Bit Of A Vent And Need Some Wording...

Business By jenmat Updated 6 Oct 2010 , 10:13pm by cakesbycathy

jenmat Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 1:45am
post #1 of 21

I admittedly get WAAAY too worked-up when it comes to dealing with some customers, especially when I feel taken-advantage-of. And most of the time it is my fault because as I truly believe you train your own customers how to behave.

ANYway, I have a "special" customer who has ordered from me for 4 years for her 2 children's bdays- that is 8 cakes in the past 4 years. Every time I get an email from her, this is a typical excerpt:
She would like a princess cake this year---would you be able to send me some of your ideas for this type of cake? Not sure if I want a round, square or tiered cake--I guess I'd like to see what is available from you.

Now, she has never spent more than $40, usually in the $25 range with my smaller cakes. I tell her to google it, I tell her she needs to narrow it down, it doesn't seem to matter what I say, this woman needs a PICTURE of the dang cake. She simply cannot see a design I suggest, and she wants an original cake, but wants to see that I have done it before.
icon_confused.gificon_cry.gif I have never screwed up an order, and she always raves about the cakes. But she's SUCH A PITA!!!

Each time she emails me I groan, because I know this will mean an hour worth of research, and then a week's worth of decision-making emails. And me in a pissy mood.

How on earth do I politely word an email response that says, "do you realize that a $25-40 cake is just not worth the research you are asking for from me, and you need to trust me or go somewhere else!!"

She is part of a medical team that I serve on a weekly basis, so being mean and being booked are not options.
Any suggestions would be truly appreciated, and even if they don't work on her, they may work when training other clients!
TIA! thumbs_up.gif

20 replies
daltonam Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 1:56am
post #2 of 21

I have no opinion here, LOL!!!! I just spend all week looking & emailing (of course to my High School BFF) pictures......THEN she added something else to it.

Good Luck, sorry I couldn't help.

KimmyKakes4Me Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 1:59am
post #3 of 21

Dear Client: I will not be able to accommodate these requests, as I reserve this research and time for custom cakes that start at XX$. If you would like a custom created cake, I would be happy to come up with a design for you.

online_annie Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 2:00am
post #4 of 21

I don't understand how "being booked" is not an option. Clearly, she is not going to change if she has been this way for several years. If she is the PITA that you say she is, then why do you continue to work for her? I would simply say your schedule is very tight, you would love to create another wonderful cake for her, but due to time constaints with other orders, she will need to trust you to come up with something that will not only fit her budget...but your limited schedule as well. If this does not work for her, then say it saddens you that you are unable to create her cake...but that you look forward to next year.

dldbrou Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 2:07am
post #5 of 21

Maybe say,

Due to the time involved in researching your design, I need for either a picture from you or the option to use my professional decorating talents to make your cake as I understand the request. If you need more detailed information from me there will be a separate charge for planning and drawing the design.

madgeowens Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 2:23am
post #6 of 21

Tell her you have to charge extra for the time involved with such a design that is this vague. If she wants to tell you what to incorporate in her cake that would be fine, but to have a special design you will have to charge an additional @$20.00..........lol hows that...then she can go to walmart and see how she makes out

Bskinne Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 2:36am
post #7 of 21

Jentreu, I looked at your cakes and they are spectacular, but I don't see ANY that look like $40 cakes...I hope this is just a singular case of giving the lady a break rather than underpricing yourself! Anyway, I would come up with an estimate (not the $40 she wants to pay but what it's actually worth) and let her know "The cake design you wants starts at $xxx. Depending on the final design, it maybe more. As you have used my services for several years, I know you can vouch for the quality of the cake and design. Therefore, I can keep the cost of the cake at $xxx if you allow me artistic license on the cake. Extra design time and added details will increase the cost of the cake." if she chooses not to go with you, whats the big loss? She can't badmouth you since she's gotten cakes from you before, and you're out a big whopping $20...not to mention not wasting your time!!! icon_smile.gif

saberger Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 2:46am
post #8 of 21

Personally, I would say "I am so sorry that you hadn't called me/emailed me last week, but I just took an order for that particular day which will take over a week's worth of preparation. However, if you'd like, since you have been a client of mine for the past couple of years, I could make a little cake for your daughter once you send me the pictures of the cakes you are interested in (or something like that)."

I would not take it on as your only order. And I would be sure to say that it takes a lot of prep time so she doesn't say that she can pick it up a day or two before the party (I've had that happen and was a little stuck). You also don't want her to feel alienated enough to bad mouth you. Granted she is a PITA, but she can still bad mouth. So make her feel like YOU are doing HER a favor by making a LITTLE cake which SHE has to provide the design for or give you the freedom to design. OR after you mention the huge order you have, you can say "I am sorry I can't take your order. Since I wouldn't want to leave you hanging, I can recommend so-and-so baker" HTH! And good luck!

Apti Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 3:01am
post #9 of 21

I worked on medical teams of one kind or another for 30 years before retirement. I hear you and truly think you have no option other than to do this again.
I think the main reason you are pi**ed is because you know it is your fault for letting her get away with this 8 times! I would suggest that you have to do this a 9th time, but NOT a 10th or 11th time!

Go online, find a photo of a cake that YOU can make for not too much money or trouble. Send her the photo and say, "Here is the princess cake. It is (round, square, petal, tiered, whatever) and will feed XX people. It is "flavor" and "frosting" and "filling". Since you have been a loyal, repeat customer I will be applying last year's pricing for this cake which will be $40. Unfortunately, due to heavy booking at this time, I'll need to go with this design as emailed to you--I'm sure "kid's name" will love it!"

THEN, next time she asks you for a cake, charge $70 for the SAME SIZE CAKE. The time after that, (IF there is a time after a $70 cake) $85.

BTW, if I'd been getting cakes of your quality for my kid's birthdays for $25-$40 bucks I'd be just like this lady--it's not her fault, you've just been providing far too much for far too little for far too long. (All the above is said with love and a smile)

jenmat Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 3:08am
post #10 of 21

Bskinne~ my celebration line ranges from $22 and up, depending on size. I find it works for me, and is fairly standard for the area. There are vast limits in these price ranges- all extra detailing above and beyond icing work is extra (figures, gumpaste/fondant detaling, etc.) Truly custom cakes like 3D, 2D, etc, are in a higher price range, and they get more attention because of that.

The reason I can't be booked is she gives me plenty of notice (about a month), and if I turned her down, I would have to turn down the rest of the nurses on her medical team who order at least 12 cakes/month among them. They DO talk.

I do like the idea of saying "It'll be tight, but I can fit you in if you can come up with some designs..." Put the ball back in her court, so to speak. Just wished I trained her better- she was one of my first way back when and I did too much for her! This is a lesson to those starting out- NEVER go TOO far above and beyond, or you may regret it!

KimmyKakes4Me Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 3:30am
post #11 of 21

Jentreu, you really price your cakes at or below Walmart prices? I'm not being snarky, but I mean, wow. Are you a big commercial operation and can crank them out like nothing?

Bskinne Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 3:40am
post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by jentreu

Bskinne~ my celebration line ranges from $22 and up, depending on size. I find it works for me, and is fairly standard for the area. There are vast limits in these price ranges- all extra detailing above and beyond icing work is extra (figures, gumpaste/fondant detaling, etc.) Truly custom cakes like 3D, 2D, etc, are in a higher price range, and they get more attention because of that




But she's not ordering a 6" round yellow cake frosted in BC, right? It is a custom designed princess cake, right? I understand pricing is different in areas, but how low can you go and not lose money on it? I'm not being mean, I just think that your cakes are so beautiful that you need to charge more! Keep in mind too that people see more value when they are spending more money, and it weeds bad clients out. This lady KNOWS she is getting a great deal...and she probably doesn't think it's a problem for you to do any of this for you, cause it's only $20 worth of work....

Ruth0209 Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 3:40am
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by online_annie

I would simply say your schedule is very tight, you would love to create another wonderful cake for her, but due to time constaints with other orders, she will need to trust you to come up with something that will not only fit her budget...but your limited schedule as well. If this does not work for her, then say it saddens you that you are unable to create her cake...but that you look forward to next year.




This is an excellent response. It's clear and HONEST.

As for the suggestion to lie and tell her you're booked, it is simply inappropriate and unprofessional to lie to customers. How in the world do we expect customers to treat us with respect and courtesy when we disrespect them by lying to them? People recommend that all the time on here and it makes me crazy.

KimmyKakes4Me Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 3:58am
post #14 of 21

But it's not $20 worth of work. It's what after expenses.....$10? Holy mackeral.

EvMarie Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 4:04am
post #15 of 21

Oh boy - I'm not sure how to handle your issue with this lady. It sounds like it's a delicate situation for sure.

I think it's being pretty honest to say that you were so happy to provide cakes for her in the past (even if it's just for the moola and not because she's a joy to work with) but that you've gotten so busy, that you just can't squeeze in the research part any longer. Just state it as simply as that. Don't wait for her to take offense. You simply can't fit it in.... THEN....put it back in her court...just like you said. Go on to mention that you'd love to make a princess cake for her and her daughter...but she would really need to find examples of the elements she likes. Explain to her...there are lots of directions to go in & she'd really need to provide examples for you. That's it. Then, just say - please let me know what you'd like to do.

DONE! None of that was offensive.

On another note - your pricing/clientelle - - - - - As I continue on my journey of developing a cookie biz, I once read something here on CC that has stuck with me ever since. Here it is:

WORK SMART....NOT HARD.....

You obviously have stellar work. It appears that your clientelle may not match the level of work you are able to put out. Have you ever considered marketing yourself to a higher end situation? I don't know what's available in your area or just outside your area. But, technically, you could replace those 20 cakes from the medical team with just 1 bigger price tag tiered cake. Even if you have to drive a distance to deliver...people who are willing to pay cash will also pay for long distance delivery. Just a thought.....

Good Luck!!!

Nancy_TX Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 4:08am
post #16 of 21

Why not just send her a Google link and tell her to let you know what she decides?

http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&q=princess%20cake&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi

dreamcakesmom Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 4:17am
post #17 of 21

I think I am a little confused. Are you truly doing a custom cake or are you doing standard cakes that she browses your designs and chooses something you have executed? If it is a custom cake where you are sktching ideas and reworking then charge her custom cake prices for it. If she doesn't like it then she can go to the supermarket and look at their books and pick out something clearly pictured. Any cake that I have to piece together concepts, sketches etc is considered custom and autmoatically gets bumped into htat pricing bucket which takes into consideration multiple email time, sketch times etc. Don't undercut yourself. For $40 I wouldn't be coming up with new concepts. If she is a visual person simply direct her to the computer and say google, princess cake and let you know which ideas she likes and then she has to trust your creativity

mrsbriggs06 Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 4:41am
post #18 of 21

send her this link icon_wink.gif
http://tinyurl.com/2dfh36p

no advice really.. just sympathy & (hopefully) a laugh!

Bskinne Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 5:02am
post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrsbriggs06

send her this link icon_wink.gif
http://tinyurl.com/2dfh36p

no advice really.. just sympathy & (hopefully) a laugh!



That's awesome! Lol

costumeczar Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 8:06pm
post #20 of 21

I know that you didn't ask for pricing responses (even though I'm going to give you one icon_wink.gif ), but If she's ordering off your "basic" menu then I'd be giving her a plain iced cake with Happy Birthday written on it. I charge $35 for a 6" anniversary tier that's NOT decorated, so your basic pricing makes me wonder if you're even making minimum wage.

I assume that you're adding onto the cost of the cake, because when she's talking about a Princess Cake at the 8" price that you have listed, I'd be thinking of a white cake with a pink shell border and nothing else on it, unless she wants to put a plastic crown that she bought herself to make it "princess." icon_evil.gif

To answer what you asked, though, I'd tell her that you're very busy, and that you don't have time to research different options for her. If she could find some photos and send them to you, you could give her an estimate, but just tell her that it's up to her to do the legwork.

cakesbycathy Posted 6 Oct 2010 , 10:13pm
post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

To answer what you asked, though, I'd tell her that you're very busy, and that you don't have time to research different options for her. If she could find some photos and send them to you, you could give her an estimate, but just tell her that it's up to her to do the legwork.




I agree. I would preface it with "I know in the past I have spent a lot of time doing research for you and coming up with cake designs, but I really am not able to do that anymore. You can either find a picture you like or you can tell me the theme and give me free reign on the design and I will create something for you in your price range.

You just need to retrain her, but in a nice way thumbs_up.gif

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