I have the problem of my vision surpassing my budget, so I "undercharged" a friend last month who had a budget of $40 and wanted something specific and I told her I would make it work. I ended up doing my first FBCT and used a torted 2-layer 10" so I could get a big enough surface for the transfer. So, I actually over-provided, I guess. But I was experimenting, ya know?
She wants another cake for next weekend with the same budget and keeps saying "the same size cake" in response to my question about how many ppl it needs to serve. She's pretty open to the design, but is pretty set on the $40 budget. That's cool. She's a friend and I need the practice.
Since I have already set a precendent, should I just go ahead and do it, or just decline, or should I try to steer her toward an 8" and explain that I gave her too much cake last time? What awesomeness could I create for $40 that would make her forget she had more cake last time? Oh, AND I think her design might need black, which is something I have to purchase rather than make, which costs more money, but I can probably talk her out of that too, but again, my vision keeps getting in the way.
Ask her again and this time when she says, "the same size cake" say, "So _ servings? I ask because due to the design I baked a larger cake than needed last time. If you don't need those extra servings, I'd rather put your money to better use by concentrating a bit more on the design elements." Or something like that.
Honestly, as long you aren't making extra batter to go from an 8 to a 10, I think the extra costs are minimal anyway.
I too have done the same thing especially starting out. What I did was explained to my client that I gave you extra cake but did not charge you for it on the last cake because of an over sight on my part but if you want that same size cake again it will cost you more. They were very understanding and paid but I also know friends and family can sometimes be your worst clients! Good luck!!
Nip it in the bud now, or you will always be providing her with large cakes for a very little price. If she is only willing to pay $40, then a super market cake may be a better option for her.
A 10in round serves 38 servings, so you are looking at about a $1 a serving. Way, way too cheap. Even at the low $2 a serving the 8in would still be over her $40 since it serves 24 people.
Have you figured out how much it costs you to make the cake? How much your time is worth? You pretty much paid her to take that cake off your hands.
So now, like you said you have some choices.
1. Keep providing her a large cake for a small price, getting annoyed and frustarted and resentful everytime she asks you to do a cake that is taking money away from you, and that is taking you away from your family.
2. Or say, "Wow, did you know how much it costs to make a cake? Neither did I until I sat down and figured it out. Because of my expenses I now know I need to charge $XZY for the 10in cake that has 38 servings. I can understand if that is more than you want to pay right now, I can do a smaller cake, and 8in that serves 24 for $ABC. And if you decides that is more than you can budget right now, that's okay, please keep me in mind for future cakes."
If she is a true friend she will either understand and pay up. If it is just too much for her to spend on a cake, everyone has their own finacial burdens, then don't make a big deal about it. And if she just wants a free or very cheap cake, you really don't need the practice that bad.
Of all the years I have been around cake message board, pricing, being to low, is the #1 reason that leads to cake burn out. I have seen some totally awesome decorators quit because they were rescentful for doing awesome cakes for next to nothing.
You are not the grocery store, you do not have cakes shipped in frozen, icing that is shipped in in buckets and are only allowed 30 mins to ice and decorate a cake. Your expenses are higher, your labor is higher, since you are shopping, baking, cooling, torting/filling, letting the cake settle, icing, deocorating, not to mention making any extra things a head of time. You just can't not compete with their prices, now should you.
If you have not yet, I would sit down and figure out how much money you are really spending on your cakes. Not just the big items like the mix and powder sugar, but EVERY little thing that goes into your cakes, from the boards and boxes to the parachment or viva you use to smooth it, toothpics, icing colors, piping bags.... It is surprising!
You also need to consider how long it is taking you to do a cake. If it takes you an average of 6 hours, if you were working somewhere else you would be paid for that time. That is 6 hours away from your family, your life, your other obligations, your free time and so on. You deserve to be accomidated for that.
Everyone has given you fair and good advice.
You say you need practice. When that happens (or I just really want to do something I want to do) I let the client know that I am giving them a lower price because of XXX. Meaning, I get to do what I want because I am not charging you as I would normally. That's just me, though.
I do think asking, so you want this many servings?, is a good idea. That way you'll know. Then you can steer her in a direction you are comfortable with.
the only other way around this is to tell your friend you can keep giving her the deep discount if you get to create the design. Then try out new techniques and such on her dime. She gets the wonderful cake and you get the practice. At the same time let your friend KNOW she's getting a deep discount for this cake BECAUSE you get to try out new techniques on her cakes. That way if she decides she needs a particular cake that she designs then it won't come as a nasty shock when you charge her differently. Basically, Playtime for you = discount for her. The thing is that whenever you give a discount you have to let them know. Otherwise they expect it every time AND they tell everyone the great price they got...make sure she knows this is HER price, not everyone's price.
ok, so let me preface this by saying that I'm in a mood tonight....
really, there are two scenarios here. Either SHE'S a good enough friend that you can explain the pricing snafu and she will continue to be your friend or YOU'RE a good enough friend to suck it up and give your friend a little something extra in the name of friendship and practice.
Again, I'm in a bit of a mood, but if frustrates me to no end that so many people post "how do I charge my friends more money"- it's getting as bad as "how much should I charge?"
From TexasSugar: Or say, "Wow, did you know how much it costs to make a cake? Neither did I until I sat down and figured it out. Because of my expenses I now know I need to charge $XZY for the 10in cake that has 38 servings. I can understand if that is more than you want to pay right now, I can do a smaller cake, an 8in that serves 24 for $ABC. And if you decide that is more than you can budget right now, that's okay, please keep me in mind for future cakes."
I think that is an absolutely PERFECT response.
Keep in mind your friend probably has NO IDEA that a 10in cake is supposed to have 38 servings and an 8in to serve 24. I'll bet your friend did NOT get 38 servings out of your darling 10in cake.
Recently, a wonderful person posted paper cut-outs that show cake serving sizes--here is the link to Schwammers post: http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopicp-6895971.html#6895971 You can have these on hand when you talk to your friend to show her what a serving size actually looks like.
I'm new to all this and am somewhat obsessed with the cost as I'm a hobby baker and my cakes will all be no charge. If you'd like to PM me, I'd be happy to share my costs in Southern California.
Everything Texas Sugar said.....
Here's another link to wedding cake and party cake cutting guides:
It's what I called my "Proto-type Price".
"If you let me experiment on you with this great idea and new design, then I'll let you have it for basic cost this time, so I can see what's involved and the actual costs. I guarantee that NO ONE will ever get this cake at this price ever again, but since you're willing to be my guinea pig, here's your one-time deal. Sound good?"
No one ever turned me down and everyone LOVED getting 'a deal' that no one else could touch. They kind of had bragging rights to "Oh, you'll NEVER get that cake at the price *I* paid! It was a one-time deal just for ME!"
Thanks so much for your responses. I'm going to try to steer her towards another shape altogether, so it's not so obvious that she wouldn't be getting a 10", but I think I would also use something along the lines of IndyDebi's wording. In this particular instance with the first cake, she was in a panic and said, "My party is on Saturday and I can't find anybody to make an xyz cake! I thought I could just go to the grocery store!" I said, " Calm down. What's your budget?" She told me, I pondered, and decided A-HA I can try an FBCT. So, it was my fault for initially not saying, "$40 would typically get you blah, blah, blah, but I will do it for a discount/special price just this one time."
So, now I know. If I'm discounting, I shall tell them.
So, I've been checking out cake pricing in the DC metro area. Btw, I prefer to use Earlene's chart, but this is ridiculous!
10" serving 14 - 18 for $44.99? I'm thinking they have to be frozen from some wholesaler, because why else would the red velvet only be available in a 9"? And this place is in the MOST expensive part of DC.