Lady Disgruntled That I Charge A Small Consult Fee!

Business By Swede-cakes Updated 23 Jan 2011 , 12:11am by scp1127

Swede-cakes Posted 20 Jan 2011 , 7:38pm
post #1 of 54

This lady emailed me yesterday and said she wants to meet and talk about pricing and design for a small 2-3 tier wedding cake. 30-40 guests. And she's "serious about getting this done". I emailed her back with my usual response which is polite and professional, providing details about Consults and what she can expect at our meeting. She just emailed me back with such an abrupt demeanor! She will not consider going with me any longer because I am going to charge her a $10 fee for her to come in and pick a cake with me, and she can get a free consultation and ordering from any of my competitors.

Many of those competitors charge more per srvg than I do, and they have storefronts open to the public. I price my cakes more mid-range, and meet my clients 10 miles from my home at a country club that allows me to hold consults there.

I really want to tell this lady that if she did her math, she'd see that she's not getting a better deal by going with a more expensive place that doesn't charge an appt. fee. I won't b/c I see she's now a potential PITA, but how should I answer her? I've never had this angry a response before.

How do you all handle Consult fees? Charge for all size orders? None? Some? Thanks for your input!

53 replies
dldbrou Posted 20 Jan 2011 , 7:44pm
post #2 of 54

Maybe explain to her that the hour or so that it takes to have a consult is taking away from your designing someone else's cake.

Kiddiekakes Posted 20 Jan 2011 , 7:53pm
post #3 of 54

Explain that it is part of the cake decorating process that in order to bake,decorate a cake it needs to be designed and consulted with first thus taking you time away from other potential business.Do you deduct the consult fee from the booking if she books...If so maybe explain that to her also...You could also be polite and explain the math to her the way you did to us and then leave it at that....if she books fine..If not ...Later...

LKing12 Posted 20 Jan 2011 , 8:09pm
post #4 of 54

My consultation fee is refunded back with a minimum order. You could offer this or politly explain. Or, just let her cool down.

jason_kraft Posted 20 Jan 2011 , 8:10pm
post #5 of 54

If a customer wants to have a consult without a tasting I don't charge, usually those consults are by phone and/or email, but I've had a few schedule appointments for an in person consult. Tastings are $30 and are applied toward the cost of the cake.

The $10 fee for a non-tasting consult seems like it would be too little to compensate you for your time but just enough to cause the customer to complain, personally I would offer free consults and chalk it up to the cost of doing business. You might as well offer consults in your home if that's more convenient for you.

mullett Posted 20 Jan 2011 , 8:11pm
post #6 of 54

I have found that when it starts like this....it never gets any better. Let her go elsewhere with your blessings.

pummy Posted 20 Jan 2011 , 8:17pm
post #7 of 54

I agree with jasonkraft and mullet.

cylstrial Posted 20 Jan 2011 , 8:21pm
post #8 of 54

Cut her loose!

cakegirl123 Posted 20 Jan 2011 , 8:22pm
post #9 of 54

I have found that when it starts like this....it never gets any better. Let her go elsewhere with your blessings

I agree with Mullet. At this point, let it go

jenmat Posted 20 Jan 2011 , 8:24pm
post #10 of 54

"Dear, PITA Bride"
While I understand your frustration, my consultation fee covers the cost of my time and the space I use to meet with you. Because I'm not a storefront bakery, and I choose to keep my pricing fairly low, I do not roll these costs into the final product, since not every bride needs a face to face consult and can therefore choose to do the planning online or via telephone. The planning fee in the end saves you money by helping me keep the cost per serving at a very reasonable rate.
Best Wishes in your planning process, and don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya."
Sincerely,
Baker who doesn't take crap from stupid people.

cakegirl123 Posted 20 Jan 2011 , 8:24pm
post #11 of 54

Sorry , spelling wrong-Mullett icon_biggrin.gif

jason_kraft Posted 20 Jan 2011 , 8:31pm
post #12 of 54

You may be better off just incorporating the $10 consult fee into your regular per-serving pricing (i.e. bump up the price of a 40 serving cake by 25c per serving), especially if no one else charges consult fees. The end result would cost the same, but the psychological barrier of the consult fee would be removed, plus you would still receive the equivalent of the consult fee for other customers even if there was no consult.

cownsj Posted 20 Jan 2011 , 8:34pm
post #13 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by jentreu

"Dear, PITA Bride"
While I understand your frustration, my consultation fee covers the cost of my time and the space I use to meet with you. Because I'm not a storefront bakery, and I choose to keep my pricing fairly low, I do not roll these costs into the final product, since not every bride needs a face to face consult and can therefore choose to do the planning online or via telephone. The planning fee in the end saves you money by helping me keep the cost per serving at a very reasonable rate.
Best Wishes in your planning process, and don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya."
Sincerely,
Baker who doesn't take crap from stupid people.




I think you last line is hysterical. But, providing that was left out, I would use this response exactly, and just give them something to think over. They may realize this information is reasonable for them, or they may still go elsewhere. If they go elsewhere, fine, but if they realize their rash, uneducated behavior, you could end up with a very good customer.

mayo2222 Posted 20 Jan 2011 , 8:48pm
post #14 of 54

If you are applying the consult fee to her order then it is more than reasonable. If it hasn't been a problem in the past I wouldn't really worry about making 1 customer mad.

On the other hand I do a agree that if no one else is charging a consult fee in your area you may drive some potential customers away, but on the other hand people willing to pay a consult charge are probably more serious customers.

jenmat Posted 20 Jan 2011 , 8:49pm
post #15 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by cownsj


I think you last line is hysterical. But, providing that was left out, I would use this response exactly, and just give them something to think over. They may realize this information is reasonable for them, or they may still go elsewhere. If they go elsewhere, fine, but if they realize their rash, uneducated behavior, you could end up with a very good customer.




Yeah, the last line was just my true colors shining through and not meant to be included in the actual response.

I do agree that you could roll this into your cost per serving or chalk it up to the cost of doing business as Jason pointed out. But at this point, you don't do it that way, and customers who think they can stamp their little foot and demand they be treated differently irk me. Can you tell its tasting season?!

I don't charge a fee at all, the samples are free and so is the consult. HOWEVER, with the amount of bookings I'm taking, most brides are having to book first and taste later, simply to guarantee their date. This makes me smile, because then I don't have to have them in twice- 1 to taste test and once to plan and design. They do the whole darn thing at once.

I see no problem with charging a fee if you have to go somewhere to conduct your meetings. That would deter looky-lous from wasting your time away from home. OR you could put in place that cakes under 100 servings accrue a $10-$20 charge for face time. This lady needs to understand that a 2 tiered cake simply doesn't say "roll out the red carpet, Ms Warbucks is on the way!" That's the part that would put a bee in my bonnet, but hey, there's almost always one buzzin around in there anyway! icon_rolleyes.gif

bobwonderbuns Posted 20 Jan 2011 , 9:00pm
post #16 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by jentreu

"Dear, PITA Bride"
While I understand your frustration, my consultation fee covers the cost of my time and the space I use to meet with you. Because I'm not a storefront bakery, and I choose to keep my pricing fairly low, I do not roll these costs into the final product, since not every bride needs a face to face consult and can therefore choose to do the planning online or via telephone. The planning fee in the end saves you money by helping me keep the cost per serving at a very reasonable rate.
Best Wishes in your planning process, and don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya."
Sincerely,
Baker who doesn't take crap from stupid people.




Boy I could have used you last week when I had my first shoot and run bridezilla!! icon_confused.gif Fortunately I let it go and count my blessings that now she's someone else's problem! icon_twisted.gificon_lol.gif

cownsj Posted 20 Jan 2011 , 9:02pm
post #17 of 54

jentreu, I couldn't agree with you more.

I think all brides deserve to have the most wonderful day of their lives on their wedding day, and the best they can "afford" to have. And, I think today more than ever they believe so also (I'm just thinking in the back of my mind about how the show "Bridezillas" has created an "entitlement" that isn't there or deserved). Having said that, I do think that too many brides and MOB's forget that there are still time and cost factors for the vendors and that while the cost for a consult/tasting can be absorbed easily into a cake for 200, it just isn't the same for a small wedding. They still deserve a gorgeous, wonderful flower arrangement, gown and cake, but they do need to be educated that the profit/time factor changes for the vendors for smaller weddings.

Swede-cakes Posted 21 Jan 2011 , 2:49am
post #18 of 54

OMG! I'm LMAO at your response, jentreu!

Last year I eliminated the consult fee altogether, went completely complimentary, and I got some of the "scaling back the wedding" brides who would pull that sense of entitlement right outta their handbag at the consult and wear it like a medal! It was the small 30 srvg, 2 tier cake girls, $90-$120, that wanted to request special batter flavors for their samples that didn't happen to be on the schedule that week, or ask me if they could bring 2-3 extra people (limit is 3) and asked for extra samples, could we have a second meeting to finalize ribbon color, yadda yadda yadda. The bigger cakes $350-$900 were not like that at all.

More to the point from today, I believe I will email her back using jentreu's thoughts, wish her well and move on. She'll go to someone else and buy her 30 srvg cake which will now cost her $120+ instead of $97.50 and I'll fill her date with a big WHOPPER of a June wedding! icon_biggrin.gif

Thanks to all who posted their thoughts and advice!

indydebi Posted 21 Jan 2011 , 3:20am
post #19 of 54

"Thanks for letting me know you need to cancel your appointment. As you move forward with your comparison shopping, be sure to take a calculator with you so you know the actual final price before signing a contract. For example, my competitor who does consults for free, charges $4/serving, so for a 40-serving cake, this will cost you $160. My cakes are $3/serving x 40 servings = $120 + $10 consult fee = $130. So unless you are "doing the math", you'll end up paying $30 for that "free" consultation!

Good luck in your wedding planning and I hope you find other extraordinary "deals" like the one my competitor is giving you!"

icon_twisted.gif but then ..... I tend to take the smart-a$$ approach to things! icon_rolleyes.gif

tryingcake Posted 21 Jan 2011 , 4:23am
post #20 of 54

I don't explain anything. If they don't like the way McD's makes hamburgers or what they charge, they are welcome to go to Burger King... right?

suecakes Posted 21 Jan 2011 , 4:39am
post #21 of 54

hahahaha you guys made my night! I love this post! I thought i was the ONLY BAKER dealing with this BS! OMG! finally! there is hope for me out there! ahhhh I wish we could read these cheap brides looking for a Ron Ben iIrael looking cake at a Costco price that paragraph! DONT LET THE DOOR HIT YA WHERE THE GOOD LORD SPLIT YA! hahaha love it!

Swede-cakes Posted 21 Jan 2011 , 5:05am
post #22 of 54

WELL. I just got handed my a$$ to me by this shrew. Literally just checked email before heading to bed, and I have to tell you...it wasn't a good idea.

Here ya go... Cut and pasted from the depths of someone's anger.

"You don't seem to understand. For people who do not have a lot of money, you charge for your time. I have to drive there and pay for my gas and all I want to do is order a cake. I do not need you to select a cake for me. I know I want a 2tier cake, white frosting, white cake, strawberry filling with Swiss dots on it. Why should I pay you for me to order a cake, when I would be paying for the cake and your effort to make it, that what the customer should pay for, not for walking into your shop and telling you what cake I need. I am not a person who needs my hand held and I don't care to taste the cake even. I just wanted to order a cake and no I do not agree with you. I will not pay you to basically take my order! I do not get charged when I order my wedding gown, only the price of my gown. I do not get charged when I go to the shoe store and ask the sales person to bring me a size 8 in a particular shoe. Why am I charged for you to take my order, when I already know what I want. You are taking advantage of your customers and you do get payed for your time, it's called making the cake and selling it!
With that said, I will take my business elsewhere."

Sent from my iPad


FIRST OF ALL, if she doesn't have a lot of money, how the HELL did she end up with an iPad?? I can't even afford that little $500 item!

SECOND OF ALL, if all she wanted was something she'd already decided on, all she had to do was call me and order over the phone. Especially if she doesn't care to even taste cake.

THIRD OF ALL, I hope she can't sleep because she's shaking with anger.
icon_lol.gif

BUH-bye!

indydebi Posted 21 Jan 2011 , 5:21am
post #23 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Swede-cakes

"You don't seem to understand. For people who do not have a lot of money, you charge for your time.


Uh, yeah. does this lady work at her job for free? because she is charging HER boss for her time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swede-cakes

I do not need you to select a cake for me. I know I want a 2tier cake, white frosting, white cake, strawberry filling with Swiss dots on it......Why am I charged for you to take my order, when I already know what I want.


So why didnt' she just say this in the first place instead of saying she wanted to talk price and design with you?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swede-cakes

I do not get charged when I order my wedding gown, only the price of my gown.


Bet me, baby!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swede-cakes

...you do get payed for your time, it's called making the cake and selling it!


so she's advising you that you should raise your per-serving price to cover YOUR TIME spent in consults that MAY OR MAY NOT generate a sale? Good for her! icon_twisted.gif

count your blessings that she's walking away. She wanted a 40 serving cake and wanted to DISCUSS the price, which means she'd use the old "I ain't got much money!" line to try to get it even cheaper yet. As my hubby would say, "we don't have much money either, that's why we don't discount."

Good riddance.

linstead Posted 21 Jan 2011 , 5:41am
post #24 of 54

I didn't read all the responses but my response to would be not to respond. Why do you have to defend your consultation fees - in fact why do you have to defend your prices or any way you choose to conduct your business? If a customer doens't like the terms then they should look elsewhere. Period. Bet if you went ahead with this order there would be nothing but problems......

emrldsky Posted 21 Jan 2011 , 1:47pm
post #25 of 54

And see, I would have a hard time letting her have the last word.

"I completely understand. I hope you find the cake decorator that is perfect for your needs."

All the while I'm sitting at my desk going, "Phew, I dodged a bullet with THAT one!" icon_biggrin.gif

WendyVA Posted 21 Jan 2011 , 2:25pm
post #26 of 54

So weird. If she just wants to order and cake and knows what she wants then she can do that over the phone. What's her problem? She doesn't need to walk in and try it on like her wedding gown or her shoes

Who has time to meet with every person who wants to order a 30-40 serving cake. I agree that it's the bride's big day and she should have a wonderful cake and all, and you can provide that with the instructions given over the phone or in email.

I would wish her the best and move on.

Annabakescakes Posted 21 Jan 2011 , 3:33pm
post #27 of 54

Do you think it would be wise to put something on your website that says,"I will be happy to accept phone or email orders for Brides who do not require a consultation/sampling."

I prefer these so much! I would actually be willing to offer a discount! I hate to have a bride in my face, it makes me nervous and self conscious, and I worry about it ahead of time, I am always afraid it is some bridezilla. Plus, i can sit in my jammies and don't have to brush my hair, lol! If it is email, my kids can be hollering in the background.

hellie0h Posted 21 Jan 2011 , 3:48pm
post #28 of 54

I look at this from the customer's prospective...it's not her fault that you don't have a store front for customers, you evidently don't want them coming to your place of baking and choose to have consults elsewhere and charge for a customer to order a cake, this is what I am gathering from her email.

Frankly, if no tasting or sketching design concept was needed, I would think that this lady is within her rights to be upset. If I walked into a bakery and was told I needed to pay $10.00 up front to place an order, I would tell them to stick it where the sun don't shine, and take my business elsewhere no matter if they were more expensive. Sometimes it is the principle of the thing. That is just the way I am, if I feel a business/or person is taking advantage of me I let them know it. I could very easily see myself as that lady that emailed you.

This is your business policy, you have to expect that not all customers will agree with you and maybe in the process be "told off" but that is business, take it with a grain of salt and move on.

Like everyone else, this is just an opinion, no flames intended to OP.

indydebi Posted 21 Jan 2011 , 3:56pm
post #29 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by hellie0h

Frankly, if no tasting or sketching design concept was needed, I would think that this lady is within her rights to be upset. If I walked into a bakery and was told I needed to pay $10.00 up front to place an order, I would tell them to stick it where the sun don't shine, and take my business elsewhere no matter if they were more expensive.


I think most on here would agree with that, but that's not what the client said in her initial email (based on the OP). She said she wanted to come in to "discuss price and design". That, to me, is not the same as "I want to order a cake and I know exactly what I want."

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 21 Jan 2011 , 4:46pm
post #30 of 54

Ditto to what Debi said. She initially wanted a consultation, which is more time and involvement to the OP than calling an ordering a cake. If she knew what she wanted for the design, why didn't she just say so in the email? And especially once the OP explained why she charges for a consultation, any thinking, rational person would have thought, "Oh, well I don't need a consultation then, I can just tell her what I want and avoid paying the consultation fee." Done. Problem solved. No need to get all huffy and tell someone the way they do business is flawed. Course, that's a bit of a sore spot for me, as I just last week got told by a customer that the way we do business is flawed as well. Because they SO know how a cake business should be run. icon_wink.gif

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