I've been decorating cakes on and off since I was 12 when I did my first wedding cake with guidance from an aunt. I don't do anything elaborate, but my work is clean and I do a nice job. I'm 45 now, so I have a bit of experience. I was recently asked to make a cake for a Marine Corps Ball to feed 80 people (dessert size servings). The person who used to do it wanted to take a year off. They wanted the Marine Corps Seal on the cake. I wasn't sure what to charge, but I had in mind what I would do. I would use fondant because I like the clean look and I was going to use a mold and make the seal out of gum paste and paint it. It's a very intricate seal to do by hand with icing. I told him all this and he liked my ideas. I quoted $2/serving. He told me he thought I was probably "in the ball park" and he'd get back to me. He never called me back and then I saw him at a vet's club breakfast last weekend. He told me that he got someone else to do a sheet cake for $50. He later told me that it was his granddaughter. His comment was "who knows how it'll come out, but it's $50, not $160". I was a bit offended. I take pride in what I do and I would never put out a $50 sheet cake to feed 80 at a Marine Corps event. Does anyone think I was charging too much, and if so, what should I be using as a guideline for pricing?
you'll never win over those who shop by price only so dont' worry about it. I'm sure she's using an edible image instead of the hand crafted symbol you described.
I don't think you were charging too much -- if anything, $2/serving is a low for a cake with such an intricate design. Sounds like there was a significant family discount going on there.
To determine how much to charge, you need to find your cost, which includes the cost of ingredients, the cost of your labor, and overhead cost per cake (your annual costs for insurance, licensing, etc. divided by the estimated # of cakes per year). Add 20-30% to this number for profit, and that should be your price.
He'll get what he pays for, that's for sure! Ugh...some people have no clue what it takes to decorate cakes! I guess they think we can throw them together in 45 minutes. I don't think you were charging too much at all!
I don't think you over charged, I think he under budgeted.
I charge $2.50/serving for a buttercream cake. For weddings, people think this is a great price, for their kids birthday, I never hear back. Sometimes the occasion sets the budget and prehaps this wasn't an occasion the guy in charge felt needed a nice looking cake.
You were i the right neighborhood on pricing. You have no control over the fact he wanted to use his niece instead of you so it's on to the next customer!
Geesh, sounds like a rude guy! Don't sweat it, your pricing sounds right on to me. He clearly doesn't really care about the quality of the cake, since he admitted he didn't expect much of his granddaughter's sheet cake. Sometimes people just don't place any emphasis or importance on the cake. He's just not your customer.
Thanks everyone for all your comments. This helps me to know that my prices are reasonable. Maybe next time I will try to get a better idea of what the customers budget is and then let him/her know what they can get for that price.
That is good to do if you can. Sometimes you ask the customer what their budget is, and they have no clue, but you can at least try! It also helps to try to come up with a few different versions of the cake, some more involved than others, available at different price points for the design they want, so they have more options.