Literal Jaw Dropping When Price Quoted- Vent!

Decorating By mbark Updated 21 Jan 2011 , 8:19pm by CakeFaerieK

mbark Posted 8 Jan 2011 , 7:17pm
post #1 of 79

This is seriously the most frustrating part of this whole caking thing. People just don't realize how much custom cakes are. I guess I should ask at the beginning of a consultation how much their budget is?

I just met with a very nice couple, he's retiring from the Seabee's (Navy) and they want a cake for his retirement party.

She wants something very "wow", told me all their ideas- 8/10" tiered cake covered in fondant with a flag draping across, edible image on the bottom tier, stars & words around both tiers and a very complicated 3d seabee figure on top that has a body, head, sailor cap, face and 6 arms holding a gun & various tools.

I know this is going to be a big project & a lot of work, especially the 3d bee- I told her ballpark $350... her jaw literally dropped. She said she thought it would be @$150. I just kept saying it's alot of work. I also said Ace of Cake's minimum is $1k. I just don't think people have any idea that these types of cakes are hundreds of dollars.

It ended with her saying she'll call me to let me know. I offered other options to help work within her budget but they really want the 3d bee.

Just wanted to "vent" to others who can understand my frustration. DH would probably just look at me like I'm crazy when I tell him this story LOL

78 replies
brensmom12 Posted 8 Jan 2011 , 7:55pm
post #2 of 79

I think that is very reasonable for the amount of work they wanted you to do. All people see is the cake, but they never understand the amount of time it takes for the ornamentation on the cake. Even my DH is like $(fill in the amount) for that little cake? I would think he would understand since he sees how much time it can take to make some of the 3d pieces. Hopefully she will get some other quotes and come back to you understanding she is probably still getting a great deal from you!

Stephy42088 Posted 8 Jan 2011 , 8:18pm
post #3 of 79

I feel your pain! Same thing happened to me yesterday...after a lady has been talking to me for MONTHS how she wants this out of this world cake that no one has ever seen before, going on and on about every single time I see her (she is a family friend). I gave her a steep discount becasue she was ordering other cakes and was a friend and then she decides she doesn't want it! People these days!! Ridiculous!! You would think that people would understand that the word "custom" means its not a grocery store, run of the mill cake! It is artwork, time consuming and high capital....artwork! But hopefully she will understand that your offer was beyond reasonable and come back. Good luck! icon_smile.gif

nhbaker Posted 8 Jan 2011 , 8:31pm
post #4 of 79

Don't you just love it!! People have NO IDEA of the time that goes into cakes. I continue to struggle with pricing my occasional cakes as I still have the "guilt" factor for charging what my time is worth but it's SLOWLY improving.

My favorite one that I've gotten a couple times lately from acquaintances (anyone close to me KNOWS the amount of time and effort goes into my cakes) is "sometime when you're making one of your cakes I'd love to come watch". SERIOUSLY???!!! So I just look at them and say "sure, bring your suitcase and plan to spend a couple days" They look at me like I'm insane.

Oh, I'm sorry did you think cakes just appear out of thin air?? Let's see first you have to make them, bake them, cool them, make the icing & fillings, fill & crumb coat, final coat and THEN decorate them. And oh, don't forget the specialty sugarwork, that adds on a few more days.

UGHHGHGH don't get me started!!!

indydebi Posted 8 Jan 2011 , 9:13pm
post #5 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbark

I guess I should ask at the beginning of a consultation how much their budget is?



Yep. You're right. When she gave you the list of what she wanted, I would have put a look of happy surprise on my face and said, "Wow, you must really have a great budget for this cake!"

It was a good move to point out Duff's cakes start at $1000. I've shared this before but when someone starts out with "Oh I just LUV that Ace of Cakes show!", I clear the "uh-oh!" out of my brain and say, "Oh so do I! Did you know ..... that his cakes START at $1000? And I guarantee you that none of the cakes you see on TV are a lousy $1000 cake. The GOOD news is that I'm not QUITE as expensive! Now .... let's see what we're after, here!"

But yeah .... get the money part out of the way at the very beginning even if you cant' give them a price right away, find out what number they've pulled out of their a--, uh, body cavity. icon_rolleyes.gif

esq1031 Posted 8 Jan 2011 , 9:35pm
post #6 of 79

I had a recent similar problem. I was talking to a client of my sister's recently who has seen my work and tasted my cakes. She swore she was ordering her daughter's first birthday cake from me.

When she showed me the pic of what she wanted, it was a three tiered Minnie Mouse cake, enough to feed about 180 people. She was quoted about $1500 from someone else local. When I explained to her that she didn't need a cake as big as she was showing me since she was only having 60 people, I quoted her a price significantly lower and she assured me that she was going to order the cake and just get back to me once she decided on flavors.

Needless to say, when I didn't hear from her I got in touch with her and she ultimately told me that she loved my work but couldn't afford the cake. I don't get it. People just don't understand what making cakes of this caliber entails. It is becoming very frustrating for me too.

You are not alone in this!!!

indydebi Posted 8 Jan 2011 , 9:52pm
post #7 of 79

"Not everyone can afford me and that's ok." thumbs_up.gif

A neighbor of my daughter's apologized all over herself for having a walmart cake at her kids birthday party and told my daughter, "I just can't afford your moms cakes." Daughter laughed and said, "Dont' worry about it! *I* can't afford my mom's cakes either! If my kids didn't have a gramma to make those grand cakes, they'd have a walmart cake, too!"

TheBakingNurse Posted 8 Jan 2011 , 9:57pm
post #8 of 79

My favorite response is when they say "oh well I can get it as SAMs club for $25... I just have to laugh to myself and wish them luck. In our little town people expect everything for free. They don't understand that a plain sheet cake with bc flowers and borders is gonna run them 50 at our bakeries and my work is quite a bit better...this is why this is my just for fun side job lol

cakelady2266 Posted 8 Jan 2011 , 10:14pm
post #9 of 79

I don't get it either.....I thought custom cakes fell out of the sky.

I don't feel guilty or intimidated anymore over cake prices (this is a recent development thanks to indydebi) and I don't worry anymore over the ones I don't get. And after all these years I just want to do cakes for people who appreciate what goes into it and realizes what it will cost and are willing to pay for it.

And when they have a ballpark idea of the cost before they get here then I don't think they have a reason to be shocked when the dust settles.

And Mbark you don't ever need to feel bad about the price, your work is great and is worth it. They won't get that cake from anybody else cheaper. And you would feel cheated and resentful if you did it cheaper.

Vent on honey...we are here for you.

mbark Posted 8 Jan 2011 , 10:22pm
post #10 of 79

Thanks everyone! Great words of encouragement, I appreciate it!

cakeflake80 Posted 8 Jan 2011 , 10:28pm
post #11 of 79

I struggle with this all the time, however I have resolved to start thinking like a business minded person in the New Year. It takes A LOT of time to make these cakes, but because the time it takes isn't shown on tv people assume it's maybe a day long process at the most. It's tough, and I struggle because I think maybe I'm slower than the average person, and my process isn't as organized as it probably should be.... so the customer shouldn't have to pay for my slowness/lack of organization.

And I'm still at the point where I want every cake to look amazing, so I go way above and beyond even though in the end I'm not getting paid at all for my time. I have one friend who I love working with because she NEVER gripes about price. She's paid for custom cakes before, so she always just says 'whatever you quote is fine'.

Also.....don't you love how because it's 'just a birthday cake' (or another event other than a wedding), they don't want to pay for the immaculate cake that they request?

But those same people will go to the party store and spend $100 on themed napkins/plates/cups etc!! Stuff that will serve no purpose other than to get the food into their guests mouths....then get thrown in the trash! I always try to push 'let the cake be the centerpiece.....you don't need the minnie mouse plates!'.

Seriously! I have been making my girls cakes since they started having birthday parties, and I have never once bought an overpriced paper plate because it had a character on it. I have always made the elaborate cake, and let that serve as the 'theme'. Then I buy the appropriate colored plates/napkins/cups/etc. at the local dollar store.

When I am at a party, I care more about what the cake tastes like than what character is on my paper plate!

tryingcake Posted 8 Jan 2011 , 11:09pm
post #12 of 79

Charge for your time and stop feeling guilty. Now I understand if you are trying a new technique and it takes three times the time you think it should take, then you may want to adjust - for a short time. But for the most part my bottom line rule: if it's taking me away from giving my family attention - I better be getting paid! That's it.

I always always get the budget first thing. If they are one of those brides that don't want to tell me their budget, then I can't help them and don't make the appointment. I've even sold cakes UNDER their budget. One bride had a $1200 cake budget, but not for one second did I think the cake she described should cost more than $600. And that's all I charged her. Just because you tell me you can spend XXXXX doesn't mean that's what the final price will be. Or give me your budget and show me the picture and let me do a little configuring - get I'll the feel of the cake in your budget.

I work so hard to get them to work with me and not think I'm the enemy trying to get every penny they have. As in every industry, some others who have come before us have hurt us quite a bit.

pattycakesnj Posted 9 Jan 2011 , 2:13am
post #13 of 79

My website states what my pricing structure is, x dollars per serving, with extras such as toppers and flowers adding to the price. This helps me from wasting my time and weeds out those that can't afford me. (and there will be those that can't and I understand that)

mbark Posted 9 Jan 2011 , 2:19am
post #14 of 79

I made a big mistake by not discussing budget at first. I guess I just assumed they had a big one since she described a cake with all the bells & whistles.

sharlanet Posted 9 Jan 2011 , 5:17pm
post #15 of 79

I'm just a hobby baker but had a friend's SIL call me wanting a "simple" 2 or 3 tiered cake for her daughter's 17th birthday with the NYC skyline on it, party was in a week. As I was talking to her, there were 150 kids invited to the party and her budget was $150. A dollar a serving? Sorry, my time is more important to me!

mbark Posted 9 Jan 2011 , 5:24pm
post #16 of 79

so true!
I am trying to figure out how to price 3d figures/cakes actually. It's the time/stress for me. Do you think $150 is right for the figure? (just in case she asks me for cheaper options) $200 for the cake?

Mama_Mias_Cakes Posted 9 Jan 2011 , 5:30pm
post #17 of 79

I get this all the time too. I had an request for a cake to serve 50 and the client told me that they were "okay with spending $50" and "to work my magic". Uhh no, I did not do the order.

mbark Posted 9 Jan 2011 , 5:38pm
post #18 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama_Mias_Cakes

I get this all the time too. I had an request for a cake to serve 50 and the client told me that they were "okay with spending $50" and "to work my magic". Uhh no, I did not do the order.



wow... just, wow...

cb_one Posted 9 Jan 2011 , 5:38pm
post #19 of 79

I get that ALL the time. After doing this for 5+ years, I just implemented a $150 minimum for custom cakes that would serve 25. Anything over this is $4/serving. I stick to that price, I know i lose customers from time to time, but I no longer haggle with customers.

I wouldnt feel bad if I were you. People feel that if they "know someone that has a side business" they can get it for cheap, especially if they know you already.

Dont worry, if your product is good, people will pay. icon_smile.gif Good luck!

indydebi Posted 9 Jan 2011 , 5:39pm
post #20 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama_Mias_Cakes

I get this all the time too. I had an request for a cake to serve 50 and the client told me that they were "okay with spending $50" and "to work my magic". Uhh no, I did not do the order.



"the magic would be being able to make a cake like that for only fifty bucks!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by mbark

so true! I am trying to figure out how to price 3d figures/cakes actually. It's the time/stress for me. Do you think $150 is right for the figure? (just in case she asks me for cheaper options) $200 for the cake?



My speech (for carved cakes requests) was "Those kind of cakes start at $150 and that's before I even pick up a pencil to find out what you want. Now .... what are we looking for today?"

mbark Posted 9 Jan 2011 , 5:42pm
post #21 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama_Mias_Cakes

I get this all the time too. I had an request for a cake to serve 50 and the client told me that they were "okay with spending $50" and "to work my magic". Uhh no, I did not do the order.


"the magic would be being able to make a cake like that for only fifty bucks!"

icon_lol.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbark

so true! I am trying to figure out how to price 3d figures/cakes actually. It's the time/stress for me. Do you think $150 is right for the figure? (just in case she asks me for cheaper options) $200 for the cake?


My speech (for carved cakes requests) was "Those kind of cakes start at $150 and that's before I even pick up a pencil to find out what you want. Now .... what are we looking for today?"




PERFECT!

HeyWife Posted 9 Jan 2011 , 10:51pm
post #22 of 79

I had to laugh a few days ago when an old client of mine from when I did hair asked about a cake for her mom's 70th b-day. I asked what her budget was and did she have a certain design in mind. She said "I'm cheap so give me some ideas". At least she admitted that she was cheap before we started!

amygortoncakes Posted 10 Jan 2011 , 3:21am
post #23 of 79

I have to admit that before I started making cakes I was one of those jaw dropping customers.

I was in love with all the cake shows and so was my son. So when he turned 3 he wanted a 3-D firetruck cake. I emailed around and got typical quotes ...around $200. I was totally shocked.

I am pretty crafty so I decided I would try and make it myself...and here I am today not even a year later making cakes for everyone. I invested that $200 in all of the Wilton's classes.

The hardest part about the price of cakes is that it isn't often advertised on the programs showcasing cakes. Except fabulous cakes.

mbark Posted 10 Jan 2011 , 3:26am
post #24 of 79

very true Amy! I couldn't afford myself LOL

indydebi Posted 10 Jan 2011 , 5:01am
post #25 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by amygortoncakes

I have to admit that before I started making cakes I was one of those jaw dropping customers.



So was my husband. When we got married 20+ years ago, he was SHOCKED that our cake to serve 100 would cost close to $200 (I ended up making it myself). He honestly thought thirty bucks would take ya all the way!! No reason .... he just arbitrarily pulled that number out of the air. 3 stacked cakes .... ten bucks apiece ... yeah ... that sounds right!!

FromScratchSF Posted 10 Jan 2011 , 5:02am
post #26 of 79

Have any of you actually had someone send you a picture of a Duff or Buddy cake and want you to make it for pennies? Grrrrr.

I've been getting a lot of requests for custom cupcake toppers, and I hear crickets a lot of the time after I tell them I charge $1/custom topper. I don't mean a simple flower, I mean people that call and want their company logo on a cupcake or teddy bears that match the invites, or crowns with bling with each kid's name on it... all 50 kid's names invited to the party (I didn't get the booking on all three of those requests icon_sad.gif). I think I'm cheaper then most here, I know of one bakery that charges $1/each for a single color fondant cut-out with cookie cutters. Anyway, bummer, but oh well. Leaves me more time to to other things I guess.

FromScratchSF Posted 10 Jan 2011 , 5:03am
post #27 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by amygortoncakes

I have to admit that before I started making cakes I was one of those jaw dropping customers.


So was my husband. When we got married 20+ years ago, he was SHOCKED that our cake to serve 100 would cost close to $200 (I ended up making it myself). He honestly thought thirty bucks would take ya all the way!! No reason .... he just arbitrarily pulled that number out of the air. 3 stacked cakes .... ten bucks apiece ... yeah ... that sounds right!!




LOL

Love2BakeCakes Posted 10 Jan 2011 , 7:28am
post #28 of 79

I love, love, love this thread

Had a client who wanted a special "anniversary" cake personalized for his wife (approaching 22 years married). The cake was to feed 6 people. Everything was going along just fine till I told him the base price for a cake is 50 dollars. He told me he had to cancel the cake order because he has diabetes and is sick. My fiance and I are trying to figure out what "getting sick" had to do with ordering a cake!!!

Had a client who wanted to order a Diego cake for her twins ... with allergy specifications!!! She needed to the cake to feed 30 people, and she wanted to stay under $50. She told me that she saw a cake in the supermarket and it only cost $19.99. I told her in order for me to start a cake like hers, her price was already in the hundreds. She said, "really!?" YA KNOW I WISHED HER WELL, DON'T YOU!!!!

A client wanted a customized cake for her daughter's 7th birthday to feed 6 people. We talked and everything was going well. Then I told her there is a $50 base price for cakes. She gasped for breath and told me she now has to talk it over with her husband. (She cancelled the cake.)

I put too much hard work into my work to not pay myself generously for it. I think a 6" cake is more of a headache to do than a larger cake, so yes, you are going to PAY ME for the headache. My fiance told me, the person that pays the price for your cakes is the client for you. The person that doesn't, is NOT the client for you. I know the work that I put into my cakes and I refuse to undersell myself.

neelycharmed Posted 10 Jan 2011 , 10:50am
post #29 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

"Not everyone can afford me and that's ok." thumbs_up.gif

A neighbor of my daughter's apologized all over herself for having a walmart cake at her kids birthday party and told my daughter, "I just can't afford your moms cakes." Daughter laughed and said, "Dont' worry about it! *I* can't afford my mom's cakes either! If my kids didn't have a gramma to make those grand cakes, they'd have a walmart cake, too!"




I hear that all the time... and I don't think thats going to change.. thumbsdown.gif
The ones with the money are usually the ones complaining that my cakes are too expensive.. icon_confused.gif
Jodi

Karen421 Posted 10 Jan 2011 , 2:11pm
post #30 of 79

This is a great thread, but really scares me! My hubby and I are currently debating whether or not to convert the guess house and become licensed. But in my area there is no way, seriously, no way to even get a 100 for a custom cake. I am not a gambler - but I love doing cakes and at my current prices, I am always busy! (free to good home) People just don't understand what kind of work goes into a nice cake!

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