I'm just starting to charge a fee for private appointments. If they want free cake, they can come to one of the open houses.
Anyway, do you do online invoicing? Or do the clients bring you cash the day of the appointment?
I'm just trying to figure out which way is probably better.
I take a credit card authorization to reserve the appointment. On the day of they can choose to have it charged to the card or pay cash. If they are a no-show, the card gets charged (and all of this is explained to them at the time they make the appointment).
They have to pay me via my website (Paypal) prior to the tasting. I got burned twice in one week. Had 2 different brides come on a Saturday and they signed the contract to book but both claimed they forgot to bring payment, so I gave them 24 hours to go online and pay or their contract would be null and void. Neither paid so I cancelled their contracts. The only thing that worries me now is that they might contact me weeks before to see how I am coming on their cakes...LOL! If so their loss due to their stupidity.
I allow them to pay at the time of the tasting..........I don't offer open houses though, I only do private consultations. I charge $20 for up to 4 servings of 4 different flavors of cake and filling (2 cake, 2 filling- 1 cake,3 filling, etc.) and this amount is deducted from their total cake order when they book, so it winds up being free in the end. but if they don't go with me as their baker then I'm at least compensated for the time and ingredients.
I used to do free tastings, till I got a couple of people that obviously wanted free cake. Now it's a $25 fee, (they take it or leave it). If they book, that amount is deducted from the price of their cake. I can't afford to be giving things away. With the price of ingredients, electricity, gas, etc., it's just not feasible to be giving things away.
By the way, a tasting includes three 4" two layer mini cakes of their choice of flavors. This way, if they have more people, they can get 8 tasting slices from each.