Do My Skills Justify My Price? (Poll-Pls Check My Gallery)

Business By karateka Updated 19 Oct 2010 , 8:30pm by Marianna46

karateka Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 3:05pm
post #1 of 104

So I just lost another wedding booking. Partly due to the style of cake I make, which they said was more old fashioned and they wanted more moisture and sweetness. Partly because of price competitiveness (is that even a word?)

What I want to know is, whether I'm pricing too high for my skills? I charge $2.75 per serving for buttercream, $3 for fondant, and 10 cents per serving for fillings (standard ones).

I think this is in line with most of the bakeries around....some of them don't have pricing on their sites, so I'm not positive, but I'm not the highest or the lowest.

I can't change my style of baking. This is what I know and like, so pricing needs to be the target. They didn't criticize me personally, and DH says I was friendly, so what else should I focus on?

Would you please check my gallery and respond to my poll?

103 replies
brensmom12 Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 3:18pm
post #2 of 104

I think your cakes are great! I don't know why you would consider reducing your rates. People think making a cake is nothing since any factory (walmart, costco,sams club) can pop out a frozen, non-custom cake for a low rate. Don't sell your self (or your cakes) short!

DeeDelightful Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 3:22pm
post #3 of 104

Based on what I see, I don't see why you can't charge as close to or more than competitors in your area. I don't see anything old fashioned about your style of decorating. You have all different styles of cakes pictured. Maybe the ones with pillars are what they are referring to, but you seem to have the skill to successfully stack a wedding cake, also. If they want more moisture and sweetness, maybe consider doing a sugar syrup "wash" on your cakes (still using your same recipe). Then again, you can't please everybody, so maybe they just found something else.

karateka Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 3:32pm
post #4 of 104

I think the "old fashioned" thing was aimed at my baking, instead of the decorating. And that's true...I use butter cake recipes. But I have modified them to include a portion of oil for more "moisture" and I do use a syrup wash, sometimes flavored if it won't affect the color of the cake.

I can understand someone not liking my style of baking...some people prefer mixes, right? I'm basically trying to suss out why I can't book a wedding to save my life. I don't have an art background, so maybe it is my design skills??? Or maybe all the home bakers in the area boost their numbers by underpricing? Or I'm just not good enough for my pricing?

These are the thoughts running through my crowded head.

deah Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 3:35pm
post #5 of 104

Karateka, your skills are certainly worthy of your rates. There's no question there. However, I'm confused regarding your comments on you baking style. What do you consider "old fashioned" baking?

I've always been told that if your cake doesn't taste as good or better than it looks you won't get the repeat business. Obviously, I can't comment on your baking so you'll need to evaluate that yourself and maybe get feedback from your family and friends. But, if you feel the need, please feel free to send me a sample! icon_biggrin.gif Good luck!

aligotmatt Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 3:35pm
post #6 of 104

When you sit down with a client, do you bring a book of your cakes or anything to show them? Obviously you bring samples... how do you bring them? as cupcakes or a filled cake?

lecie Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 3:37pm
post #7 of 104

Love your work it's awesome! You just can not please everyone. I think you should charge a little more but the price is fare. There are people out here who wants everything for next to nothing or free. Lift your head up and keep on moving and just don't worry about nothing. Please do not doubt yourself or your skill bc of someone who wants to get over on you.

all4cake Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 3:44pm
post #8 of 104

Sometimes, they're looking for something we just don't have...just like we shop at different stores to find something closest to what we seek, yes? (brand we want at the price we want being the goal.) Not knowing what else is in your area...going by the images in your gallery, I don't see why you would consider dropping your prices. If you like your cake the way it is, I wouldn't change it. I bake so that it is enjoyable to me first.

debster Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 3:52pm
post #9 of 104

I can tell you I'm in Ohio also just west of Cleveland. I charge 2.50 for Buttercream and 3.50 for Fondant 2.75 for fillings. Everyone claims to love my cakes MOIST is an always remark, but most of my business is coming from Cleveland area where the cost is 5.75 a serving and they get it there 20 min away. Where I live is a depressed part of a rural area. The steel plant has been closed half way for two years Ford Motor shut down and many other smaller factories.

Where some think I'm high from this area others think I'm cheap and pay me 75.00- 100.00 to deliver 45 min - an hour away cause my prices are so good. I guess it's where we live sometimes and not our work. Just keep the prices like they are, we can NOT compete with Wal-Mart or Sams sheet cakes. That's why most of my business is tiered cakes and Wedding cakes. Your work looks fine!!!!

what_a_cake Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 4:02pm
post #10 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by karateka

I'm basically trying to suss out why I can't book a wedding to save my life. I don't have an art background, so maybe it is my design skills??? Or maybe all the home bakers in the area boost their numbers by underpricing? Or I'm just not good enough for my pricing?




Maybe is a mix of all these and some more... one sure thing is that your ar not old fashioned nor underskilled. Your have beautifull cakes in different trends and as for your baking, it may not be what this bride was looking for but that doesn't mean baking good-homemade-style-cakes is obsolete.

If you have had the same kind of comments over and over regarding your baking, you may want to try having both options available (doctored and scratch) but keep the price the same as it will take same effort.

Cheer up my friend! Sit down, take a couple of deep breaths and invite your hubbie for a nice cup of coffe (or a cocktail icon_rolleyes.gif ). You need to recover the self-confidence that helped you doing business for so long (judging for your gallery size). Yes, times are tough... but you'll get over it.

all4cake Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 4:05pm
post #11 of 104

Stand back...a thought just crossed my mind!

Within the last year or so, I have noticed several b-t-bs commenting on the difference between my cakes and a long-time cake decorator in the area...I don't advocate or promote any negative discussions about any baker/decorator at all....BUT...if a b-t-b wants to share info they have, I listen (in a uh huh while doodling kind of way...like, I'll keep that in mind, sure)...those that mentioned her, stated that her tiers are one layer ...as in one layer, 3-4 inches tall...no filling. They liked the multiple layers within each tier.

Could that be what they meant by sweeter and more moist?

karateka Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 4:05pm
post #12 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by deah

Karateka, your skills are certainly worthy of your rates. There's no question there. However, I'm confused regarding your comments on you baking style. What do you consider "old fashioned" baking?

I've always been told that if your cake doesn't taste as good or better than it looks you won't get the repeat business. Obviously, I can't comment on your baking so you'll need to evaluate that yourself and maybe get feedback from your family and friends. But, if you feel the need, please feel free to send me a sample! icon_biggrin.gif Good luck!




I mean cakes like grandma made...butter cakes. They are rich and taste heavenly to my palette, and when I bring cake to work it disappears in a hot minute. My DH says I have spoiled him for any other kind of cake. He won't even eat store bought cake anymore. He says it tastes artificial.

My recipes are derived from the recipes in The Cake Bible. I don't use chiffon cakes, or sponge cakes, or cake mixes. I can't see changing my baking style because I understand these butter cakes and have learned how they work, and I really, really do think they taste best.

I altered them to use about 1/3 of the fat from oil (instead of 100% butter), because cakes made with oil have a more "moist" feel, even though it's not extra liquid. (got this from Cookwise by Shirley Corriher) I carefully calculated how to alter the recipe, and added the extra liquid missing from the butter I was omitting. I have gotten good reviews from other members of the fam, who tend to think they can be super critical and judgemental because I'm family and they are just being "honest". So I trust the recipe edit.

The thing is....I do have repeat customers. So they like SOMETHING I'm doing. I just can't book the friggin' weddings!!!! Killing me! I need income. I got bills! You feel me?

karateka Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 4:07pm
post #13 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by aligotmatt

When you sit down with a client, do you bring a book of your cakes or anything to show them? Obviously you bring samples... how do you bring them? as cupcakes or a filled cake?




They sit down in my formal dining room and I bring them little squares of cake (1/16 of an 8in square) with frosting on top, and fillings piped on the plate.

I have bound photo books made at mypublisher.com of my work, plus there's my website gallery.

Debi2 Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 4:08pm
post #14 of 104

I'm not sure why they would say your cakes are old fashioned? I think they look current and very well decorated. Keep your chin up!

jason_kraft Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 4:11pm
post #15 of 104

If your sales volume is too low, you may want to temporarily discount your prices by running a 10-20% off sale for a month or so.

karateka Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 4:32pm
post #16 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by all4cake

Stand back...a thought just crossed my mind!

Within the last year or so, I have noticed several b-t-bs commenting on the difference between my cakes and a long-time cake decorator in the area...I don't advocate or promote any negative discussions about any baker/decorator at all....BUT...if a b-t-b wants to share info they have, I listen (in a uh huh while doodling kind of way...like, I'll keep that in mind, sure)...those that mentioned her, stated that her tiers are one layer ...as in one layer, 3-4 inches tall...no filling. They liked the multiple layers within each tier.

Could that be what they meant by sweeter and more moist?




I don't know.....of course they wouldn't have tried a fully assembled cake....but I do torte and fill my cakes, so there are 3 layer of frosting or filling in each tier. icon_confused.gif

KSMill Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 4:34pm
post #17 of 104

I don't think you should change your pricing at all. Your skill level and experience certainly warrants your pricing level. There may be a preconceived "cheaper" price expectation from brides since you're home based. It's harder in rural areas to charge higher prices than it is in cities.

Keep your chin up! There was one suggestion to maybe add a modified version to your selection. Even if you have one or two 'modified' recipes to suggest, you may turn the tide. Good luck!

Foxicakes Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 4:50pm
post #18 of 104

I think your work is great. If its your baking, you MAY want to try a few of the "tried and true" recipes that other, more successful bakers use here on CC. I personally, love the White Velvet cake recipe (sorry the author skips my mind presently) but it has absolutely become my GO To cake!! and everyone that I share it with says its the best cake they've ever tasted!! It is very dense yet very moist and full of flavor (although I do have to admit that I use 5 different extracts in it to achieve the "perfect" flavor for my palette) As far as your decorating goes, it is great. I was watching a youtube video where Sylvia Weinstock was doing a tasting and she brought out 3 types of cake with about 10 different filling flavors and let the tasters mix and match the cakes and fillings to get what was perfect for their palettes. You may try something like that. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but maybe just make 1/4 recipes of some fillings and freeze them for your tastings. Same for the cake, and then just defrost just enough for the tasting. That way it looks like youve done a TON of work just for them (a little guilt never hurt) AND all of your cakes and fillings taste as if they were just made. Fresh, fresh, fresh without all of the stress stress stress!! That is IMHO.

jason_kraft Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 4:58pm
post #19 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by KSMill

Your skill level and experience certainly warrants your pricing level.



That's certainly true, but you also need to look at the price the market will bear. If OP is consistently losing business due to price, she can either keep her prices steady and continue losing business, try to lower prices slightly so she's not being undercut, or provide a unique product or service to justify charging a premium.

Pursuing a different set of customers that is currently underserved by the competition would be another possible solution.

jenmat Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 5:00pm
post #20 of 104

To me, it sounds like you need to sell yourself better. I've been struggling with that myself, since I raised pricing. I can't just sit there and show them my work and book them. I have to educate them now.
I actually wrote out a "why me?" sales pitch about a week ago. It has really helped, and I've had 3 tastings in 2 days, all of them booking.
I'll pm you my schpeel. You never know, it may be inspiration for your own!

karateka Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 5:54pm
post #21 of 104

I previously was using Earlene's chart and charging $3 per serving for buttercream, and $3.75 for fondant.

Now I'm using the Wilton chart, and lowered my prices to $2.75 for buttercream, and started charging for fillings, which were previously free.

I suppose I could go to $2.50.......what does it say about me if I keep lowering prices?

HG0265 Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 6:12pm
post #22 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by karateka

I don't have an art background, so maybe it is my design skills???




I decorate cakes and don't have an art background. I pick up ideas and designs from everywhere - mostly here!!

jason_kraft Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 6:24pm
post #23 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by karateka

Now I'm using the Wilton chart, and lowered my prices to $2.75 for buttercream, and started charging for fillings, which were previously free.

I suppose I could go to $2.50.......what does it say about me if I keep lowering prices?



I would structure the price change as a temporary sale instead of permanently changing your prices, and see how it goes for a month or so. I also recommend getting a better idea of your competition's price structure to see if you are still being undercut...if the competition is at $2.50 and has a similar level of quality, cutting to $2.75 won't help much.

Don't worry too much about changing prices, it's not like customers will be checking your web site every week to see if prices have changed.

aswartzw Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 6:52pm
post #24 of 104

Do you mean your cakes are more like pound cake? Denser, not fluffy, etc? If so, then yeah, that might be why you're losing business.

Otherwise, you might just not be offering a broad enough spectrum of flavors, maybe they don't like your BC, or your pricing really could just be higher than the other bakeries.

Mama_Mias_Cakes Posted 14 Oct 2010 , 12:22am
post #25 of 104

You are only about 40 minutes from me. Your prices are pretty comparable to most bakeries and home bakeries in our area. However, the ones I know do not do a lot of butter based cakes. I'm pretty sure yours is delicious, but maybe it is just really different than what most sell here. You can use this as a selling point though. There are wedding shows in both Dayton and Cincinnati - do you attend those? What about getting with Trader's World on the weekends. I'm not sure on booth rentals, but they have all sorts of different prices. I know a lot of brides go there to get their dresses at the shop there. Right now, I prefer to do the smaller cakes myself so I have not really looked into heavily advertising into the wedding market here.

cakesbycathy Posted 14 Oct 2010 , 12:34am
post #26 of 104

I'm in a western suburb of Cleve and charge $3 for buttercream and $4 for fondant so price wise we're not too far off.

I've never had your cake obviously icon_rolleyes.gif but I if I had to venture a guess it might be because IMO most people are used to the taste of box mixes or ones that have been doctored. Perhaps they figure if they are going to spend that much money on a cake they want it to be a texture they figure they and most of their guests are used to?

Also, I charge one flat fee for everthing - design, fillings, etc. Maybe people are turned off by the idea that they will have to pay extra for a filling?

Mama_Mias_Cakes Posted 14 Oct 2010 , 12:38am
post #27 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesbycathy

Also, I charge one flat fee for everthing - design, fillings, etc. Maybe people are turned off by the idea that they will have to pay extra for a filling?




I do the same. I actually have not heard of charging for all fillings, just for ones that require extra ingredients outside of butter cream like real fruit.

sugarandstuff Posted 14 Oct 2010 , 12:39am
post #28 of 104

What type of icing are you using? Is it possible your icing is too sweet, gritty? How about your fillings?
I think your cakes are really very nice and they look up to date to me. Your prices seem low to me,but I'm close to NYC.

aligotmatt Posted 14 Oct 2010 , 12:54am
post #29 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by karateka

Quote:
Originally Posted by aligotmatt

When you sit down with a client, do you bring a book of your cakes or anything to show them? Obviously you bring samples... how do you bring them? as cupcakes or a filled cake?



They sit down in my formal dining room and I bring them little squares of cake (1/16 of an 8in square) with frosting on top, and fillings piped on the plate.

I have bound photo books made at mypublisher.com of my work, plus there's my website gallery.




What photo's are you presenting to people? I ask because in the beginning of progressing in to wedding cakes I had all of my work. I thought showing that I could make this and that would help people see my skill. My favorite example to tell people is this one bride I sat down with and said "I really want a green wedding cake and brown ribbon and fondant pears." I was like, yeah, I can absolutely do that. And she said, "but have you made pears before?" and I said "no... but I've made a car, and I'm thinking a pear may hold less difficulty. " Needless to say I did not get the order.

The point I'm making is that you should try putting only wedding cakes in front of brides to look at. Give them a talk on your awesomeness while they are sampling the cake, then go into the design portion. I think if people have other cakes, non wedding cakes, to look at, they get in their mind that maybe you are a celebrator cake maker trying your hand at wedding cakes vs. a wedding cake maker who sometimes makes celebrator cakes.

Kitagrl Posted 14 Oct 2010 , 1:07am
post #30 of 104

Your cakes are beautiful!!!!!

Its almost impossible to know what your local economy can handle though....so I'm no help....

I love your "red square birthday cake". Here, I could get $5/serving for that, done just like that (skill wise). So in a lower economical area, your prices sound totally fine and VERY reasonable. I do not know how your flavors are though...I didn't read the entire thread...have you had complaints or compliments about your baking?

Your Batman/Superman cake is great too! I would have charged $7/serving, approx....for that cake...again, higher cost of living here but still knocking off several bucks is still equal or greater to what you are charging...so definitely do not lower your prices. You deserve to be paid well for your work!

The scroll buttercream wedding one I would have charged $3.50-$4.00/serving for that....so knock cost of living down and your pricing again is very fair.

So...unless something is wrong with the flavors or something...I think you are totally fine with your pricing, and your talent is great! And once your business grows a little, definitely start raising prices a tad here and there.

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