Tasting Woes

Business By pinkpiggie78 Updated 21 Jun 2010 , 9:21pm by johnson6ofus

pinkpiggie78 Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 3:23pm
post #1 of 40

I am looking for some recommendations on how to make my tastings work better for me. Currently, I schedule individual tastings where each couple can select 3 cake flavors and two fillings to taste. I also allow them to taste my buttercreams and fondant. I offer to do the tastings at their home, my home, or two central locations that are easy for folks to get to if they aren't familiar with or aren't from the area. I also offer a "pick-up" tasting for couples that work different shifts or prefer to taste on their own.

Anyhoo, I have been having problems with tasting lately. One never showed and one just cancelled but a few hours before the tasting. Both times I baked mulitple cakes and made fillings. I do make multiple tasting cakes and freeze them for a bit, but I usually don't have every cake flavor on hand so I typically have to bake at least once.

Is this normal? I didn't have any problems with this last year (I just started back after having a baby). I have been contemplating just doing tastings twice a month with multiple couples, but is this a good option? Any advice from all you pros out there?

39 replies
cakesonoccasion Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 3:49pm
post #2 of 40

You need to not give them an option on flavor/filling- bake once a month- 4 or 5 of your most popular flavors, and freeze. Bake 8" squares- and cut them into 8 pieces each. This will give you enough to do 8 tastings that month. Line the appointments up on only 2 dates that month- let's say every other Saturday- and book 1p, 2p, 3p, 4p back to back. as far as the no-shows go- ask them for a credit card # to hold their appointment, and require 24 hrs notice of cancellation, otherwise you charge $25 no-show fee. HTH!

indydebi Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 3:56pm
post #3 of 40

You need to take control of your business instead of letting your customers dictate how you're going to run it.

YOu also sound desparate. here's what I'm hearing you tell a bride:

"OH my gosh a bride! I am SO desparate for your business that I will TOTALLY disrupt my day and my life to meet you here, or at starbucks or I'll even cater it right to your home, no matter where you live! You can have ANY flavors you want and I'll bake them special just for you to eat for free! I'll even pack up some samples that you can pick up and you can have free dessert at your house without me being there to be able to answer questions or sell my service to you! Anything! Anything! Just PLEASE please please book this appointment with me!"

- All of my appts were at my location.
- I chose the flavors. (I baked 8" squares and cut them into 9 pieces. Just perfect for 2 people to "sample". They got 3 cake flavors of whatever I had on hand.)
- Appts were on the hour, every 2 hours. If they needed a day appt, I'd tell them, "I have 12:00 and 2:00 open on Tuesday, or 2:00 on Thursday .... which works best for you?"
- In the confirming email, I asked them to let me know if they were running late "...becasue at 15 mins past the appt, I consider you a no-show and I pack up and go home."

I made it clear from the beginning that this was a BUSINESS meeting, not a koffee-klatch with the girls; that I was serious about this and I expected them to be serious about it too. No way did I give the impression that I was a cake-drive-thru or a 24/7 walmart that they could come and go as they please.

Take control of your business.

pinkpiggie78 Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 4:13pm
post #4 of 40

Thanks ladies. Indydebi, you cracked me up... I didn't realize I came across as desperate... I thought I was accomodating knowing folks have kids, jobs, etc and alot of folks commute an hour or more away from here on a daily basis. I also allow for the different locations, because I have two kids at my home and know they will be here (with my husband). I do charge for my tastings, but do not require advance payment, mostly because I do not process credit cards directly. It would definately be easier to not allow them to try exactly what they want. Guess I better revamp my thought process...

indydebi Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 4:19pm
post #5 of 40

Accomodating is one thing. What you're doing is WAY above and beyond. In the business sense, the overhead you're incurring by running it this way is way out of line.

I understand wanting to be easy to work with, but also consider that when the bride/groom who work two different shifts have to do their pre-marital counseling with their minister, they WILL find a way for both of them to be there. When a bride and her BM's have dress fitting appts, they WILL find a way to be there. I've never heard of a bridal shop coming to a bride's home unless the bride's father was Donald Trump.

So when their caterer or florist or cake lady needs to talk to one or both of them, then they WILL find a way to meet with her/them. I've had MANY a bride come to see me and apologize because "my fiance had to work".

It's very easy to think from the point of view of a consumer because we've all been consumers longer than we've been business owners. But you have to get a different mindset and think like a business owner who has schedules to keep and overhead to keep under control. Remember, your personal time is the most valuable and expensive overhead you've got! thumbs_up.gif

Loucinda Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 8:29pm
post #6 of 40

Indy always has great advice. I do not let them "pick" the flavors, it is whatever I have baked that week is offered for my tastings.

I do offer to meet them at a location that is close to where I teach though, but that doesn't put me out any, and I work in the metro area - where I live/have my business is in a smaller town north of there.

I also tell them which days/times I have available - so I am flexible somewhat, but they know this is my business, and I (to date in 3 years) have not had ANY no - shows. I contact them a couple of days ahead of time to "remind" them of the appointment.

pinkpiggie78 Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 9:32pm
post #7 of 40

What do you tell brides who specifically make requests with their initial contact? Last year a bride told me she was interested in "winter" cake flavors and fillings. Another one wanted chocolate and coffee.

Kitagrl Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 9:40pm
post #8 of 40

I've started to do this lately...I offer a free "chef's choice" tasting (leftover cake from the freezer and leftover or easy to prep fillings, stuff I have on hand) and a paid tasting (their choice, prepayment of $25 which does NOT come off their price of their cake. They are "buying" the tasting).

That way the cheap ones and non-committed ones get a free tasting. If they cancel last minute, then I didn't really lose any money because I always keep a few extra flavors in the freezer and I always have puddings and buttercreams and can whip up ganache easily...and my kids and hub will eat the tasting.

If they pay for a tasting before the tasting (and thus they get to pick three flavors and fillings they are interested in), they sure aren't going to cancel on me. If they do...well then they paid me for my ingredients and my family still gets to eat the cake. haha. Plus, I usually have extra leftover for the next tasting anyway.

sari66 Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 9:49pm
post #9 of 40

Well, you have two choices they either pay for those specific choices or tell them that those other flavors will be just as good as the ones your tasting now icon_smile.gif

indydebi Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 12:36am
post #10 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkpiggie78

What do you tell brides who specifically make requests with their initial contact? Last year a bride told me she was interested in "winter" cake flavors and fillings. Another one wanted chocolate and coffee.


First, I'd tell her that I'm not aware that cake flavors are seasonal, so I've no idea what a "winter" cake flavor is.

2nd, I view a tasting as an opportunity for a bride to see if she likes my baking ... NOT an opportunity for her to "place an order" for everything on my menu so she can decide what flavor she wants.

For specific requests, which I rarely RARELY rec'd, I'd tell them either "I'm sorry, I dont' have that flavor available right now" or simply explain "The appt is to determine if you like my baking style. My lemon cake will taste just as good as my white cake except it will taste like lemon." Never had a bride argue with me.

Because I control how I run my business.

Kitagrl Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 12:42am
post #11 of 40

Awww Indy, I suggest pumpkin and chocolate and carrot and spice for fall/winter, and lemon or white or strawberry stuff for summer.... cake can be "seasonal"...sort of...????? icon_lol.gif

I'm still trying to get more weddings so I still try to kiss some butts to get them....but when I'm busier with weddings, I'll probably make my tastings more basic!!!!

indydebi Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 12:51am
post #12 of 40

But kita ... people eat chocolate and white and carrot and lemon all year long! Please don't tell me I can't have white cake just because it's November! icon_cry.gificon_lol.gif

(And don't try to shove that nasty pumpkin flavored ANYTHING down my throat ANY time of year! icon_mad.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif )

Kitagrl Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 12:54am
post #13 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

But kita ... people eat chocolate and white and carrot and lemon all year long! Please don't tell me I can't have white cake just because it's November! icon_cry.gificon_lol.gif

(And don't try to shove that nasty pumpkin flavored ANYTHING down my throat ANY time of year! icon_mad.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif )




Oh but you haven't had MY pumpkin cake. haha. I've had people tell me they like it and they don't even LIKE pumpkin...and I don't like pumpkin pie but I'll eat pumpkin cake all day... its a very gentle pumpkin, not all that spicy nutmeg stuff in it.

Anyhoo...(its okay you can hate my pumpkin cake. *sniff*)

Yes chocolate is definitely all year around!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! thumbs_up.gif

kger Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 2:04am
post #14 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl


Oh but you haven't had MY pumpkin cake. haha. I've had people tell me they like it and they don't even LIKE pumpkin...and I don't like pumpkin pie but I'll eat pumpkin cake all day... its a very gentle pumpkin, not all that spicy nutmeg stuff in it.




Ahem... recipe pls? icon_biggrin.gif

Kitagrl Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 2:09am
post #15 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by kger

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl


Oh but you haven't had MY pumpkin cake. haha. I've had people tell me they like it and they don't even LIKE pumpkin...and I don't like pumpkin pie but I'll eat pumpkin cake all day... its a very gentle pumpkin, not all that spicy nutmeg stuff in it.




Ahem... recipe pls? icon_biggrin.gif




Okay, so its not really MINE. haha. Its Pumpkin Cake III on Allrecipes. Gooooood stuff. Especially good after its been refrigerated overnight and then iced in cream cheese icing with a bit of cinnamon thrown in.

My best recipes, I think, (cake, bread, cheesecake, etc) have come from finding the highest rated recipes on Allrecipes or similar sites....Yum stuff. Just made a honey wheat bread recipe from there that I'll totally be making again...

kger Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 2:17am
post #16 of 40

TY~!

cakelady31 Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 2:56am
post #17 of 40

I set up my tastings when it's convienient for both parties. And always at my location. I make sure they know that I bake everything fresh for them (said in a motherly guilt laden voice icon_evil.gif ) so please call in advanced if you will not be able to keep the scheduled appointment. So far I have only had on no show. and I neglected to mention this to this particular potential client.

Indy is so right about being in charge of your business! Just a few minutes ago I had to tell a client to choose TWO cake flavors and TWO frostings after he requested to sample like 4 cake flavors and 5 frosting's !! WHOA BUDDY! I politely told him I offer a free consult/tasting which includes 2 and 2. Anything after that is another scheduled appt with a $25 fee which is deducted from the price of your wedding cake purchase. Thank you very much icon_razz.gif the last statement is a new policy I just instituted icon_biggrin.gif Live and Learn.

Good Luck!

Sneezie Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 3:01am
post #18 of 40

so what about party cakes? We have a client that wants to come and try two of our frostings for a $60 cake!

cas17 Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 3:05am
post #19 of 40

i agree 100% with debi. when i book a bridal consultation, the next day i send them an email explaining how it will proceed. i give them 3 flavors of cake to taste that i have on hand--trimmed tops from that week's cakes--cut into nice bite-size pices or one that i have baked up that month specifically for tastings. i also give them a list of fillings that i have on hand and let them pick up to 5 along with a dollop of vanilla and chocolate buttercream. i also let them know that i will bake them a 6" single layer in a flavor of their choice (unfrosted) but it will be $10 payable in cash and they must give me 3 days prior notice.

cas17 Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 3:10am
post #20 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sneezie

so what about party cakes? We have a client that wants to come and try two of our frostings for a $60 cake!




No tastings for under 74 servings.

Cakechick123 Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 6:54am
post #21 of 40
Quote:
Quote:

- All of my appts were at my location.
- I chose the flavors. (I baked 8" squares and cut them into 9 pieces. Just perfect for 2 people to "sample". They got 3 cake flavors of whatever I had on hand.)
- Appts were on the hour, every 2 hours. If they needed a day appt, I'd tell them, "I have 12:00 and 2:00 open on Tuesday, or 2:00 on Thursday .... which works best for you?"
- In the confirming email, I asked them to let me know if they were running late "...becasue at 15 mins past the appt, I consider you a no-show and I pack up and go home."

I made it clear from the beginning that this was a BUSINESS meeting, not a koffee-klatch with the girls; that I was serious about this and I expected them to be serious about it too. No way did I give the impression that I was a cake-drive-thru or a 24/7 walmart that they could come and go as they please.

Take control of your business




Have to agree 100% with Debi, I do exacty the same, as a matter of fact I had a tasting weekend this wekend, boooked brides back to back from 10am until 5pm (every hour) on Saturday AND Sunday and so far i've had 4 already accepting the quotes icon_smile.gif and its only 9am over here icon_smile.gif
you need to show them that your professional and that your in charge of your business, how else are they going to trust that you will give them a professional product??

Mindy1975 Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 11:30am
post #22 of 40

speaking of PUMPKIN............OMG!!!!!! Have any of you even had any orders for pumpkin in any of your wedding tiers lately? I booked a wedding last year for this weekend, and the bride wantes one of the tiers to be pumpkin........I have gone to every grocery store in town and NO ONE has any canned pumpking on the shelves! Anyone else having this problem? I had to ask around at church yesterday and call friends to scrape up several cans of pumpkin so I could make this one tier! Thank god she chose that flavor for only an 11" tier! lol Sorry, didn't mean to hi-jack your thread! lol

pinkpiggie78 Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 12:26pm
post #23 of 40

I guess I still continue to look at it from the consumer's point of view... if I know I want carrot cake at my wedding, I want to taste YOUR carrot cake. Maybe I just get picky brides?

tomthebarncat Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 12:33pm
post #24 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loucinda

Indy always has great advice. I do not let them "pick" the flavors, it is whatever I have baked that week is offered for my tastings.

I do offer to meet them at a location that is close to where I teach though, but that doesn't put me out any, and I work in the metro area - where I live/have my business is in a smaller town north of there.

I also tell them which days/times I have available - so I am flexible somewhat, but they know this is my business, and I (to date in 3 years) have not had ANY no - shows. I contact them a couple of days ahead of time to "remind" them of the appointment.




Reminding people is inferring that they are too stupid to remember the appointment, try CONFIRMING the appointment! If you called to "remind" me I would automatically tell you that I am smart enough to remember the appointment that I made and then would cancel. I find this assumption patronizing and condescending. I learned this from a DDS that I worked for many years ago.

Mindy1975 Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 12:40pm
post #25 of 40

Pinkpiggie, I would say I only get a specific request about one out of every 5 brides. And most of the time, luckily, I have the flavor on hand, because most of the time my wedding cakes have at least 5 flavors in them. Thank god for freezers, because I can store up all kinds of flavors for future tastings. lol I can see your point. And luckily, not every bride is that way, or there would be a lot of "no" on the phone! lol

tcakes65 Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 12:53pm
post #26 of 40

You would be amazed at how many brides forget their appointments. I don't think she was trying to be insulting.

I agree with indydebi that you have to keep control of your business because at some point the requests become outrageous. I had two brides last week that made some unreasonable requests. One wanted to try every cake, filling, and icing flavor on our menu...a total of 50 different flavors. icon_eek.gif She sent me an email request and listed them all out. This was after I told her there would be three cake flavors and some fillings available at my discretion. She could not or would not comprehend why she could not "sample" everything. Ummm...maybe because that would be not be considered a sample.

The second bride came in for her consultation, and we have fake cakes on display for clients to see our skills. She wanted to see "real" wedding cakes constructed and decorated. She was disappointed that we didn't have "real" cakes for her to see and for the life of her could not understand why we didn't have them. Hmmm...mold, ants, and insect infestation. She wanted us to go in the back kitchen and put some "real" wedding cakes together while she waited. icon_surprised.gif Really? icon_confused.gif I think this one tops the list of outrageous requests.

Bottom line is you can't people please all the time and cater to their every request. Eventually the requests get down right ridiculous. Learn to say no now with the little things.

KHalstead Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 12:55pm
post #27 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mindy1975

speaking of PUMPKIN............OMG!!!!!! Have any of you even had any orders for pumpkin in any of your wedding tiers lately? I booked a wedding last year for this weekend, and the bride wantes one of the tiers to be pumpkin........I have gone to every grocery store in town and NO ONE has any canned pumpking on the shelves! Anyone else having this problem? I had to ask around at church yesterday and call friends to scrape up several cans of pumpkin so I could make this one tier! Thank god she chose that flavor for only an 11" tier! lol Sorry, didn't mean to hi-jack your thread! lol





Save a lot sells canned pumpkin year round!

Mindy1975 Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 12:57pm
post #28 of 40

Don't have a save a lot here in Central Illinois. lol Thank you though KHalstead! icon_smile.gif

Kitagrl Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 1:00pm
post #29 of 40

I keep hearing about the pumpkin but my grocery store(s) seem to have it year round...?

tcakes65 Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 1:03pm
post #30 of 40

It seems like I purchased my pumpkin from Walmart. I'll double check and let you know. I had a difficult time finding it also. I was surprised that it is only stocked over the holidays. I've had many requests for pumpkin spice for fall weddings. Once I found the pumpkin, I stocked up.

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%