Just a few weeks ago I was lamenting over the lack of calls I was getting after a price hike.
Well, that was stupid on my part. The phones began to ring again, which is great. It was really just that time of year.
But this is my third summer open, and my first "real" summer in my opinion to take a full load. My busy season is now from April to November. I've taken TOO many weddings probably.
And I am now looking at my orders, and seeing that some of the weddings really weren't worth my time. If I take 3 small weddings, and then 3 big weddings call, but I can only take 1 of the big weddings because of the small ones I have, then I'm losing money. That has happened at least 4 weekends this year that I am turning away higher paying cakes because I've booked lower paying jobs already.
I was thinking that after a certain number of cakes booked for 2011, I'll invoke a minimum either guest count or $$ amount.
Do you have a wedding minimum? what is it? Has it worked for you?
As the saying goes... you don't know if it's your first offer or your only offer (when selling something). If you turn down the first 3 small weddings anticipating that 3 large weddings will call and it never happens, wouldn't you wish that you had booked the first 3 small ones that called first? It's impossible to predict... but I would think you'd need to take what you can get and stick with first-come, first-served. (or take them all if you want the business, but raise your prices if you feel like you're losing money, that way perhaps you'll get fewer bookings with more profit.)
this sounds like a GOOD problem to me if you are getting booked and would like the bigger orders...why don't you get some help?
Definitely bring some help in during the peak season. You'd be amazed how much help just prepping/washing pans, mixing cake batter and icing, filling decorating bags, etc, can be to you.
Also review your processes. Do you have things set up for assembly line processing or are you making one cake at a time? Do you line up all 17 of the individual cakes and crumb coat them all, then ice them all, then decorate? Do you make your 35 lbs of icing a day or two ahead of time? Are your boards all prepped and ready to go? This can really streamline the work and cut hours off of your time.
There is a big caterer in town that sets a headcount limit during the summer months. 200 guests or call someone else. They are HUGE ..... they cater things like NBC and Nascar events. So I can totally see how they just refuse to screw around with an event for 75 during peak season. It's not totally unusual.
But I wasn't a Nascar or Indy 500 caterer so I never really had that option! Every sale is a sale.
Some people set a minimum for wedding cakes, too, maybe $200 or whatever. That way even if they call and say they're only having 40 people you have your minimum and you won't be completely shut out of making a profit on your time.
ID raises a good question. Do you have an efficient work space? I am a retired nurse and I started mentally organizing the shift during report. Sometimes too efficient and would have admin sending me to help in the OR. The word for the day...efficiency.
Thanks for the responses- I didn't get any notifications that there were any, so I apologize for not appreciating the time it took to respond.
basically, what happened this year is that I set a goal for myself, with a thought that if each wedding gets me $XXX, then I'll make $XXX. Well, it turned out that a large handful of those that booked with me were smaller weddings and wanted to only spend $XX. Which made me panic, because of course I have bills to pay, and financial goals to fill. SO, I took almost double my goal, and STILL turned away at least 20 weddings because I was full.
I am burning myself out running around doing these smaller weddings, knowing I'm still only going to make my original goal, not really surpass it.
So, I upped my prices for next year, and I intend to do it again in January.
I don't want next summer to look like this one, so I am trying to put my time to good use.
Hiring someone at this point is not an option in my opinion. I do not want to deal with the payroll/tax issue, nor do I have time to train someone in "my way" (lol, anal retentive, anyone?). My business is getting too big too fast, in my opinion, and I know better than to jump into it with a 3 year old home schooler at home.
I am efficient in most areas, although I do flub up sometimes. I worked in a grocery store for years, so speed is not an issue. I can base ice a 3 tier in about 20 minutes tops. I have a large mixer-baking gets done, then icings, then fillings, then put the cakes together. I have a system that works, but when you have 6 weddings and 6 celebrations on a fri/sat, it doesn't really matter how fast you are, you're going to be tight on time.
I am trying to figure out how to best invest my time, and although the small weddings "deserve" the same attention as the big ones, I'm just not that interested in the brides who want to spend $200 on their cake anymore. (sounds greedy, doesn't it?)
i totally understand how you feel about being territorial but nothing is wrong with having a little help to do some prep work for you! or even just filling a cake! it would alleviate a lot of stress for you and you may be able to book more weddings JMHO