I Think I'm Done

Business By karateka Updated 7 Apr 2010 , 11:41pm by heavenlys

karateka Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 3:36pm
post #1 of 35

Even as I prepare for a big week for me, I am sure my business is over. I just lost the best consult I've had in 2 years to another baker.

I guess I don't have what it takes. I'm not looking for compliments....just sharing my disappointment. I guess I should have asked her why, but didn't want to seem whiny or sad. So I'm doing that here. icon_smile.gif

I barely even get consults anymore. Nobody even considers me for weddings. I'm not sure that my plan to attend pastry school when the kids graduate is smart at this point. I'm not sure it would make a difference. Why invest more $$$ in this?

Thanks for letting me vent. I often have trouble moving on with my day if I'm carrying something around....anger, disappointment, etc. So it helps to let it out to someone. I'm giving my DH a break today. icon_smile.gif Now I can go bake.

34 replies
lis73 Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 3:43pm
post #2 of 35

I read your post and totally understand your need to vent. The funny thing is, when I read your post, I looked at the bottom quote...fall down 7 times...Have you read that lately? icon_smile.gif

Kibosh Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 3:51pm
post #3 of 35

I would ask your consultant why they left. If they worked for you for two years, I'm sure it wasn't easy for them to make that decision. It's usually money (especially if your relationship was good), but you should ask them. Whatever the reason, you can learn from it. Surely you can't say that this person is the reason your buisness survived. You're the baker.
You had business because people liked your product.I wouldn't let this person dictate your future plans.
This would also be the perfect opportunity to show your kids (who are entering the real world) that they're going to face obstacles, but you just have to work harder to overcome them.

HTH

Doug Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 3:51pm
post #4 of 35

time fall back and do analysis.

yes, ask here way under the guise of a "service improvement survey" -- could do this using SurveyMonkey http://www.surveymonkey.com/ (free for basic plan) and send it to this bride and to all your past customers and consults.

some things to ask:

is it a "style/fashion" thing -- the style/fashion you offer is now out of style/fashion?

is it a taste thing -- they want "other" flavors?

is it a price thing -- others are undercutting you? offering additional services at no additional charge (another version of undercutting)?

----

cliched but true: you can't win 'em all.

-----

so, maybe you ditch the wedding market and specialize in other types of cakes.

idocakes4fun Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 3:54pm
post #5 of 35

I noticed the same thing with the quote! Take a step back... figure out what you can do to make your business fresh and get it together. If you go into your next consult w/ the expectation that you're not going to win the business, you probably won't. Your business is over only if you want it to be and if you no longer have the passion for it.

karateka Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 3:57pm
post #6 of 35

I should clarify:

These people didn't work for me. They were there for a bridal consult. It went really well, to the point that I was positive I had this one. It was the best consult I've conducted in 2 years. I felt so good about it.

My tag line is something I believe in, but sometimes I feel like at some point it is time to stop banging one's head against the brick wall. After all, at some point you begin to cause brain damage.

Doug...can I email them back with this survey? It won't seem too desperate will it? I'd like to know, so I guess I should do it. But I hate to bug people......

Doug Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 4:13pm
post #7 of 35

here's an example survey put together with SurveyMonkey -- a quicky for-fun sample survey about your addiction to CC

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GVXWYM9

note, yes you can force the collection of demographic info.... sample survey requires CC Moniker and makes email optional. But you could make email required.

-- go ahead, sign up for the free version, which can be done with iGoogle ID if you have one and try it out!

cakesdivine Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 4:16pm
post #8 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kibosh

I would ask your consultant why they left. If they worked for you for two years, I'm sure it wasn't easy for them to make that decision. It's usually money (especially if your relationship was good), but you should ask them. Whatever the reason, you can learn from it. Surely you can't say that this person is the reason your buisness survived. You're the baker.
You had business because people liked your product.I wouldn't let this person dictate your future plans.
This would also be the perfect opportunity to show your kids (who are entering the real world) that they're going to face obstacles, but you just have to work harder to overcome them.

HTH




I think you are misunderstanding what she is saying. She didn't loose an employee, she lost a potential customer (consult) to another baker. She said she rarely even gets consults anymore, so this particular consult/client must have been a really large order that would help her business bottom line and they decided to go with another baker.

karateka - I would definitely find out why they choose to go with another baker. In my case it is usually they don't want to pay my prices and there are so many illegal cake ladies where I live that they undercut my prices all the time, but I won't budge because I know my product is so much better tasting and in many cases much better looking icon_smile.gif

It could be that someone undercut your price significantly enough that they went with someone else. I make it very clear that I don't do price matching in my consults, so I know that that is always the reason they don't go with me.

karateka Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 4:30pm
post #9 of 35

They did say they were on a budget: both of them had been laid off and they had to postpone the wedding by 6 mos since they were paying for it themselves. Maybe I'm just over-reacting, but I was SO disappointed.

I've considered just specializing in 3D cakes, which nobody else does much around here. But those orders don't come up much, and I do like doing weddings. I like the chance to do something pretty without having to pay to go to a show.

Guess I should quit screwing around on here and go bake for the orders I do have.

jillmakescakes Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 4:33pm
post #10 of 35

Have you thought about working for another baker? Maybe your expertise is on the cake side, not the business side? OR, have you considered hiring someone as a salesperson? Or maybe even having someone come in to help train you on some of the business stuff? maybe there are some shops that are close traveling distance that you could visit and get some tips/pointers?

sillywabbitz Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 4:39pm
post #11 of 35

I would not be offended at all if someone sent me a follow up email or survey. And remember they have the right not to reply to it, so it's really not an inconvienence to the consumer at all. I happen to love to give and get feedback, the good the bad and the ugly.

If you prefer to do something more personal than a survey, I think you could email your clients with something like.
"I really enjoyed meeting you at our consult. I completely understand that you have chosen to go with another bakery. In an effort to improve my business, I would be very interested in any feedback you have to offer, especially with regards to x, y, and z. Best wishes for your upcoming nuptials...Sincerely, Baker X".

If I got this email from someone I would immediately respond with both the pros and the cons and what made my final decision.

Good luck.

dalis4joe Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 4:47pm
post #12 of 35

so you didn't close the sale on your last 2 weding consults? think about this.... how many cakes do you do? I know it might feel like it's too much because they probably happened one after the other... but reality is... you are NOT always going to land the deal... and if they are laid off... for all you know... they decided to get a supermarket sheet cake.... you don't know why... don't let your thoughts get the best of you...
I know the feeling because I have felt that way also... but I think about it from their perspective at times... they might truly want to get YOUR CAKE... but just can't afford it... or they found someone that when they mentioned your sonsult.. they offer to match/beat your price.... so don't think it's you... think... economy... laid off... they want it... they can't afford it... someone offered to give them the cake as a wedding gift, etc....

I hope you feel better... and go on girl! make those cakes lol... icon_smile.gif

karateka Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 5:41pm
post #13 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by jillmakescakes

Have you thought about working for another baker? Maybe your expertise is on the cake side, not the business side? OR, have you considered hiring someone as a salesperson? Or maybe even having someone come in to help train you on some of the business stuff? maybe there are some shops that are close traveling distance that you could visit and get some tips/pointers?




I actually have considered having someone else do the meetings. But I can't really afford to hire anyone, and my DH is a pharmacist who has to work weekends (every 3rd) and sometimes isn't around for tastings. Plus I think he'd rather pluck both his eyes out with hot pincers.

I do few enough cakes that every consult I don't book is a big deal. They sit there, eat my cake, tell me how good it is, they love my work, blah blah blah....then book somebody else.

jadak Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 6:47pm
post #14 of 35

I am so sorry that you are feeling so discouraged. You are very talented and I hope that, if you still love doing this, you continue to do it on whatever scale you can. It is a gift of yours.

This type of business seems to ebb and flow. Things might just pick up for you. Do you do a lot of advertising? I think home businesses sometimes get overlooked.

I live near you (although I DO NOT have anywhere near your talent) and I kind of tried to get a little business going doing custom cakes for people, but it was hard. I get a few paying orders here and there from word of mouth, but I couldn't pay any bills at this rate. At least I enjoy it and it's a creative outlet for me.

I hope you do conduct some sort of survey to see what the expectations are and where you are falling short regarding consultations. It might be there are some minimal things you could tweak to get more bookings. Maybe offer some incentive.....25 free servings if you book before XXX or a dozen choc. covered strawberries for bridal table with every cake over 100 servings. I don;t know. I do not do this as a business, as I mentioned, but I know you do and I see that you're so good at it that I hope you'll find a way to continue and be excited about continuing. Good luck!

NerdyGirl Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 7:01pm
post #15 of 35

Hi there! I'm new to the cake world, but not new to selling/business. I can assure you that this is happening in a LOT of forms of business. "You're awesome, but..." seems to be a theme as of late.

When the going gets rough, step back and re-evaluate. The survey (not just to the consult you lost, but to all current and past clients) can certainly help you in your effort to regroup.

Think about your advertising/marketing efforts. Do some stealthy price comparison between what you offer and what others offer. You're already creative (obviously!) so use that creativity and determination to move to a new height!

newmansmom2004 Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 7:04pm
post #16 of 35

I would contact the client you lost and tell them you're evaluating what you offer to clients and if they could give you some very honest, constructive feedback it will help you to improve your business and possibly offer more/different options in the future. You don't have to sound desperate at all. Just tell them you're looking for ways to continue providing excellent service to the public and their feedback will contribute greatly. What did they like/dislike? Did you offer what they wanted? Were you (or your staff) professional? Did they feel they were getting your full attention? Was your bakery clean when they came for the consult? Did they like the flavors you offered? Were you able to accomodate the style of cake they wanted? Were you able to fall within their budget? Was your contract easy to understand? Those types of things can really help. And you may find that you not only get some things to work on, but they might just surprise you and tell you many things they did like. Finally, ask what the deciding factor was in choosing another bakery.

Lots of businesses do these types of questionnaires or surveys and it's absolutely normal. If you don't get feedback from your customers - both good and bad - you'll never know if you're truly meeting their demands and providing a service and product that they want.

Best of luck and keep your chin up!!

karateka Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 7:51pm
post #17 of 35

I created the survey (thanks, Doug) and the response I got was that they picked the other baker for taste. She said they liked the icing and the actual kind of cake better at the other place. Then said that her fiance liked my fillings better.

So that's my answer.

Thanks to all for listening to me vent. I'll have to try to figure out what to do another day. About time to make dinner. And if they don't like the taste of that, well.....they can go to bed hungry.

jillmakescakes Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 7:57pm
post #18 of 35

have you tasted the other bakers locally? ARE they better? not trying to kick you while you're down, just asking for reality's sake. I know that my cakes taste different from other bakers in my area, (which is why we both have enough customers), but the quality is still there.

Also, do you really feel done, or just needing a little pity party? icon_lol.gif sometimes we all need to commiserate with others who will understand.

I'd strongly suggest looking into a sales consultant. this is someone you can hire for two or three weekends to observe you during the consults and provide you with tips and training on how to better sell yourself.

KHalstead Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 8:08pm
post #19 of 35

karateka, I noticed you're in Ohio.............what are your prices like? do you think other people are charging much less for the same work?


doug- I love the survey monkey thing, gonna have to check that out! Would be nice to know what people thought regardless you know?

Doug Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 8:48pm
post #20 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by karateka

I created the survey (thanks, Doug) and the response I got was that they picked the other baker for taste. She said they liked the icing and the actual kind of cake better at the other place. Then said that her fiance liked my fillings better.




LOL...like his opinion counts?!!?

very understandable response -- tastebuds are very fickle things[/i]

karateka Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 9:01pm
post #21 of 35

I don't know who she saw, so I don't know what type of cakes they make. If they are a pastry chef it's possible they are better, and even if she's not. I am not trained. But everyone I know says my cakes are great.

I guess it does sound like a pity party. Sorry. I just needed to vent so I could get some work done. I suppose the proper forum for that is my husband.

Don't know if I'm really done. I calculated that it would cost me a lot less time and tears to just work extra at the pharmacy if I want to go to a show instead of selling my cakes. And that is starting to sound attractive. My work this week involved getting paperwork together to change to an LLC, and to get my home inspected so I could be a home bakery. Now I'm not sure what the heck I'm going to do. I can't afford to hire a sales consultant. And if the taste of my cakes is the issue, then they won't be able to help me anyway.


My prices are $3/serving for buttercream and $3.75 for fondant.

Forgive me for going on about this for so long. Just having a rotten day.

tesso Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 9:12pm
post #22 of 35

If you cant lean on your CC buddies for comfort.. who totally have been there!! then whats the point of us being here?? icon_wink.gif

vent, whine, throw cake balls.. do what you have to do to get up that 8th time !!! We got your back !!! icon_biggrin.gif

KHalstead Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 9:13pm
post #23 of 35

you're in Ohio, you don't need to do anything really to be a home bakery aside from labelling things properly.

You're a little more expensive than me, but definitely an average (if not even on the low side) price wise for your area.

jillmakescakes Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 9:18pm
post #24 of 35

no need to apologize for needing a pity party... besides, we have CAKE!!! thumbs_up.gif


its ok to have a rotten day. we're here for you girlie!

you are very talented. it can be discouraging when people don't pick you, but as you grow, you will find that those people can become fewer and farther between.

get a good nights rest, take solace in your cake orders this week. work on them as if they were your last orders and relish in the wonderful compliments from your clients.

karateka Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 9:20pm
post #25 of 35

Thanks, tesso! icon_smile.gif


I meant a home bakery as opposed to a cottage foods bakery. Then I can sell in Kentucky, too, since I'm so close to the border. And I can offer SMBC and cheesecakes. Maybe that other baker offered some kind of meringue buttercream. Who knows?

Jenny0730 Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 9:27pm
post #26 of 35

It's definitely okay to have a pity party. There are some days when you just need it. thumbs_up.gif

PieceofCakeAZ Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 10:45pm
post #27 of 35

It happens to all of us. Taste is relative. I was once sitting in front of a couple and her parents at a consultation... the bride said that a particular cake we were sampling was the best she had ever had in her life... her mother SPIT IT OUT IN HER NAPKIN she hated it so much. Same family, some circumstances, same cake, vastly different responses (the bride ordered the 3 tiers in that flavor and a different one for mom icon_biggrin.gif )

Stitches Posted 6 Apr 2010 , 12:24am
post #28 of 35

wow, you got a ton of great advice...........and I also feel for you. I've been down so many times it's hard sometimes to stand back up.

In another life, I was a professional artist. Some people loved my work, some didn't. I couldn't please everyone no matter what I did. I heard people poke fun of my work and I heard people praise my work endlessly.

Same thing working as a pastry chef. Some managers think I'm the best pastry chef around and others won't give me the time of day.

Some people love dessert, others don't care for it.

You can't please everyone, no matter what!

If your struggling, you might need some help from someone who can look at you objectively. Don't take their advice as criticism, take it as advice and work on the things that need it. You don't expect other people to be perfect, don't expect that from yourself either. Get up that 8th or 9th time!

tracycakes Posted 6 Apr 2010 , 2:15am
post #29 of 35

Karateka, your work is awesome! I'm so sorry that things aren't going so well for you right now. I know that for me, if I don't get the reaction to a cake that I am expecting, it makes me start questioning myself. Then I get the kind of awesome bride I met with on Friday and my mood totally changes for the better. My mood seems to depend on the outcome of my latest cakes - how pathetic is that? icon_redface.gif

Have you changed anything with your recipes lately? New ingredients or anything? Even something like new pans or new oven?

You can always come here and vent. If you can't vent here, where can you vent?! We all need a shot in the arm occasionally. I hope things pick up for you soon thumbs_up.gif

Texas_Rose Posted 6 Apr 2010 , 2:22am
post #30 of 35

Your work is lovely.

It seems like a lot of people seem to think going to multiple tastings is an important part of planning a wedding...even if they already know who they're going with, they want their chance to go around and eat free cake. For every wedding cake that you book, there's probably two other bakers who had a consult with the couple and wonder why they didn't get the order.

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