Help Please...did Not See This Coming.

Business By mookamoo Updated 18 Aug 2010 , 2:21am by The_Caketress

mookamoo Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 3:44am
post #1 of 37

Ok Help yet again...ugh...just starting may have seen my posts...many questions, and many thanks...
I have been trying to work with a lady on pricing for her mothers birthday cake. She wanted a large detailed cake at first but could not afford it. I tried to work with her on price.... tapedshut.gif Below I pasted my email...

"------- I have worked out several options...
Option A:
I have been trying to make the numbers work.
The cheapest that i can do the whole $245. That is $3.50 a slice. With this price, I am doing the gerber daises for no charge ...a gift for your moms birthday.icon_wink.gif I can make this cake really cute, but more simple than the hatbox or bouquet. Trust will be very cute.... I have tried to budget everything. Fondant icing is much more time consuming and costs much more.
A sheet cake at a grocery store that feeds maybe 20-30 people (and depending on the grocery store) it can be can be 15 to 30 dollars. You can end up spending $150 on these. They are all buttercream and frozen.
I can make this cake really cute, but more simple than the hatbox or bouquet. Trust will be very cute....The photos that I attached are more simple designs.
Option B :
We can make the cake smaller/less detailed and you can do the cupcakes(she thought of this). That would be fine. Just let me know which design so we can make it in your budget. Either one is fine with me. Let me know what you think.
I hope this helps!!!!"
(email ends)

OK, her original budget was $150 now she came back today saying she spent most of her budget on catering, venue, and decorations and she wants the cake for 5 people. My pricing list is based on # of servings...she wants this cake for $25!!! UMMMMM.... HELP PLEASE!! I attatched the cake

36 replies
mookamoo Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 3:48am
post #2 of 37


Cakepro Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 4:04am
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There is no picture in your message but the sad, cold fact is that she screwed herself out of a nice cake by blowing her budget, and this is not your problem.

You just have to let customers like that go. They drain your time, your energy, your patience, and in the end, they go to Wal-Mart.

A simple, "I'm sorry to hear about your blown budget. Please keep me in mind for your next special occasion!" is all that is warranted.

Let her go.

mookamoo Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 4:06am
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still trying to post ...not showing up for some reason still working on it...

What/how do I say that now after giving her that price list?

AvaSweetCakes Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 4:08am
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Can't see your picture. Anyway why are you working so hard for this customer? Do you know her? Stop trying to make it work for her. Your prices are your prices and that is that. If she can not afford you she needs to go elsewhere. You have offered her some choices and now it is up to her. If all she has is $25 then sell her a sheet cake. You are not Wally World. Your cakes are custome made and look nice. Stick to your guns. If you want to walk the walk you have to talk the talk, meaning if you want to be a professional act professional. Then people we treat you that way and not try and talk you down in prices, as much icon_smile.gif

cakeville82 Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 4:10am
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Do you know her mother?
Why would you do gumpaste flowers as a gift to her?

Drop this gal like a hot potato, you do this "budget cake " for her she'll keep coming back and bleed you dry.

That and I would seriously consider setting an order minimum for yourself in either servings or dollar amount.

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 4:10am
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I wasn't able to open the pic of the cake, but...

Honestly she doesn't sound like a customer for you. If she only wants a cake big enough for 5 people, maybe she should just go to the grocery store. I know it's hard to give up a job, but it doesn't sound like there's any way you could make any money doing this cake! We don't even do cakes that small, the smallest we will do is 15 servings, which is an 8-inch cake according to Earlene's chart. Otherwise is it really worth the effort?

It just sounds like the cake is not a priority to her at all. If it was, she wouldn't have spent her whole budget before settling on a price for the cake. Even if you did do a cake for $25, it would have to be EXTREMELY simple in design. It definitely couldn't be anything with fondant.

I'm not sure what you should tell her, it depends on what you want to do. What it really boils down to is that she has practically NO budget for cake, and certainly not for a custom cake! You might just have to tell her that you have a minimum order amount, and that you aren't able to do orders that small.

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 4:19am
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Hehe, sorry looks like I just repeated what everyone already said! I didn't see the responses till after I posted mine! icon_redface.gif

mookamoo Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 4:19am
post #9 of 37

Thank you, Great tips...I don't know her, I was trying to be nice...I guess too much! Yep too much. Well, I have learned. I do thank you. I have to learn to turn them down easier. I love making cakes and I am newly legal and in business... so eager for orders.
I am sorry the photo is not working. The cake is a bouquet of Gerbera daises and green fondant stems covering the sides of the cake. Bouquet cakes like this are on cake central you may have seen them ...Thank you so much!!!

FleurDeCake Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 4:28am
post #10 of 37

Why are you even still thinking about this person. Apparently she has'nt given her Mom's cake much consideration. I would not even do a sheet cake for 25.00. This is definately a job for Walmart.

johnson6ofus Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 4:53am
post #11 of 37

More likely she will display your cake and ceremoniously cut it, and serve kitchen cakes from Walmart.

Like she plans a catered event with FIVE servings of cake???? Right.... 75 people will watch 5 people eat cake?

How fast can you RUN from this disaster-to-be?

jason_kraft Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 4:58am
post #12 of 37

This is why baking businesses should have minimum orders for custom cakes. If your minimum order is $100, you would be able to say that you'd be happy to bake a cake that would serve 5, but the cost would still be $100.

mamawrobin Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 5:01am
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[quote="AvaSweetCakes"] if you want to be a professional act professional.

I agree. I never understand post like this. Business is business.

You shouldn't even be having this conversation with this woman. I know that you say you are "newly legal and in eager for orders"...but honestly you don't need orders like this. Business will come and since you are in business you can't afford to be doing freebies for customers.

I don't know of any custom shops around here that would even do a cake for 5 people. Most have a minimum order of 20 servings or so.
Maybe you should consider a minimum order amount as well. It could prevent this type of thing from happening in the future. thumbs_up.gif

jason_kraft Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 5:06am
post #14 of 37

You also should have mentioned how cute the cake was going to be in your email to the customer, that might have helped. icon_wink.gif

_christina_ Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 5:11am
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I agree with everything everyone has said...and I am in your same position, new business so eager for orders.

But, yeah, 5 servings? And I bet she still wants a hat box with flowers, well, that 5 serving hat box with flowers is gonna cost you!

She sounds like more trouble than she's worth. I have a bride who has a very set budget and I worked wit her but I wasn't going lower than $600. And that included her kitchen cake. You just have to set a bar for yourself and then live by it.

mookamoo Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 5:17am
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Thanks I have definitely learned from this! I am feeling over eager...i KNOW icon_redface.gif

mookamoo Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 5:21am
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And I will be conducting business more professionally

sweetheart6710 Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 5:27am
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And just to put this a little in (a crazy) perspective.. lets say this same customer is going out on an important first date, and she has a budget of $100 to spend on a new outfit. If she spends $40 on shoes, and $40 on a purse and accessories, and only has $20 left over for a dress, is she the kind of person who would go to cache to buy a $100 dress and tell the sales person 'I'm only going to wear this 4 times, can I get it for $50? That's already stretching my budget.' And when the sales person is so kind to say, 'well I could do $75' her reply is, 'well, I decided I'll really only wear it the one time, instead of 4 times, so $20 it is'. Obviously this is far fetched, but that's what I thought when I read your post. She is living on her own planet. Sounds like to me she is serving sheet cakes to her guests, but hoping to get a cheaper fabulous cake to stuff a candle in and give to her mom. Say 'sorry, maybe next time' and move on. You don't want those kinds of customers anyways.

mookamoo Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 5:50am
post #19 of 37

And I will be conducting business more professionally

gscout73 Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 5:57am
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icon_confused.gif Her entire budget for a party was only $150 yet she expected to have decorations, food, etc AND expected to have a Food Network style/quality cake??? These people see these things on tv yet these shows don't even hint at price..

This woman is obviously screwy... dropped on her head as a child perhaps?? dunce.gif


dm321 Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 6:22am
post #21 of 37

If her original budget (for the entire event?!?) was $150 for 70 people what is she doing looking for a custom cake anyway?

My advise for you be on the lookout for people like this. They wont be hard to spot with all those early warning signs. Then, nip it in the bud right away rather than going out of your way to let someone screw you over. You are trying to work extra hard for someone who clearly plans on taking advantage of you.

You questioned how you would turn her down after giving her your pricelist. Id say she pretty much cancelled her own order when she changed it to a 5-person-cake unless your pricelist includes 5-person-cakes..? You may want to revise that list

Dont be afraid of offending someone. Im not saying you should be offensive or act rude, but be firm. Stand up for your work and stand by your prices. Youre running a business, not a charity organization. If someone cant afford you, its their issue, not yours.

Let us know how she handles it If you need more pep-talks for extra courage just submit a post. Weve got your back!

Good luck!

indydebi Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 7:10am
post #22 of 37

I would recommend you reduce the "rambling" in your emails. Maybe because the photos didn't show up contributed to my confusion, but after reading them, the only thing I knew for sure was that you promised to make them "cute" (used the word "cute" about 3 times, I think).

without knowing any of the details, I would email something like this:

70 servings @ $3.50/serving .................... $245

One 11x15, 2 layer white cake
Raspberry filling
Cake to be Fondant covered to look like giftbox.
15 Gerbera Daisies @ $3.00/each..............$45
15 Gerbera Daisies fee waived................<$45>
Gift box colors to be confirmed at time of order.

I found the email too "conversational" and not enough "informational". Based on the email alone, this doesn't really tell me anything about the cake I'm getting. Granted, we can't see the pics and maybe that makes a difference. But keep it "businessy". She's not your friend or your sister .... she's your client.

This lady suffers from the same mistake that many make: Fast Food Order Syndrome. If 3 Happy Meals are $15, then I can get one Happy Meal for $5. however in the cake and catering world, that's not true. I could do a catering for 300 for $5400 ($18/person), but the same food for 100 might cost $2200 ($22/person). The tablecloths cost me the same to rent, no matter if there is food for 100 or food for 300 sitting on top of them. Our ovens cost the same to run for an hour, no matter if there is cake for 100 or cake for 10 baking in it.

it's called overhead.

Loucinda Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 11:55am
post #23 of 37

indy says it best, without being condescending. Make up a price sheet, and stick with it, keep them close by the phone, your computer, and carry one with you! For the times you are dealing with people in person, practice in a mirror. Good luck, it will get easier!

minicuppie Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 2:44pm
post #24 of 37

Before I shut down my shop I was starting to take a few "barter" orders.
Had one lady send her housekeeper to my home every week for the 8 weeks before her order was due. (don't ask, I think it was some kind of indentured employee kidnapped from a Caribbean Island, lolol!)
I actually think I got the better end of the deal, she even prepared a light supper on the days she was at my home.
Just a thought, IMO.

srkmilklady Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 4:21pm
post #25 of 37

Thanks for your last post IndyDebi...I have copied and printed it and stuck it to the wall in front of me so I never forget your "words of wisdom". I am fairly new to all of this, but I do have a pretty good idea of what to charge. However, I shrivel up when I have to pass the info on to the client. (It doesn't help that I have 3 family members that work for WalMart either.) But from now, friends or's what I charge...take it or leave it. Well, I guess I'll be a little nicer than that. LOL

Thanks Indydebi and everyone...I've learned a lot from this!

mookamoo Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 8:55pm
post #26 of 37

sorry her budget for just the cake was $150...not the event...sorry I was unclear

mookamoo Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 9:16pm
post #27 of 37

I was still reading the replies...Thank you all so much for the great advice! I will definitely be taking indi debs advice in conducting emails less chatty and more about the cake and business like. I am sorry the photo wont work. I have never had this problem before.

Butterpatty Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 9:19pm
post #28 of 37

Viewed your cake photos and they are so pretty! You are talented and should not undersell yourself. I was a total cake muggle before finding this site and even I would know better than to try and pull the stunt that this lady is trying to pull on you! I am suspecting that she has discerned you have a kind heart and she is trying to trade on that.

mookamoo Posted 17 Aug 2010 , 9:20pm
post #29 of 37

Here is what happened...
I wrote back to her...
"I am sorry, but I can not do this cake for less than 18 servings. I am sorry if this will not work. Please let me know if I can help you further.

She wrote back today...

"I understand. Thank you so much for your time and efforts Jamie. We will look into other options. I still think you do beautiful cakes and would definitely recommend you to someone. Take care and thanks again."

She was really nice about it.

indydebi Posted 18 Aug 2010 , 12:11am
post #30 of 37
Originally Posted by mookamoo

Here is what happened...
I wrote back to her...
"I am sorry, but I can not do this cake for less than 18 servings. I am sorry if this will not work. Please let me know if I can help you further.

Let me slip in one more suggestion as you progress in your business.

Avoid using negatives like "can't, not, no, never, etc". Always phrase it in a positive. When I trained my new CSR's, it was always a lesson in how to "tell them what we CAN do.".......

"The smallest I can make this cake is 18 servings. Let me know if this works for you so we can finalize the details for your event."

Remember this line from the old song as an example of how to say "no" in a positive way:

"Yes! We have no bananas! We have no bananas today!" icon_biggrin.gif

Quote by @%username% on %date%