How Much To Charge To Assemble/decorate Someone Else's Cake?

Business By jason_kraft Updated 19 Aug 2010 , 7:27pm by jason_kraft

jason_kraft Posted 18 Aug 2010 , 7:12pm
post #1 of 27

If you were approached by someone who was planning on baking a four tier wedding cake themselves, but wanted to pay you to decorate and assemble the cake (stacked), how much would you charge?

Would it be a flat fee, a charge per serving, or an hourly labor charge + cost of ingredients?

26 replies
kansaslaura Posted 18 Aug 2010 , 7:25pm
post #2 of 27

I probably wouldn't do it. Why are they wanting to bake the cake and then turn it over to you?

I fuss over my cake from start to finish. What if those cakes are not level, not tall enough? It's all or nothing from my perspective.

But, I'd suggest you charge what you'd normally charge for a complete cake.

Malakin Posted 18 Aug 2010 , 7:25pm
post #3 of 27

Darn, that's tough. I don't think I would even do it. First, if they use a soft cake, the usual out of the box, it won't stand up to stacking and I don't think I would want to be responsible or get the blame for it collapsing. Second what if the icing is soft also and not your usual bc that holds it shape when you have to stack it?
If I had to do it, I would probably charge by the hour myself.

jason_kraft Posted 18 Aug 2010 , 7:28pm
post #4 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by kansaslaura

Why are they wanting to bake the cake and then turn it over to you?



This person is a new pastry chef and feels comfortable enough to bake cakes, but not comfortable enough to assemble or decorate. I've confirmed that that cakes are tall enough.

cakesdivine Posted 18 Aug 2010 , 7:37pm
post #5 of 27

If it is someone you know and trust, charge by the hour and cost of ingredients of the icings/fondant/gumpaste etc. and paper goods (box, boards, parchments, disp. bags, dowels) Plus a rental fee of any cake stands or pillar/plate parts that need be returned.

cakesbycathy Posted 18 Aug 2010 , 8:18pm
post #6 of 27

I NEVER decorate a cake I didn't bake myself. No exceptions.

mmdiez10 Posted 18 Aug 2010 , 8:29pm
post #7 of 27

Here's a happy compromise: maybe you can assist her in the stacking and decorating. And charge her for your time per hour. Consider it a tutoring session. That way, it's not your name associated with the cake in case someone has issues with the flavor or texture, etc. Don't forget if it is good, they won't mention you, but if it is awful, you can be sure your name will come up.

jason_kraft Posted 18 Aug 2010 , 8:51pm
post #8 of 27

The cake is for the wedding of a friend of the new pastry chef and will not be sold. Our company's name will not be on the cake, and we disclaim all liability once we finish putting the cake together (the new pastry chef will bring the cake to the wedding).

We are looking at this more as a consulting service arrangement, with an hourly rate of $25 (including prep and travel time) plus the cost of materials.

littlecake Posted 18 Aug 2010 , 10:06pm
post #9 of 27

flat fee

cakesondemand Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 1:30am
post #10 of 27

Better check with your insurance have to remember it wouldnt be baked in a food safe kitchen if someone gets sick it can lead back to you its been in your kitchen.

jason_kraft Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 2:08am
post #11 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesondemand

Better check with your insurance have to remember it wouldnt be baked in a food safe kitchen if someone gets sick it can lead back to you its been in your kitchen.



This would not be an issue, since our company is not baking or decorating anything that will be sold commercially, we are providing consulting services. Also, the cake will never be in our kitchen, we are doing the decorating at the customer's site. Same as if you went to someone's house and gave them a private baking class.

jason_kraft Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 2:14am
post #12 of 27

Any feedback on the $25/hour rate?

costumeczar Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 2:38am
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonkraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesondemand

Better check with your insurance have to remember it wouldnt be baked in a food safe kitchen if someone gets sick it can lead back to you its been in your kitchen.


This would not be an issue, since our company is not baking or decorating anything that will be sold commercially, we are providing consulting services. Also, the cake will never be in our kitchen, we are doing the decorating at the customer's site. Same as if you went to someone's house and gave them a private baking class.




Did you actually check with your insurance company on this, though? This would be a lot more than jsust consulting, you'd have your hands all over the cake (literally) so I don't see how an insurance company would see it as consulting alone.

Would the $25 an hour include materials? If it would I think it's too low.

jason_kraft Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 2:52am
post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

Did you actually check with your insurance company on this, though? This would be a lot more than jsust consulting, you'd have your hands all over the cake (literally) so I don't see how an insurance company would see it as consulting alone.



I sent off an email to our liability insurance broker, I'll post once I get an official answer. It's certainly possible that this type of thing would be covered under professional liability (i.e. malpractice) which I do not have, but since this is a one-off I'm not too concerned about it, especially since the riskiest part (the baking) will be done before we arrive.

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Would the $25 an hour include materials? If it would I think it's too low.



The $25/hour does not include materials.

cakesbycathy Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 3:07am
post #15 of 27

Okay, this is a unique circumstance and therefore I think it would be fine to charge the $25 per hour fee. I would either have them purchase all the materials OR (and this would probably be better) you purchase materials and have them reimburse you. This way you get exactly what you need.

If you will be using your own decorating tools then I would bump the fee up another 10 or 20 dollars.

CWR41 Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 3:35am
post #16 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonkraft

Any feedback on the $25/hour rate?




This might be fine for your travel/setup time, but are you really willing to charge only by the hour for decorating time? If you're experienced in making 4-tier wedding cakes in record time, then you're certainly better off to charge a flat fee or per serving charge.

jason_kraft Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 4:21am
post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by CWR41

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonkraft

Any feedback on the $25/hour rate?



This might be fine for your travel/setup time, but are you really willing to charge only by the hour for decorating time? If you're experienced in making 4-tier wedding cakes in record time, then you're certainly better off to charge a flat fee or per serving charge.



The vast majority of our business is sheet cakes and single-tier round cakes -- we've done some wedding cakes, but I wouldn't say we are super-experienced.

Obviously we will be aiming for quality rather than speed, especially considering the hourly rate. We are estimating about 4 hours prep time beforehand and 3 hours assembly & decorating time on site.

CWR41 Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 6:03am
post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonkraft

Obviously we will be aiming for quality rather than speed, especially considering the hourly rate. We are estimating about 4 hours prep time beforehand and 3 hours assembly & decorating time on site.




Are you saying you'd be happy with $175 for the work?

jason_kraft Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 6:24am
post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by CWR41

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonkraft

Obviously we will be aiming for quality rather than speed, especially considering the hourly rate. We are estimating about 4 hours prep time beforehand and 3 hours assembly & decorating time on site.



Are you saying you'd be happy with $175 for the work?



Considering we will be reimbursed for all the materials, and I passed basic arithmetic, yes. icon_wink.gif

When I work out variable product costs for our traditional products I figure the pastry chef's labor at $20/hour, so I'll charge slightly more than that considering the work is being done at the customer's site.

Which hourly rate do you use for labor when you look at the cost of your products?

Loucinda Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 1:30pm
post #20 of 27

I did something similar a while back, but I charged $50. per hour for going to their business. It was worth it to them to not have to refund money already paid for a cake they didn't have the skills to do.

How much time will this take away from your business?

CWR41 Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 1:40pm
post #21 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonkraft

When I work out variable product costs for our traditional products I figure the pastry chef's labor at $20/hour, so I'll charge slightly more than that considering the work is being done at the customer's site.




I hope you got the answers you were looking for, or at least something to think about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonkraft

Which hourly rate do you use for labor when you look at the cost of your products?




As a business owner, I make A LOT more than $20 an hour or what I pay employees.

jason_kraft Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 2:58pm
post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by CWR41


Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonkraft

Which hourly rate do you use for labor when you look at the cost of your products?



As a business owner, I make A LOT more than $20 an hour or what I pay employees.



Your total income per hour is not the same thing as the hourly labor cost component of your products...your total income had better be higher than the labor cost component, otherwise you'd be losing money!

jason_kraft Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 3:07pm
post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loucinda

I did something similar a while back, but I charged $50. per hour for going to their business. It was worth it to them to not have to refund money already paid for a cake they didn't have the skills to do.

How much time will this take away from your business?



Thanks for the feedback...this is a slightly different situation as our services are more of a "nice to have" to this particular customer, but for more commercial consulting we would probably increase our rate.

As for time taken away from the business, we'll work this into our schedule just like any other order. We do mostly smaller orders in the $50-100 range anyway so it's pretty easy to work around the few larger orders we get.

CWR41 Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 6:03pm
post #24 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonkraft

Your total income per hour is not the same thing as the hourly labor cost component of your products...your total income had better be higher than the labor cost component, otherwise you'd be losing money!




Exactly... which is why I wondered why you said you'd charge slightly more than the pastry chef's hourly wage.

If it's your pastry chef's responsibility to do all 7 hours of the estimated work involved (prep/setup/decorating), and they are paid $140, you're only keeping $35 of the $175 total. The value of this 4-tier cake is worth so much more than that (even if you aren't baking the cake).

For example, if the cake serves 200 and you charge $3.50 - $7.00 per serving (or more in CA) for BC/fondant, it's worth between a minimum of $700 - $1400 not including extras. Depending on cake flavor(s), $70 - $140 for cake ingredients would more than cover that cost for the baker (who's volunteering time?), leaving a $630 - $1260 value cake that someone will receive for only $175 or so. You should be charging much more.

jason_kraft Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 6:13pm
post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by CWR41

If it's your pastry chef's responsibility to do all 7 hours of the estimated work involved (prep/setup/decorating), and they are paid $140, you're only keeping $35 of the $175 total. The value of this 4-tier cake is worth so much more than that (even if you aren't baking the cake).



The pastry chef is also the co-founder of the company so her "salary" really just flows back into the business, but you have a good point, and the hourly rate charged to customers probably should be higher.

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For example, if the cake serves 200 and you charge $3.50 - $7.00 per serving (or more in CA) for BC/fondant, it's worth between a minimum of $700 - $1400 not including extras. Depending on cake flavor(s), $70 - $140 for cake ingredients would more than cover that cost for the baker (who's volunteering time?), leaving a $630 - $1260 value cake that someone will receive for only $175 or so. You should be charging much more.



The cake will serve about 100, and we would probably charge about $500 if we had made the cake from scratch. Including travel time and reimbursement for decorating ingredients (the fondant alone will be $80) we will probably end up bringing in ~$300 for this order unless it takes longer than expected.

CWR41 Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 7:08pm
post #26 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonkraft

The cake will serve about 100, and we would probably charge about $500 if we had made the cake from scratch. Including travel time and reimbursement for decorating ingredients (the fondant alone will be $80) we will probably end up bringing in ~$300 for this order unless it takes longer than expected.




If you normally charge $5 per serving, I think you'd still be cutting yourselves short. The smallest 4-tier, 6x8x10x12 (without starting with a 4" top), serves 130 x $5 = $650. (Are you giving away 30 extra servings, or making a smaller 4-tier?)

The way I see it, the only way you'll bring in $300 for this order, is if you drag it out to 12 hours to decorate @ $25/per hr. Because you really don't know how long it will take until it's finished, even $50/per hr. might not be enough to cover your time (which is why I think you can't go wrong charging your normal per serving rate).

jason_kraft Posted 19 Aug 2010 , 7:27pm
post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by CWR41

If you normally charge $5 per serving, I think you'd still be cutting yourselves short. The smallest 4-tier, 6x8x10x12 (without starting with a 4" top), serves 130 x $5 = $650. (Are you giving away 30 extra servings, or making a smaller 4-tier?)



We calculate serving sizes using the page linked below, the 12/10/8/6 comes out to 98 servings.

http://www.pastrywiz.com/cakes/servings.htm

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The way I see it, the only way you'll bring in $300 for this order, is if you drag it out to 12 hours to decorate @ $25/per hr.



7 hours labor + 1 hour r/t travel = 8 hours * $25/hour = $200 + $100 for ingredients = $300, gross of course.

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Because you really don't know how long it will take until it's finished, even $50/per hr. might not be enough to cover your time (which is why I think you can't go wrong charging your normal per serving rate).



An hourly charge will be enough to cover our time by definition, since if it takes longer to decorate the cake, we charge more.

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