Throwin In The Towel

Business By ByTheSlice Updated 7 Mar 2011 , 12:06am by WykdGud

ByTheSlice Posted 21 Feb 2011 , 11:21pm
post #1 of 24

After 3 years of having my little cake shop open I am scared that I will have to throw in the towel. I hate this! This bakery is run by my Mother and I, she being the baker and I am the decorator. Just when you think, okay great we have enough for the rent and utilities, then the State Heaqlth department license renewal shows up....$250 dollars for a year. This is a little bitty town in Oklahoma, where do they think we are going to come up with this! I hope we don't have to close this down, we have worked hard and have yet to take a paycheck. Im really justy venting, maybe someone will have some thoughts...

23 replies
divinecc Posted 21 Feb 2011 , 11:46pm
post #2 of 24

I am so sorry, that must be so frustrating. I wish I could give you some good advice but all I can say is I hope things work out for you!

cupandcake81 Posted 22 Feb 2011 , 12:01am
post #3 of 24

Hope you can figure something out!

jason_kraft Posted 22 Feb 2011 , 12:15am
post #4 of 24

Have you looked into scaling back the business, possibly renting commercial kitchen space instead of maintaining a storefront? Your experience underscores the importance of a business plan that takes into account all expenses and weighs that against anticipated profitability, sometimes a retail storefront is simply unsustainable due to small market size, low margins, or other factors.

Another option would be lobbying your state government for a cottage food law so you could legally bake commercially from home in OK.

cakegirl1973 Posted 22 Feb 2011 , 12:36am
post #5 of 24

Have you contacted the Small Business Administration (think that is what it is called). They may be able to provide you with some guidance so that you and your mom can make an informed decision about how to proceed. Wishing you all the best.

kelleym Posted 22 Feb 2011 , 12:39am
post #6 of 24

Could you explain more of your situation? Is the problem not enough volume? Not enough of the right kind (wedding cakes) of orders? Are you spending too much manpower on $20 cakes? Are you charging enough? The more information you can provide, about your business, the more helpful answers you will get.

bellaudreycakes Posted 22 Feb 2011 , 1:37am
post #7 of 24

Wow! Your cakes are great! I would hate to think you could lose your whole business over $250/year. Maybe you need to raise your prices or cut some other expenses. Do you have a lot of bakeries in your town?

indydebi Posted 22 Feb 2011 , 2:25am
post #8 of 24

As Joyce Meyer says, "Find the treasure in your trouble." My health dept license was over $600. And its not like the renewal is a big surprise. I knew when it was coming up due.

Kelley offers some good ideas .... do an evaluation of where you time is being spent and the income that time is generating. Are there marketing avenues you haven't explored yet? Such as belonging to the local Chamber (I got lots of biz from that); networking groups (LOTS of biz referrals from that); a weddign networking group (SUPER valuable affiliation!).

Its tough being in a feast-or-famine industry .... (and how come the expenses all came due in the famine part? icon_lol.gif )

classiccake Posted 27 Feb 2011 , 2:26am
post #9 of 24

! am surprised a $250.00 bill would throw a business that is 3 years old. More information is needed!

kakeladi Posted 27 Feb 2011 , 2:44am
post #10 of 24

Debi was lucky to get such good response from those referral grups. They sure didn't help me icon_sad.gif
One other option to help up business is to pass out flyers at local businesses. Are there any large offices - manufacturing - any kind of business nearby that you can visit and leave a flyer? I often would go around to such places and ask if I could put a flyer up in their break/lunch room. Sometimes I would leave a sample item. That got me more business than the referral groups!

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 27 Feb 2011 , 3:34am
post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by kakeladi

Debi was lucky to get such good response from those referral grups. They sure didn't help me icon_sad.gif
One other option to help up business is to pass out flyers at local businesses. Are there any large offices - manufacturing - any kind of business nearby that you can visit and leave a flyer? I often would go around to such places and ask if I could put a flyer up in their break/lunch room. Sometimes I would leave a sample item. That got me more business than the referral groups!




That's a great idea! We have done samples and cards at Bridal shops, but I like the idea of putting up a flyer in break rooms! Are most places pretty open to you doing that?

VaBelle Posted 27 Feb 2011 , 3:50am
post #12 of 24

I don't know if this will be of any help to you, but we have a cake shop locally that hires people with developmental disabilities. I believe they are a non-profit, but not only are they providing a skill to adults who might not otherwise be given a chance, but it also has made them eligible for grants and donations. They're cakes are awesome and you get the added bonus of knowing you're helping others less fortunate when you order from them. Even though I'm learning to make my own cakes, I still like to order from them once in a while.

leah_s Posted 27 Feb 2011 , 5:42am
post #13 of 24

My wedding networking group doubled my biz the first year I was in it. Our florist went from doing 40-50 weddings a year (had been mostly funerals) and now does 260 weddings a year and has opened a second location. A wedding networking group, if strong is very valuable.

Even without a formal networking group, you can take biz cards and samples to florists, dress shops, jewelry stores. If birthday cakes are your target market, then visit childrens' specialty stores of all kinds.

The good thing about a slow period is that you have more time to do marketing.

TamathaV Posted 27 Feb 2011 , 8:26pm
post #14 of 24

You have beautiful cakes! I know you're venting and once in a while we all need to but don't give up!

What you need is Marketing, Marketing, Marketing! I know you're in a small town so you need to widen your net. Do you have a Facebook page? It's FREE and it's a great way to network with very little time investment. You can post pics, advertise specials, etc. I checked where you are and you could be marketing to Fort Smith if you're not already. Maybe some flyers / samples to wedding venues there. I know it's a ways but there are brides who may want to pay for delivery to access a talent like yours.

How can you leverage your shop to make more income? Teach some classes on basic skills? It can make you a little money but what they really do is make clients out of your students who find out how much work cakes really are! Lastly, maybe you can take on a "renter" like a baker who wants to do morning muffins and cookies at markets, etc?

Good luck!

Tammy

vtcake Posted 27 Feb 2011 , 8:54pm
post #15 of 24

How about offering kids' birthday parties where you make 4" cakes for each kid and they decorate them.

Our local mall offers a bouncy house for rent for 2 hrs, and it costs 150 bucks and the only other thing it includes is a free tee shirt for the b'day kid.

I'd think older (8+) kids would rather decorate a cake.

Corrie76 Posted 27 Feb 2011 , 9:03pm
post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by VaBelle

I don't know if this will be of any help to you, but we have a cake shop locally that hires people with developmental disabilities. I believe they are a non-profit, but not only are they providing a skill to adults who might not otherwise be given a chance, but it also has made them eligible for grants and donations. They're cakes are awesome and you get the added bonus of knowing you're helping others less fortunate when you order from them. Even though I'm learning to make my own cakes, I still like to order from them once in a while.



Actually, that is an excellent idea that is used at many businesses in our town. There's actually two programs: one is called "Experience Works" which places senior citizens into jobs- the other is just our town's Voc. Rehab training program....both programs have the business pay a certain portion of the workers pay and a grant for these programs pay the rest of the wages...
Of course, if 250.00 is devestating you, you probably only have yourself as an employee...best of luck to you, hope you are able to turn things around for your business.

ShandraB Posted 27 Feb 2011 , 9:17pm
post #17 of 24

This may not be what you are looking for, but have you considered checking with local restaurants? If you can get a few regular customers who want the same order every week, that can really boost your bottom line.

WykdGud Posted 3 Mar 2011 , 4:53pm
post #18 of 24

Wow... closing shop over $250?!? Please tell me you're joking...

If you didn't plan for this (and you should have!) maybe you can get enough to cover it by placing some ads on Craigslist and doing a few $99 cheapie wedding cakes (2 tier). When I needed some extra income, I did this and get 4 orders immediately. I offered only 3 different design options (fondant with ribbon, buttercream only with roses or cornelli lace, and one other that I can't remember at the moment - it was a few years ago) and I had more people interested than I wanted to do for that price. I only did it when I had an immediate need and the orders had to be placed and paid for 100% up front and were non-refundable.

carmijok Posted 3 Mar 2011 , 5:29pm
post #19 of 24

I'd say your location has a lot to do with it. Are you marketing outside of Stigler? I'm from Tulsa and I know if you were here, you'd be swamped! Tulsa might be out of your range but you've got Eufaula close, Muskogee, and yes, Ft. Smith and Van Buren are worth the trip. Join their chambers. Believe me I know smaller town chambers and networking groups get results. I lived in Muskogee for 15 plus years and was very active in the community and it really helped my business. Delivery fees might be an issue with gas being what it is, but if you want to expand your wedding and larger event cake business, marketing in these communities would be the ticket. Your cakes are beautiful and if they taste as good as they look, I think you will do great! (Remember, chamber dues, advertising and such are tax deductible!)
Good luck! thumbs_up.gif

Annabakescakes Posted 6 Mar 2011 , 5:11am
post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by WykdGud

Wow... closing shop over $250?!? Please tell me you're joking...

If you didn't plan for this (and you should have!) maybe you can get enough to cover it by placing some ads on Craigslist and doing a few $99 cheapie wedding cakes (2 tier). When I needed some extra income, I did this and get 4 orders immediately. I offered only 3 different design options (fondant with ribbon, buttercream only with roses or cornelli lace, and one other that I can't remember at the moment - it was a few years ago) and I had more people interested than I wanted to do for that price. I only did it when I had an immediate need and the orders had to be placed and paid for 100% up front and were non-refundable.




Ditto this! As a "Hobby" with a cake a week, or 2 cakes a week, and skip a week, I spend more than $250 at the cake supply shop every few months. Chump change to a successful business.

indydebi Posted 6 Mar 2011 , 11:16am
post #21 of 24
Quote:
Quote:

Ditto this! As a "Hobby" with a cake a week, or 2 cakes a week, and skip a week, I spend more than $250 at the cake supply shop every few months. Chump change to a successful business.


Um, I gotta jump in here on this one. Let's not lose sight of the fact that a "hobby" baker and a "shop" baker have WAY different expenses.

Clearing $250 a week is great ..... unless your shop rent is $1500 a month and that means you are $500 short of paying your rent. Not to mention commercial electric/utility bills (which are WAY more expensive than household rates!) and all of those other "shop" expenses that we hobby bakers don't have to face every single month.

Let's just compare apples to apples on this one, ok folks? thumbs_up.gif

Annabakescakes Posted 6 Mar 2011 , 10:52pm
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Quote:

Ditto this! As a "Hobby" with a cake a week, or 2 cakes a week, and skip a week, I spend more than $250 at the cake supply shop every few months. Chump change to a successful business.

Um, I gotta jump in here on this one. Let's not lose sight of the fact that a "hobby" baker and a "shop" baker have WAY different expenses.

Clearing $250 a week is great ..... unless your shop rent is $1500 a month and that means you are $500 short of paying your rent. Not to mention commercial electric/utility bills (which are WAY more expensive than household rates!) and all of those other "shop" expenses that we hobby bakers don't have to face every single month.

Let's just compare apples to apples on this one, ok folks? thumbs_up.gif




Um, I do realize that, but the point I was actually trying to make was that with no advertising, no regular or walk-in business, and no wholesale discounts, I can still spend that much every few months. I would think that with all those benefits of a business, you should be able to spend that 1 time a year. We are talking about putting $21 a month aside in a little envelope. Less than a $1 a day. My husband makes $13 an hour, we get $300 a month in child support and we can come up with $250 in a pinch. It wouldn't rock our world, ESPECIALLY if we knew it was coming up.

And clearing $250 a week isn't much of a business, very respectable for a hobby though.

Kitagrl Posted 6 Mar 2011 , 11:31pm
post #23 of 24

Have you tried contacting all the caterers and wedding venues in town to find out if they are satisfied with their current caking and/or if they need someone to provide their cakes?

How much walk-in business do you have? Are you all custom orders?

Your cakes are WONDERFUL...there's got to be a way to keep your business.

Are you pricing high enough?

I think your key is just going to be the right networking....visit shows, do tastings with caterers or venues....get some regular orders coming your way.

Also make sure your website is optimized and coming up early in search results. Make sure its linked to as many websites as possible....get lots of facebook friends...etc. When people do a search for cake in your area, you want your website coming up right away!

Best of luck!!!! Maybe you can take out a small loan to pay your expenses for now...and then use the quiet slow time to pursue networking and optimizing your webspace and getting your name out there..and if you are rural, target whatever big city is nearest, even if its an hour away.

WykdGud Posted 7 Mar 2011 , 12:06am
post #24 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annabakescakes

Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Quote:

Ditto this! As a "Hobby" with a cake a week, or 2 cakes a week, and skip a week, I spend more than $250 at the cake supply shop every few months. Chump change to a successful business.

Um, I gotta jump in here on this one. Let's not lose sight of the fact that a "hobby" baker and a "shop" baker have WAY different expenses.

Clearing $250 a week is great ..... unless your shop rent is $1500 a month and that means you are $500 short of paying your rent. Not to mention commercial electric/utility bills (which are WAY more expensive than household rates!) and all of those other "shop" expenses that we hobby bakers don't have to face every single month.

Let's just compare apples to apples on this one, ok folks? thumbs_up.gif



Um, I do realize that, but the point I was actually trying to make was that with no advertising, no regular or walk-in business, and no wholesale discounts, I can still spend that much every few months. I would think that with all those benefits of a business, you should be able to spend that 1 time a year. We are talking about putting $21 a month aside in a little envelope. Less than a $1 a day. My husband makes $13 an hour, we get $300 a month in child support and we can come up with $250 in a pinch. It wouldn't rock our world, ESPECIALLY if we knew it was coming up.

And clearing $250 a week isn't much of a business, very respectable for a hobby though.




I got what you were saying. thumbs_up.gif

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