I'm not a professional baker, but I do make cakes for people in exchange for a check to my favorite charity. I've done this for a year and a half now, and finally just got my first pricing complaint today.
The head of our church choir asked me to make a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting to feed 50 people. I did a scratch-made 14" square decorated with bright colors as she requested. I asked for $100.
Here's the e-mail I just now got:
The cake was absolutely wonderful! I heard many voices around the room, Oh, that Julie isnt she something? Oh its a Julie cake, of course its so good! Lots of comments like that. Thank you so much!
I would like to be truly honest about something else, too, though -- the price threw me. I thought it would be closer to the $50 range. Totally my fault for not asking before ordering! I just thought Id mention it to keep us totally above board.
I feel like the wind's been taken out of my sails or that I've been punched in the stomach! I used real butter, real vanilla, whipping cream, Ghirardelli chocolate and even delivered it -- plus, she can write it off on her taxes as a charitable donation.
I guess I won't let it bother me, but I can't believe she thought my huge cake and all that work was worth $50!!!
Try not to let it bother you !
People seem to have no clue how much it costs to make a cake . Im still baking as a hobby and give my cakes to people as presents . They say the are great and then sometimes they tell me I should be doing this professionally . When I tell them how much I would have to sell one of my cakes for they are generally shocked
Your cake sounded yummy by the way
Let her know that you are a custom cake designer/baker and that you use premium ingredients. Tell her that if she went to a restaurant a single serving would cost her at least $4 not the $2 per serving you offered.
You aren't Walmart afterall...LOL!
Just explain very politely that you can totally understand her thoughts, that before you were involved in cakes you never knew how much they actually cost either.
And then tell her you'll be sure to share a quote with her next time she orders and you're so glad everyone was impressed with the cake she brought to the party.
She'll get over it, and so will you!
I do all of my cakes for donations to charities (or directly for a charity), too. I allow the recipient to choose the charity/non-profit/religious institution, but I will verify the choice if I question it's status as a non-profit and re-direct them, when necessary.
I approach every cake as though I were a for-profit cake business. I tell people the amount of the donation up front (my base price is around $2.50/serving). If they balk at all during the planning phase, I cut them loose. They're getting a cake AND a tax write-off, so they don't get to be cheap, too.
In order to guarantee (for both of us) that the donation goes to the charity, I give them a money order MADE OUT TO THE CHARITY with a stamped & addressed (to the charity) envelope. They retain the receipt and/or copy the money order and then mail it off. They give me CASH for the money order--NO CHECKS, EVER.
I also donate certificates for 40 servings to several local charities for silent auctions. I'm happy to say that they START the bidding at $100. I've told them that any less and it's better for me (less $, less time, less work) to just give them a check.
I let people know that THEY are NOT MY CHARITY. I'm a professional & they're my client. The charity just happens to receive my paycheck.
Thanks, everyone, for listening and replying. I feel much better now!
I had quoted her $100 about a week before making the cake, and she had gladly handed over the check when I saw her at church a few days prior to delivery. The weirdest thing to me was that she had ordered from me 2 or 3 times before for family functions and had never balked at the price.
Anyway, I did e-mail her back, telling her why I had charged $100. . . cost of ingredients, my time, etc.
Here's how she responded. I just wanted to be sure you knew that I think your cakes are worth that and WAY more! They are soooo amazing and wonderful. And of course Ill be ordering again how could I not?! Again, it was my fault totally I just wanted to be honest. The per person price is very fair.
Thanks for your quick response and explanation!
So, now I'm happy -- a little confused, but happy!
Kool Cakes for Charity. Awesome. New to the cake world out side my kitchen so never heard of it.
Well the first thing I thought of when reading your post I thought of a event in a different business I had many years back. Which made me think either A) she is a very busy woman and got her details mixed up with another project or event. or B) Age & or Memory issues might be playing a fact in the matter.
Look I'm in my 30's and I have had memory issues that have plum embarrassed me when dealing with events and projects of one kind or another.
I think your cakes are beautiful.
That is weird. What's the point of being honest about how the price threw her and she thought it would be less if she thinks your cakes are worth more? Why even bring it up?
Maybe she's ordered smaller cakes before and never thought that more servings would equal more money?
Good lesson in why the money is covered UP FRONT.
A 14" square (2 layer) serves 98 people. She was really wanting cake for 50 cents a person??????
I'm happy to hear she appreciated your explanation. As I've said many times, "Their eyes have seen the glory (of the Ace of Cakes type of cakes) but their brain hasn't caught up yet (with how much these things cost)."
I think she brought it up but says she thinks they're worth more because she's being passive-aggressive. She wants to be a "nice" female so she says they're worth more but she really thinks she paid too much.
I think the main words here are "Church" and "Charity", both of these do not go well with a price thrown in. What was the event? If she ordered before, she must have known, what you normally charge for donation to your charity? perhaps it was something church related and she thought it would be cheaper then? Sort of two charities cancell each other out?
ITA with cheatize. It doesn't make any sense to bring it up at all if she thinks the cake was worth every penny. Why be shocked about the price if it's excatly what she felt the cake was worth? Maybe she thought you would offer some kind of refund after the first email exchange but when you held strong she dropped it and to keep things peaceful she added all that stuff about the price being perfect if not a little too low.
Good for you holding your ground! It always makes me smile when I read stories like yours. Where the hard working baker doesn't roll over and sticks up for themselves.
I'm happy everything worked out for you in the end.
Just a quick update -- this woman actually did call me today to order another cake. This time for a family wedding shower. I told her it would be $2 a serving and she said, "Yep, that's fine." So, I'm beginning to think that she just wasn't herself when she sent me that upsetting e-mail in February. I'm glad that I didn't get snarky with her. My strategy is always to kill them with kindness and, this time, it worked!
Wow simple cakes from us here at, Lille Little Bite Bake Shop in California START @ $5.00/serving. She got a deal. It doesn't even make it worth my while to turn on the oven or get out the measuring cups for what you charged her.
you did good to keep your cool..that can be a hard thing to do but you dont want to come down to their level cus somtimes thats what they want so they can feel justified about their complaint.im a licensed baker in a very small town and for my buttercream it starts at 2.75 and thats cus its a simple cake..i feel you though..my very first complaint was from somebody from my church that i considered a freind..i think she wanted to pull the friend card and get a much cheaper cake than what i charged her so instead of being real with me she critisized the cake..my first and only complaint since,needless to say she still orders from me but im real cautious and ive learned to always let them know up front its gonna cost you..cus unless you changed my diapers ..you are not getting a free cake or cheap cake from me!