Mammoth Cake!!! Help With A Price?!!! Please!!!

Decorating By lapatt2 Updated 19 Aug 2010 , 4:29am by pmarks0

lapatt2 Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 11:27am
post #1 of 22

Sorry this is long ya'll and i hope i did it right, lol! Anyhow, I have been a closet viewer for a while now never saying much but i really need assistance!!!!

I have been making cakes for friends/family/etc. and recently I was asked by a co-worker to make a cake for approximately 400-450 people! The cake would be displayed @ a public convention for a few hours prior to a private gala. The board my co-worker is on has asked me to make the cake @ cost and I'm not sure how I feel about that. It would be great exposure because I plan to open a shop later this year around the time of this convention but I'm looking @ HOURS w/ this cake. I make everything from scratch like so many of you guys (cake,italian meringue buttercream, fondant, gumpaste, modeling clay) and try to use the best ingredients. I was thinking just $1500.00 for all this work just to solidify the deal but cost?

Just an FYI: a well know tv cake personality quoted this same board $10,000 (5,000 for the cake and 5,000 for delivery)! Below you'll find most of the cake details:

*400-450 ppl
*buttercream sheet style covered in fondant (thinking 4'x3' board)
*1/2 chocolate- 1/2 vanilla
*cityscape (trees,hydrants,sidewalks,roads,street signs,statues)
*6 very recognizable buildings in our city plus filler ones (all bldgs can be out of styrofoam and covered in fondant)
*no less than 8 gumpaste human figures at least 8" tall (that are to look like people attending gala) plus filler ones.
*billboard w/ their logo and a figure from another companies logo
( i think thats it)

What do you guys think I should do? Should i take the labor hit in exchange for the exposure or are they taking advantage?
THANKS SOOOO MUCH 4 ANY THOUGHTS icon_biggrin.gif

21 replies
misha35 Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 11:55am
post #2 of 22

I can assume part of your struggle is that a coworker approached you about making this cake.
I have never made cake for 400+ but have made a number of cakes for 100+ and I know what kind of stress the 4 tier cake was. I cannot imagine the stress of 400+.
Questions to ask yourself:
1) what size baking area do you have? How much time will it take to bakew that much cake (if home kitchen, then limited size oven).
2) Make a chart of how many hours of your time this cake will take - baking, cooling decorating, making icing, modeling characters, etc. Each step should be itemized.
3) is 'free' advertising worth the above?
4) I would talk with the co-worker and offer a price I would be willing to do, perhaps set up a meeting with the board to offer a proce you could live with.
5) Don't sell yourself short! It sounds like an incredible amount of work. You should not be working for free.
Good luck! I know it's a tough choice.

auntbeesbaking Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 12:22pm
post #3 of 22

$1500 doen't seem like very much for all the work and effort. It will also set a precedence. Do you really want to compromise? People sometimes think the more something costs the better quality it must be.

I would hate to see you frustrated and bogged down in the middle of this and possibly resent yourself (like I would) for such little profit in comparison to all the effort. Don't sell yourself short! Indydebi would kick your butt! icon_wink.gif
Besides, wouldn't you be happier with more money towards your shop?

Occther Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 12:32pm
post #4 of 22

I agree with auntbee. I don't think making a cake "for cost" for a huge event is the best advertising for a future business. Donating your labor for a charity event is something you could do after you have established a successful cake business.

leily Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 12:39pm
post #5 of 22

If it was a non-profit organization i would consider donating my time. (but then it can be a write off on taxes later too) But if it's just an organization then i am assuming they're just trying to get a deal (they should have thought about cost before figuring on 400 ppl though)

It sounds like you want to do it, just not for cost. Tell them what you charge, if they really want you then they'll pay it. Otherwise they aren't your customer. Yes you'd get lots of exposure, but in a group that large i bet word will spread quickly that you "donated" the cake, which means you'll probably get a lot more of these request when you open your place.

TartletteTreats Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 12:40pm
post #6 of 22

I don't think their price was that far off ($5000). If you cut back anywhere I would say it should be on the $5000 delivery fee. I wouldn't do anything like that for less than $4000.

Doug Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 12:41pm
post #7 of 22

@cost = ingredients + overhead + materials + LABOR!

yes, pay yourself an hourly rate -- after all you are your employee!

----

that said, without access to commercial kitchen with commercial ovens and refrigeration, etc. I wouldn't do it.

PiccoloChellie Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 12:47pm
post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by lapatt2

Just an FYI: a well know tv cake personality quoted this same board $10,000 (5,000 for the cake and 5,000 for delivery)!




Just remember, there's a reason they quoted $5k for the cake itself, and it's not entirely because they're a well known cake personality.

This is a tremendous amount of work. Is it doable out of a home kitchen? Maybe. With one person doing all the baking, sculpting, molding, decorating, etc? Possibly - if they're willing to forgo a social life and a good night's sleep for a couple weeks.

***Also consider how YOU'LL deliver the thing. You may have to rent a box truck or a large van and you'll need someone(s) to help you carry it! That ain't free!

allaboutcakeuk Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 12:59pm
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by PiccoloChellie

Quote:
Originally Posted by lapatt2

Just an FYI: a well know tv cake personality quoted this same board $10,000 (5,000 for the cake and 5,000 for delivery)!



Just remember, there's a reason they quoted $5k for the cake itself, and it's not entirely because they're a well known cake personality.

This is a tremendous amount of work. Is it doable out of a home kitchen? Maybe. With one person doing all the baking, sculpting, molding, decorating, etc? Possibly - if they're willing to forgo a social life and a good night's sleep for a couple weeks.

***Also consider how YOU'LL deliver the thing. You may have to rent a box truck or a large van and you'll need someone(s) to help you carry it! That ain't free!




I totally agree here. They may be famous but the few snippets you see on tv as we all know is NOTHING compared to the real man hours that go into such cakes. The delivery fee is huge as its same cost of cake but I doubt that cake will fit in even a good sized car. You will also need extra help with lifting etc - add this all up with other people's time involved and you are looking at a lot of money. Sometimes its a shock when you realise how many hours you have put in, take off the cost of the cake/ingredients and then sit back and think wow I have worked for less than minimum wage. I have done this on a few cakes in the beginning and then realised I have come away with next to nothing for all my work. May add up as much of the ingredients/boards etc you will need to make the cake and try to estimate roughly the hours it will take - perhaps by breaking it down into sections for each part of the cake. i.e. it will take me 4 hours for that part. Take off all the cost of the cake itself and then see what is left. Then divide that by the number of hours it will take. that will give you a rough idea of how much you would be working for per hour of your time. It may be a huge surprise at how little you would earn. that may give you a better idea of what to charge even if it is not quite the $5,000 they have been quoted.

Chasey Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 1:02pm
post #10 of 22

I'm not in business so maybe I shouldn't chime in. But wait...since I would be baking out of my home and delivering this mammoth cake, I am like you! icon_smile.gif

No way, no how. Not for $1500. If this company is big enough to order such a huge cake and have a private gala...they can afford to pay. Sure your friend would look great if she could get a huge cake for cheap. But you would be resenting this half way through, IMO!

I wouldn't take less than twice that amount. And that is still selling yourself short!

Good luck. I know this is a tough decision because you see it as great exposure. Don't be afraid to quote a much higher price. You are still far below the $10,000 range. icon_wink.gif

dguerrant Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 1:05pm
post #11 of 22

sounds to me that they are being cheap. i wouldn't dare pull in a bmw dealership and expect to come out with a beemer by only paying for a ford focus. i can undersdtand the exposure part, but if they are only wanting to pay cost, then i feel like you have the right to 'CREATE/DICTATE' the design of the cake they will be getting, not the other way around. i would love to get a 10 tier wedding cake for the price of a two tier also just because i'm paying for the ingredients icon_biggrin.gif ask them how much they pay their employess and suggest they reimburse/purchase/collect donations from others since they want something for nothing for the ingredients and then pay you an hourly rate. I would love to do something like that, i love the challenge, but not for 'FREE'!!!!!!

allaboutcakeuk Posted 5 Aug 2010 , 3:37pm
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by dianaguerrant

sounds to me that they are being cheap. i wouldn't dare pull in a bmw dealership and expect to come out with a beemer by only paying for a ford focus. i can undersdtand the exposure part, but if they are only wanting to pay cost, then i feel like you have the right to 'CREATE/DICTATE' the design of the cake they will be getting, not the other way around. i would love to get a 10 tier wedding cake for the price of a two tier also just because i'm paying for the ingredients icon_biggrin.gif ask them how much they pay their employess and suggest they reimburse/purchase/collect donations from others since they want something for nothing for the ingredients and then pay you an hourly rate. I would love to do something like that, i love the challenge, but not for 'FREE'!!!!!!


sorry have to chip in again! i agree here on this also. Although you are not running your own shop yet, and yes it will be great exposure, they just don't want to pay the money. I have had this quite a few times that i've had brides mainly saying they want a cake that by the designer would cost £1,500 but are shocked that i'm not going to do it within their budget for say £350. Just because a designer does it and I work from home business does not mean any less time, care and effort goes into it. Its almost like saying "you work for yourself surely you will be cheaper"! Ok I will shut up now lol. I wish you luck - IMO go for it if you would love the challenge but don't end up resenting the task if they don't want to pay a going rate icon_smile.gif

lapatt2 Posted 10 Aug 2010 , 4:54am
post #13 of 22

Thanks so much guys!!!!! I have a meeting set up w/ the board the end of this month icon_smile.gif You guys helped me realize that my gut feeling was right!!! TU AGAIN!!!

DianeLM Posted 10 Aug 2010 , 1:33pm
post #14 of 22

A lot has been said about transporting a cake this size. But, before you worry about the vehicle, CAN YOU GET THE CAKE OUT THE DOOR??? I've had to disconnect my storm door and do some creative tilting to get giant cakes through my doorway.

kansaslaura Posted 10 Aug 2010 , 2:12pm
post #15 of 22

I agree with Doug--time is figured into cost as well. You better believe if Ford was asked to provide a car for cost at that function it would include all the labor costs to build that sucker.

Companies are always going to ask for things like this. I turned down a Women's Show in the Spring after the radio station that sponsored it wanted me to do enough food (and I was told what to serve) for 300-400 people all day. And was warned not to run out.

My payment? Not one penny--they wanted to trade me for some air time.

Nope.

No thanks.

cakesbyamber Posted 10 Aug 2010 , 2:29pm
post #16 of 22

I'm just wondering why they even thought you would consider doing it at cost. I know people often think they can take advantage of me because I'm their friend and I have to watch out for that. Also, do you really think there is someone else in your town that would do it at cost? My guess is probably not, so don't sell yourself short!

cownsj Posted 10 Aug 2010 , 2:48pm
post #17 of 22

In addition to what everyone else is telling you, I have to question whether there will actually be any exposure that could benefit you? Will there be tv coverage of the event? Still not sure the cake would make it on tv. Where are the guests from? Are they all local people who may become customers, or are they people who are flying in for this event? In that case, you probably will never hear from them again. Check to see where the guests are from, then you can judge if you are even getting any exposure that could help your business in the future.

sugalips Posted 10 Aug 2010 , 2:56pm
post #18 of 22

Another thought: if you do it at (low) cost for these folks, how many others will chime in and say "WELL you did THEIR cake for $$$, why not mine??" icon_mad.gif

MJ2008 Posted 10 Aug 2010 , 3:17pm
post #19 of 22

If it was a charity I believed in and I wanted to help, I might consider doing it. However, it doesn't sound that way (although maybe you left that info out). I wouldn't do it for some random organization or business. Unless your information is specifically on the cake (or right next to it) it's not really going to be much advertising. Some people will know that you made it but a lot of them won't.

cakes47 Posted 10 Aug 2010 , 3:22pm
post #20 of 22

Bottom line ~ GET PAID FOR YOUR WORK!!!
At $5,000, it's half the price of the cake/delivery they already got received
for the other cake!!!!

I still can't believe they would ask you to do a cake of this magnitude for cost!!
It doesn't sound right to me.

lapatt2 Posted 18 Aug 2010 , 9:49am
post #21 of 22

Hello ladies- sorry for this late of reply icon_smile.gif there event is a local one but with some people coming in from other towns/states. the even will be featured on a local station but I'm not sure if my cake or name will get the exposure the event will. AND i'm now waiting to hear back about a meeting because of scheduling conflict for the members! SO I'll let you know when I hear something; if anything back. Thanks again to everyone who has taken time to help me icon_smile.gif

pmarks0 Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 4:29am
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug

@cost = ingredients + overhead + materials + LABOR!

yes, pay yourself an hourly rate -- after all you are your employee!

----

that said, without access to commercial kitchen with commercial ovens and refrigeration, etc. I wouldn't do it.




I have to agree with Doug. Your costs MUST include your labour costs. So many people don't take this into account. Your labour is not your profit. So, I'd say that $1500 figure you've mentioned is way too low. I think it may even to low for just ingredient costs for a cake that size.

Also have to agree that if you don't have access to a commercial you should think through the logistics of baking, storing, freezing, "building"... If it's going to be 4'x3' you're going to need a piece of plywood or something for strength and such. Will that go out your front/side door? Are you going to have to assemble in your garage and then rent a truck as someone else mentioned or do you have a long enough minivan where the seats fold into the floor ?

All thing to think about. I think it's a great opportunity to be creative and make a cake, but not if it's going to kill you in the process.

Good luck!

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