Need Help Handling Cake Tasting Fees.

Business By Dreme Updated 8 Jan 2014 , 1:31am by scrumdiddlycakes

Dreme Posted 14 Dec 2010 , 6:21pm
post #1 of 33

I just got off the phone with another bride that is shocked I charge a cake tasting fee. I will admit my site is not yet bride friendly; so there is no info just for them. (I'm working on it).

At the moment I say that consultations are free of charge and tastings are $25. The only difference is that one you will get to taste cake. This covers my time and materials for the tasting. I do require that payment be made before the meeting via phone or online invoice. They only way I have not booked a bride is due to the upfront tasting fee. The ones who don't mind it have booked their cake with me.

As far as I know no one else in my area charges for a cake tasting. I am thinking I want to nix the free consultation concept. Only paid tastings. I set everything up with linens, china, floral arrangements, cake cupcake and cookie dummies, and I also provide them with 3 to 6 cake concepts as well as drawn out estimates. I feel like being an at home decorator I have to stand out and offer an elegant experience. So far that has booked the bride. I don't want to change this, as this part has worked for me. I just feel I can't do it for free.

How do you handle payments from brides for tastings?

32 replies
jason_kraft Posted 14 Dec 2010 , 6:31pm
post #2 of 33

We charge $30 for tastings, and we only do consultations (no charge) over the phone or via email. We apply the cost of the tasting toward the final cake, so if the customer orders a cake the tasting ends up being free for them.

It's a little unusual to require up-front payment for a tasting, we handle payment once the tasting is over.

playingwithsugar Posted 14 Dec 2010 , 6:31pm
post #3 of 33

What you have sounds like double the work. Your time is valuable, and to spend time with a free consultation, then see the same bride for a paid tasting, would not work for most pros.

Combine the two, charge for the tasting, then take the tasting fee off the price of the final price of the cake.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

ConfectionsCC Posted 14 Dec 2010 , 6:39pm
post #4 of 33

The way I was planning to do the tasting was to charge about $20 for the bride and groom, and then any additional person would be like $8 (in case MOB or someone wants to come) Then if they book me, that price will be taken off the cost of the cake. I haven't opened yet, so not sure if that will work! Also, I do not think my tastings would be quite as fancy as yours! I think i need to book a tasting just for date night with the hubby icon_wink.gif

Dreme Posted 14 Dec 2010 , 7:02pm
post #5 of 33

I do offer that the $25 be applied to their total. That's good.

I'm sorta open to the idea of a consult over the phone, they only thing is that most brides want to get off the phone after about 5 minutes with me. That is what happened earlier. She wasn't prepared for answering questions. Also being the sole person running this show, I feel like I may not have the time to talk to a bride for an hour about her wedding. The meeting in person takes about an hour. My selling point has been with the custom designs and the fact that no other bride can get her design. I'm feeling like I should not do this for someone I never met in person. What do you give the over the phone bride? What does she get out of it?

Maybe i'm missing something here. How do you hold a tasting without payment upfront? I thought it was to cover my time spent baking whether or not they booked or decided to pull a no show. That way i'm covered. How do you get a bride to pay you afterward.

Trying to figure out how i'm going to adjust and feeling a little frustrated.


* Also how would I compete against other decorators by phone? I'm very big on presentation in person. As a shy an quiet person I suck. The artist and presentation part me makes them like me. That is why I want to offer so much. That and I don't see many others doing this.

cakesdivine Posted 14 Dec 2010 , 7:15pm
post #6 of 33

I too require upfront payment. The reason is I have been burned one too many times. All it took for me was for 2 different brides to give me the same excuse AFTER their tasting and those were back to back tastings... "Oh I don't have a credit card or cash with me". One girl once told me she left her wallet in the car and she and her bridesmaid walked out to go get it and yep, you guessed it...never returned to pay for the tasting. The only saving grace on that one is the MOB called a few weeks later to book me so as you do Jason I credit any sampling payment towards the order, so her sampling was free, she just didn't get any payment credit toward her cake.

I do an "open house" tasting event once a month and those tastings are free. The brides have to RSVP for a time slot and the most they can bring is 3 people. I book in 30 min intervals. If no one RSVP's by the deadline RSVP date then I have that day off. But generally I have several brides RSVP and 9 times out of 10 they book with me on the spot. If they don't book on the spot most will do so within a month to reserve their dates.

ConfectionsCC Posted 14 Dec 2010 , 7:49pm
post #7 of 33

cakesdivine, I love the idea of having an open house for tastings! I think this would be a great idea for the beginning of the year, just in time for wedding season in the spring! I was wondering, figured I'd ask in this post, have any of you done a "grand opening" party for a home business? I am wanting to do one once construction is complete, but I am not sure what all I should offer. Should I make a few dummy cakes and free cupcakes in different flavors? Or should I just make a few different cakes and serve slices? I don't want to charge people to come to the party, just not sure what the proper way to do something like this is!

jason_kraft Posted 14 Dec 2010 , 9:09pm
post #8 of 33

I suppose if you have frequent no-shows then asking for payment up front would be reasonable, we've never had a no-show for a tasting. If someone left without paying, they would be hearing from me about their payment due (as we collect the phone number and address for the bride and groom), and I would escalate from there.

jason_kraft Posted 14 Dec 2010 , 9:18pm
post #9 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreme

* Also how would I compete against other decorators by phone? I'm very big on presentation in person. As a shy an quiet person I suck. The artist and presentation part me makes them like me. That is why I want to offer so much. That and I don't see many others doing this.



We've had several successful consultations via email, many people find it easier to answer questions on their own time, and you can scan in sketches (or use cake decorating software to design a cake and export to an image file or PDF) and attach them to replies.

playingwithsugar Posted 14 Dec 2010 , 10:22pm
post #10 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConfectionsCC

The way I was planning to do the tasting was to charge about $20 for the bride and groom, and then any additional person would be like $8 (in case MOB or someone wants to come) Then if they book me, that price will be taken off the cost of the cake. I haven't opened yet, so not sure if that will work! Also, I do not think my tastings would be quite as fancy as yours! I think i need to book a tasting just for date night with the hubby icon_wink.gif




I would not take off any more than the first $20, and keep the fees for any others who come.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

leah_s Posted 16 Dec 2010 , 2:38pm
post #11 of 33

There's only one place in my rather large city that charges for tastings. It's just not the way things are done around here. But then I don't have floral arrangements, china or any of that other stuff the OP talked about. It's not a dessert party that I'm hosting. It's a business meeting that I'm conducting.

BluntlySpeakingKarma Posted 16 Dec 2010 , 2:48pm
post #12 of 33

I would ditch the whole tea party idea, unless you're holding a group tasting/Saturday tasting for more than 1 couple. I'd be livid if I played dress up for some non-chalant looky loos. If you have a whole group of people, one nonchalant looky loo isn't so bad when there are serious people you made the effort for.

AmysCakesNCandies Posted 16 Dec 2010 , 2:58pm
post #13 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s

But then I don't have floral arrangements, china or any of that other stuff the OP talked about. It's not a dessert party that I'm hosting. It's a business meeting that I'm conducting.




I'm with Leah. I don't charge for tastings, I consider it a part of doing bussiness and my tasting are basic- In my office they have a couch to sit on and I privide 2 undecorated 2" round sampls of cake/ filling/ icing combinations. I find that most brides want to just see photos, taste the cake and get a feel for you as a decorator. My costs are minimal for tastings and I book about 60% of my tastings.

If you really feell the need to charge up front them maybe you could use Paypal to invoivce them & recieve payment before the consult- asking for cash at the door just seems tacky and checks cashed after the fact can be risky. Paypal also has a function that allows you to refund payments easily if for some reason you need to do that.

indydebi Posted 16 Dec 2010 , 3:28pm
post #14 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s

There's only one place in my rather large city that charges for tastings. It's just not the way things are done around here. But then I don't have floral arrangements, china or any of that other stuff the OP talked about. It's not a dessert party that I'm hosting. It's a business meeting that I'm conducting.


I totally agree with this. I actually have a draft article on this very thing that I'll have to dig out. You may be shooting yourself in the foot.

HEre's what MIGHT happen:

brides will develop an impression from this meeting and there is no doubt the fine china and flowers will create a wonderful impression. but what you're doing is sending the bride off with a Waldorf Astoria impression. Unless you are providing that look, that china, and those flowers at the actual reception, when they see their cake on their plastic tablecloth covered table in the local VFW with a moose head in the background, served on paper plates that kinda match the colors of their wedding, they are going to register some degree of disappointment. And somehow they are going to compare their memory of the fine china tasting with the paper plate version and in their minds, its the cake that isn't up to par.

Now I know some people will think this is a stretch, but I'm telling you, some brides will think this way. Don't set yourself up like that.

As leah said, it's a business meeting. I think brides take a baker more serious when its a business meeting as compared to "the girls getting together to have some cake and gab' session.

leah_s Posted 16 Dec 2010 , 4:05pm
post #15 of 33

There's just a world of difference in hosting and conducting. Debi has beat it into all of us that the consultation is a *business* meeting. Children are not appropriate, being late is not appropriate, not showing up at all is rude. YOU conduct yourself like the CEO of your company (which you are) and you're conducting a sales meeting. It should be serious business. Just like in the corporate world.

tracycakes Posted 16 Dec 2010 , 4:26pm
post #16 of 33

I don't charge for tastings, but it's not fancy either. The space I rent isn't fancy, in fact, I'm a little embarrassed at how poor it does look. It doesn't seem to make any difference.

I serve cupcakes, usually that I've made from leftover batter. I keep them in the freezer specifically for tastings. I usually serve 3 flavors of cupcake, 3 flavors of fillings and 3 buttercreams and usually give them a little piece of fondant since "I don't like the taste of fondant" comes up frequently. I serve it is little plastic cups that I get for the bridal fair and it's all on a clear plastic serving dish. Plastic plates, plastic forks, napkins and a bottle of water complete what I provide.

Actually, I don't care how many come to the tasting, I provide what I provide. I do provide a plastic knife for them to split the cupcakes and I welcome them to mix and match flavors. It is extremely rare that I don't get the order and I have had them pay for the full wedding cake before they leave. They usually come back within a month or less to pay their deposit.

Dreme Posted 16 Dec 2010 , 5:11pm
post #17 of 33

Right now I'm just really stuck on what to do. I keep reformatting what I'm doing.

I'm undecided on the charge or no charge thing. I know I want to keep the way I do things with the sketches and estimates although it consumes a great deal of my time after the consult. I'm considering putting up another form on my site for brides so that they can get me the information beforehand. Maybe so I can get some sketching/pricing done before we meet.

Also I have never understood this: Getting the deposit on the first meeting. How do you do that? How do you design and price a cake on the first meeting in front of clients? I have never been able to do this.

indydebi Posted 16 Dec 2010 , 5:26pm
post #18 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreme

Also I have never understood this: Getting the deposit on the first meeting. How do you do that? How do you design and price a cake on the first meeting in front of clients? I have never been able to do this.


"first" meeting? icon_confused.gif I've never had more than one meeting, so I dont' understand how one DOESN'T get all the details in one sitting. Brides are busy and making them come back time and time again would be a big inconvenience to both of us. I just never had the time to set aside 2-3 hours for a meeting(s) when it could be accomplished in 45-60 mins, tops. (and inside that 60 mins, I was usually ALSO talking about their buffet catering menu.)

I'm making notes and getting down what they want as we talk. "Let's talk about hte bottom tier. what flavor do you think MOST of your guests will like, since this is the largest cake? Now ... let's talk about the design. Which of the photos you've looked at have the design you like? Do you want a border on the top edge? Do you want this border on all tiers or just this one?"

ok .. done. Move to the middle tier.

By the time we get to the top of the cake, I'm done. I've got all of my info. If I wanted to, I could print out all of the forms and hand them to the bride then and there.

Work smarter ... not harder.

AmysCakesNCandies Posted 16 Dec 2010 , 5:29pm
post #19 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreme

Also I have never understood this: Getting the deposit on the first meeting. How do you do that? How do you design and price a cake on the first meeting in front of clients? I have never been able to do this.




I get a lot of contracts & deposits downbased on rough sketches put together at the consult, then I refine the design/ drawing after the consult when I can spend more time on it and email it to the client. I frequently have contracts with some TBA portions like flavor/ location etc. thaw I follow up on and complete at a later date. My theory is get them locked in while you have them there and avoid having yo schedule additional meetings if possible. Makes it easier for me.

Stephy42088 Posted 16 Dec 2010 , 5:38pm
post #20 of 33

Instead of scheduling additional meetings can't you email a sketch of the final cake design or email the contract and get a virtual signature, then they can pay the deposit via paypal or send it in the mail?

leah_s Posted 16 Dec 2010 , 5:51pm
post #21 of 33

HOLY CRAP, no don't email a sketch. Brides will take your sketch and shop it all over town. Your ideas are your work and need to stay with you.

I only make appointments by phone, so that I can talk to the bride. On the phone I get bride's name, phone number, email address, reception venue probable number of guests, ask her to email a picture of the wedding gown and anything else she wants to send and have them choose 1 - 3 flavors of cake from the tasting menu. Fillings I serve in a little souffle cup of whatever I happen to have on hand. You have different buttercreams? I only offer one.

In the 45 - 60 minutes the bride is at my table, I can make 4-8 sketches (truly, stick cakes) while she looks at pictures in the books. We look over my sketches and she picks one. Then I serve cake and water and let her look over the flavor list while she's eating.

Then we pick the flavors, I complete the invoice, go over it with her and ask for the order. If she's not ready to book, I make a note that the pricing is good for 7 days, but the date is NOT being held.

NEXT!

First meeting? second meeting? I don't have time for a second meetings and neither do brides. They can even make their deposit on my website and I'll email the contract.

But the sketches are mine.

Ladiesofthehouse Posted 16 Dec 2010 , 6:22pm
post #22 of 33

I get as much info as I can via email or phone from the bride before the consult to save time. I want to have an idea what they are looking for beforehand so I can be prepared as to what they will be looking for.

I also suggest they bring color samples, pictures, etc with them so we can go over them together to help make a decision. The last bride I had brought over a purse that she liked for a color sample and I am very glad she did that. Over the phone the color she was describing was a lot different than the actual color of the purse. Her "plum" was actually closer to an eggplant.

I charge $20.00 and explain that if they book the cake with me the $20.00 is applied to the cake price. I get payment for the tasting upon completion of the tasting by writing a receipt while they are sitting there and handing it to them.

I have my computer down in my kitchen so we can go over pictures, etc while they are sampling the cake. We talk prices, decide on design, fill out the contract and I get payment.

It's not fancy, just clean and efficient.

pinkpiggie78 Posted 16 Dec 2010 , 6:25pm
post #23 of 33

I am not as experienced as those who commented on this thread already, but had some issues with tastings (no shows). With the help of those on the site, I offer two tastings. One is free and I give them whatever cake I have on hand or am making that week (no extra work, just my time during the consult). The other is $25 where the bride gets to choose the cake flavors. They must pay up front for this and the $25 DOES NOT go towards their cake. Giving the option has worked great for me!

As for the table, I do dress up the table a bit for them, so it is nice, but not the Ritz.

I also try to gather as much info as I can about the reception, wedding and cake before the tasting/consult. We do a brief confirmation of the info at the tasting, but it does save quite a bit of time.

indydebi Posted 16 Dec 2010 , 6:44pm
post #24 of 33

As an add'l time saver, my "stick people cakes" are excel cells that are outlined and reduced/expanded in size to look like a cake. I had about 9 different versions already done and then would ask them "Do you want a fountain under your cake?" When they said no, I deleted that drawing. If they didn't want pillars, I deleted all stick people cakes with pillars. By the time I was done, I was left with the one format they wanted and I filled it in from there.

So another version of this is to have various template/drawings of cakes (bottom 2 tiers stacked with pillars supporting the top tier; all 3 tiers stacked; all 3 tiers with pillars, etc), with lots of copies of these blank pages handy, then all you ahve to do is pull them out and fill in the details.

Discover what your repetitive tasks are and get those out of the way, like having templates of 'blank' cakes. Much like our FAQ pages. thumbs_up.gif

AsburyArt Posted 16 Dec 2010 , 7:02pm
post #25 of 33

In general, we don't charge for tastings. We do have a 3 person, 4 flavor policy and it's never been a problem in any way. There have been times when my Spidey-sense tells me someone is looking for a freebie and many times clients want to bring an entourage. You just have to stick to your policy and smile.

I think it's flat out wrong to charge a tasting fee not credited against an order. No one is going to argue the desire to control costs or not waste time with a tire kicker, but there are many cost efficient ways of doing tastings. (group tastings) And regardless of decorating ability, the taste is the important thing. Period.

Just try and be Zen about it. Tastings are a necessary evil. The number of people who book after a tasting will hopefully far outweigh those who do not making the cost irrelevant.

A generous spirit regarding tastings pays off in many ways.

We do simple, outline sketches during a consult for pricing purposes. If they want to take this idea elsewhere, have at it, go nuts, there are a million more ideas waiting for paper.

More detailed sketches are available after we are retained.

Dreme Posted 16 Dec 2010 , 7:08pm
post #26 of 33

I'm doubting my ability to do a tasting. It has nothing to do with anything anyone said. I can't make a decision on what I want to do. I'm in here stressing about it so much that I want to nix it and all things bridal altogether. I probably will sabotage the next phone call with a bride. I have nothing to tell them right now and no confidence. More and more I'm leaning towards not wanting to do wedding cakes.


I'm just having a bad week.

indydebi Posted 16 Dec 2010 , 7:12pm
post #27 of 33

dreme, you're probably just overthinking it. Your worry indicates you want to really do this right, which is a good thing, but destress and walk away from it for awhile.

Have a cookie and watch a good Lifetime movie about a wife murdering her husband and getting by with it. That always makes ME feel better!! icon_lol.gif

Dreme Posted 16 Dec 2010 , 7:23pm
post #28 of 33

Thank you indydebi.

Odd thing is that i'm in my kitchen surrounded by cookies and cookie orders. I am nibbling on an extra cookie. I was thinking that this is the one product I love doing and never has stressed me.

leah_s Posted 16 Dec 2010 , 7:39pm
post #29 of 33

OOo Dreme we should get together. Cookies make me nuts. Wedding cakes - love em.

Dreme Posted 16 Dec 2010 , 7:55pm
post #30 of 33

I would so switch with you leah_s.

I'm finding that I get excited when I get a cookie order, even a custom cupcake order. Usually because I get sole freedom on the designs and price seems to be no object with some clients. Wedding cakes actually cause me so much nervousness where to the bride I may sound socially awkward and afterwords there is so much stress anyways.

I am at peace when I'm doing cookies. I can sit forever and work on them. If I break one its ok. There are backups. If I drop a wedding cake there is no backup.

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