Slow Business, Am I Charging To Much?

Decorating By skmokis Updated 18 Jun 2010 , 7:26am by 4realLaLa

skmokis Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 5:15pm
post #1 of 22

My husband and I are living in Naples, Italy because of the military, and there is nowhere around here that you can get a decent cake. All the Italian bakeries sell pastry type stuff and there cakes are similar most often decorated with fruit. Trying to communicate with them telling them how you want your cake decorated is very difficult, then they just look at you with a snooty attitude " we no do American type cakes" I used to do cakes as a hobby back in the States because I was also in the military and I was just starting out, so I would do them for friends and family! Well when I got out of the military and came to Italy with my husband, I thought I could do this and bring in a little money on the side now that I had a little more experience and this wonderful website to help me out. I started to get a ton of orders then this one lady started to do cakes as well. She's always emailing me or calling to find out how to do this or that. Now she is swamped with the orders and I'm sitting here twiddling my thumbs. For a 3 tier cake she charges $80.00 I've attached a picture of her cake. I tried to attach another of my cake but it won't let me or I can't figure it out, but if you go under my pictures I charged $125.00 for the red, white and black tiered. The cake was wasc with strawberry ganache filling and Mousseline buttercream. The bottom and top tier were 3 layers and the middle was 2 layers of cake plus when you cut into it it was tie die with neon green, blue, pink, and purple (requested by the b-day girl) I also made the topper which one of her friends snapped the "R" when I got it to the site. Any comments are welcome and appreciated I would really like to know what I'm not doing or doing wrong!
LL

21 replies
skmokis Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 5:19pm
post #2 of 22

I forgot the dimensions, bottom tier three 12 inch rounds, middle tier was 2 ten inch, and top tier was 3 eight inch. The flowers were made from gumpaste!

Kima920 Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 7:33pm
post #3 of 22

Do you know if she is using traditional Italian cakes and then just decorating in American style? That might explain it. Sounds like she is severely undercutting you and I wouldn't lower prices because you won't make any money. She also might be promoting herself alot or something. But it seems like she started doing them because you were and then used all of your help to get started. I wouldn't help her anymore. I know we like to help each other on here but it seems like she is using you.

DiscoLady Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 7:46pm
post #4 of 22

Unfortunately, she may also have advantage over you if she is Italian too. How are you promoting your cakes?

carmijok Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 7:48pm
post #5 of 22

Well first of all you're telling this person how to do things. Since she is doing this for money, she is your competition. Stop with the free advice!! Or else ask HER why she's charging so little for her cakes. (Besides the fact they look a little ragged). Then go after different customers who don't know her. How is she getting the word out? How are you?

mamawrobin Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 7:49pm
post #6 of 22

You said that the picture is of HER cake? The bow wasn't allowed to dry so it's flat, the fondant work isn't good and overall it's not worth any more that that IMO. Like I've said before the quality of work is a very important factor when pricing a cake. Maybe she's "under pricing" you because of the quality of work that she's doing. Personally I would be upset if I paid for a cake and it didn't look any better than that.

Montrealconfections Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 8:06pm
post #7 of 22

Some people are particularly good at selling themselves they seem to have the gift of the gab, personally it has been my greatest weakness perhaps you need to start working on that. Also maybe a recon mission would be good, is there any way you could get a friend to order a cake from her (they are cheap after all lol). Aren't you intrigued to taste her cake? And as mentioned before please STOP the free tips!! If you google her you'll see where she is advertising that would also be some useful info. Good luck!

Kima920 Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 8:11pm
post #8 of 22

Also I took a look at the cake you did the black, red and white one. I would have charged more than 125 especially with all the flowers that are on the cake.

pattycakesnj Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 8:23pm
post #9 of 22

The red, black and white cake in your pics is worth way more than $125. You can not compete with someone who charges $80 for a 3 tier cake even though it looks like it is not done very well. She can't be making any money so sit tight and she should be going under soon. Keep your prices up and go after the upscale market. Maybe work on marketing yourself better.

pat-a-cakes Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 8:23pm
post #10 of 22

your work is very crisp and clean compared to hers. Like "mamawrobin" said, price should depend on quality of work and yours is a higher quality.

skmokis Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 8:23pm
post #11 of 22

The lady is not Italian she's a military wife herself and she advertises the same way I do. She saw my cakes on the base internet site, she contacted me as if she was interested in buying an xbox cake with controllers and the gumpaste dvd game for her son's birthday. I told her the price was $150.00, she said it was a little pricy, I explained to her that the cake is a 3D cake with alot of detail. Next thing you know 2 weeks later she's advertising her cakes right under mine. I put up flyer and business cards on all the bulletin boards around here, I check on them regularly to see if I need to add more and walla a week later she's got flyers and cards right under mine. I know she uses box cakes because a guy my husband works with had to order a cake from her because I had a gallbladder surgery a couple days before the guy needed the cake so he went to her. Well my husband took my oldest daughter to the birthday party and brought me a piece of the cake back. I could tell it was box cake and the icing was homemade. She would email me or call and ask what I use as a cake base and why her fondant looks shiny all the time, how to stack a cake I told her that I use foam core board which isn't available here. I have to get friends and family to send it to me from the states (didn't tell her that). She's asked why her buttercream doesn't stick to the cake all that well I keep telling her that I don't know because I don't know the supplies she's using. Now if I see her number on my phone I don't pick up and I won't reply to her emails. When someone calls for a cake and they here the price they think I'm crazy and then they say they'll get back with me and they never do. I assume they go to her because we are the only ones here who makes cakes. She emailed me the other day and said she was going to refer some of her clients to me because she is so swamped with cake orders that she can't take anymore, then emailed back and said never mind she has a friend that is going to help her with them.

auntginn Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 8:29pm
post #12 of 22

Wow! your cake is beautifully done. DO NOT lower your prices. The work is superb by comparison. The fondant work done in this post is not professional enough to charge for. For one it is is rolled out to thick.

If business is slow, can you call some of your customers and take a short survey. You may want to ask questions like #1 Have you had any events or occasions to order a cake. #2 where are they getting their cake. #3 Ask them to rate yours #4 Why did they make the decision to go else where?

Keep it brief it may help you in deciding how to revamp your business to bring in more orders.

HTH

cakesbymindysue Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 8:42pm
post #13 of 22

Your prices aren't too high, but you have to look at your market. Being overseas most people are used to having to order from the Commissary, and like Walmart, they get frozen slab cakes that they throw some Decopac decorations on. Do you have any holiday markets coming up? I would try to get a booth there to get the word out. Have some samples so people know what they are getting. Just keep at it and eventually people will see that you have a better product and it is indeed worth more.

catlharper Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 8:52pm
post #14 of 22

First of all, there will always be competition but I don't think Ferrari worries about Dodge taking their money from them. Just keep working to refine your skills. You are already, based on the photos, better skilled than her so keep working on it and you will become known as the one that does the really fantastic cakes. Word of mouth takes time so keep promoting, keep working and in the end you will win out. She is underpricing which will, in the short run get her more clients but as you keep getting better than she is people will come to you for the quality. So keep it up! Cat

skmokis Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 8:58pm
post #15 of 22

Thank all you guys for all your positive comments and tips. It makes me feel a WHOLE lot better, at least I know I'm not over charging. You guys are so Awesome!

cupcakemkr Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 9:06pm
post #16 of 22

You could also give samples to the bank, library, doctors office. My mom brings them to her chiropractor, hair salon, nail shop and they all post my fliers and they call her when they are running low.

mamawrobin Posted 15 Jun 2010 , 1:21am
post #17 of 22

In my previous post I only made a comment on the other lady's cake. I did look at your red, white and black cake and it is beautiful. Your work is also clean and very well executed. It's like comparing apples and oranges really. Your work is nothing like hers and your cake is well worth $125.00. If hers is worth $80.00 then yours should have been at least $200.00. She isn't going to have many repeat customers with the quality of work that she's putting out and with the prices that she is getting she's losing money. Just let it ride and the problem will take care of itself.

cheatize Posted 15 Jun 2010 , 3:48am
post #18 of 22

Try to look at it like this:
She is doing you a favor.

She is taking care of the clients who are too cheap or don't have the budget for your cakes. You don't have to mess with telling them, "No, I cannot lower my price for you."

She is also teaching the difference in quality you get for the price. Some will notice and come to you instead.

CWR41 Posted 15 Jun 2010 , 5:00am
post #19 of 22

If your flyers included some photos of your work, it will be clear to those who view it to compare your style to hers.

One thing I'd suggest, buy some colored fanci foil to cover your boards with rather than using no covering on cardboard or plain aluminum foil (it's too thin and the corrugated lines show through), or buy cake drums. Presentation is everything (well, along with a great tasting cake too)!!!

j_arney Posted 16 Jun 2010 , 7:46pm
post #20 of 22

I think that if quality is the big difference between you two, be sure to have pics in all your posters. Then if/when she posts pics too, people will really see the difference. If I saw a poster with your cake and a poster with her cake, I would NEVER call her. Maybe even post a few coupons so people get a cheap cake at first, but also realize that the next cake will be move. But once they're hooked, they're yours!

cheriej Posted 16 Jun 2010 , 8:22pm
post #21 of 22

I'm wondering if you could get your clients to provide some testimonials for you and to recommend you maybe? Your cakes are beautiful and I think it is strange that someone would be willing to pay $80 for that really ugly cake and not spend a little more to get a really great looking cake. Maybe you could do some cake tastings for new customers. I just loved that Hello Kitty cake you did - so cute. Hope that other ladies husband gets transferred soon. icon_smile.gif

4realLaLa Posted 18 Jun 2010 , 7:26am
post #22 of 22

I wouldn't worry too much about it. My advice would be to market yourself to a different clientel(since your product is a more high end than your competition). I would suggest maybe have a free tasting invite about 10 people and have surveys for them complete. Have them rate a few cakes and get some market research (so you can tailor to their needs). If you need any help with some questions you can pm me. One of my degrees is in marketing and I love doing it. Keep your head up bc you work speaks for itself.
Lala,

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