Staying In The Bride's Budget

Business By cakesbycathy Updated 16 Jan 2011 , 8:11am by JanH

cakesbycathy Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 7:31pm
post #1 of 24

I know this has come up before but...how much do you try and keep within the bride's budget vs. just saying "sorry, can't help you."

Tasting appointment today. Bride and groom are inviting 350, expecting around 300 guests.
The cake budget: $400.

I explained that that was just over $1 per serving and that she was going to have a hard time finding cake for that price (and that I definitely couldn't do it for that). I then left the room for a few minutes and when I returned they asked if I could work with a budget of $600.

She ended up with a 8-10-12" round main cake and then kitchen cakes that will feed 240 total. They are also having a dessert table. The total for the order is $650 ($600 for the cake and then the delivery and set-up fee).

They were fairly young and very sweet and when I left the room I could overhear them trying to figure out what they could change to up the cake budget, so I know they weren't just trying to lowball me from the beginning or anything.

I'm fine with how it all worked out. I guess I'm just wondering how others would have handled it.

23 replies
LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 7:52pm
post #2 of 24

Sounds like you handled it fine. As you said, there's no way you could have done it for $400, and I think you were able to educate them about how much cake really costs. When a bride has a budget that is too low for what she needs or wants, we usually do something similar to what you did- offer a few different options that fit within the budget as best as we can, i.e. kitchen cakes, smaller cake, etc. You can only bend so far though, good for you for sticking to your guns. Good thing they were flexible and able to raise their budget!

Annabakescakes Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 7:58pm
post #3 of 24

I do the same thing as you. If it is just WAY too low, then i let them know that there is nothing I can do for that amount. If it is a little low, I let them know that it is low, and if they just can't raise it at all, then I do try to work with them. I let them know what I can do for that amount. If I like them, and I know that they didn't spend $10,000 on "frivolities" and then ran out of cash before they got to the cake, I will work for the budget they have if they let me have complete creative license. I have done this twice, the cakes were a hit and I have done "copies" of my own design for several other brides, for full price, of course!

Kitagrl Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 8:11pm
post #4 of 24

My minimum is my minimum...I tell them what that is, and what they can get for it. Then its up to them to decide if they want to raise their budget, or go shop elsewhere. (In a nice way of course).

leah_s Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 9:58pm
post #5 of 24

Wow. I couldn't have done anything at all for less than $950 for 300 servings.

Annabakescakes Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 10:52pm
post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s

Wow. I couldn't have done anything at all for less than $950 for 300 servings.




You could, you just wouldn't. Big difference. Let's all face it, a BIG portion of what we do is profit. I love profit, and I thank God for America where profit isn't a dirty word (yet). Very little of the price of cake is the cost of cake. If I can whip out a simple design and make money still, then I am going to do it. Or if I can do a great design I have been wanting to try, with a little profit and get 5 other brides to love it, then I am making more money. I love what I do! And I think the price of cake is outrageous! I can't afford them, and if i like a couple, then I am willing to bed over backwards a little bit, for the love of the cake.

itsacake Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 11:05pm
post #7 of 24

My overhead (and Leah's) must be higher than yours. I couldn't do cake for 240 or 300 for $650.00 and pay for ingredients, electricity, insurance, mortgage and fees for my space, licensing, marketing, cleaning my grease trap, the water bill, etc. You may feel very self-righteous to say that we charge because we WANT to, but I'd like to cover expenses and pay myself something at some point. I'm even more expensive than Leah and I'm currently losing money!

costumeczar Posted 15 Jan 2011 , 11:58pm
post #8 of 24

I couldn't do 300 servings for $650 and still have a profitable business. The solution the OP came up with worked for her and for the clients, so that's good, but with the expenses that I have I need to stay at a certain price point in order to make a certain wage. I don't work for minimum wage anymore.

You need to decide what wage you're willing to work for, and stick to it. If you add up the "cost of the cake" it's much more than just the ingredients, so using that as the yardstick of how much the cake costs is deceptive.

If someone had a budget that was really low I would tell them that I couldn't do it for that price, then I'd figure out what the price of what they wanted was for a point of reference. Then we'd start getting into how to reduce their cost, but it wouldn't involve me dropping my prices. It would involve them scaling down their expectations, whether it was by getting a smaller cake, or something that was less elaborate.

tryingcake Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 1:37am
post #9 of 24

My goal is to always be in the bride's budget. But that's not always possible. In this case I would start by telling her that she can lower her servings by as much as 20%. At least that many won't eat cake.

Then look at her design and give her a design that still has that same feel but maybe toned down.

In this situation, barely a dollar a serving, it would not work out period. They would have to go up on their budget. BUT, I would do as I already stated to try to make it not any more than necessary.

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 2:10am
post #10 of 24

I couldn't do 300 servings for $650 either, but I assumed the OP had taken what she was reasonably able to do into consideration in her final quote. What someone charges per serving is dependent on so many different factors, from where they are located to whether they work out of a home kitchen and everything in between.

cakelady2266 Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 2:10am
post #11 of 24

The price per serving is the price per serving and it won't get any cheaper regardless. If the couple can't afford to have as large of a wedding cake as they would like to have, they can scale down the size of the wedding cake and have sheet cakes in the kitchen to make up the difference. Bare minimum for that cake from me would have been $750.

About 90% of the time the cake is the last thing on the couples list to get taken care of, and the strained budget often comes from over spending before they get to the cake person. Profit comes after expenses are paid, utilities, water, insurance, licenses, permits, ingredients, equipment, supplies, gas, phone, etc....and those things go up all the time. Say your mixer bites the dust, the money you gave up by cutting your prices for that ONE wedding cake could have bought you a new mixer.

If you get low balled by one couple you can bet they will tell their soon to be married friends just how easy you can be had. And I for one can't afford to foot the bill for somebody else's party.

Stick to your guns.

Kaylani Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 2:42am
post #12 of 24

Annabakes, in the nicest possible way let me say I hope you are not in my town icon_biggrin.gif LOL

I would have offered a cupcake tower for that budget to try and work with her budget, but could not have done a cake for it.

cakegirl123 Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 3:05am
post #13 of 24

They can invite that many people and pay for all those dinners but then there's no money left for cake? Does that make sense?

tryingcake Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 4:37am
post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaylani

Annabakes, in the nicest possible way let me say I hope you are not in my town icon_biggrin.gif LOL

I would have offered a cupcake tower for that budget to try and work with her budget, but could not have done a cake for it.




My cupcakes are twice the price of cake servings. So much more work involved.

Annabakescakes Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 5:05am
post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by itsacake

My overhead (and Leah's) must be higher than yours. I couldn't do cake for 240 or 300 for $650.00 and pay for ingredients, electricity, insurance, mortgage and fees for my space, licensing, marketing, cleaning my grease trap, the water bill, etc. You may feel very self-righteous to say that we charge because we WANT to, but I'd like to cover expenses and pay myself something at some point. I'm even more expensive than Leah and I'm currently losing money!




And you may feel very special to say such a spiteful thing. Maybe the reason you are loosing money is because you are so expensive? Maybe you have priced yourself right out of the range of 99% of people shopping for cake. If more people could afford you, then you could sell more cakes. Maybe it is your attitude? I hate to hear of anybody losing money, especially when they own a business. I want everybody to succeed, I would hate for the business to be lost.

And I never said she should be able to do 300 servings for $600, just that it could be done for less than $950. If I have a choice between refusing a cake for 5% less than what I would like to be paid, or turning off the lights and going home (making NOTHING) then I will make the cake for a little less, and make it a little more simple. Working at a slight loss is better than not working at all. If you are booked solid and can't do another cake, and are rolling in the money, then this doesn't apply to you. But if you (like me) have 4 kids, and a husband that works his butt off for less than ideal wages, and you are scraping to make ends meet, then you are a little more flexible.

Annabakescakes Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 5:18am
post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaylani

Annabakes, in the nicest possible way let me say I hope you are not in my town icon_biggrin.gif LOL

I would have offered a cupcake tower for that budget to try and work with her budget, but could not have done a cake for it.




My cupcakes cost more than my cakes. I use a doctored mix, so I can make 36 cupcakes for 1 mix, and I can make 18 servings of cake for 1 mix. I sell my cupcakes for $2 a piece, and my cakes for $2.50 a serving. (Though my prices will be going up March 1st.) So $45 for a cake or $72 for the exact same amount of cake, in cupcake form.

I would normally charge $750 for a simple buttercream cake, to work with her budget I would have told her for $650, I would make the cake 3 tier, 100 servings and do a couple 2 layer sheet cakes. I would have had her pick from 3 simple designs, and if she didn't like them, then she could take a hike. Go to Walmart. Or raise her budget.

tryingcake Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 5:36am
post #17 of 24

Annabakescakes: Bravo!!

I have friends who have refused to cut their prices (various segments of the industry) and haven't worked in two years.. I cut my prices, still working and still paying my bills. Do I have as much disposable income as before this economic crash? Honestly, no... but my name is still out here and I'm still paying my bills. That's all I know. And I will still be established when things get better and those people are starting over.

Ruth0209 Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 6:00am
post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annabakescakes

Working at a slight loss is better than not working at all.




Not in my business it's not. I don't know about you, but my business isn't a social service agency. I'm in the business of supporting myself and my family, not giving away cake to make every little bride happy. That's just foolish.

tryingcake Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 6:07am
post #19 of 24

I agree that we cannot take a loss. I don't think that's what she meant, although that is what she said.

I have cut prices. I'm not making the same PROFIT - but I am still able to pay all my bills. Just the impromptu trips to Hawaii and back home to NC are out. Now trips are well panned and usually only when necessary. But my bills are paid and we still have a nice life.

Annabakescakes Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 6:21am
post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by tryingcake

Annabakescakes: Bravo!!

I have friends who have refused to cut their prices (various segments of the industry) and haven't worked in two years.. I cut my prices, still working and still paying my bills. Do I have as much disposable income as before this economic crash? Honestly, no... but my name is still out here and I'm still paying my bills. That's all I know. And I will still be established when things get better and those people are starting over.




thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif Exactly! And you and I and the OP will still be making cakes when those other various people are selling their businesses for pennies on the dollar, or having the IRS seize them for non-payment. Be sure to say "Hello" to them when you see them working at Walmart, or in the drive-thru at McDonald's. My husband would rather take a pay cut in the machine shop, rather than lose his job entirely. No telling where he'd have to work, but the grocery stores and fast food restaurants are always hiring, and they pay a lot less than any temporary pay cut he would have to take.

My grandma would give my mom money here and there when I was growing up. Of course my mom didn't want to take it, but my grandma always said the same thing, and it applies now, "Pride won't put food on the table or pay the bills."

Annabakescakes Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 6:30am
post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by tryingcake

I agree that we cannot take a loss. I don't think that's what she meant, although that is what she said.

I have cut prices. I'm not making the same PROFIT - but I am still able to pay all my bills. Just the impromptu trips to Hawaii and back home to NC are out. Now trips are well panned and usually only when necessary. But my bills are paid and we still have a nice life.




You are correct, I did say that, but it is not how I meant it. I didn't mean losing money, I meant losing profit. If the price of the cake covers the cost and the bills need paid, I would rather be able to put $100 toward them than nothing. Do I want to work 3 days for $100? NOPE! Would I? Yep, if a big round $0 was the alternative. And obviously, if your business is booming, that doesn't apply to you.

indydebi Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 7:03am
post #22 of 24

back to the original issue .......

This couple sounds like they fall into the column of "I am THE most popular bride on the face of the earth."

She's expecting an 85% show-rate? icon_eek.gif Using my 60% Rule, she can reasonably expect 210 people to show up. At $3/serving, reducing the cake from 300 to 250 would save her $150. Reducing it to 200 would save her $300.

On top of that, using a REALISTIC headcount expectation, planning a reception for 250 people instead of 300 would ALSO save her:
- 7 table rentals (@ 8 people per table) @ $10/each = $70
- 7 tablecloth rentals - @ $10 = $70
- 50 chair rentals @ $3 = $150
- 50 dinners at $30 = $1500
- the 20% svc fee AND the 20% mandatory gratuity on the dinner diff = $600
- 50 chair covers @ $3 = $150
- 50 appetizers @ $15 = $450
- 50 people at the bar @ $20 = $1000

I believe I just saved her $3990 ..... MORE than enough to get the cake of her dreams.

In my workshop that I've written I have a section called "I can save you one thousand dollars right here, right now!" And I don't even have to break a sweat to do it.

This is part of what I consider the diff between a cake baker and a wedding cake professional .... one who knows the industry, knows how things tend to work and can give a bride some ideas to think about and consider on how to save money.

this is not leaving money on the table .... this is showing a bride how she CAN afford you.

mommachris Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 7:27am
post #23 of 24

Ah.........in sweeps Debi to cut to the point of the matter.

You are a breath of fresh air.

I just used your formula of invited versus actual guests who come to help a May bride cut her budget so she could afford me.
My price per serving scared her at first. She's pretty happy now.

Debi, please don't ever leave us!

mommachris

JanH Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 8:11am
post #24 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackie


We are all supposed to be here to talk politely about cake, support each other, and lend a helping hand.

If you don't agree with someone, by all means.... disagree, but do it respectfully.

If you find yourself unable to write a post, PM, or response in a constructive, encouraging or supportive way then you need to walk away.




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