I'm New Here. Need Help. Baker Badmouthing Me. Really Long.

Business By peanutchip Updated 23 Mar 2010 , 6:18pm by Lita829

peanutchip Posted 10 Mar 2010 , 2:38am
post #1 of 55

Hi everyone. I just joined today but I've been a cakecentral reader for a long time. I'm having a problem and I don't really know who else to ask.

About eight months ago I purchased a little deli in my town. It was a floundering business whose reputation had been going downhill for a long time. The owner had three other restaurants that he was running and because this one was the smallest, it was getting the least amount of attention.

After I bought it, I started changing everything. Because this town is small, every business owner pretty much knows every other business owner. The chefs and restaurateurs eat in each others places. I wanted to have their approval so they would come to my place and recommend others to as well.

I changed it from a deli to a little cafe. We sell salads and sandwiches and of course, pastries. We also have coffees and teas. Before I opened, I had a private tasting for the local chefs and restaurant owners. After I got good feedback, I had a grand opening.

I knew what my market needed and didn't have so I didn't really have any competition.

Part of my bakery counter is set-aside for cakes. I don't sculpt them, they aren't custom with different flavors. It's basic vanilla, chocolate, german chocolate, and the occasional cheesecake. My customers can get a piece or they can order a whole cake. It's just a basic 8in. cake....nothing fancy.

Because my pastries are primarily Italian, I made a Cassata cake one day. I figured that I wouldn't wind up selling it and I would probably be donating it to the shelter at the end of the night.

A lady came in for lunch and asked me about the cake. I started explaining to her what it was and she freaked out and said how she'd been looking for a good one for a long time and could she order one. Because I hadn't cut the cake yet and I was afraid of wasting product, I boxed up the freshly made cake for her.

An hour later she called me gushing about how good it was, it was the best cake she's found here, etc. I was thrilled!

The next day, her daughter called. She wanted to know if I made wedding cakes. I told her I can, but I don't have a portfolio because it's not really my specialty. I can decorate a basic cake, basic fondant, etc. I can't and won't do anything fancy because it's not what I do.

She said she didn't care and wanted to know if she could set up a consultation. I told her I wouldn't do one because I'm not in the cake business. You either like my food and want a cake or you don't. I wasn't trying to be brash, but I'm the only person who's running my business. I can't step away to meet with a bride. Plus, I'm not in the cake business.
I don't know if she was OK with that, but I offered to set up a meeting to go over the contract in the late evening (which I didn't have but would be drawing up-I'm not in the cake business).

I researched my market beforehand so I knew there was ONE cake decorator in my area. She does fancy, high-end cakes. They are beautiful. She's classically trained and has been doing it for YEARS. Her charges start at 7.00$ a serving for basic butter cream. There's one more decorator, but he's not in town and does everything from basic kitchen cakes to carved ones.
*I did NOT invite this decorator to my tasting event because she's not a chef in the restaurant business*

So this bride came in, said she wanted a Cassata cake. Three tiers enough to serve 150. I said no. I wasn't confident that it would hold structurally. She REALLY wanted this cake but understood. She said she was willing to do two tiers of regular cake and could the third be the Cassata...she didn't care if she had it as an anniversary tier. I said fine and gave her a certificate to use at her one year anniversary for a free 8in. cake. She was thrilled. I got a deposit (50%), we signed the contract, she left.

Two days later, I get an email from the baker in my area and she was fuming mad. She chastised me for being so cheap, for stealing her customer, and for dumbing-down the craft by trying to appeal to the masses. I had no idea what she was talking about. So I politely replied that I think she was directing her anger at the wrong person. I told her who I was, what I owned, and that there must have been some misunderstanding.

She replied back saying that she had the right person. Apparently, the bride that signed the contract with me had originally signed a contract with her. After she met me, she canceled her order with the other baker and told her that I was willing to make the cake she wanted whereas this other baker was not.

I replied that I wouldn't speak about another client or what was in our contract. I said that I do not check with other bakers before signing a contract with a customer and if the bride canceled, I wasn't responsible.

This morning, I went to the farm to get my eggs. Who did I see? The baker. I didn't say anything, I walked past her and made it seem like I wasn't paying attention to my surroundings (OK, I pretended to be texting). I don't know who she was with, but she turned to the lady next to her and said "that girl right there, she stole XXXX XXXXX from me! She promised her this elaborate cake at 2.00$ a serving! Can you believe it? Some people shouldn't be allowed to own a business or handle money!". And there were other chefs in the building. I know a lot of them. They all heard. It was like everyone was staring at me. I ignored it (fake texting), spoke to the farmer, got my eggs, and left.

Later on, one of the chefs from a local restaurant came in for lunch. He was at the farm and heard the whole thing. We made small talk for a minute and then he uncomfortably asked me what was going on, so I told him. He said that she's been running around to everyone that will listen to badmouth me, but I didn't do anything wrong that I can see.....
did I?

I charged this bride 7.00$ a serving; same thing this baker charges. Yes, her cake isn't going to be elaborate. But it's going to be delicious and beautiful. Plus, the bride wants this cake. The baker wouldn't do the Cassata cake and I would...what's the issue?

How should I handle this? How would you handle this?

54 replies
smab109 Posted 10 Mar 2010 , 2:53am
post #2 of 55

I would just hold your head high and refrain from getting into it with her.
If you've explained it to that one chef, word will get around. Keep doing what you are doing - sounds like the business is going really well for you! Congrats!

Bunsen Posted 10 Mar 2010 , 3:17am
post #3 of 55

Sounds like she isn't used to having competition... and you are not even out to target her market, imagine how she will behave if another decorator sets up shop in town?

I would keep a dignified silence (as hard as that may be) and let her be her own undoing.

globalgatherings Posted 10 Mar 2010 , 3:21am
post #4 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by smab109

I would just hold your head high and refrain from getting into it with her.
If you've explained it to that one chef, word will get around. Keep doing what you are doing - sounds like the business is going really well for you! Congrats!




I agree thumbs_up.gif Say nothing at all and continue to enjoy what you do icon_biggrin.gif

mkolmar Posted 10 Mar 2010 , 3:25am
post #5 of 55

By her running around blabbing her mouth she is making herself look like the fool. I work with many different chefs and gossip seems to be their thing. However, I bet you the majority of them figure she's complaining like a child and that she lost the order because you have a better product. Plane and simple. Stay classy and you'll come out on top.

catlharper Posted 10 Mar 2010 , 3:36am
post #6 of 55

I agree...bide your time and let her run her mouth. IF someone asks you what is going on THEN tell them your side without saying anything negative about the other baker. You didn't do anything wrong so don't act like you have to defend your actions. Others will see her as a melodramatic and you as level headed.

Kitagrl Posted 10 Mar 2010 , 3:45am
post #7 of 55

Wow she's mad because she lost ONE customer? She has too much time on her hands and a chip on her shoulder.

Your business sounds awesome! How fun...congrats!

coffeechick Posted 10 Mar 2010 , 3:54am
post #8 of 55

hold your head up!!!! You know what really happened so no need to explain yourself to no one. I believe in Karma so all you have to do is let her be her own demise!!!! I do not for the life of me understand why the cake world is so catty, i could understand if you stole a design or something but you did not you had something the bride wanted so why should she not have exactly what she wanted for her wedding day.. Decorators can be so protective and mean, I have seen so much jealousy in this field!!!! Why? Like I said if you steal a design thats a different story we can all learn from each other and should help and support each other.

Good luck peanut keep your head up

michgowell Posted 10 Mar 2010 , 3:55am
post #9 of 55

I would send her info for an anger management course.

karinaleongto Posted 10 Mar 2010 , 4:12am
post #10 of 55

I say whenever you can get a pastry chef that way she really has something to get mad about jejejejeje.

peanutchip Posted 10 Mar 2010 , 5:26am
post #11 of 55

Thank you all so much.

What kills me is that she still made quite a bit of money off of this bride. Her wedding is still six and a half months away (September wedding). That's six months to book for this date and she got her non-refundable deposit.
Maybe she'll find someone else to hate. Hopefully I won't have to run into her again!

this-mama-rocks Posted 10 Mar 2010 , 5:43am
post #12 of 55

Repeat after me: "time wounds all heels, time wound all heels"

ayerim979 Posted 10 Mar 2010 , 6:01am
post #13 of 55

I also agree, let it go.

costumeczar Posted 10 Mar 2010 , 8:43pm
post #14 of 55

What a beeyotch. But if you know that, other people also know that. It's true that if one person asked you about it then everyone is going to know what happened, and they can all come to their own conclusions.

Chasey Posted 10 Mar 2010 , 8:55pm
post #15 of 55

She doesn't even have her facts straight if she's saying you charged $2 a serving!

I think you handled it beautifully and as long as you didn't diss her to that other person you told the story to....the truth will come out if he spreads the word of your side of the story. Which is the truth. thumbs_up.gif

Eisskween Posted 10 Mar 2010 , 9:01pm
post #16 of 55

You handled it well so far. Sometimes silence speaks volumes. By this woman blasting you, she is showing jealousy, immaturity, ignorance, and a lack of decorum. She's cutting her own throat with other members of the food community that she chooses to ramble on about her tale of woe to. Say nothing, sit back and smile, and watch her self-imposed decline.

EvMarie Posted 10 Mar 2010 , 9:13pm
post #17 of 55

I don't know the particulars...but, I know there is something about "slander" that could be acted upon. The details are fuzzy in my mind, but I seem to remember something about if this persists & she is affecting your business reputation, I do believe you could have a lawyer send a letter regarding her possibly harming your potential to make money.

That is...assuming...anyone is listening to this "busy-body". Most people can spot them a mile a way but you never know. I'd keep quiet and politely explain myself only when asked. But, don't take any crap either! After a while, it would get really old....enter "letter from lawyer".

Or....you could go with what my grandma always said..."you pray for people like that". icon_smile.gif

costumeczar Posted 11 Mar 2010 , 2:11am
post #18 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by EvMarie


Or....you could go with what my grandma always said..."you pray for people like that". icon_smile.gif




A swift kick in the butt works faster. Or a cease and desist notice, whichever comes first.

dldbrou Posted 11 Mar 2010 , 2:30am
post #19 of 55

Maybe let the bride know what is going on. She might be needed to back you up if any legal actions are required. Also, if she is bashing you, she might be bashing the bride as well. She would appreciate a heads up from you as well.

Just think, once everyone taste your cake at the wedding, you will be getting a lot more business for your cafe.

peanutchip Posted 11 Mar 2010 , 8:39pm
post #20 of 55

Ahhh, I've been trying to reply all day. Every time there's a lull, customers show up!

Thank you guys very much for the responses; I knew you would all get it. I try telling my boyfriend, but he's like "do this and tell her this and say this!"...he doesn't quite get it.

Anyways, I had a lady come in this morning, right in the middle of my breakfast rush. She asked about a wedding cake. She said that my new bride (her best friend) referred her. I asked her to leave her name and number with me and I would call her later on this evening so that we could talk. She gave me her information and left.
I thought it was odd because my bride came in alone and she did nothing but talk about her fiance and all the family she was having in her wedding. Not one mention of a good friend or her maid of honor....nothing. I figured (and maybe I'm wrong) but when you're getting married, don't you include your best friend in your wedding party or planning? If these two were so close, how come no mention of her?

So, I decided to be sneaky. I called my new bride and said "hey, your best friend just came in looking for a cake. Thanks so much for sending the referral along my way! Could you call me back? I wanted to talk about giving you a discount for the referral". I figured that if she did really send her friend in, she'll know her name and be happy. If she didn't maybe she'll be confused and then I'll know why this lady really came in.

Either way, I'm going to speak to this "new bride" later on tonight to see what she's looking for. I'll keep you guys posted on what happens.

7yyrt Posted 11 Mar 2010 , 8:49pm
post #21 of 55

Ha!

I think I'm going to like you!
Image

psmith Posted 11 Mar 2010 , 9:53pm
post #22 of 55

I was also thinking about the 'slander' aspect. Word of mouth can build a business, it can also hurt. I think that if it doesn't stop, you might consider writing her a letter outlining your position and requesting that she immediately halt her misrepresentation. Then start documenting. She is a bully and sometimes ignoring them is like giving them a green light to continue their harassment.

Adevag Posted 11 Mar 2010 , 10:44pm
post #23 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by peanutchip



So this bride came in, said she wanted a Cassata cake. Three tiers enough to serve 150. I said no. I wasn't confident that it would hold structurally. She REALLY wanted this cake but understood. She said she was willing to do two tiers of regular cake and could the third be the Cassata...she didn't care if she had it as an anniversary tier. I said fine and gave her a certificate to use at her one year anniversary for a free 8in. cake. She was thrilled. I got a deposit (50%), we signed the contract, she left.




Firt, I just wanted to say that I agree with your previous replies.
Your Cassata cake sounds delicious. I just wanted to make sure you know (since you said you don't do many wedding cakes) that when you make a tiered cake, the actual cakes do not support one another in the stacking process. It's only your support system that will hold the weight of your cakes when you build the tier.
I'm not trying to tell you what to do but if you think your client would have preferred all Cassata cakes, it is still possible. As long as they don't fall apart on their own they should be safe to use. If you are new to tiered cakes, the SPS system is very popular. I have not made any big cakes yet but that's what I will use when the day comes.
Good luck with your business.

pastryqueen9 Posted 12 Mar 2010 , 12:06am
post #24 of 55

How immature is she? OMG I wouldn't want to refer her to anyone for business...the way I see it you did nothing wrong...she however has some challenges that she needs to work on.

yummy Posted 12 Mar 2010 , 4:51am
post #25 of 55

She's pissed off that she (the only one in the area who makes wedding cakes) lost a customer to someone who doesn't. Instead of fuming in private because you make a better cake; she bashes you to others by telling them that you basically stole business from her, your cheap and only charging 2.00 per serving but you actually charged her the same as the other baker. Wowww! This ladies and gentlemen is IGNORANCE at it's finest. Misery loves company. Ignore her.

DefyGravity Posted 12 Mar 2010 , 12:47pm
post #26 of 55

"The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time." -H. Ford

Keep your chin up. She's jealous and being insanely petty. Work on what you're doing and let her waste all of her time and energy on this ridiculous vendetta that she seems to have.

Lita829 Posted 12 Mar 2010 , 1:06pm
post #27 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by DefyGravity

"The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time." -H. Ford

Keep your chin up. She's jealous and being insanely petty. Work on what you're doing and let her waste all of her time and energy on this ridiculous vendetta that she seems to have.




I couldn't have said it better myself. Don't worry about her pettiness and jealousy. People will try to bring down someone who they deem has a superior quality or talent because they are threatened....don't let her. Just continue to do what you do best....making fabulous cakes.

peanutchip Posted 12 Mar 2010 , 4:19pm
post #28 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adevag

Quote:
Originally Posted by peanutchip



So this bride came in, said she wanted a Cassata cake. Three tiers enough to serve 150. I said no. I wasn't confident that it would hold structurally. She REALLY wanted this cake but understood. She said she was willing to do two tiers of regular cake and could the third be the Cassata...she didn't care if she had it as an anniversary tier. I said fine and gave her a certificate to use at her one year anniversary for a free 8in. cake. She was thrilled. I got a deposit (50%), we signed the contract, she left.



Firt, I just wanted to say that I agree with your previous replies.
Your Cassata cake sounds delicious. I just wanted to make sure you know (since you said you don't do many wedding cakes) that when you make a tiered cake, the actual cakes do not support one another in the stacking process. It's only your support system that will hold the weight of your cakes when you build the tier.
I'm not trying to tell you what to do but if you think your client would have preferred all Cassata cakes, it is still possible. As long as they don't fall apart on their own they should be safe to use. If you are new to tiered cakes, the SPS system is very popular. I have not made any big cakes yet but that's what I will use when the day comes.
Good luck with your business.




Glad it's raining today; business is slow so I can hang out here icon_smile.gif

I've done many tiered cakes before, big and small, and I feel OK doing them. My biggest concern was that, because I put rum on the top and bottom of the cake, and the filling is mascarpone and ricotta, I was concerned that if I put dowels through the layers, it would cause the layers to break apart. I thought it was too moist of a cake to be able to handle the weight and I didn't want to take any chances. I'm sure it can be done and maybe I could tweak the recipe so that I felt OK with it, but then I kinda felt like my product is my product and I'm not in the business to change my product to suit one person, especially since wedding cakes isn't my business....gosh I hope that made sense, LOL!

Anyways, my bride called me back this morning and she said "hey, I got your message but I didn't refer anyone to you so I don't know who you're talking about. My mom might have, and I'll ask her, but I know I didn't".
So I called the "new bride" and I got her voice mail. I left a quick message asking her to call me back. I'll talk to her to see what she wants, but I have a feeling she's not really looking for a cake.

michiparma Posted 12 Mar 2010 , 4:50pm
post #29 of 55

What a crazy woman! Karma will definitely bite her at some point.

icon_eek.gif Loving the drama! Waiting in anticipation to see what happens next! Please keep everyone posted!!!

EvMarie Posted 12 Mar 2010 , 8:18pm
post #30 of 55

Holy Sha-moly....that just takes it to a new "childish" level.

I'm all for "socken' it to her" some how but just be careful to not get sucked into the drama. It's dangerous stuff man.... I always try to remember that these kinds of things are because of the other persons short comings. I try to stop the behavior to a certain degree with out being rotten & then just let it go. Don't let it steal your joy...

The cake sounds fabulous by the way!

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