I sell cupcakes in a gift boutique. Been doing this since January and have had decent sales, nothing wonderful. But it gets my name out and I get cake orders from it.
The people who own the store I considered friends..not I call you everyday friends, but I'll send you card at Christmas friends. Now I'm really trying to seperate friends and business, but I think I might have been bit in the hiney.
In the past 4 months stuff has gone on that I'm not cool with. First was a baker who sold pound cake slices pre-packaged. Now..I let it slide b/c it was just a slice of pound cake or a brownie, I do neither. I do just cupcakes for the store packaged in boxes of 4 or we have a case for singles ppl can mix and match.
But today was the gut clencher. I walked and there were cupcake boxes on my normal shelf and a single cupcake in the case. I went ballistic. I started to pack my advertising and just leave, then I thought: what am I going to do with a hodge podge of 2 dozen cupcakes! I was told how on the days that I don't have cupcakes there (Monday-Wednesday) ppl want cupcakes and this chick will provide them. I told them 2 weeks ago I was bringing them on Weds now...so how this girl is going to make money on 2 days...?
I think I'm more hurt at the ppl that I thought were friends didn't even tell me. They just let me find out the hard way. So now I have someone who is in direct competition with me for business advertising her cakes in front of my cupcakes.
What do I do? What do I say without flying off the handle? I have no filter on my mouth. Normally I'm all about cake for all, but not when you're advertising your cake in front of mine! This is my spot I peed on it first!
Here's the kicker...the owners were like, well she'd really like to call you and maybe work together on jobs. YOu know what that sounds like to me? Sounds like she's got no jobs and is looking to mooch off me...plus this is not the way to make friends in the caking world! Sorry...filter came off.
I'm sorry this happened to you...it really sucks. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like you have any contract with your friends and without a legal agreement about exclusively selling your items there, I'm not sure there is much you can do. Perhaps you can sample one of the other bakers cupcakes and if it is good you might consider using her as a backup for emergencies when you are sick or on vacation and your clients ask for a referral.
In any case, if you choose to continue selling your items in the shop, you might want to make sure that your items are easily identified and all products (including the ones you are not providing) are clearly labeled. Better yet, perhaps you can talk to your friends and have them sign a contract that states your conditions.
If you don't have a contract with them that spells out these types of issues, then I would have a meeting with the owners and let them know you are not comfortable wtih the other girl selling in direct competition with you on your off days, but I would also be prepared to offer to come in M-W and offer cupcakes then, so they don't feel that they are missing sales by only having yours there part of the week. If they don't like your offer and it ticks you off enough, then I would just tell them nicely and in a professional way that the arrangment then no longer is beneficial to your business and be prepared to leave. If they agree to your plan, then tell them that for clarity on both parts, you think a written contract would be wise to address all matters of your business relationship and then draw one up and have them go over it and both of you sign it, that way there is no miscommunication and you are both happy.
I've calmed down now. Not crying anymore and not taking it personal anymore. Working on a game plan. Not sure what I want to do yet. It's a crossroad for me. I thought I knew where I stood, but I didn't. Instead of coming to me business to business and asking me "we need cupcakes 6 days a week, how can we make this work?" they just assumed I'm too busy and didn't want to overload me. (sigh). Today was told well if you want to do all days then we'll tell her that she can't bring them in then. I guess problem solved. But I need to decide. I don't feel right right about my treatment, contract or not I think there should have been a heads up or a line of dialogue.
In the mean time I'm upping my game, revamping my marketing and working on new flavors.
Business is business, don't take it personally. The owners didn't think you wanted those days. Be prepared to meet their needs six days a week, share the days, or bail out. That's the way business goes. The owners have a right to sell what they want and you have the right to decide if you want to provide it. No matter what, get it in writing. As far as selling other baked foods, time are tough in most retail, and if they have found a profit point in baked goods, you may not be able to dictate exclusivity.
Learning interpersonal skills is a journey like everything else.
I had to train myself to be a proactive seller..."Don't forget, if you find your cupcake supplies dwindling, all you need to do is give me a call and I'll get more to you as soon as possible and then up my production schedule accordingly." and then follow up..."Do you get customer feedback? Have you been sampling the product to make sure it's up to your standards? What are heavy cupcake days? Have you heard requests for new or different products that I can supply to you?"
Ask, remind, communicate often. The cupcakes are the easy part.
Don't wait for them to supply the answers without asking the questions. They are on their own interpersonal skill journey...
Use this as a lesson and make this decent opportunity really work for you.