Just Starting Out And Need Advice

Business By SugarKissesCakery Updated 5 Aug 2010 , 11:44pm by LindaF144a

SugarKissesCakery Posted 28 Jul 2010 , 2:30am
post #1 of 26

I'm just getting started doing paid cakes. Someone at my husband's work emailed me and asked if I could make a cake for her daughter's birthday party. She told me she wanted a buttercream cake to feed 8 people, two bunnies sculpted out of fondant and wanted the cake to say Happy Birthday Ellie. Oh yeah, the most she wanted to pay was $15-20 bucks. How do you respond to this????

I told her my standard price was $2/serving and a 6" cake would feed 12 (according to Wilton) so the cake would be $24 plus $10 extra for two sculpted bunnies. Since I realized it was out of her price range, I offered to do one sculpted bunny for free and charge her $25 for the cake. No response.

Now I'm sitting here wondering how in the world it makes sense to bake the cakes, make a batch of buttercream, make a batch of MMF, fill cakes, ice cakes, sculpt animals, blah blah blah for $25 bucks. Yikes. I could work at McDonalds and get paid more than that. Your thoughts ??????

25 replies
Lcubed82 Posted 28 Jul 2010 , 2:43am
post #2 of 26

You did well not giving into the urge to cut your price to get the job! As you say, it's just not worth it to do all that work for so little.

Many set a minimum amount, like 50.00.

johnson6ofus Posted 28 Jul 2010 , 2:46am
post #3 of 26

yup... many people want a "Buddy Cake Boss" or Charm City Duff" cake for walmart prices.

It's not a deal to sell a Ferrari for a Volkswagen price. icon_biggrin.gif

Don't work for free....

auntiecake Posted 28 Jul 2010 , 2:57am
post #4 of 26

Let her do it for that price and see what she thinks then. Just buying the ingredients will stop her in her trail. They sometimes just don't get it, and sometimes I am so easy. Glad you held your own.

indydebi Posted 28 Jul 2010 , 7:17am
post #5 of 26

I wouldn't have even quoted her. I would have replied, "Sorry, but it seems I cant' accommodate your projected budget. The cost of my ingredients are at least double of what you want to spend in total. Thanks for thinking of me! You might check with walmart .... they have a number of cakes in that price range, although you wont' get sculpted bunnies for anywhere near that price. Let me know how else I can help!" icon_biggrin.gif

I'd also have hubby 'subtley' mention that I didnt' even unlock my shop for a $15 order, let alone turn on my oven! icon_twisted.gif

auntiecake Posted 28 Jul 2010 , 7:29am
post #6 of 26

Good response indydebi!

indydebi Posted 28 Jul 2010 , 8:33am
post #7 of 26

It's what a caterer friend of mine refers to as "fast food mentality".

If 4 Happy meals are $12, then I can get one for $3.

Therefore ......

if a cake to serve 20 is $40, then I can get cake that feeds 5 for $10.

Catering (and cakes) dont' work that way.

There are minimums all over the place.

There are 16 slices of bread in a loaf. If I only need 6 slices, I STILL have to pay for the whole loaf.

If the smallest container of paint being sold is a quart, but I only need a 1/2 pint, I STILL have to pay for the whole quart.

If the smallest cake I make feeds 20 and it costs $75, but you only need cake for 8, you STILL have to buy the whole cake for 20 at $75.

kansaslaura Posted 28 Jul 2010 , 12:35pm
post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

"Sorry, but it seems I cant' accommodate your projected budget. The cost of my ingredients are at least double of what you want to spend in total. Thanks for thinking of me! You might check with walmart .... they have a number of cakes in that price range, although you wont' get sculpted bunnies for anywhere near that price. Let me know how else I can help!"




Some*bunny* <<sorry bad me, but couldn't resist, stole MY line!!

And the look you get when you say that is utter disbelief! Most people think it's a privledge that they considered YOU to make it in the first place and to so casually turn them down? Well!! huff huff.... thumbs_up.gif

johnson6ofus Posted 28 Jul 2010 , 2:52pm
post #9 of 26

[/quote]Most people think it's a privledge that they considered YOU to make it in the first place and to so casually turn them down? Well!! huff huff.... thumbs_up.gif[/quote]

Yeah, like you can retire after the profit you make on a $15-$20 cake minus utilities, ingredients, and effort. Sheeeeez...

I bet you could make 50 cents an hour on that one!

Motta Posted 28 Jul 2010 , 3:10pm
post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

There are minimums all over the place.

There are 16 slices of bread in a loaf. If I only need 6 slices, I STILL have to pay for the whole loaf.

If the smallest container of paint being sold is a quart, but I only need a 1/2 pint, I STILL have to pay for the whole quart.

If the smallest cake I make feeds 20 and it costs $75, but you only need cake for 8, you STILL have to buy the whole cake for 20 at $75.




Ah Debi, you're the best! A lightbulb just turned on above my head. Thank you for sharing your wisdom once again!

TexasSugar Posted 28 Jul 2010 , 6:14pm
post #11 of 26

I wouldn't have even turned on my mixer/oven for a single 6in cake. The smallest I will do alone is an 8in. So I would have started over her price range.

My advice is next time, stop after the "My cakes are $2 a serving so the cake is $24 plus an extra $10 for the two hand sculpted bunnies."

Don't offer something free because of the price range she gave you. If she wanted the cake and bunnies bad enough she would have forked over the extra $10. And it puts in you in an ackward position next time when she expects the same treatment.

You give your price, and leave the rest up to them. Many times you will have people that don't want to pay that much, which is their choice. That just means instead of you slaving away to give them a cake for their very, very small cake budget, you get to spend your time doing something for yourself or with your family.

sadsmile Posted 28 Jul 2010 , 6:39pm
post #12 of 26

You won't get very far in business if you allow the customer to dictate your prices.
Also since it hasn't been mentioned yet, check into your local laws and verify if you can even turn your home oven on for a profit. Many states and counties require the business end of your business to be handled long before you can start out.

IsaSW Posted 28 Jul 2010 , 6:46pm
post #13 of 26

Ok. So this is the perfect place for my question.

Same situation, my husband coworkers wants a cake for only 8 people.
I sent her my prices via e-mail. Same stuff I have in my website. And told her the smallest cake I make serves 12, but because she was my husband co-workers I would do it.
Se wanted a cake shaped like a cup and saucer, similar to one I had sent a picture earlier, I knew I had some gumpaste flowers leftover from another cake. So I didn't have to make the flowers, and minimal carving. I thought it would be fun to make a cup and saucer for the first time, never done one before. So I felt like somebody was paying for my materials to play a little.
So I multiplied 5.25 x 8 and that is what I charged her. $42
Do you guys think this is ok?, or should have said my minimum is $63 which is fondant 5.25 x 12.
I had so many mixed fillings about this, friday when I did it.
At the end, it didn't take me that long to make it. I think I spent more time trying to get a good picture than actually decorating it.
I would like to hear your opinion, so next time I do it like a professional.
oh! here is the pic.

Indi, love the example of the loaf of bread.
LL

cakeprof Posted 28 Jul 2010 , 7:25pm
post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by IsaSW


So I multiplied 5.25 x 8 and that is what I charged her. $42
Do you guys think this is ok?, or should have said my minimum is $63 which is fondant 5.25 x 12.
d.




Rather than figuring the price as 5.25 x 12. You could have done something like $3.50 x 12 so you get to the price of $42.

Now how you would justify that? Well you are using flowers from a previous project, if you have already been paid for that time then no need to charge them to this other cake. You said you wanted to try a cup and saucer cake. So this could easily justify lowering the price per serving since you are attempting a sculpted design you have not done before and can use this an opportunity to practice it.

It is not uncommon for people to offer lower rates on a design or technique that they have not done before. While this is a discount, it is better than simply not charging for servings as if they did not exist. Here you are acknowledging that you discount the price per serving because you get something in return--practice.

This is more than a way to rationalize not charging for 12 servings--it accounts for common business practices---ergo it is professional.

TexasSugar Posted 28 Jul 2010 , 8:51pm
post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by IsaSW

So I multiplied 5.25 x 8 and that is what I charged her. $42
Do you guys think this is ok?, or should have said my minimum is $63 which is fondant 5.25 x 12.




If you baked a cake that serves 12, why didn't you charge for the 12 servings?

JohnnyCakes1966 Posted 28 Jul 2010 , 9:20pm
post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by IsaSW

I knew I had some gumpaste flowers leftover from another cake. So I didn't have to make the flowers, and minimal carving.




Even if you had flowers from another cake, you still had to make them at some point. And you'll have to make more for the next customer who wants them. I often make flowers when things are slow so I'll have them if I need them in a rush. They keep forever, so no harm. You'd better believe every customer who gets them on a cake pays for them and my time to make them.

indydebi Posted 28 Jul 2010 , 9:44pm
post #17 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyCakes1966

Quote:
Originally Posted by IsaSW

I knew I had some gumpaste flowers leftover from another cake. So I didn't have to make the flowers, and minimal carving.



Even if you had flowers from another cake, you still had to make them at some point. And you'll have to make more for the next customer who wants them. I often make flowers when things are slow so I'll have them if I need them in a rush. They keep forever, so no harm. You'd better believe every customer who gets them on a cake pays for them and my time to make them.


Yes!!

As I've illustrated before .....

Imagine you are running a "real" business (not saying you're not .... but bear with me). Imagine you have an employee who does nothing but make flowers. Imagine they make flowers and stock them up for you so all you have to do is grab-n-run with them to decorate a cake.

Just because they're made in advance, do you give the flowers away for free? No you don't. Because you STILL have (had) to write a payroll check to the employee who made the flowers. And you can't write a chck if there is no money in the account and there is no money in the account if you give away the flowers.

Just because you're not making them "righ tnow", doesn't mean there isn't an expense invested in those flowers.

bakencake Posted 28 Jul 2010 , 10:17pm
post #18 of 26

why do we feel guilty about our price when it comes to these matters? I sometimes give a "special discount" to my neighbor's sister's dog walker because one of the people in the line "knows" me. Then i end up resenting myself. I figure I have about 2 more cakes before I learn my lesson. icon_biggrin.gif

indydebi Posted 28 Jul 2010 , 10:21pm
post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by bakencake

why do we feel guilty about our price when it comes to these matters? I sometimes give a "special discount" to my neighbor's sister's dog walker because one of the people in the line "knows" me. Then i end up resenting myself. I figure I have about 2 more cakes before I learn my lesson. icon_biggrin.gif




Warning! Blatent self promoting and advertisement coming up!

Pricing and discounting ..... I'm working on an article on this topic for Cake Central Magz and am/have interviewed two well known and nationally known wedding marketing experts in the field who have some awesome advice in this regard. Stay tuned for more details in upcoming issues! thumbs_up.gif

tokazodo Posted 28 Jul 2010 , 10:50pm
post #20 of 26

IndyDebi,


Would you adopt me? Plz? icon_cry.gif I'm house broken, and I clean up my mess in the kitchen after cake decorating! icon_biggrin.gif I can't wait to read your article. I've learned so much on this website!

Thanks Indy for your wisdom, and eagerness to share!

dholdenrn Posted 28 Jul 2010 , 11:47pm
post #21 of 26

I know how you feel...I am always giving a discount for something! ....Oh, you bought a cake from me last week, well I will give you a discount on one this week! ...Oh, your mother is in the hospital, well, let me help you out! Oh, you only have $40 to your name...well by all means, let me make you this $300 cake for $40! ...I have given so many discounts that I am in the hole with profits sometimes! I think we are just nurturers at heart. We want to make everyone happy and that comes back to bite us in the rear sometimes!

IsaSW Posted 29 Jul 2010 , 2:21pm
post #22 of 26

WOW icon_surprised.gif
So much wisdom in this site.

Texas sugar asked: Why didn't you charge for 12 servings if that is what you made?

I asked myself, yeah how come I didn't it? because the customer told me she needed it for 8. I guess I am not confident enough to say, sorry I can't turn the oven for less than 12 servings.
(Like I learned here).

Then Indy said: ...expense invested in those flowers...
Lightbulb moment for me. Yes, didn't I pay for that gumpaste?, didn't I spend time making them. Just because it doesn't look like the bag of gumpaste I bought at Michaels doesn't mean it's not my money anymore, it's inventory right? I would have never given her the left over bag of gumpaste. But the flower yes, it was easy to give away.
So much to learn.
I have to learn to respect my cakes and my time and my money, and stop pleasing people.
I guess like "dholdenrn" said: "we are just nurturers at heart" yes but I will not make money if I keep nurturing peoples heart.

Thanks everybody I always come to the right place for advice.

MichelleB0802 Posted 29 Jul 2010 , 2:42pm
post #23 of 26

QUOTE: I asked myself, yeah how come I didn't it? because the customer told me she needed it for 8. I guess I am not confident enough to say, sorry I can't turn the oven for less than 12 servings.


i think Texas Sugar was saying that regardless of how many people the customer wants to serve, you charge for how many servings one can get out of the cake. So if you don't have a pan for 8 servings and your next size is 12 servings then you charge for 12.

bakencake Posted 29 Jul 2010 , 5:16pm
post #24 of 26

I wish Cakeboss and Ace Of Cakes would put how much they charged for their cakes. I guarantee you that we would not have these problems anymore.

SugarKissesCakery Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 11:38pm
post #25 of 26

Thank you for your excellent advice everyone! It turns out my customer was willing to pay a higher price for the cake after all. I'm so glad I didn't undercut myself. Now I have a cake I'm proud to give her and I don't feel like I worked for free either. From now on, I'm absolutely holding my ground with my prices.

LindaF144a Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 11:44pm
post #26 of 26

Just remember you can't please everybody. It is a numbers game, just like any other product being sold. If it doesn't fit your price range, like Indydeb said, don't lament on it. Just say "next" in your head and move on.

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