There's another question up right now about tastings, but I didn't want to jump in there because I didn't want to direct away any helpful advice the OP is going to get and because my own questions are slightly different.
Here's my situation... I work out of a shared use kitchen, which means when I want to do tastings I have to book (and pay for) the space. I would estimate that at each tasting 1/3 - 1/2 the people who have made appointments don't show up, or show up very late, even though we do send reminder emails. Being that it's a rental kitchen I can't just keep working in the kitchen until people decide to show up because another group is usually in there. This is a huge waste of my time, product and money. How can I prevent this? I know that the obvious answer is to charge for tastings, but that's almost unheard of around here, and we're a fairly new shop and so I don't feel I can command that right now.
The second issue is that we've been having large groups of people show up for tastings, even though we clearly state on the website that the tasting is limited to four people in the party. We require people to rsvp for the tasting (because we have to know how long to book our space for) but what people have been doing is just making multiple rsvp's. So, for example, we've got a tasting coming up in a couple of weeks that 13 people all rsvp'd for (under multiple names)! What tipped us off originally was that we found it very strange that so many of our couples all knew each other! We finally started asking who these people were and who was getting married, etc and find out that they're all coming with one person!
How do I make it clear that's unacceptable? We're a small business and can't afford to host free tea parties for people who think it's a fun way to kill time and have no intention to buy?
I don't know what to say about ppl who don't show up it's just plain rude! It's up to you to decide if you want to reschedule them. As for the party of 13 I would call the BTB tell her that's unacceptable as you can only accomodate 4 ppl or whatever you can, then if they do all show up you can just show them the door! Never let customers dictate who can come to a tasting
You might have to take the step of taking a credit card fee through paypal or something like that to book the tasting appointment, then applying it to the cost of the cake if they book with you. If they don't show up they forfeit the fee.
As far as having so many people show up, do you do big group tastings or one couple at a time? If you schedule people on the half hour or whatever other time increments you're comforatble with, you can control how many people show up together. Tell them that you can accomodate three people total, bride,groom plus one other, and that extra people will be $20 each or something like that.
I've started adding "no kids" in my confirmation email, and also putting in that if they're desperate and can't get a sitter, to make sure they bring someone with them who can keep the kid outside the consult room while we're talking. If they know they can't bring the kids in, they might as well get a sitter.
Are you allowed to take the tasting to an outside establishment? I do mine at a coffee shop because I work legally from home, and I don't have a good place at home to have consults right now.
I told people I only had 4 chairs. And no matter how many show up, I only had cake/food for 4 people. If 13 show up, you just look at them and say, "ok.....who are the decision makers? They get to sit on one of my 4 chairs and taste the food."
Debi's answer for the win! lol
I might just throw the plate on the table and run for your life. LOL
When we first started we booked tastings one at a time but because we had so many no-shows we started booking multiple appts at the same time and have multiple sales people ready to sit one on one with them. As it isn't
my space I can't do anything about the tables and chairs available. What's there are four modern picnic style tables that could easily seat eight at a time. We do say on the website that each party is limited to four, so what's happening isn't that 13 people showed up for one appt, they just made several appts! To me, that shows they're aware of our policy and decided to skirt it. When we suspected that was what was happening we directly asked them and they told us they're all coming for one bride.
It's just aggravating because I try very hard to be honest and up-front with people in person, on the phone and on our website but I spend a good chunk of my day closing the loop holes people find!
Some people are just jerky. You might want to start limiting it to the bride and groom only, if people are taking advantage like that.
This may be another "no cake for you!" situation. They are deliberately finding ways to get around your rules. What's going to happen on down the line if they do order from you?
I just don't understand how humans got so dependant upon the opinions of others. How many people does it take to know if your cake tastes good? Sheesh.
cheatzie-exactly! I find that the more people that attend the tasting the less likely it is that anyone can make a decision.
What we've decided to do is change the rules to allow for three people to attend. If they would like more than that then they pay a nominal charge for each additional person. We're also going to begin charging for tastings. The other thing we're doing is sending a questionnaire out to people who contact us about wanting a tasting with very specific questions about their wedding date, venue, guest count, budget and tell them it's required to fill out before they can be booked for a tasting. HALF the people who were scheduled for our next tasting didn't bother to reply, which makes me think they were all coming in for fun. What a huge waste of my time and money that would have been.
Have you considered mass tastings? A few people here will host an event about 3-4 times a year and invite all the couples/potential couples to taste the cakes. That way you're not baking cakes just for a certain couple on a certain day in the hopes that they will show up. Instead, around that time, they just bake up a few large sheet cakes, cut them into tasting pieces and have some other frostings and fillings available.
Some charge for this, some don't. It's posted on their websites when the tastings are held and if you can't come, oh well.
Rose_N_Crantz-that's basically what we do. Since we have to rent the space in order to have the tastings we do all our tastings on the same day. If someone can't make it to the tasting on the day or if they feel like they won't get enough personal attention we also offer a private tasting that we'll come to your home (or wherever they want to meet) for $50. We've had lots of people take us up on that.