. If all else fails, utilize his normal nap times and bedtime. People are usually pretty understanding about children at home, at least that's been my experience here in Ohio. Most of the brides I talk with have THEIR kids screaming in the background anyhow lol

cplfernandez Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 2:49pm
post #6 of 98

I would write a script for your voicemail and read it aloud to yourself and friends to get honest opinions and then use it!

Doug Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 3:10pm
post #7 of 98

script:

Hello, you've reached <name of bakery>,

Sorry I can't take your call right now, but I'm busy giving a customer's cake my full attention just as will when I do yours.

Until I can call you back, I suggest you visit my website: <name>. Again, that's <name>

On the website you will find full information about prices, policies, flavors and a gallery of past cakes to explore.

There is also an (choose one or both depending upon how your site is set up --> a convenient link to send an email / contact form to fill out with your request).

We at <bakery> are dedicated to giving each customer our best and we look forward to hearing from via (email/contact form).


--------------------------

separately -- I would provide contracted customers only with a direct number you will answer immediately in case of emergencies regarding the cake.

---------------------------

finally -- time to do some behavior mod on the child -- if allowed to continue will never ever have a moments piece. Yes, it's hard to listen to them whine/scream/ tantrum -- but every time you give in, they win and control you. Let the child wear him/herself out a few times and they'll get the idea it ain't working anymore.

tashistation Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 3:28pm
post #8 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Confections_with_a_K

Need some help! My husband and I started our decorating business a year ago and it's turned into a monster. We didn't expect it to grow quite so fast. I'm at home with a 1 year old, a very demanding one year old, and I can only handle so much. I've had a lot of physical problems lately that are limiting my participation in the business. Daycare IS NOT an option.




I know how it is, I have a 2 year old at home and another one on the way this spring. It's so hard to find time to do anything during the day and then at night you are exhausted! But I think that if you don't find some time to yourself now, things will just get more complicated as your baby turns into a full blown toddler...

I know you say daycare isn't an option, but what about 2 days a week where you do a half day at a local church or something? A lot of places near me have "mom's days out" programs that are really affordable and give the mom 4-6 hours of alone time to get things done. If you raised your prices a little to help cover that cost, would that help?

newmansmom2004 Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 3:48pm
post #9 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug


finally -- time to do some behavior mod on the child -- if allowed to continue will never ever have a moments piece. Yes, it's hard to listen to them whine/scream/ tantrum -- but every time you give in, they win and control you. Let the child wear him/herself out a few times and they'll get the idea it ain't working anymore.




This was my first thought - you said your one year old son "won't allow" you to work in the shop. That's a red flag. If your one year old child is ruling your life you need to figure out a way to get that corrected. It's not fair to your husband to carry the load because the child is dictating your schedule.

I don't think raising prices is the answer. The answer is to find a way to get into the shop during the day to manage and grow your business. You started this business together with your husband, which is great, but it sounds like you haven't really been able to contribute much. I think if you get in the shop during the day and become more a part of the business it will really help your husband so he doesn't burn out, as you mentioned, and I think you'll find a great sense of fulfillment and participation.

Good luck - I think you have some hard work ahead but you can do it!

cakesdivine Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 4:00pm
post #10 of 98

My message machine use to say... "Thank you for calling (insert biz name here). We are unable to answer the phone because we are in the kitchen making our yummy and beautiful cakes. Please leave your name and telephone number or email us at (insert your email addy here) and we will get back to you this evening. You can order our dessert cakes and pastries online at (insert your web addy here). We look forward to doing business with you."

indydebi Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 4:02pm
post #11 of 98

You didn't really use the word "yummy" did you? icon_eek.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

Sorry, that word is so "Rachel Ray" to me and that woman makes my a$$ tired. dunce.gificon_lol.gif

cownsj Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 4:05pm
post #12 of 98

I'm not sure why daycare isn't an option, if it's money or preference. If it's preference, could you hire a babysitter to be with you X number of hours a day to help care for your son. You'd still be there, not away from him, but have someone who could keep him occupied and busy and you could still have the time you want with him and yet not have to worry over every second of time that he wasn't being supervised.

It's wonderful your business is growing so fast, I'm happy for you there. Maybe raising your prices, just a bit will allow you to feel comfortable doing it and keep you busy enough and allow you time to breathe and keep growing.

KHalstead Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 4:18pm
post #13 of 98

indydebi, my cakes are yummy and are all hand mixed with a spoonula! lol

indydebi Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 4:19pm
post #14 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by KHalstead

indydebi, my cakes are yummy and are all hand mixed with a spoonula! lol


YOu're killing me! icon_eek.gificon_lol.gif

cakesdivine Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 4:22pm
post #15 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

You didn't really use the word "yummy" did you? icon_eek.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

Sorry, that word is so "Rachel Ray" to me and that woman makes my a$$ tired. dunce.gificon_lol.gif




Yes I did. icon_razz.gif Rachel Ray rocks in my book! But I used that LONG before she was even a blip on the foodie scene. And her expression is YUMMO not yummy.

Let's not derail this thread anymore than it already has been...get back on track people!

all4cake Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 4:24pm
post #16 of 98

I have a message on my business phone that suggests they leave a message with their name and number and that all calls are returned between 4:30 and 8:30 in the order in which they were received. It's stated on my website contact page as well.

young9 Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 4:35pm
post #17 of 98
Quote:
Quote:

finally -- time to do some behavior mod on the child -- if allowed to continue will never ever have a moments piece. Yes, it's hard to listen to them whine/scream/ tantrum -- but every time you give in, they win and control you. Let the child wear him/herself out a few times and they'll get the idea it ain't working anymore




her child is ONE, at that age they don't understand why mommy isn't giving them attention...they just know they want it. there is no "control" involved, they NEED the attention. she said she can't do daycare..is she just supposed to let her child take care of itself all day long?

i also have a one year old, he is pretty good for the most part but if he needs me for something..regardless of what i'm doing at the time, i take care of him. that is my number 1 job..especially if i'm the only one home at the time.

its tough when you have kids at home..i have 6, but you do what you have to do and get through it.

all4cake Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 5:03pm
post #18 of 98

Behavior modification ain't a bad thing.

I've kept my grandson since he was 2 months old while his parents worked. I would say his behavior has been modified...LOL...seriously...when he's here, he knows what he's allowed to do, when he's at his MawMaw's it's a little different, and when he's at home, it's different there too.

He's always been involved in the bakery(home-based..but still a bakery). I've set up his area where he draws on iced sugar cookies, messes with(mostly eats) fondant and things. Different days he does different things. When he was itty bitty, I ran my mouth constantly, while carrying him around..."oooooooh, now see...that's icing! The mixer is beating and beating it to make it oh so yummy in the tummy!" or turning on the oven light and looking through the window.."ooooooooh...they're almost done..." opening the oven door.."mmmmmmmmm...smell it? Doesn't that smell deeeeeeee lish US?" When he napped, I measured and got pans ready. When he woke up, we'd go for a walk. Every day...Monday-Friday ...until 4p.m. when he was picked up.....Then, I ate...went outside for a cigarette or two...came back in and returned calls. He knows now(he's almost 3)what I'm doing and what he can do.

Some would say that it's my behavior that's been modified...

KKsHubby Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 5:47pm
post #19 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by newmansmom2004

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug


finally -- time to do some behavior mod on the child -- if allowed to continue will never ever have a moments piece. Yes, it's hard to listen to them whine/scream/ tantrum -- but every time you give in, they win and control you. Let the child wear him/herself out a few times and they'll get the idea it ain't working anymore.



This was my first thought - you said your one year old son "won't allow" you to work in the shop. That's a red flag. If your one year old child is ruling your life you need to figure out a way to get that corrected. It's not fair to your husband to carry the load because the child is dictating your schedule.

I don't think raising prices is the answer. The answer is to find a way to get into the shop during the day to manage and grow your business. You started this business together with your husband, which is great, but it sounds like you haven't really been able to contribute much. I think if you get in the shop during the day and become more a part of the business it will really help your husband so he doesn't burn out, as you mentioned, and I think you'll find a great sense of fulfillment and participation.

Good luck - I think you have some hard work ahead but you can do it!




newmansmom2004,

This is the husband. I prefer to define what's "fair" to me in my own way. Did you miss the part about my wife's physical limitations? She is doing a wonderful job with our son, and that's all I am asking of her under the current circumstances. (Mod edited for content.)

I appreciate the input, but she didn't ask for a child rearing or self-help analysis. Thanks to all of the other posters that provided PRACTICAL input.

Sincerely,

Confections_with_a_K's other half

hsmomma Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 5:58pm
post #20 of 98

If you are getting more business than you can handle...it may be time to raise your prices....

I also think that it would be to your benefit to avoid answering the phone with your little one in the background. Leave a message on your answering machine or voicemail stating that you will call them back and give them your website information. Maybe then you will get an email from them instead...and those are SO much easier to answer with kids in the background (I have 6, oldest is 9!) As far as your messages, call them back when your baby is asleep or you have coverage. That way your client has your undivided attention...which is what they want anyways.

Sounding professional goes along way to how comfortable your clients are with you. LOVE my kids to death (along with my hubby...they are EVERYTHING to me). But, seldom do I even mention that I have 6 children to my client. I want them to see me as a professional, not as a mommy that might feel overwhelmed at times.

My commercial kitchen and office is away from my home...but, I do most of my bride contact information at home. So, I totally "get" the kids in the background... Good luck to you!

Minstrelmiss Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 6:09pm
post #21 of 98

quote] Yes I did. icon_razz.gif Rachel Ray rocks in my book! But I used that LONG before she was even a blip on the foodie scene. And her expression is YUMMO not yummy. [/quote]

"Yummo" was Julia Childs' first... icon_rolleyes.gif

Raise your prices girl! The loyal ones will stay, the flakes will fade away icon_biggrin.gif

Mike1394 Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 6:28pm
post #22 of 98

My question is why would you start a business under those circumstances in the first place.

There are two choices devote full time to the business, or get rid of it.

Mike

*moderator edited*

kjjs Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 6:37pm
post #23 of 98

I don't post here much, just lurk alot. I just visited your website and your cakes are wonderful! I really like the suggestions of the others who have said to have "phone hours" to return voice mails. Many different kinds of businesses use this practice and in my opinion it is an acceptable practice. When you are in the middle of a project for a client you don't want to have to stop a dozen times to answer the phone. I also think it lets potential clients know that you will give their order your full attention should they hire you just like a pp stated in the sample message.

As for your precious family: first, I am glad to hear that your husband is in this with you. It is so helpful to have a true partner! You are in it together... business and family. What a blessing.
Second, even the best behaved 1-year old is going to cry and fuss sometimes! They don't understand or care that mommy is on the phone, or piping, or in the bathroom! When he or she gets older they will learn when to be quiet and when they can talk and sing mommy the new song they just learned. I'm not a pro, just a hobby decorator. But I am a mother of 4 amazing kids that I stay at home with. Day care is not a bad thing, but it is not right for all children and families.
I wish you luck and blessings in your business and family. I also will pray for your apparent physical health issues. thumbs_up.gif

newmansmom2004 Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 6:39pm
post #24 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by KKsHubby

Quote:
Originally Posted by newmansmom2004

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug


finally -- time to do some behavior mod on the child -- if allowed to continue will never ever have a moments piece. Yes, it's hard to listen to them whine/scream/ tantrum -- but every time you give in, they win and control you. Let the child wear him/herself out a few times and they'll get the idea it ain't working anymore.



This was my first thought - you said your one year old son "won't allow" you to work in the shop. That's a red flag. If your one year old child is ruling your life you need to figure out a way to get that corrected. It's not fair to your husband to carry the load because the child is dictating your schedule.

I don't think raising prices is the answer. The answer is to find a way to get into the shop during the day to manage and grow your business. You started this business together with your husband, which is great, but it sounds like you haven't really been able to contribute much. I think if you get in the shop during the day and become more a part of the business it will really help your husband so he doesn't burn out, as you mentioned, and I think you'll find a great sense of fulfillment and participation.

Good luck - I think you have some hard work ahead but you can do it!



newmansmom2004,

This is the husband. I prefer to define what's "fair" to me in my own way. Did you miss the part about my wife's physical limitations? She is doing a wonderful job with our son, and that's all I am asking of her under the current circumstances. Please take your "first thought" and your "red flag" and ...............

I appreciate the input, but she didn't ask for a child rearing or self-help analysis. Thanks to all of the other posters that provided PRACTICAL input.

Sincerely,

Confections_with_a_K's other half




Wow - sorry to have gotten your pants all in a wad, but actually, your wife DID ask for help. When members post on this site and ask for advice, they subject themselves to comments, suggestions, etc. they may not like. Perhaps further postings from either you or your wife should be seriously considered if there's a chance you won't like the advice.

And was there really a need to be so ugly about it???

Just sayin'....

KoryAK Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 6:40pm
post #25 of 98

I'm on the raising prices boat. If you are overwhelmed then that is the quickest and most satisfying way to fix it.

And, uh, hubby? WHOA did somebody pee in your cheerios this morning? Whether or not you liked the advice, it was all given as an attempt to help. When you go to a public forum to ask for advice, you will get all kinds. That's kinda the point.... if you just want the answers you already know then why ask? I don't think anyone was out of line.

Doug Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 6:58pm
post #26 of 98

and my advice was based on the ever increasing number of students I teach in high school who have no respect for authority and will flat out tell you that NO ONE, not even parents, tells them what to do and that they tell the parents what to do.

and it starts every time the parent caves in to the child no matter at what age.

patience is not innate, it is taught.
respect is not innate, it is taught.
obedience is not innate, it is taught.

and parents ARE the FIRST and PRIMARY teachers.

School teachers just deal with the results.

jenmat Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 7:04pm
post #27 of 98

Wow- what a hubby! Good for her to have someone like him- i have the same type of man, and love him for that backbone.
Sounds like you're just overwhelmed, and it WILL get better. When I first opened the home bakery, I had an 18 month old, and now she's almost 3. What a difference. Every kid is different, and some really can take the whole "mommy's working right now thing," and some just can't. Mine couldn't then, but she can now, and it was just maturity and consistency.
Daycare wasn't an option for us either, that was the whole reason I opened the bakery at home in the first place. I did have a friend watch my little one this summer just one morning a week, and that made such a difference!
There is nothing wrong with teaching your customers how to treat you- they will learn fast that they get better service via email, or that you will call them back during certain hours. They come to you BECAUSE you're not Walmart, so they shouldn't expect you to BE Walmart and be open for business all the time.
Raising prices isn't a bad idea either. Good luck, and your baby WILL get past this stage, you just have to be patient!

tashistation Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 7:07pm
post #28 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by KHalstead

indydebi, my cakes are yummy and are all hand mixed with a spoonula! lol




but do you use EVOO?? icon_wink.gif

Rachael Ray used to be my most hated foodtv star but now that honor goes to miss semi homemade sandra lee.

KHalstead Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 7:20pm
post #29 of 98

I use EVOO for sure! The best episode of Rachel Ray was when her brother was on the show and she said "add a little evoo to the pan" and he crinkled his face and looked soooo annoyed and said "when did you start sayin' that?" and she was like "what, evoo?" and he said "yeah.."...she nudged him in the side and went on with the show LOL


Oh and from personal experience....I have raised my prices about 4 times now since I first started my home-based cake business for this very reason (too many orders, not enough time, and didn't want to have to turn down anyone).

I started at $1.25/serv. for tiered cake (going rate here)
and now charge $2.25/serv. .....so I'm much more expensive than everyone else in my area but I have my customer base established, once people tried my cakes and realized they looked AND tasted better, they didn't mind paying more for them.

Sure I had a couple people here and there baulk at the prices, but for the most part I wound up with fewer orders (what I wanted) and wound up making MORE money than before too!

Start by just raising your prices $.25-$.50/serv. and see how that works? If you don't see a slow.....go a little higher. This really is a great alternative to turning down orders.

Besides, eventually what you want is the customers willing to pay a pretty penny for your cakes anyhow right?

Mensch Posted 29 Dec 2009 , 7:23pm
post #30 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by KKsHubby

newmansmom2004,

This is the husband. I prefer to define what's "fair" to me in my own way. Did you miss the part about my wife's physical limitations? She is doing a wonderful job with our son, and that's all I am asking of her under the current circumstances. Please take your "first thought" and your "red flag" and ...............

I appreciate the input, but she didn't ask for a child rearing or self-help analysis. Thanks to all of the other posters that provided PRACTICAL input.

Sincerely,

Confections_with_a_K's other half




Well dang. Dude, unclench.


I'm always stunned when folks come on here, ask for advice and then freak out when they get an honest opinion. If you wanted to be babyhanded then you should have asked for advice and then said you only want a certain opinion and members that voice any other opinion than just THAT ONE will be scalped.

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