Is It Offensive To Ask Clients For Their Budget?

Decorating By Dreme Updated 30 May 2010 , 2:09am by Dreme

Dreme Posted 24 May 2010 , 4:24pm
post #1 of 36

Its becoming harder to design for clients without knowing their budget. With brides its not problem asking. Its the everyday clients.

I naturally design what is usually the more expensive, elaborate cake. Like if you gave me a Vegas theme cake for 50, I would design the really cool elaborate cake. I know I can't always do this, but it would be nice to know the clients budget so that I can adjust the design.

I don't want to make the client feel like they can't afford me either. I don't want to offend anyone. Also if I don't take their order due to other reasons besides budget I don't want them to think that is it, or detour them from future orders. I want to make it a required field on my form, (as I really could use that info), but some may not feel comfortable with giving that info.

Whats your opinion?

35 replies
costumeczar Posted 24 May 2010 , 4:29pm
post #2 of 36

I ask people for their budgets all the time, and I'm also not afraid to tell them that I can't do it for their budget price if it's way below what I charge. It saves a lot of time to get it all out in the open and not play little guessing games with them!

Kiddiekakes Posted 24 May 2010 , 4:37pm
post #3 of 36

I totally agree with Costumeczar.....I ask also because then you don't spend needless time sending pictures etc of cakes they can't afford.When I find out what they intend to spend then I show pictures of cakes I can do for that price and if they can't afford me...so be it..I haven't wasted all that time and the customer understands that you aren't going to provide a cake for $300.00 for their budget of $30.00

cakes47 Posted 24 May 2010 , 4:44pm
post #4 of 36

Definitely know what they are going to spend for a cake. Then you can show them
cakes in their budget.

mamawrobin Posted 24 May 2010 , 5:51pm
post #5 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakes47

Definitely know what they are going to spend for a cake. Then you can show them
cakes in their budget.




Ditto.

diane706 Posted 24 May 2010 , 6:42pm
post #6 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

I ask people for their budgets all the time, and I'm also not afraid to tell them that I can't do it for their budget price if it's way below what I charge. It saves a lot of time to get it all out in the open and not play little guessing games with them!




I couldn't agree more. I hate those games! Drives me nuts. I also make sure that every customer knows my minimum right up front (right before I ask what their budget is) thumbs_up.gif

aundron Posted 24 May 2010 , 6:52pm
post #7 of 36

I ALWAYS ask the customer for their budget!! It allows me to do a cake within their price range or let them know up front, that you can't do any cake for what they are wanting to pay!!

It is so much easier and saves a lot of time!!

Rachel5370 Posted 24 May 2010 , 7:04pm
post #8 of 36

Experienced baker, but just starting my cake business. A friend of a friend contacted me and wants a Lacrosse themed cake for her boys teams end of season potluck. Cake for 50 people.

I asked her what her budget would be, she said $50. The delivery would be almost 50 miles one way for me. I don't see how I can do this and not lose money, much less make any.

I have been doing discounts for friends that help get the word out- so I don't mind a big discount, but I can't have it cost money- I'm trying to come up with money to start a business. I have to call her and break it to her and I'm not looking forward to it. icon_cry.gif

tiggy2 Posted 24 May 2010 , 7:13pm
post #9 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rachel5370

Experienced baker, but just starting my cake business. A friend of a friend contacted me and wants a Lacrosse themed cake for her boys teams end of season potluck. Cake for 50 people. I asked her what her budget would be, she said $50. The delivery would be almost 50 miles one way for me. I don't see how I can do this and not lose money, much less make any. I have been doing discounts for friends that help get the word out- so I don't mind a big discount, but I can't have it cost money- I'm trying to come up with money to start a business. I have to call her and break it to her and I'm not looking forward to it. icon_cry.gif



She wants cake and delivery for $50 icon_eek.gificon_eek.gificon_eek.gif She better make a trip to Walmart for twinkies and take them with her.

cakes47 Posted 24 May 2010 , 8:12pm
post #10 of 36

EGADS!!!!! You can't even feed 50 for $50 with Twinkies, never mind adding a hundred
mile round trip on top!!! QUICK.......call her!!!

Melissa_B_Cakes Posted 24 May 2010 , 8:17pm
post #11 of 36

I've had this problem also. But I definitely ask what the budget is up front, I too like to go all out on the design, and I've made the mistake before of getting the client all excited about the design only to tell them "ok that one is going to be $350" and they come back and say "I only wanted to spend about $60 total" icon_eek.gif

I've learned that you have to put your foot down. And I too have been giving "friend and family" discounts as a word- of - mouth advertising and the word is getting around, so not I'm seeing people offering me a budget of the bare minimum and I've been having to turn people away because I will lose money thumbsdown.gif

indydebi Posted 24 May 2010 , 9:43pm
post #12 of 36

I can't imagine someone being in sales and NOT asking,"What kind of budget are we looking at?" Even in my job(s) in corporate america, I'd ask my customers "What's your target price?"

I think it's because we are taught that you "never ask people about their money!" As little kids, it's rude to ask "how much did you pay for that?" or "How much money do you make?" Get over it. This isn't a social setting. It's business.

And it's ok to say NO!!! Practice it. Over and over. "NO!!!! I can't make a cake to meet that budget." "NOOOOO!!!!! I can't deliver 50 miles for free." Just. Say. No.

I use car analogies a lot, but how does a salesman know whether to show a potential buyer the brand new $70,000 Escolades .... or the $2000 used Ford Escorts?

You HAVE to ASK!!!!!

BlakesCakes Posted 24 May 2010 , 10:06pm
post #13 of 36

I think it's a necessary evil, really. In some cases, it may be the first time the person actually thinks about the possible costs. It has to save you both time and perhaps disappointment, in the long run.

I'm a pricetag shopper. If I go into a store and there are no tags, I leave. I just don't want to be disappointed when the salesperson smiles and say, "Oh, that's JUST $500." when I thought it would be around $50.

I try to let people know what their budget will get them and to then let them know what an extra 10%, 25%, 50% will allow. If they feel that their budget is flexible AND they're interested in certain premium features, they're happy to make extra choices. If a budget is fixed, then they know what they CAN'T have for that amount.

Rae

LisaR64 Posted 24 May 2010 , 10:10pm
post #14 of 36

I always ask too. I don't want to show them the Cadillac cake if they only have a Honda budget, because no matter how nice the Honda is, it's bound to be a let down once they've seen the Cadillac design icon_smile.gif

mamakasst Posted 24 May 2010 , 10:29pm
post #15 of 36

I don't make cakes for profit yet, just for friends and things like that right now. (I'm just starting out, icon_redface.gif ) So I can't give you advice from a professionals point of view but from a customer's point of view. I'd appreciate it if the baker asked me my budget, especially if my budget is something they wouldn't be able to work with.

Its better to know right off the bat. If my budget is less than your minimum it would be important to know that so I can continue to search. I also wouldn't want to go through the whole process just to find out that you've produced a cake that I can't afford and its too late. I would never be offended by someone asking me my budget.

CBMom Posted 24 May 2010 , 10:46pm
post #16 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rachel5370

Experienced baker, but just starting my cake business. A friend of a friend contacted me and wants a Lacrosse themed cake for her boys teams end of season potluck. Cake for 50 people. I asked her what her budget would be, she said $50. The delivery would be almost 50 miles one way for me. I don't see how I can do this and not lose money, much less make any. I have been doing discounts for friends that help get the word out- so I don't mind a big discount, but I can't have it cost money- I'm trying to come up with money to start a business. I have to call her and break it to her and I'm not looking forward to it. icon_cry.gif




"Hi, just wanted to let you know, perhaps you weren't aware, that out-of-town (certain mileage, etc, etc whatever you want to call it) delivery starts at $35. (create your own time + mileage + set up fee) Of course you are welcome to come pick up the cake here, I do have a waiver for you to sign off on upon pick up of the cake. Considering your budget, here is what I can do in terms of cake (cupcakes, maybe??) for 50 people...oh dear, not what you were looking for? Please feel free to contact one of your local bakeries, and certainly call me back if you change your mind. And thank you for thinking of me!"

Practice saying it with a smile, in front of a mirror, to your husband, whatever...you'll be fine. icon_smile.gif

Let us know!!

icon_smile.gif

costumeczar Posted 24 May 2010 , 10:47pm
post #17 of 36

Just today I had someone email me about setting up an appointment for a wedding cake tasting. They have a large guest list and she said "we're on a tight budget," so before I set anything up I emailed her back to see what budget she wants to work with.

Sometimes when people have 250+ guests they want to cut back on everything BUT the guest list, so they start shopping for price point alone. I'm not going to schedule a tasting if she can't afford my pricing, it's a waste of her time, my time, and it costs me money to provide the samples.

If she comes back with a budget that's under what I'm willing to work for, I'll have no problem, telling her that I can't do the cake for the budget that she wants to work with.

And I'm booked solid through October, and I turn down about 4-5 people on average every day because I'm already booked, so if you're worried about losing business because you have firm pricing, don't be!

Yum2010 Posted 26 May 2010 , 1:51pm
post #18 of 36

Totally agree!! Thanks everyone!! This is soooo helpful. I too am pretty new at this and I feel like I am constantly in the hole with pricing!! I end up going down on prices just so I don't see the disapointment in the customer's face or so I don't have to hear how rediculous it is to have a cake priced so high, but as my demand is going up, and after reading this, I will def. be upfront with pricing and stand my ground!!

Chasey Posted 26 May 2010 , 2:41pm
post #19 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamakasst


Its better to know right off the bat. If my budget is less than your minimum it would be important to know that so I can continue to search. I also wouldn't want to go through the whole process just to find out that you've produced a cake that I can't afford and its too late. I would never be offended by someone asking me my budget.




Ditto that 100%! I'm a hobby baker and *if* I didn't know how to make cakes and needed to buy one, the above advice is perfect.

dalis4joe Posted 26 May 2010 , 4:42pm
post #20 of 36

I should have learned my lesson but I didn't.... I had a consult for a bridal shower... we didn't discuss pricing until AFTER I spent hours working on a design... they loved the design and the free tastings also.... when I quoted the price... then they said they had seen someone else that was willing to do the cake for them for almost 50% less than what I charge... I sent them an email... congratulating them on the great deal they got and advising them that they should go with them for sure because there was no way that I was going to be able to math that price.

I find myself talking about $$$$ AFTER I do the sketch and the sketch IS time consuming and gets me all exited to work on that cake only to have it be a turn down due to budget...

I MUST keep in mind that I should ask about budget in the same sentence as when is the cake due lol

lemme ask u this... what if you ask them what their budget it and they come back with: "How much do your cakes start at?" what/how do you do/do you handle this???

costumeczar Posted 26 May 2010 , 4:50pm
post #21 of 36

Me: What budget are you trying to stay within?
Them: How much are your cakes?
Me: It depends on how many people it needs to serve and where the reception will be for the delivery charge. How many guests do you think will be there and where would I be delivering it to?
Them: Uh, I don't know.
Me: If you can give me a general idea I can give you a rough estimate, but unless I know that I can't tell you the price range without it just being a guess.
Them: Say about 100 people.
Me: For 100 guests you'd need X number of servings and it would be somewhere around $X.


Sometimes you have to drag it out of them because people are trained to think that if they set a price, the professional will sell right up to that limit. It could go like this:

Them: I don't know where the reception will be yet, or how many guests we'll have.
Me: It could be anywhere from $200 to $800 depending on what the specifics are. Do you want to get back to me when you have a better idea of what you're looking at, and I can try to give you a price range then?

Sunnycakes Posted 26 May 2010 , 5:13pm
post #22 of 36

I am new to this whole thing, so mine is not a professional opinion, but I absolutely agree with the person who is a "pricetag shopper". If the prices aren't posted, it makes me nervous because I feel that the price I hear will be based on what they THINK I can afford, and not on a specific standard. So, having written price guidelines and some photo examples will help a lot to reach a middle ground where everyone is happy.

I do, however, know a little bit about Sales & Marketing and know that you should strive to not discount your core product, but can add-on things to increase perceived value. I.e., do not discount your cakes, but you can offer free delivery or something like that to enhance the overall value.

Yum2010 Posted 26 May 2010 , 5:30pm
post #23 of 36

Well put Sunnycakes!! I will NEVER sell myself short again!! Thank goodness!! I think this is what lead to my major cake decorating burnout a while back. I thought I would never enjoy making and decorating cakes again, but now that I'm back into it, I really think it had something to do with not charging enough.

dalis4joe Posted 26 May 2010 , 6:21pm
post #24 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

Me: What budget are you trying to stay within?
Them: How much are your cakes?
Me: It depends on how many people it needs to serve and where the reception will be for the delivery charge. How many guests do you think will be there and where would I be delivering it to?
Them: Uh, I don't know.
Me: If you can give me a general idea I can give you a rough estimate, but unless I know that I can't tell you the price range without it just being a guess.
Them: Say about 100 people.
Me: For 100 guests you'd need X number of servings and it would be somewhere around $X.


Sometimes you have to drag it out of them because people are trained to think that if they set a price, the professional will sell right up to that limit. It could go like this:

Them: I don't know where the reception will be yet, or how many guests we'll have.
Me: It could be anywhere from $200 to $800 depending on what the specifics are. Do you want to get back to me when you have a better idea of what you're looking at, and I can try to give you a price range then?





I'm loving this.... thank you so much! I guess it's taking the bull by it's horns at times... cause that's what most phone call are like... thanks for the tips... I specially like the price quote between $200 to $800.... it's like letting them know that unless they give up some specifics..... we can't say a price....

thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif

indydebi Posted 26 May 2010 , 6:22pm
post #25 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by dalis4joe

I find myself talking about $$$$ AFTER I do the sketch and the sketch IS time consuming and gets me all exited to work on that cake only to have it be a turn down due to budget...


Imagine ......
That you are as big and famous as Sylvia Weinstock or Duff Goldman.

Imagine......
That you have lots of multi-talented people working for you.

Imagine .......
That you delegate designing the cake to one of these talented people.

Imagine ......
That these talented people expect to get paid for their work.

Imagine ......
How you're going to pay them for the design work if you don't book the cake.

*I* imagine you'll get used to asking about budget if you can think of the design process as something YOU have to pay for whether they book or not.

dalis4joe Posted 26 May 2010 , 6:29pm
post #26 of 36

Debi.... u r so so right... I think it's just that I am not thinking of this with the same frame of mind as I did when I worked for the corporate world.... and I need to understand that it's still a business and everything that happens as a result of that order/inquiry should be treated as time that needs 2b compensated.... thanks a lot.... I will make it a point to actually think like you said... how are the big timers doing it? I bet they won't do a sketch without knowing they got that order booked....

Butterpatty Posted 26 May 2010 , 6:38pm
post #27 of 36

I would much rather be asked my budget up front than end up feeling foolish and awkward later on when the cake (or item) is WAY out of the budget range. Also, if one did not truly have an understanding of what a custom cake should/would cost, this would be a great time for a gentle education (done in a manner so as not to make them feel foolish).

aundron Posted 26 May 2010 , 6:41pm
post #28 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar



Sometimes you have to drag it out of them because people are trained to think that if they set a price, the professional will sell right up to that limit. It could go like this:

Them: I don't know where the reception will be yet, or how many guests we'll have.
Me: It could be anywhere from $200 to $800 depending on what the specifics are. Do you want to get back to me when you have a better idea of what you're looking at, and I can try to give you a price range then?




This is so true. I had a customer call me yesterday explaining that she wanted a bridal shower cake and wanted the theme to be a beach/island theme, since they would be honeymooning on the beach. Here's how the convo went:

Me: how many people are you trying to serve?
Her: 80
Me:"whoa!! 80 people for a bridal shower is a lot. What is your budget?
Her: Well, I don't have a set budget, just wanted to see our options.
Me: Now, please know that the more people you are trying to serve will take the cost of the cake up.
Her: (she laughs) Oh I know, but my mother is inviting everybody.
Me: okay, well, I will send you some prices and pics in the morning.

Needless to say, when she saw that a custom cake to feed 80 could run $250 and up; she quickly decided not to go with me. icon_sad.gif Oh well!! Wished I would have pulled what she wanted to pay out of her so I wouldn't have wasted my time.

Chasey Posted 26 May 2010 , 6:48pm
post #29 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by aundron



Needless to say, when she saw that a custom cake to feed 80 could run $250 and up; she quickly decided not to go with me. icon_sad.gif Oh well!! Wished I would have pulled what she wanted to pay out of her so I wouldn't have wasted my time.




Couldn't you have immediately quoted her a serving price for buttercream and then a rough estimate that the MINIMUM charge would be $xxx? That would have saved you the next morning hassle I think!

aundron Posted 26 May 2010 , 6:52pm
post #30 of 36

You're right!! I guess I was too focused on telling her that the larger the servings, the larger the price. icon_redface.gificon_sad.gif

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