Giving Quotes Through Email

Business By LoveMeSomeCake615 Updated 22 Dec 2010 , 3:16am by LoveMeSomeCake615

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 20 Dec 2010 , 2:52am
post #1 of 17

We just had a bride email us for a quote. She had gone on our website and figured up the price for a 50-serving wedding cake (Which I thought sounded promising, since most people don't bother to do the math from our website at all!) I confirmed that her figure was correct, and told her that was the quote for a basic buttercream design. I also told her it could be more depending on what design they wanted (She had not specified what flavor or design they wanted at this point) I told her we should meet for a consultation/tasting ASAP because it's really short notice, and she says they would love to, but they are active duty military and will not be back until a few days before the wedding. So then we email back and forth a few times, and it's sounding like she intends to go with us. I sent her an email with three basic questions about what they wanted, and I get an email that says "We found someone else who will do what we want and in our price range." Whaaa??? First of all, we confirmed that what she had figured from our website would be about what it would cost, and she seemed to be fine with that price. Second, she never even told us what she wanted, so why is she implying that we won't do what she wants??

All that to say, what do you think about giving ballpark quotes through email? Is it better to say that you would rather wait to quote until doing the consultation and figuring out exactly what they want, or is it ok to say "This is our base price, let's meet to find out exactly what design you want and get a more exact quote."

I guess this is really more a question for wedding cakes, since we don't even do consultations for birthday cakes, etc.

16 replies
playingwithsugar Posted 20 Dec 2010 , 4:57am
post #2 of 17

I just looked at your website. Perhaps they thought all wedding cakes were the same price, no matter what design they ordered.

How about a little change in the wording - say using the phrase

Basic Wedding Cakes

instead of just saying Wedding Cakes

then give a description of what a basic wedding cake is, and that fondant or gumpaste decorations are optional at a la carte pricing.

By the way, I like the waves on your beach cake.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

indydebi Posted 20 Dec 2010 , 5:13am
post #3 of 17

she did a "ballpark" quote when she was able to figure the math from your website.

When you send an email quote, are you doing the quote in the text of the email? Or are you sending her a legit and formalized quote on a separate form?

I find the separate forms to be much more professional. It spells it out to the letter what is beign quoted and any changes get a whole new form with a whole new date. This avoids the confusion of trying to cut-n-paste info from the texts of three to thirty different emails.

Any quote that is "Estimate only. Subject to verification, change and correction" should state that right on the form. All quotes, final or estimate, should have an expiration date. "Quote valid for 30 days"

Since the small town my shop was in was located on a former Army base that still has a good military population (Ft. Benjamin Harrison), and being a military mom, I gave a military discount, I did a lot of work with military couples. Much of our work was via email. heck, one of my earliest weddings was done via email between the bride and groom who were in Japan, a sister in wisconsin and a mom in Chicago. I met the mom when she came to Indy one day to pay all the vendors and met everyone else when I took the cake to the wedding!

when dealing with long distance brides, it is perfectly fine to tell them, "A ballpark price for 100 people at $4/person would be $400. That could change based on your final design, flavors, delivery, and other factors. How does that figure fit in your budget?" (Leads them to give YOU a ballpark response on whether it will be worth your time to pursue this or not.)

But this is why I preferred my flat pricing as opposed to nickel-and-dime pricing. One price times the number of guests and she has her price. Period. none of the surprise pricing down the road. they know right up front what its going to cost them. Easy for me. Easy for them. And when we make it easy for them, we are one step closer to booking them.

Here's my blog where I do the numbers showing how my (higher) flat pricing was cheaper than the nickels and dimes priced cake: http://cateritsimple.blogspot.com/2009/10/lowest-price-isnt-always-cheapest.html

CWR41 Posted 20 Dec 2010 , 5:15am
post #4 of 17

I don't see anything wrong with giving an exact quote through email. There's no point in wasting time with a consult if they can't afford you and they should have a fairly accurate quote before scheduling a consultation so they can decide if they want to move forward or not. Sounds like they found someone else to do what they want for LESS than your basic buttercream design price and couldn't pass it up--I wouldn't worry about it... it happens.

ShaunPepe Posted 20 Dec 2010 , 1:19pm
post #5 of 17

It sounds like she just found someone cheaper that could produce what she wants. Many brides are just about the cost. Plus why would you want to waste your time on a consultation when she goes with someone else in the end.

cakesdivine Posted 20 Dec 2010 , 4:25pm
post #6 of 17

I never do email quotes. If it is something large enough that needs a quote then they must do a consultation. I do a follow up email with the quote after the consult if they don't book immediately at the consult, AND put a 2 week deadline on that quote. This lets them know that the amount might go up if they don't make a committment within a reasonable amount of time.

bobwonderbuns Posted 20 Dec 2010 , 5:03pm
post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesdivine

I never do email quotes. If it is something large enough that needs a quote then they must do a consultation. I do a follow up email with the quote after the consult if they don't book immediately at the consult, AND put a 2 week deadline on that quote. This lets them know that the amount might go up if they don't make a committment within a reasonable amount of time.




That's an excellent way to handle it!! Thanks for sharing! icon_biggrin.gif

jason_kraft Posted 20 Dec 2010 , 5:52pm
post #8 of 17

For wedding cakes we give rough estimates via email (or over the phone), as many brides will just want to know if you are in their budget range. Nothing more specific than the base price per serving and a range per serving for typical decorations, of course with a disclaimer that final prices will vary depending on the complexity of the final design.

I can't really think of a reason not to give a prospective customer a ballpark per-serving price.

cakesdivine Posted 20 Dec 2010 , 8:29pm
post #9 of 17

Because Jason once you give her even a ballpark amount she will have the lowest amount stuck in her brain then want all the bells & whistles for that price and then get upset with your company when the price is higher.

They can go to my website and see the price ranges, they don't need to take me from my very busy day to ask me via email what is right there in front of their eyes on my website. In order for them to have my email they had to have visited my site.

The best way for a bride to decifer if a baker is in her price range is to know how much they can spend on a cake and how many servings they want/need. If the budget doesn't support the headcount then that is the launch point. And the only way to decifer a true quote is to know so much more than headcount and budget. Besides if you count them out before they have even tasted your product you certainly lost a potential client.
Many times a bride has tasted my cakes and did everything possible to make sure I was her cake maker. If she thought I was out of her price range from the get go, she would have never tasted my cakes.

jason_kraft Posted 20 Dec 2010 , 9:48pm
post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesdivine

Because Jason once you give her even a ballpark amount she will have the lowest amount stuck in her brain then want all the bells & whistles for that price and then get upset with your company when the price is higher.



I've never had a bride get upset that the price of her cake ended up being higher than the base price (or even the typical price). If she wants bells and whistles that are out of her price range, I present simpler alternatives that are within the budget. If she wants the bells and whistles but doesn't want to pay from them, she will have to find another baker, simple as that.

Quote:
Quote:

And the only way to decifer a true quote is to know so much more than headcount and budget. Besides if you count them out before they have even tasted your product you certainly lost a potential client.



If the base price is already out of the client's budget, I have absolutely no problem losing that client. There are many more to take her place who have no problem with our prices.

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 21 Dec 2010 , 2:57am
post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by playingwithsugar

I just looked at your website. Perhaps they thought all wedding cakes were the same price, no matter what design they ordered.

How about a little change in the wording - say using the phrase

Basic Wedding Cakes

instead of just saying Wedding Cakes

then give a description of what a basic wedding cake is, and that fondant or gumpaste decorations are optional at a la carte pricing.

By the way, I like the waves on your beach cake.

Theresa icon_smile.gif




Thanks! icon_biggrin.gif My hubby did those!

That makes sense, but I guess we thought by saying they "start at" this much per serving, we were letting them know it could be more.

Thanks for the thoughts everyone! It just helps to know what others in the business have done and found successful. The main reason we wondered about doing quotes over email is that it gives you no opportunity to build any kind of relationship with the client and they are just looking at numbers. Like cakesdivine said, we would like to be able to meet with them, have them taste our cakes and develop a rapport. But I can also see the point made about not wanting to waste your time with a consult if they aren't at least a good possibility. I guess I just got frustrated because she seemed to be ok with our price in the initial email. But obviously she was just wanting to go with the cheapest option. We were probably one of several she emailed for quotes and we weren't the lowest bidder.

indydebi Posted 21 Dec 2010 , 4:59am
post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by CakeMasterSRC

That makes sense, but I guess we thought by saying they "start at" this much per serving, we were letting them know it could be more.


I believe it was P.T. Barnum who said "never OVER-estimate the intelligence of the public."

Yes, we all understand "starting at" but unfortunately, we have to spell it out for everyone else....

"....starting at $x.xx/serving. Additional fees may be assessed based on design."

"....starting at $x.xx/serving. Final price may be affected by additional embellishments selected on the final design."

"Additional embellishments can include gumpaste flowers, figures, fondant, gourmet flavors, fine detail finishing work such as but not limited to Australian stringwork, lacework, torting, etc."

Motta Posted 21 Dec 2010 , 5:14am
post #13 of 17

I really like Debi's pricing philosophy. "easy for them, easy for me" - that's great. Thanks! thumbs_up.gif

ConfectionsCC Posted 21 Dec 2010 , 5:18am
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by CakeMasterSRC

That makes sense, but I guess we thought by saying they "start at" this much per serving, we were letting them know it could be more.

I believe it was P.T. Barnum who said "never OVER-estimate the intelligence of the public."

Yes, we all understand "starting at" but unfortunately, we have to spell it out for everyone else....

"....starting at $x.xx/serving. Additional fees may be assessed based on design."

"....starting at $x.xx/serving. Final price may be affected by additional embellishments selected on the final design."

"Additional embellishments can include gumpaste flowers, figures, fondant, gourmet flavors, fine detail finishing work such as but not limited to Australian stringwork, lacework, torting, etc."




WOW, great way to spell it out, how do I save this post?!?! LOL

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 22 Dec 2010 , 2:53am
post #15 of 17

Thanks Debi, that's a good way to put it. Nice and clear! I do want to read over the way you do pricing, just haven't had a chance yet. We definitely don't want to nickel-and-dime people, and for the most part we really don't. Once they tell us what they want, we give them a price based on the overall complexity of the design.

homebasedbaking Posted 22 Dec 2010 , 3:04am
post #16 of 17

I will share a disclaimer I put on the emails I sent out. It was just a reminder that all estimates are subject to change.

The following estimate represent {XXXXX-Name of your Company} good faith estimate of the value of the cake(s) discussed at the date indicated and are subject to change without notice. {XXXX} makes no representation or warranty with respect to the accuracy or reliability of any estimates presented in this email.

I actually obtained this from a SBA class I took several years ago, the facilitator was an attorney. I never really had any issues however.

Debi...I like:
"Additional embellishments can include gumpaste flowers, figures, fondant, gourmet flavors, fine detail finishing work such as but not limited to Australian stringwork, lacework, torting, etc." Wish I had this one years ago too!

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 22 Dec 2010 , 3:16am
post #17 of 17

Just read the blog you posted Debi, and I totally agree! We most definitely do not charge extra to wrap ribbon around a cake or pipe dots! The only kinds of things we would charge extra for are the things you stated are reasonable to charge for, like gumpaste flowers, fondant, stringwork, etc. because those things either add considerable materials cost or take a LOT of time to do.

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