Cake Tasting Free Service Or Fee?

Business By jsc2010 Updated 25 Mar 2015 , 1:54am by Psyched baker

jsc2010 Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 7:01pm
post #1 of 25

Am wanting some input on cake tastings. I know this may be different for different areas on the country.

I have a newer cake decorating business from my home in Michigan. Am wondering about charging a fee for cake tasings. Since I am working from my home and not a store front I have to bake up the cake samples special not just go to the the cake display case and pull out a piece.

I also make up 6 inch cakes so they get an idea of how my cake serves besides the taste. Definately some time goes into a tasting. I have been doing it as a free service but had one bride request 5 different flavors.

I custom made some flavors for her to try. They came, they ate they said they loved everything and wanted to book me. They forgot their checkbook so they said they would return the next day to sign the contract and pay the deposit and well a no show...

Am thinking I should charge a fee then deduct it if they book me....do any of you charge for tastings? would love your input!

24 replies
Kiddiekakes Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 7:13pm
post #2 of 25

I would always charge a fee and then apply/deduct it to the cake price if they book.That way if they come tasting and don't book you have still paid for your time and ingredients and aren't out money..I have heard of Brides who book 10-20 FREE tastings at bakeries/cake designers and then go for all this free cake with no intention of booking with any of them..That would burn my butt!!

Charge a fee....

jason_kraft Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 7:20pm
post #3 of 25

We charge $30 for up to 2 people, with 3 cake flavors, 3 frosting flavors, and 1 filling. We make 6" rounds and use a cookie cutter to cut out smaller pieces so it's easier to mix and match cake flavors and frosting flavors.

The price of the tasting is deducted from the final invoice for the cake. We charge $15/person for any more than 2 people, and $5/person/flavor for additional cake and/or frosting flavors.

Here's a picture:
http://www.allergyfriendlypastries.com/photos/tasting1.jpg

CVB Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 7:41pm
post #4 of 25

I don't charge for the tasting, but it's a cost that is in the final price of doing business. I'd say you would have to set a limit to # cake/ buttercream you serve. If they ask for more than that charge a fee for the extra.

On another note a whole 6" cake for a tasting, that is above and beyond. The largest I would serve would be a cupcake.

emrldsky Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 7:45pm
post #5 of 25

Because of the way the Indiana law is, I can't do "tastings" but I have had a bride order half a dozen cupcakes (one flavor per half dozen is my limit) to try my cake out. She loved them and ordered her cake from me. She also had someone pick up the cake, since I cannot deliver.

jenmat Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 8:16pm
post #6 of 25

I don't charge, as that is not the norm around here. I also would NEVER do 6" rounds, there is no way they need nor should get that much cake. Although of course that's your prerogative. I do two 4" single layer torted rounds, so they can have filling in between, and leave the cakes naked so they can taste different icings. If they want more cake, they pay $5 per sample. (this is just a deterrent so they don't take advantage) Some bakers will do cupcakes, some will bake thin sheet cakes and cut out small "coins" of cake, which I think is a great idea.

You COULD make a 6" dummy with a slice taken out so they can see what fillings look like inside, or some people will have a slice of cake made out of styrofoam so they can see it plated.

As for the charge, I never understood why if they are charged $25 for a tasting, and then they book, then YOU get penalized by losing $25 off the price of the cake. I guess I'm seeing it wrong maybe? I would rather do it free than end up taking $25 off their end price, especially if its a smaller wedding. If I were to ever charge, I would charge them $25 flat fee, payable ahead of time.

jsc2010 Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 8:27pm
post #7 of 25

thanks for the input, Just to clarify...I don't serve the whole 6" cake...only a small slice. Of course I like it if I can have a couple tastings in a day so I don't have so much cake leftover. I'm just trying to weed out those brides that are just looking for free cake and no commitment.

jsc2010 Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 8:43pm
post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by emrldsky

Because of the way the Indiana law is, I can't do "tastings" but I have had a bride order half a dozen cupcakes (one flavor per half dozen is my limit) to try my cake out. She loved them and ordered her cake from me. She also had someone pick up the cake, since I cannot deliver.




thanks for the reminder....the law...I think under Michigan law I probably can't charge for a tasting as I'm working out of my home kitchen. I know I have to charge sales tax if my food product has an eating utensil associated with it....

KoryAK Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 8:46pm
post #9 of 25

I charge $35 which is applied toward the cake.

@ jentru the reason for this is so that you get compensated for your time when the bride doesn't book and you weed out the people who aren't even moderately serious about booking while still giving the nicety of a free tasting to the brides who do. If they book on the spot, I don't even bother charging the consult fee.

jenmat Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 10:23pm
post #10 of 25

Thanks KoryAK, I do understand that. What I don't understand is that I lose out on $25-35 dollars or whatever on my final invoice. Just doesn't make financial sense for me. In that case, I would make $25 if they DIDN'T book with me, and lose $25 if they DID. Yes, I get the sale, but if I offered the tasting free, the sale would be $25 more. I guess you would just have to mark up the cost per serving to include the tasting fee.

jason_kraft Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 10:30pm
post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by jentreu

Thanks KoryAK, I do understand that. What I don't understand is that I lose out on $25-35 dollars or whatever on my final invoice. Just doesn't make financial sense for me. In that case, I would make $25 if they DIDN'T book with me, and lose $25 if they DID. Yes, I get the sale, but if I offered the tasting free, the sale would be $25 more.



Charging $25 for a tasting and then discounting the final sale by $25 is the same thing as offering the tasting for free, but with the condition that the only people who get the free tasting are those who end up placing an order.

pmarks0 Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 10:30pm
post #12 of 25

@jentreu - maybe think of it as a $25 "deposit" against the final invoice. You're not losing on the final invoice as you would be giving the tasting free anyway. The bride sees it as a bonus to signing, that she is getting her tasting free.

indydebi Posted 25 Jan 2011 , 2:36am
post #13 of 25

You can show how much a 6" cake serves by marking a dummy/styrofoam with magic marker lines to show how you get 12 servings from it.

This topic can get as controversial as the mix-vs-scratch discussion. Does your competition charge for tastings? How do you view the purpose of a tasting? (I view it as "you get to see if you like my baking." I do NOT view it as "You get to sample every single flavor of cake in the world to decide what you want to eat at your wedding." Try THAT with Pizza Hut when you plan a pizza birthday party! icon_eek.gif )

Why are you letting the bride tell YOU how many flavors she wants to try for free? This is your business and you set the rules. What do you do with the bride who wants to sample 24 flavors of cake? Do you really make 24 six-inch cakes? icon_eek.gif

I baked once for every 9 samplings. Bake one each of white, choc and a 3rd flavor, 8" square. Cut it in 9 pieces (3 rows by 3 columns). Put in a gallon size ziplock in the freezer. 10 or 15 minutes before the appointment, pull one square each out of the freezer. I serve the cake "naked" with icings and fillings for them to mix-n-match for various flavor combinsations.

Here's a great thread on the topic (see my pics on page 2): http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=592119&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=tray&&start=15

sweetlayers Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 4:16am
post #14 of 25

When I didn't charge for tastings, about every 3rd bride chose me. Now that I do charge for tastings, every other bride chooses me. My charge is applied to the balance of the cake so it's not a loss if they choose my company.

I struggled with this for a while but I have small children and am in school so it can get burdensome to have to leave them for a bride who just wants free cake and is not truly in the market to sign a contract.

I'm glad I do things this way now. And I found that after I started, other decorators in the area began to do the same thing. I guess we all spy on each other.

Oh yeah, and they get a piece of cake at a consultation, not a whole cake.

love2makecakes Posted 1 Feb 2011 , 1:32pm
post #15 of 25

after the cake tasting I held last weekend I'm starting to wonder if I my self should charge for this service!

heres why.... the girl was a no-show to a previous tasting (where I had to bake the cake) and against my better judgment I let her come again 3 weeks later (now i had frozen cake)... anyway, she came loved everything, picked out her flavors, we talked for an hour about set up design, yadayada... I give her the price per her choices. Oh perfect she says, but i forgot my checkbook will have to mail you a check. I think that is fine. A week later I get an email that states my prices are too high and she is going to go with someone else.

really??? wtf? my prices are posted on my website, i gave her a price at the tasting and i not only prepared one tasting for her but two since she was a no show to the first one!

while i know i cant book every wedding (and this was the 2nd one that i have ever not booked) it really pisses me off that she would waste my time and supplies twice and then pass!

so this one bride my mess up my free testings for future brides because i have a chip on my shoulder!

costumeczar Posted 1 Feb 2011 , 9:07pm
post #16 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by love2makecakes

so this one bride my mess up my free testings for future brides because i have a chip on my shoulder!




Well, she sucks. But if you feel like you have to charge then it's not because you have a chip on your shoulder, it's because you learned a lesson and decided what your limit is.

I don't charge for tastings because it isn't the norm where I am. But I also don't let the brides choose the flavors, and I do all my appointments on just one or two days a month. I don't let them tell me when they're coming and place their order for flavors, even though some of them try. I learned my limits a long time ago icon_smile.gif

Roscoe45 Posted 26 Feb 2015 , 2:04pm
post #17 of 25

A

Original message sent by KoryAK

I charge $35 which is applied toward the cake.

I'm going to start charging @ jentru the reason for this is so that you get compensated for your time when the bride doesn't book and you weed out the people who aren't even moderately serious about booking while still giving the nicety of a free tasting to the brides who do. If they book on the spot, I don't even bother charging the consult fee.

Snowflakebunny23 Posted 6 Mar 2015 , 8:52am
post #18 of 25

I don't charge for tastings (it's not the norm where I live) but i now only do tastings every other month on one weekend.  I usually time it so that it's just after a wedding fayre so i can take bookings then.  I make a single layer of all my standard flavours (9) and they are able to choose from that.  So far, it's worked really really well.  If a bride can't make the next session, I can still give them a quote based on the most expensive possible flavour combination and they can book, but come to the next tasting session to confirm flavours.

nancylee61 Posted 6 Mar 2015 , 4:32pm
post #19 of 25

I had someone call me, ask me to make a cake for 10  people and want a free tasting. I told her NO. She said, "But I want to know what your cakes taste like." I gave her some references and explained that a cake for $10 people would be my minimum charge of $50, and that I only do tastings for bigger cakes. She was  unhappy, but I was exhausted just thinking of all the work for a tasting for a $50 cake she might not even book.

What do you do if you do free tastings and the cake is only a small wedding cake? You really lose, even when you win.


costumeczar Posted 6 Mar 2015 , 5:09pm
post #20 of 25

since this thread started, I've started charging for appointments. If you do a search for this topic it should come up with a more recent thread about it.

cakegirl123 Posted 7 Mar 2015 , 9:39pm
post #21 of 25

Hi

 I have been thinking about charging also.   For those of you who charge-Do you take the payment over the phone

when they are scheduling the appointment or at the end of the actual appointment?

 

Thanks! 

costumeczar Posted 8 Mar 2015 , 8:47pm
post #22 of 25

I send a paypal invoice about 5 days before the appointment, and let them know that the appointment is confirmed when payment is received. If they haven't paid by about two days before I'll send a reminder that it needs to be paid that day if they want to keep the appointment so that i'll know how many samples to make. If they don't pay it they don't have an appointment.

Jenn123 Posted 20 Mar 2015 , 1:54am
post #23 of 25

My meetings usually include baking, plus an hour round trip travel time, plus 30-60 minutes together. Time can really add up. I use a cookie cutter and make one inch bites of cake for each person of each flavor in mini cupcake papers. It's enough to taste but not pig out. I charge $20 for a tasting (limit 3 people and 4 flavors) and ONLY for weddings. If they pay their deposit at the consultation (1/2 of the entire wedding order) I will discount the $20 from the order. If they don't pay the deposit at the meeting, they pay full price even if they place the order later. This helps them make up their mind in my favor quickly. It also weeds out the "let's have a free party" people too. I'm thinking of getting the $20 ahead of the appointment because occasionally people don't show up or make me wait 30-45 minutes. I think that is reasonable for 2-3 hours of my time.

sprinklesandco Posted 20 Mar 2015 , 6:55am
post #24 of 25
After the cake tasting I held a weekend ago I'm beginning to think about whether I my self ought to charge for this administration! 
At the same time in the event that you sense that you need to charge then its not on account of you have a chip on your shoulder, this is on the grounds that you took in a lesson and chose what your cutoff is.


Psyched baker Posted 25 Mar 2015 , 1:54am
post #25 of 25

I only do tastings for weddings. I do charge. The cost is 40 and 25 is put toward the wedding cake if they go with me. This way my basic supplies are paid. I limit the amount of cake flavors and fillings they try to keep it from getting out of hand. 

I usually spend about an hour with the couple (giving them privacy while they taste) to discuss their favorites and their vision for their wedding cake. Then there is typically another hour or so on the phone before all is said and done and the deposit is on the way. I think it is a reasonable expectation that tastings have a fee  it seems to weed out those who aren't really seriously considering you. I usually take a credit card over the phone or have them mail me a check.

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