Now Legitimately Calculating My Prices....and Stressin!!

Decorating By SugarNSpiceDiva Updated 15 Jan 2010 , 7:55pm by summernmicah99

SugarNSpiceDiva Posted 14 Jan 2010 , 6:32am
post #1 of 22

Hello everyone! So, the pricing thread really got to me and I started thinking about what I was planning on charging. Up until now, I have went off some basic calculations from my BFF, which basically added up to about $2/serving for BC and $3/serving for fondant. But after all the talk about pricing, I wanted to see for myself. If this gets long, my apologies. Here goes nothing.........

I'm making a cake for DH, using recipes off CC. The cake is going to be WASC and for the icing and filling, I decided to try out Ms. indydebi's famous BC. So I calculated how much just those two recipes cost me (ugh that was a lot of math and work, but I did it! lol). I used the prices mainly from the commissary here, besides the clear vanilla (have to go to michael's 1 hour away) so I got that off the wilton website.

So, I figured it costs me about $6.06 to make the WASC cake. Ms. indydebi's recipe costs me about $4.79. That's not accounting for doubling if there's not enough for the cake recipe. So that's $10.85. No decorations, no cake board, just the cake filled and iced with BC (if it's enough)

DH and I estimated how much time it takes me to make the cake.

Shopping Time: (Haven't even figured this in since I shop when we go shopping for groceries)

Mixing Time: 1 HOUR (Both the batter and icing, and me checking the recipe every 5 minutes to make sure I'm doing it right.)

Baking Time: 1 HOUR (Roughly)

Filling and Crumb Coat: 30 mins (Again roughly)

Icing and Smoothing: 1.5 hours (OK OK, lol it takes me a while)

So, just for all that, no decorating at all, just an iced blank cake, Ive paid at least $10.85 and worked four hours. It is and 8 square cake, which by my own crazy calculations, I estimated holds about 15 servings.

Heres where my problem begins (please bear with me): For a cake of 15 servings at $2/serving, it would be $30. So when I did the calculations: $30 - $10.85 = $19.15/4 hours = $4.79 an hour!

In order to make $10 an hour, Id have to be charging at least $4/serving for BC. There is another caker here on post who charges WAY less than $2/serving. And she has been extremely successful. Besides me, there are only 2 other LEGAL cake decorators in my area that I have been able to find. One is the lady here on post, and the other is a storefront off post that charges about $4 - $6/serving for BC, and they are WAY more experienced than I am.

My BFF said since that is the estimated price of the cake minus decorations, it evens out once you start adding decorations. But Im still really confused. While I know I might get flamed for this, I dont see how I can feasibly raise the prices much more and expect to get any business. With my competition being so low, not to mention this being a military base (contrary to popular belief, they either dont have money, or they dont want to spend it. Lol) Im really confused right now.

Im sorry this is so long. I really want to do what I need to do and do it right. But Im just really discouraged right now. I dont want to give up on this, but it just seems like Im in between a rock and a hard place.

Can anyone help me before I got totally nuts? Lol. Its just so depressing that this is coming so difficult to me. Am I doing something wrong?
TIA

21 replies
JanH Posted 14 Jan 2010 , 7:16am
post #2 of 22

..moving to General forum. icon_smile.gif

Did you read pages 11-13 of the pricing thread which addresses labor/time:

http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-664395-.html

HTH

summernmicah99 Posted 14 Jan 2010 , 7:23am
post #3 of 22

I think I remember reading a post a while back stating that you compute the baking & mixing time as the same... you can mix the icing while the cake bakes instead of waiting for it to be cooled to begin the icing... that would knock an hour off putting the labor at 3 hours - $6.39/hr for the baking & base icing... also try to up your speed alot - 3 hrs to fill, ice & smooth is almost insane! if you could get that down to 1 hr total (or less) you would then make aprox. $9.58/hr for your cake... Heck of a difference! Please just remember - there are shortcuts you can take, that do NOT lessen the look or quality of the cake - work smarter not harder! Sometime time yourself & see how quick you can pull it off! I bet you'd be amazed at how well you can do in alot less time without loss of quality. But keep crunching the numbers & working on speed - the results will blow your mind! Have fun & good luck!

summernmicah99 Posted 14 Jan 2010 , 7:27am
post #4 of 22

BTW - Jan... Do you ever sleep? You are always here helping find links & redirecting posts & doing all the cool stuff you do... Where would we be without you - but - I gotta wonder if you have Jan clones surfing CC while you catch a power nap... icon_wink.gif

SugarNSpiceDiva Posted 14 Jan 2010 , 11:44am
post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by JanH

..moving to General forum. icon_smile.gif

Did you read pages 11-13 of the pricing thread which addresses labor/time:

http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-664395-.html

HTH




I think I missed the last part. icon_redface.gif Thank you Jan! I think I've figured out a pretty good solution now.

summernmicah99 - That's a great way to think of it. Those were just estimates, based on my issues with "do it till it's right" which I factored that take so long. lol.

Thanks for the help! icon_biggrin.gif

sweetcakes Posted 14 Jan 2010 , 2:33pm
post #6 of 22

<<<<There is another caker here on post who charges WAY less than $2/serving. And she has been extremely successful. >>>>>

By this i expect you mean she is really BUSY!! probably not making any profit though and probably has never really calculated the cost. Is this the success that you want too?

<<< the other is a storefront off post that charges about $4 - $6/serving for BC, and they are WAY more experienced than I am. >>>

You can probably understand now why they charge so much.

You're not alone, i too am sometimes discouraged, especially when i give someone a quote for a cake they have asked about and never hear back. Not everyone will be your customer. Sorry, im not much help.

TexasSugar Posted 14 Jan 2010 , 3:52pm
post #7 of 22

Is your 15 servings based off of a single 2in layer or a two 2in layers?

If you follow Wilton's Wedding Chart it is 32 servings for a 8in square. (Serving size 1x2x4 pieces)

If you use your $2 a serving with that serving count then that cake would be $64 rather than $30, so you are doubling your amount just by following that serving guide. If you give them bigger slices you are really cheating yourself.

If you uppped your serving to $2.50 and followed the wedding serving then that is $80 for the cake.

Adjusting your serving sizes and pricing according to them will give you more money with out more work.

As far as the others in your area doing cakes, you have to ask yourself this question...Do you really want to do cheap cakes just to be doing a cake? Personally I'd much rather be spending my time doing something I want to do, rather than making a cake for someone just cause they want cheap and I'm afraid to ask what my time worth because they might say no. Let the other lady do cheap cakes, and let the cakes you do be worth your time to do them. icon_smile.gif

moxey2000 Posted 14 Jan 2010 , 4:23pm
post #8 of 22

I'm a scratch baker and I used to moan about how long it took me to get ingredients ready, start mixing, measure and add everything, and complete the process icon_redface.gif . After a few months of that I realized I could just about do it with my eyes closed and all in about 10 minutes icon_surprised.gif !! It's amazing the difference that some experience makes. Now if I have cakes to bake after work I immediately gather ingredients that need to be at room temp, like butter and eggs, and put them on the counter. I measure out the milk and add the vanilla. I measure out the flour, b. powder, salt and pudding mix into a bowl and stir. Then I make dinner and do all the other 'mom' things I have to do. When I'm ready to bake it's as easy as 1,2,3 and the cakes are in the oven. I typed out my recipes, in different quantities for various size pans, and posted them on the wall. I know what size cakes I need, how many, and how much batter I need. A little practice and pre-planning and you'll be making a lot better use of your time and making more money in the process thumbs_up.gif .

elliespartycake Posted 14 Jan 2010 , 4:44pm
post #9 of 22

I'm with moxey2000...I plan ahead, get my ingredients out earlier than I'm baking, then measure the dry & wet ingredients, prep my pans so that when I'm ready to bake it's just a matter if turning on the oven and the Kitchenaid. Saves lots of time I think. If you will bake a number of cake batches, do all of the measuring and sifting at once. Happy caking!

indydebi Posted 14 Jan 2010 , 6:05pm
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by summernmicah99

I think I remember reading a post a while back stating that you compute the baking & mixing time as the same...




Pretend you have hired someone to do this. Pretend they clock in when they walk out the door and they clock out when they leave. That's the labor cost of your cake. It doesn't matter if they are doing other things while the cake is baking .... that time is still chargeable to that cake. Why? Because if they were doing nothing while the cake was baking, you wouldn't make them clock out during baking time. If your kid works at McDonalds and his job is to "serve the customer", then he doens't clock out when there are no customers, he doesn't clock out while he's mopping the floor (i.e. NOT "serving the customer").

Think like a business owner and what your payroll would be. Bakers should stop wringing their hands and looking fretful while they worry about hurting people's FEEEEELINNNNNNGS about charging for their time and expertise. And unfortunately, I find this to be a woman trait .... I rarely hear men whine about this aspect of it.

LaBellaFlor Posted 14 Jan 2010 , 8:08pm
post #11 of 22

I get the Military budget. Just the same, your in California, $2 and $3 is way to cheap

Kitagrl Posted 14 Jan 2010 , 8:17pm
post #12 of 22

The problem too is the size.

I had a girl call me and want a bakery style half sheet cake delivered to a college dorm. I said "I'm sorry, I'm a custom cake artist, not a bakery" and she was like "Oh okay, bye".

You are right...my wage for a half sheet is next to nothing.

However, I can charge $3/serving for a basic wedding cake to serve 100 ppl...just buttercream and a ribbon on each tier, and florist provided flowers on site.... and that's $300. Even if my ingredients cost me $100 (which they shouldn't for that) I still made $200...which is $20/hour for 10 hours of labor which again, a basic cake like that shouldn't take you that long.

So its good to have minimum orders as well, so you aren't doing a bazillion small cakes with very little profit margin. You can't run a bakery (unless you own a bakery) so you have to offer what will profit you best.

summernmicah99 Posted 14 Jan 2010 , 8:44pm
post #13 of 22

INDIDEBI SAID:
Pretend you have hired someone to do this. Pretend they clock in when they walk out the door and they clock out when they leave. That's the labor cost of your cake. It doesn't matter if they are doing other things while the cake is baking .... that time is still chargeable to that cake. Why? Because if they were doing nothing while the cake was baking, you wouldn't make them clock out during baking time. If your kid works at McDonalds and his job is to "serve the customer", then he doens't clock out when there are no customers, he doesn't clock out while he's mopping the floor (i.e. NOT "serving the customer").

Think like a business owner and what your payroll would be. Bakers should stop wringing their hands and looking fretful while they worry about hurting people's FEEEEELINNNNNNGS about charging for their time and expertise. And unfortunately, I find this to be a woman trait .... I rarely hear men whine about this aspect of it.


You phrase it so much better than I did Debi! Ok - what your saying & what I failed to get at was, we have to multi-task & charge for the total time... not the time for every element to make a cake, because we DON'T stop & twiddle our thumbs while faiting for baking, cooking, ect. we do the other things needed to streamline our time... And as for women not wanting to hurt feelings - Heck yeah it's a problem! Women also have a tendancy to under-appreciate themselves. I was raised that it was rude & wrong to excel at anything... It's taken years for me to get over that. Now days - you gotta stand out, brag yourself up (esp. if you can back it up), modisty & humility doesn't get you to far - esp. if you want to break from the crowd & have people take you & your cakes serious instead of run of the mill grocery store fare!

indydebi Posted 14 Jan 2010 , 10:17pm
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by summernmicah99

Now days - you gotta stand out, brag yourself up (esp. if you can back it up), modisty & humility doesn't get you to far - esp. if you want to break from the crowd & have people take you & your cakes serious instead of run of the mill grocery store fare!




I have a poster that illustrates one of my favorite quotes:

"If you've done it .... it AIN'T braggin'!" ..... Will Rogers thumbs_up.gif

summernmicah99 Posted 15 Jan 2010 , 12:32am
post #15 of 22

Xactly!!! To bad it's taken me 35 yrs of life kicking me in the butt for not bragging myself up & 10 yrs of my hubby harping on me to see my true worth before everything finally got me to figure it out!

Omicake Posted 15 Jan 2010 , 2:25am
post #16 of 22

Lots of wisdom and experience in this post.I completely agree.

UpAt2am Posted 15 Jan 2010 , 3:02am
post #17 of 22

i agree w/ indydebi whole heartedly (of course) icon_wink.gif

summernmicah, you def. need to go by wilton's serving size chart and you will see that the price will be much different. trust me, when i first saw that an 8 inch square cake was supposed to feed 32 people, i thought, no way. i come from a family that wants super-sized helpings and 2 of them! but when i actually cut the square cake, sure enough there was 32 nice size servings! and as i say on my website, the industry standard serving size is 1x2xheight (usually 4 inches, although i make mine 6 just b/c)...if you want more servings...order a bigger cake!

summernmicah99 Posted 15 Jan 2010 , 3:24am
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by UpAt2am

i agree w/ indydebi whole heartedly (of course) icon_wink.gif

summernmicah, you def. need to go by wilton's serving size chart and you will see that the price will be much different. trust me, when i first saw that an 8 inch square cake was supposed to feed 32 people, i thought, no way. i come from a family that wants super-sized helpings and 2 of them! but when i actually cut the square cake, sure enough there was 32 nice size servings! and as i say on my website, the industry standard serving size is 1x2xheight (usually 4 inches, although i make mine 6 just b/c)...if you want more servings...order a bigger cake!




I have the same kind of family - huge servings of cake & ice cream then they wonder why they have stomach aches!
I do figure servings by 1x2x4 but I was going off the OP's numbers only... Guess my main point was - multi-tasking & proper management of time esp. when figuring out your hourly input. Essentially working smarter not harder & proving to yourself how valuable your time is no matter if your cakes are hobby or professional.

gibson Posted 15 Jan 2010 , 3:55am
post #19 of 22

When I first started baking cakes and selling them I was pretty much giving them away, and in a sense I did on purpose because I wanted people to see what I could do and I was excited to bake and decorate cakes. After awhile it got to be very tiring, the compliments weren't enough...don't get me wrong I appreciated them, however now it was becoming a job. I enjoy making cakes but have come to realize I don't turn my oven on if the customer is not willing to pay my price and trust me I live in a cheap town! I've relied on other towns close by to refer me and to people who don't mind paying me for what I'm worth. I don't charge an arm and a leg but I cannot charge what a regular 'chain' store does. I also offer a better quality tasting and looking cake. So what it comes down to is what type of customer do you want to attract, the $2 per serving customer or the $4 per serving customer. I pefer the latter.
By the way, my business has gotten busier over time, it's definately growing to the point where I'm super busy over the wedding season!

TexasSugar Posted 15 Jan 2010 , 2:55pm
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by gibson

So what it comes down to is what type of customer do you want to attract, the $2 per serving customer or the $4 per serving customer. I pefer the latter.




And just think with the $4 per serving customer, you are getting double the amount of the $2 per serving customer for the same amount of work.

You can do one cake at $4 a serving for ever two at $2. So in the long run you are saving yourself time and money (double the cakes means double the cost to make it.)

KHalstead Posted 15 Jan 2010 , 3:20pm
post #21 of 22

just wanted to add that I spent 1 1/2 hrs. decorating 2 sheet cakes last night and I've already spent 2 hrs. cleaning up the tornado I created!!

Don't forget to figure in the amount of time it takes you to clean up everything created by the cake process too.

The time it takes to wipe the counters, clean tips, clean pans, bowls, utensils, mixer, etc. Not to mention the soap, water, electricity, gas to heat the water, etc.

And just think, you haven't even figured in the time to actually decorate the cake, or the cake board, cake box, food coloring, piping bags, and everything else you'll use!

summernmicah99 Posted 15 Jan 2010 , 7:55pm
post #22 of 22

Great point KHalstead! We've all been focusing on the prep to the actual decorating not the aftermath! Thanks for reminding about the small stuff that really adds up - color - too!

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