Professional Courtesy?

Business By Ladiesofthehouse Updated 2 Aug 2010 , 6:54pm by Loucinda

Ladiesofthehouse Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 6:35am
post #1 of 22

I was contacted by a lady that said she is getting married in the fall and was going to use me, but decided to fly her pastry chef friend in instead to make the cake. O.K., fine.

Her question to me was if I would allow her friend to make the cake in my kitchen since she is a pro. and wants to bake the cake in an approved kitchen.

When I was a pro. sign painter we used to be able to go into most sign shops if we ran out of supplies or had a problem and they would help us out, just as we would do for them. We called it professional courtesy.

I don't know, this seems different than that to me. I mean, it's MY kitchen for crying out loud, and I am not doing the cake! She is flying here, so I am assuming she will need to borrow pans, decorating stuff, etc.

I want to tell her no, I don't loan my equipment and truthfully, I am in my kitchen most of the time making my own cakes.

Am I being unreasonable saying no?

My husband thinks I just have my nose out of joint because it is going to be a cool cake and I should tell her yes and charge her an hourly rate for the kitchen/equipment use.

What do you guys think?

21 replies
Bfisher2 Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 6:46am
post #2 of 22

HELL NO!!!!!!!! icon_lol.gif Thats pretty nervey to ask... let her friend use the brides kitchen at home n bring her own tools....

PiccoloChellie Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 6:48am
post #3 of 22

My first thought was ... is that okay with the Health Dept?
I honestly have no idea what the HD rules are in Alaska. So the first thing I'd do is see if you have an "out" by checking with your inspector. "I'm sorry, I spoke with the HD and they won't allow me to do that." kinda thing.

Beyond that, well, I personally would lean more towards renting the kitchen to the friend (if it's allowed). Hey, you're not doing the cake but you'll make money, right? Also, it's sort of a goodwill thing. With any luck the bride would remember you and for her next occasion, you'd probably be first in mind. Obviously we don't know the details, but the person she's flying in might be a very close friend and it could mean a lot to the bride to have a wedding cake made by him/her. She'd remember the kindness on your part.

It's a tough situation. If you decide to do it, remember that it'll affect your schedule for the week as well. If you have to turn down business to accommodate the pastry chef, you'll need to make up for that in your rental price. Factor that in. icon_smile.gif

cakesbycathy Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 6:57am
post #4 of 22

I would simply tell her that you cannot accomodate her request due to the fact that you will be using the kitchen yourself.

carmijok Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 7:11am
post #5 of 22

Rent the space. Then watch the chef. You may learn something new. I agree that it's an unusual request, but chances are, the bride WILL remember you for other occasions. And you'll have made some money on the deal after all.

Bakingangel Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 7:13am
post #6 of 22

Hmmm...I need to think on this a little longer. I like Piccolo Chellie's thoughts but could see how things could get messy. If I agreed to it, I would make it worth my while. I don't think the customer and friend have thought through the logistics either.
As far as a way don't need one. Just say no.

Looking forward to the replies. icon_smile.gif

Texas_Rose Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 7:16am
post #7 of 22

I would say no.

"Dear Customer,

I wish I could accomodate your request, but I have other cakes booked for that weekend and it will not be possible. Thank you for understanding, and I hope your wedding day is as special as you are!"

What are the odds of you ever needing to borrow the friend's kitchen? When you were a sign painter and the other shops would help you out, it was because you helped them when they needed it too. You're never going to get the favor returned, and you're going to have to sit there and watch to make sure your ingredients and tools don't accidentally leave. So you'll be losing out on the money from making the cake, the time you could be using your kitchen to make other cakes, and the hours you have to spend babysitting your kitchen and your tools. And, since they'll never need to use your kitchen again, what guarantee do you have that they'll leave it as clean as they found it?

jennicita Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 8:10am
post #8 of 22

Helping out when someone runs out of supplies is one thing but what she wants is to take over your kitchen for multiple days! I'm sure if she were renting a kitchen somewhere and suddenly realized she suddenly needed more fondant than expected, you'd probably be more willing to help out and sell her some from your supplies (assuming you have enough on hand). Or a jar of blue food coloring. That would be professional courtesy to help another professional out in a bind. But a whole kitchen and all of your equipment? That's just asking too much. And she's not in a bind - she's agreeing to do a cake under these conditions when she could have said no, that just won't be possible.

Like Texas Rose wrote, you've got cakes booked for that weekend and won't be able to accommodate that request.

indydebi Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 9:27am
post #9 of 22

If you really are booked, that's one thing. But I'd view it as an opportunity to (a) make money by renting the space for the day (b) observing another caker, building a relationship, and learning something new (c) gaining the reputation of being "SO helpful!" which, trust me, generates just as many referrals as good cakes do.

tesso Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 10:44am
post #10 of 22

rent out the space, as others said, watch and learn too. You dont know, you just might make a cake friend too. icon_biggrin.gif

If anything, it is good karma. And that is always rewarded.

online_annie Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 10:59am
post #11 of 22

I would loan the kitchen out if you didn't have anything on your schedule that it would interfere with. *I wouldn't charge, BUT I would require them to execute all the clean up. : ) It could be a fun experience. I believe the saying...Do good things and Good things happen!

leah_s Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 11:06am
post #12 of 22

I'd be inclined to say no, but if you do it, keep it professional and RENT out your kitchen. There's no way it should be free. And they should provide you with insurance coverage on the decorator and your equipment. (The same as many venues require when the bride rents their space for a day.) If the decorator slips and falls in your kitchen you don't want to get sued. And if the decorator burns up your mixer, you want something like a contract to require a replacement.

Loucinda Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 1:00pm
post #13 of 22

I would lean towards renting the kitchen out and being there to watch and learn too. I have helped a few up and coming foks out by having them come to my home for help, and the goodwill that goes along with that has been worth a lot more, IMO.

I seriously doubt any of your tools or product will disappear - especially since the person is flying in to do the cake.

Let us know how it plays out, and good luck!

CWR41 Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 1:18pm
post #14 of 22

What if her pastry chef friend has never done a wedding cake before? I'd be concerned that you'll be the one that ends up "volunteering" to help them (out of the goodness of your heart) to prevent the bride from getting a trainwreck. I wouldn't expect to learn anything from her pastry chef... you're probably more talented anyway.

You've received a lot of great advice to consider. Good luck with your decision.

all4cake Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 1:22pm
post #15 of 22

I agree with leah. rent it out but cover your butt. make sure you have a contract that the bride and the chef sign (have a witness for you side as well). There's no such thing as too much protection.

Would that not be too cool though, if her chef friend happens to be...a particular decorator you've heard of and admired?????

jillmakescakes Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 1:30pm
post #16 of 22

Instinct says no, however the professional in me says yes, BUT:

1. Rent the Kitchen
2. Be there the entire time
3. Check with pastry chef to ensure they are ServeSafe or otherwise certified
4. Confirm how much of your stuff they will be using
5. Make sure all expectations are written out.

I would suggest that these items be discussed with the pastry chef rather than the bride as she would have no clue why these things are important, but if the pastry chef is a reputable professional, they should have no problem providing you with the info you need.

candyapplekc Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 1:41pm
post #17 of 22

I agree with leah_s and jillmakescakes, rent it out, be there, and by all means speak with the pastry chef and outline all terms in great detail. Cover your butt to the utmost! But most of all trust your gut feelings on this because ONLY YOU really know and can decide on what to do ultimately. If you decide not to rent it out than oh well. I dont believe you would stand to lose any more customers than you would possibly gain from this venture.

The bride says her friend is a "pro" that can be relative btw. Check out this pastry pros credentials first.

TexasSugar Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 2:41pm
post #18 of 22
Originally Posted by indydebi

If you really are booked, that's one thing. But I'd view it as an opportunity to (a) make money by renting the space for the day (b) observing another caker, building a relationship, and learning something new (c) gaining the reputation of being "SO helpful!" which, trust me, generates just as many referrals as good cakes do.

And could make them more inclined to use you when they need a baby shower or birthday cake down the line.

costumeczar Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 3:14pm
post #19 of 22

Renting it could be fine, but if it was me and I had other cakes to do, there's no way that I'd do it. I know how difficult it is to have someone in the kitchen when I'm working, let alone another person trying to decorate cake.

The idea of learning from someone, making money on a rental, etc is great, but make sure that you can really manage that and fulfill the orders that you do have, those are more important than someone else's convenience.

Loucinda Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 3:17pm
post #20 of 22

make sure that you can really manage that and fulfill the orders that you do have, those are more important than someone else's convenience.

That would go without even saying, IMO.

Ladiesofthehouse Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 6:34pm
post #21 of 22

Thanks everyone that replied! I have decided to turn them down because of my own cake orders. I am one of those people that gets very distracted by other people in my kitchen when I am working on a cake, so that in itself would make this difficult for me to pull off. Plus I don't relish the thought of having to go through the hoops of checking out the chef, making sure my stuff is all there, etc.

This request came at a bad time...I am feeling a little gun shy anyway after having just been ripped off by a caker online. She was selling some of her stuff on another cake forum I am on and it is stuff I have been wanting. So, I checked her out (her eBay and Paypal status and feedback are good) emailed back and forth with her and sent her the money. I felt O.K. about it because she answered me immediately, offered her info without question, and obviously had cake knowledge so it made sense that she would actually have cake stuff to sell.

Long story short--no items ever arrived, almost zero contact from her once the money was sent and my husband is fit to be tied.

She got some bad news in her email this morning though--I did a chargeback via Paypal and they removed the money from her account and credited it back to me.

Gah, what a bad experience. Hopefully she won't show up here on CC and rip somebody else off.

Loucinda Posted 2 Aug 2010 , 6:54pm
post #22 of 22

Thanks for keeping us up to speed on how things went!

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